Philip Sheldrake

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Category: Public Relations (page 1 of 17)

The EU Referendum campaigns should learn from Aristotle

Aristotle

An email sent to all my friends and family.

There's no doubting Aristotle was a rare genius. Encyclopædia Britannica calls him the first genuine scientist. And it's amazing that here I am in the 21st Century emailing you (and in fact just about everyone I know with an email address) about the insights of a man born exactly 2400 years ago.

(That's equivalent to someone doing the same for you or me in the 44th Century CE, and I think we can agree on the likelihood of that!)

I read this article on Aristotelian rhetoric / persuasive powers in 2012, and I was so enamoured that I wrote a short blog post on it at the time. In summary, Aristotle concluded that the three most powerful tools of persuasion are:

  • Ethos – argument by character
  • Logos – argument by logic
  • Pathos – appealing to the emotions.

Read more

Q&A with CIPR Influence magazine

CIPR Influence magazine

I was interviewed by Rob Smith, Editor, Influence magazine. Published in two parts, May 2016.


What does Influence mean to the public relations business currently? Is it more important since the rise of digital or has it always been at the heart of what it is to be a public relations professional?

You have been influenced when you think in a way you wouldn’t otherwise have thought or do something you wouldn’t otherwise have done. Unfortunately, the English language also has us using the word ‘influence’ in terms of something someone might possess.

I always prefer to work with the first meaning here for two reasons: first, the changing of hearts, minds and deeds is the actual object of interest to public relations professionals (reciprocally of course, more on which later); second, we might quantify the former better than the latter, and indeed many of the better attempts to score influence as something someone might possess rely to a certain extent on that capacity being demonstrated (ie, the former again).

What does this mean to PR practice right now? Well that depends on your flavour of practice, characterised rather usefully at this juncture by Andy Green as simply old school and new school. Read more

“A New Balanced Scorecard for Communications” – a critique

The Business of Influence, Sheldrake, Wiley, 2011

I've just been pointed to a recent post by Tim Marklein on The Measurement Standard, A New Balanced Scorecard for Communications. I can't endorse it as it stands, as I understand it, and this post explains why.

For a bit of background, this summary of the Balanced Scorecard and associated Strategy Maps is based on the one in my book, The Business of Influence, and is one of my post popular webpages attracting thousands of visitors every month ;-) Do check it out if the Scorecard is new to you.

Having been frustrated by the very narrow practice of public relations, by the plain wrong approaches to alignment and performance measurement, and by the seeming isolation of the PR function from the rest of the business at a time when its best qualities are more vital than ever, I sought in 2009 to crystallise my ideas to help organisations transition to a more relevant and mutually valuable model. Knowing that organisational change is hard, I focused on the dominant way some of the world's largest and most successful businesses seek to articulate and guide performance – the Balanced Scorecard – in order to tap into the monster's own strengths, jujitsu style.

I called the resultant framework the Influence Scorecard, and I was delighted that Robert Howie, then the Director of the Kaplan Norton Balanced Scorecard Hall of Fame for Executing Strategy, penned the foreword. Read more

Recoding public relations

PR Genome conference New York 2015

Having co-founded, built and sold a PR consultancy. Having written a book on reframing marketing and PR for the digital age that's now recommended reading across a number of under- and post-graduate courses. Having made some of the first presentations to the PR profession on the implications of the Internet of Things, the Semantic Web, and machined media. And having co-founded the CIPR's prolific social media group, I have it appears left the profession. And for some good time now.

I've taken the best the PR profession and academe have to offer the world, and then determinedly escaped its narrow practice. I've found I can now offer consultancy that isn't framed by preconceived ideas of PR. I can combine it with management consultancy more broadly, with org design and social business, with digital transformation and web science, without anyone saying "that's not PR!"

It does I admit help that I am a chartered engineer. Engineering is my nature. I will always be an engineer, but my association with PR is always framed these days in the past tense, if only to disassociate myself from inadequate and inappropriate context.

21st Century public relations isn't a synonym for media relations, or earned media, or simply "communications" come to that. It isn't publicity or, worse, spin. It isn't a side function and it's definitely ill-suited as a marketing function. Read more

Marketing and PR and the General Data Protection Regulation

EU citizens

My main character in Attenzi – a social business story, the CEO Eli Appel, has this to say over lunch with his chairman:

Good business is about cooperative and interdependent relationships, always has been, yet the humanity was lost when organizations scaled way up during the 20th Century. We want to make those relationships more human again, but the answer can’t be to scale it all back down. We have to scale something else up.

He adds:

... No business can really get to be social in a meaningful and valuable way simply by indulging in social media or by slapping apps onto social devices or by subscribing to a social enterprise network.

Eli is referring here to the visceral difference between 'doing' social (bolted on) and 'being' social (built in), and you know which one you're on the receiving end of in any given situation right? Read more

Introducing the hi:project

hi-project blog post header
The hi:project launches today. It's a synthesis of many of the things I care about, from the original decentralizing visions for the Internet and Web, the aspiration that digital technologies can help people relate to each other better and understand each other better, and the idea that we might connect to each other without wondering who's monitoring our every action.

I believe that making all variety of organization more agile, more valuable, more useful starts by empowering all the individuals that play a role in the organization's success. The creation of mutual value begins with acquiring self-knowledge and mutual understanding to effect mutual influence, and this is exemplified by the question that concludes Attenzi - a social business story:

Do you help all the individuals associated with your organization (employees, customers, partners, suppliers, shareholders, etc.) build worthwhile relationships with each other and others, coalescing by need and desire, knowledge and capability and shared values, to create shared value?

