Editor’s note: This is the fifth in a series of 12 guest posts from industry executives predicting key trends that will impact the public relations industry in 2012. Hosted under the hashtag #PRin2012, the series began Dec. 19, 2011, with a compilation post previewing all 12 predictions.
There is influence in everything an organization does, and sometimes in what it doesn’t do. (You have been influenced when you think something you wouldn’t otherwise have thought, or do something you wouldn’t otherwise have done.)
While influence is often considered the domain of marketing and PR, it is far more expansive. Whereas marketing describes the process of making and growing a profitable market, in partnership with PR’s mutual alignment of the organization with its stakeholders, a wider, unified perspective on influence is demanded.
The irreversible change wrought by social media and related technologies, and advances in business performance management, such as the Balanced Scorecard and strategy maps, require transformation of the organization’s structure, culture, skills, policies and processes to secure competitive advantage, or simply to maintain viability.
The task of tracking the six influence flows (the influence between an organization and all stakeholders, and between the competition and stakeholders), demands a new skill set and a new job role that I refer to as the “Influence Professional.” The Influence Professional leads the charge in sensitizing the organization to the new dynamic, and more adroitly than the competition.
These individuals are digitally native, highly numerate yet ambidextrous of mind. They recognize that the game is changed and champion the transformation. They execute a framework, such as the Influence Scorecard, to effectively “socialize the enterprise.”
Do you have what it takes to be an Influence Professional, or indeed the first breed of Chief Influence Officer?
Few candidates will bear the ideal equilibrium of mind and capability demanded of the Chief Influence Officer role. The majority of candidates will have a tendency toward left-brain talents, selecting their team to counterbalance accordingly. I find it difficult to envisage the opposite working, especially if the bias away from left-brain talents is such that it impairs the incumbent’s proficiency in systematically and scientifically transforming the organization’s approach to influence.
Ultimately, however, I’m optimistic that the core skills and traits of the PR professional make for a solid platform in considering the transition to Chief Influence Officer, but it’s time for PR professionals to build out their numeracy and analytical capabilities. Indeed, if information paucity characterized the 20th century marketing and PR, so-called “big data” is both the challenge and opportunity of the 21st.
Philip Sheldrake (@sheldrake) is the author of “The Business of Influence — Reframing Marketing and PR for the Digital Age,” (Wiley, 2011.) He chairs the Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ group on measurement and evaluation, and co-hosts CIPR TV. He is a chartered engineer and founding partner of Meanwhile, the venture marketers.