Philip Sheldrake

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Tag: chief influence officer

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

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