Monday, May 24, 2010
Harnessing influence through PR.
When I first heard about Mark Earls (Author of How to Change Mass Behavior by Harnessing Our True Nature) one quote that stuck in my mind was his definition of influence, Earls defined it as not something done by certain people to other people, but the result of those people we call the ‘Influenced’ doing something in response to those we call ‘Influential’.
Influence is not something that is done to people. We PR professionals work on identifying the people we would like to reach and crafting messages that appeal to them in order to get the word out and sway publics.
To understand why your PR pitches may strike out, we will take a look at the three main components and six drivers of influence through a PR lens.
(1.) The content of your message
The promotional part of PR, must address what the product or service is and does to influence buying decisions. What is the function of your product or service? Who does it help? Is there a case study you can point people to that illustrates this point? How does this product or service make people feel? Another aspect of PR is concerned with informing people about the importance of an issue to convince them that your point of view is merited .The PSI campaign on the use of Mosquito nets is a good example of a PR campaign that has combined the above to get excellent results in Kenya.
(2.) The context where the conversation is held
This is crucial to the power of messages. Messages passed on within trusted networks have less reach and greater impact than those circulated through dispersed communities. Because in part there is usually a high correlation among people whose opinions we trust and the members of networks we most value. That why despite all the marketing campaigns and promotions that have been carried out most of us are still loyal to Ketepa, Kiwi, Omo, Blue Band, Elianto name them.
Old fashioned means of communication like word of mouth (gossip) and their online equivalents remain so important. A person with eight hundred friends on Facebook will only pay attention to the messages of a handful people next to him. The real influence resides with the small, close-knit network of trusted friends.
(3.) The identity of the person who sends the message
The person on the receiving end of a message, or influence, must trust the sender and believe that he or she really knows the product or service in question. While you may believe Fundi Frank when he talks about designer clothing, you may be less inclined to take a recommendation on a car purchase from him.
While one can only influence as many people as he has access to, those connections come with other connections in turn -- it's the people on the other end of those connections that carry that influence forward.
Trust and competence are the key concepts here. For this we do not need to worry, we are soon going to experience it as we observe how publicists will handle the red and blue constitution battle.
According to psychologist Robert Cialdini, the six drivers of influence are:
In actual sense am here to build and develop my influence over you.