The PR Influencer

On October 18, 2010, I will have the pleasure of joining many of my communications colleagues at the PRSA International Conference in Washington, DC.  This year I’ve put together a panel to discuss a hot topic, “The PR Influencer.”  Joining me on this panel are Sarah Evans, founder/owner of Sevans Strategy, Mark Drapeau, director of public sector social engagement for Microsoft and Geoff Livingston, co-founder and chief marketing officer, Zoetica.  Moderating the panel is Kami Huyse, president and the chief operating officer at Zoetica.

Our session will focus on the “PR Influencer” and what it takes to become an influencer.  There are many different views on the subject.  Is being an influencer (whether it’s PR or any other industry) a matter of the numbers, a person’s reach or is it the personality and content that a person shares?  Is it their Klout (as in or is it the strong connection or bond that they form with the members in their network that make them influencers.  Are there different types of influencers, similar to what I wrote about in a recent post, highlighting the Visionary, Rising Star, Educator and the TechnoSav and why do we trust these types of individuals and their insight?  We’ll also discuss the new roles of the PR influencer within their own organization and how they can build relationships for a brand and drive value.

Vocus recently conducted a study called the “The Influencer Poll” and enlisted the help of Brian Solis to analyze the study results.  There are some very interesting findings about how communications professionals view today’s influencers.  Here are a few highlights/key taken directly from the Vocus study:

  • Influence is different from popularity but… An overwhelming 90% of respondents perceive a big difference between “influence” and “popularity.” However, qualitative review of open ended comments on this question shows the distinction is not always clear. A follow-on question also adds ambiguity, with 84% of respondents saying that there is a correlation between “reach” and “influence” on social networks.
  • Quality of network and quality of content have a defining impact on influence. The top contributing factors that make a person or brand influential include the “quality or focus of the network” (60%), the “quality of content” (55%), which tied with the “capacity to create measurable outcomes” (55%), and the “depth of relationship” a person or brand has with social contacts (40%).
  • Content is king, but context is queen. 50% of respondents said that the single most important action a person or brand can take to increase their influence online was to “create, post or share compelling content.”
  • Views vary on effective measurement. A majority, 29% of respondents, said “action” is the most important measure of effectiveness in social media, yet more than one-third (36%) also ranked “action” as the least important.
  • Senior execs are willing to pay for influence. 57% of respondents said they would be willing to pay an influencer to help “drive actions and outcomes.” Cross-tab analysis by title, role and organization provided additional insight as to who exactly is willing to pay for influence. A cross-tab analysis by title showed that the executive level, such as CEOs and CMOs (63%), would be most willing to pay for influence.

I look forward to digging deeper into this topic with my peers on October 18th to uncover the personality, credibility and the clout behind the PR influencer.  It’s a fascinating topic and definitely worth the time to study whether it’s the metrics or the personal characteristics that create influence.