Philip Sheldrake

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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

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

Influence measurement – a contribution to AMEC Measurement Week 2014

In my last post on the topic of AMEC and measurement, I noted:

AMEC is the Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication, not "of Media"

I have taken that as the theme for my contribution to AMEC Measurement Week 2014, which kicks off Monday. Dr. Jon White is another influence who, in a recent exchange, pointed out that the problems of measurement in public relations are largely the result of the approach taken to management in public relations work.

This topic was one of the motivations for my writing The Business of Influence, although I can assure you Dr. White and others understood the problem way before me. I hope that the recommendations in the book contribute in some small way to putting this right.

For today and for Measurement Week, here are a dozen slides in substitute for the book.

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

Brand, PR, non-profits, and responsiveness – Q&A by Phillip Casey

Armstrong Building, Newcastle University
Having put my two penn'orth out there over the years I'm occasionally approached by students at this dissertation time of year. This week, Phillip Casey and I struck up conversation on Twitter. Phillip is a post-graduate student undertaking the MA in Media and Public Relations at Newcastle University (pictured) and his dissertation is titled Brand Image: PR in the UK non-profit healthcare sector.

Phillip Casey

Phillip Casey

I enjoyed responding to Phillip's questions, so, with his permission, I thought I'd make our Q&A public here. (It migrated to email in case you were wondering about a 140 character count.)

Where a reference consists of just a page number, it refers to The Business of Influence: Reframing Marketing and PR for the Digital Age.

1) Is a strong brand image important for a non-profit organisation? Why?

A brand used to convey ownership of livestock. Then it was an "our name's on it" quality assurance. This century, with product quality (defined as fitness-for-purpose) increasingly a given, a brand represents a nexus of values. If our values align with a brand, then I'm part of that brand. If they don't, I look to take my time, attention and money elsewhere. [Attenzi]

Organisations need to communicate their purpose and values in order to attract and assemble the right mix of people and resources to live up to its mission and pursue its vision. So brand, defined like this, lies at the heart of things. Read more

The Future of Organization – a video presentation on the major themes and some new provocations

Office building in New York

There's a lot to think about when it comes to the future of organization, and plenty to be optimistic about. Saying that, like any and all topics worth grappling with, it takes a bit of time to get up to speed on the depth and breadth of things. As a member of the advisory council for the Future of Work community, and part of the steering group for The Responsive Organization community, I know I'm not the only one looking to communicate these ideas effectively.

Mike Grafham and I talked about compiling a three-minute explanatory video, and I failed woefully at such brevity. This 42-minute video presentation aims to provide a relatively speedy immersion in some of the main themes, spanning human rights, complexity science, the death of heuristics, the six influence flows, personal knowledge mastery, social physics, trust, the digital nervous system, Web 3.0, performance and learning, public relations, collective intelligence, sociocracy, Holacracy, podularity, wirearchy, emergent civilzation, self-organization, organized self, socioveillance, the middleware corporate, Bread incorporated, distributed autonomous corporates, and the Mozilla manifesto.

Read more

Big data. Big trust.

trust

This morning, my colleague Hector Arthur pointed me to a new report from Ovum's Mark Little knowing I'd have a few comments to make. In the corresponding blog post – "Big Trust is Big Data’s missing DNA" – Mark kicks off with:

In the rush to monetize customer data, companies risk diminishing the trust people have in services and brands. Sustaining and growing people’s trust in services is not just about “doing the right thing,” but also makes commercial sense.

As I like to say in other words, big data is worth more when wielded with customers rather than at them. Ovum calls this approach Big Trust.

Big Trust strategies are designed to build “trust equity” with customers as a basis for making core services stickier, for selling new services, and for brokering personal data to commerce under a new set of trust principles.

Public relations

The outlook is informed, directly or indirectly I know not, by the excellence theory of public relations presented by James E Grunig more than twenty years ago, which champions the two-way symmetrical PR model. This model uses communication to negotiate with the public, resolve conflict and promote mutual understanding and respect between the organization and its stakeholders. My Six Influence Flows model from 2011 extends this work for the digital / social / big data age, and you can find out more about PR models in my post here if it's your thing.

Of course, this is not how the majority of practitioners practice PR, deferring instead to publicity and 'spin', which may be associated more closely with distrust than trust. But excellent practice is championed if, as a shrewd procurer, you know where to look. Read more

An introduction to Web 3.0 for Social Data Week

Next week is Social Media Week. That's well known. What's less well known is that this is Social Data Week, and this facet of social underpins a lot of the stuff on next week's agenda. Nevertheless, many people with social in their job description, from public relations to marketing to 'digital', are not yet fluent in the data foundations.

One aspect of social data that particularly excites me is the Semantic Web, often referred to as Web 3.0. According to Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, Web 3.0 describes the web as a universal medium for the exchange of data, information and knowledge. It's an awesome vision that's playing out right now.

BrandwatchBrandwatch is one company that understands social data better than most.

I've known Giles Palmer, the founder and CEO of Brandwatch, since I interviewed him for one of the first ebooks on social analytics all the way back in 2008. Brandwatch shares my enthusiasm for the Semantic Web and related technologies, so I'm delighted that the company has sponsored the production of this stack.

If you're procuring or reviewing your current choice of social listening, analytics and intelligence service, then check them out.

What, exactly, is social business?

I'm kicking off #SCRM13 in London this morning. SCRM stands for social customer relationship management, and my role today is to get some energy into the room and, hopefully, encourage delegates to look up from simply slapping "social" onto business as normal.

Unfortunately, that's precisely what many have been charged with doing. Those with appropriate powers of persuasion will effect organizational change I'm sure, but more to the point I feel that more chief executives need to attend Luke's conferences, a sentiment I'm sure he'd endorse.

I'll finish this short post with a quote from one of the characters in Attenzi - a social business story, chapter 60 (they're short chapters!)

"Don’t you want CRM to help you and the customer mutually, allowing you both to manage the relationship? Surely the value of your understanding how influence goes around comes around is enhanced when those you interact with have similar understanding. Or would you rather propagate the status quo – CRM as a construct to manage the customer? Who do you think best knows the customer in the round today anyway – you or him?"

Measuring Public Relations – a presentation

I was invited to kick off the CharityComms "Made to Measure Communications" event today. Being a fan of measurement, or business performance management more widely, I'm always excited about meeting new people and sharing ideas and insights, but given that many find the topic a little dry to say the least, I'm grateful for any and all interaction and enthusiasm event attendees might muster. And today's audience didn't let me down, so thank you for that.

As promised, here's the stack.