Uncategorized Melvin Yuan on 24 Feb 2008
I also mentioned two theses, or areas of research, that I will embark on outside my work for clients. I’ll save the second thesis for my third ‘year-ahead’ post following this, but here’s my primary interest:
‘Omnifluence’ is a word I coined early last year when thinking about the changing dynamics of influence and its impact on business leadership, marketing goals… and everything else!
It’s a contraction of the words ‘omni’ and ‘influence’, and is pronounced ‘om-ni-flu-ence’ (removing the ‘in’ from ‘influence’).
It recognises that Influence is not linear, uni-directional and time-bound; but is 360-degree, multi-directional and 24/7. Not a straight-line, but a map of interconnected nodes.
And for me, ‘Omnifluence’ perfectly sums up the all-encompassing characteristics of Influence that business leaders and marketing professionals must deal with today.
Why Omnifluence? Because that’s what PR is really all about.
From the start, I’ve loved the discipline of Public Relations for what it stands for, and the role it plays. But for too long, the practice of PR has been almost entirely focused media, analyst and government relations. And that has frustrated true PR believers because it puts the emphasis on ‘influencer-relations’ and ‘coverage’ when it should be on ‘Influence’ and ‘business results’.
Understanding Influence and knowing how to deal with Influence will be our key to a seat in the C-suite. That’s when PR strategy will start meeting business objectives instead of purely communications or marketing objectives.
Why PR could never succeed… And what’s different today.
As an Infantry Officer (in Singapore’s conscript civilian army), I know that military strategy will only be as good as the effectiveness of our weapons and the ability of our soldiers.
In the same way, PR professionals could never master the craft of Influence because our tools for the task were ineffective (think press releases, articles and events) and our measurement was flawed (think size of news coverage and the ad-dollar equivalent). Both never did translate to direct impact and measurable results that businesses really need.
But today we have the right tools (think blogs, micro-sites, e-mails, search engines etc.), the right knowledge (in search, digital storytelling and social media), and better ways to measure business (not communication) results (think click-throughs, readership and online decisions).
We have what it takes to communicate directly, track and measure results effectively, making Influence as much a science as it is an art.
And so, Omnifluence is my one-word proposition for an entirely new way of thinking about Public Relations and Influence. Influence. Not communicate. Achieve business results. Not simply fulfil marketing objectives. Measure real results. Not resolve outcomes.
Chief Influence Officer and Integrated Influence Agencies
I assure you that in the near future, we will see the appointment of Chief Influence Officers. They will be generalist-specialists who understand the art of communication, the science of measurement, and the strategy of orchestrating a concerted PR effort so that everything and everyone in an organisation communicates. And that impact is tracked and measured. Their mandate will be to develop integrated perspectives towards all stakeholder groups; and to work with every function in the organisation in the way I alluded to in my post last April on the concerted PR 2.0 effort.
A quick search today will show that a couple of designated Chief Influence Officers exist. But I’m not talking about theorists or academics. I’m talking about practitioners who can say: here’s the strategy, here’s the message, here’s what’s happening and here are the numbers to prove it works. The art, science, and math of Influence.
We will also see PR agencies evolve into Integrated Influence Agencies. The one reason why I love and joined Waggener Edstrom is because while every other PR agency is thinking about blogger relations and viral videos, WagEd is way ahead of the curve in presenting the ‘Changing Influence Model’ as a primary paradigm for strategy development; and ‘Integrated Influence’ as a core tenet in its approach towards PR strategy.
And the third trend we will see is the emergence of Influence Specialists from the ranks of PR professionals – individuals who know how to craft a story, tell it in the most engaging way possible, track the immediate, consequent and residual effects of that story, and measure the results in terms of reader-engagement, click-throughs, online purchase decisions etc.
Moving PR into the boardroom
Communication has been, and will always be a vital part of PR. But as long as we think of ourselves as in the business of communicating, we will only take incremental steps forward.
Omnifluence – or the measure of our effectiveness in influencing the entire stakeholder universe will enable us to make the quantum leap.
Note: To keep the conversation here focused on PR 2.0, I’ve created a separate blog for Omnifluence. I can’t promise frequent or regular posts there because my end-in-mind is a book – and the chronological structure of a blog runs somewhat contrary to the outline of a book. But I’ll provide updates on any significant progress I make in my research, as well as links to useful resources if you’re interested in the subject.