Are we really going to answer this question satisfactorily by having everyone interface with the digital world similarly? By having them come to each machine in turn than have the machines come to them? I think not.

Introducing the hi:project. I hope you'll join in.

How is PR changing and who’s going to do it?

Padrão dos Descobrimentos, Tagus River, Lisbon
I've had a number of questions thrown at me by students in their dissertation deliberations these past weeks. I'm not going to post them all here as there is overlap as you can imagine, but this one complements nicely the Q&A with Phillip Casey (and here) at Newcastle University.

Silvana Paules

Silvana Paules

Silvana Paules is a post-graduate student undertaking a Masters in Strategic Management of Public Relations at the Higher School of Social Communication, Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa. (I took the main photo here on a trip to the Instituto Politécnico in 2011.)

Here are the answers I offered to some of her questions, and I start with a relevant extract from Chapter 10 of The Business of Influence.


The Chief Influence Officer (CInflO)

The incumbent [of this role] is charged with making the art and science of influencing and being influenced a core organizational discipline – charged with executing the Influence Scorecard. They will be keen to network with peers in other organizations, to share best practice, to identify, refine and codify proven techniques, and to flag up unseen or unanticipated flaws in the processes described in this book [and others].

In my opinion, the role of Chief Influence Officer will be regarded as being on a par with the COO, as CEO-in-waiting.

The Business of Influence, Sheldrake, Wiley, 2011Ideally, the Chief Influence Officer will have a varied background covering marketing, PR, customer service, HR, product development and operations – just the kind of trajectory frequently mapped out for ‘future leader’ types. They will probably have more experience in one or more of these over others of course, but will set out as a matter of urgency to orient themselves in the areas of the organization with which they have least experience, working hard to establish a thorough and lasting rapport with functional heads and all stakeholder groups. They will excel at interpersonal communication, inspire confidence and a can-do attitude, and know instinctively when to crack resistance one-on-one and when to draft in support from the CEO.

Given the not inconsiderable change management, collaboration and coordination challenges, boards will look in-house for candidates with extant strong organization-wide interpersonal relationships and a reputation for making change happen from both the hard and the soft side of things. Appropriate candidates will recognize that the task is not achievable alone, particularly without unanimous and unequivocal board support – which they will be intent on working hard to secure, if not already manifest by his or her appointment.

The candidates will be highly numerate, probably having taken a statistics or research methodologies component to their university degree.

They will be ‘digitally native’. They will be curious and indefatigable by nature, and able to identify and exploit opportunities as rapidly as they identify and learn from failure.

They will be comfortable living simultaneously in both the extreme, unrelenting real-time, and the future two to four quarters hence.

[...] They will particularly relish the harsh, unflattering light thrown on previously opaque and unconnected aspects of the organization, and the boardroom accountability this allows them to enjoy and demands they live up to. Read more

More questions of influence – size and complexity

https://www.flickr.com/photos/martinlatter/5576004597/ BY-SA
Phillip Casey, post-graduate student at Newcastle University, follows up our earlier Q&A with a couple more questions.

Is influence harder to manage as an organisation grows in size?

As before, beware the idea that influence can be managed per se. I'll assume you're referring to the considered design and monitoring of process, culture and operations more widely, to increase the likelihood that stakeholders are influenced and appropriate reciprocation is encouraged, in ways more conducive than otherwise to the organization achieving its goals and living up to its purpose.

Complexity of the influence system does tend to increase with organization size from my observations, and possibly by definition. But I'd caveat that by asserting that such observation should demand a response in organization design terms. Read more

“We called it influencing the influencers.” Adobe. Late-80s.

Adobe influencing the influencersYou have been influenced when you think something you wouldn't otherwise have thought, or do something you wouldn't otherwise have done.

In the 20th Century, the marketing department did marketing, the PR people did PR, and no job title included the word influence. To this day, no role or team or department in the typical organization incorporates the word, which is why I pivot my client workshops around the topic of influencing and being influenced – not only does it address the actual thing we're all interested in, it helps lower ego defence and removes functional blinkers.

Only very recently are organisations looking up from the typically too-narrow focus of PR, which for some reason appears to have restricted itself to media and analyst relations of recent times, and looking away from the pay-to-spray-and-pray domain traditionally occupied by the bods in advertising, to investigate the effectiveness of so-called influencer marketing.

While this is just a sub-domain itself of the deeper and wider influence system, I thought, given this trend, you might find the following 30 seconds of video interesting. It documents the efforts Adobe Systems went to towards the end of the 1980s to get its Illustrator software accepted.

We called it influencing the influencers.

Learning to measure and measuring to learn

PR measurement and evaluation
The CIPR is in the process of updating its research, measurement and evaluation guidelines (PDF). The current edition is dated March 2011 and harks back to when I used to chair the CIPR's measurement deliberations; the current initiative is being led by Matt McKay and Martin Turner.

Here's a short but important extract from the current guidance:

Every organisation should have a mission (why we exist), values (guiding behaviour), a vision (what do we want to be), objectives (breaking down the vision) and strategy (how we intend to get there / achieve the objectives). Given that measurement isn't just the detached collection, analysis and presentation of data but a powerful management tool in itself, a powerful way to align each employee’s day-to-day activities with the strategy, this cascade must continue robustly, transparently and visibly.

People perform as they are measured, so the measures must drive strategically important behaviour.

And as each marketplace is unique and as your organisation is unique, your strategy will be unique. And so, therefore, will be the suite of measures you design, deploy and manage by.

Read more