So does a firm-wide thought leadership strategy even matter? Yes it does. At least that is my experience for various EMEA project developing sub matter expect to online thought leaders of a company.
Adding to your three key points of it is also a question of why you create such a program; because you will gain a completive advantage or simply because it looks good to have a Thought Leader Strategy? I agree to all you assumptions, especially the one about Content imbalance. Eventually, I see such program can change the culture of you company, hence not just graduating a corps of Thought Leaders. Everyone, from senior management to the newly recruited interns, will be perceptive as such, if one manage to change culture along with driving Thought Leader programs. It takes curiosity and courage.
If you read this comments, do not hesitate to reach out directly for a continued elaboration on the topic. https://dk.linkedin.com/in/phyldborg