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The Business of Influence: Reframing Marketing and PR for the Digital Age by PHILIP SHELDRAKE

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Contrasting the Six Influence Flows with the Traditional Emphases

It’s probably too simplistic but not too far off the mark to consider the historic focus of marketing and PR practice as being predominantly on the 1st influence flow (our influence with our stakeholders), with a bit of the 3rd in the form of the internal circulation of news clippings for example, and eliciting information with marketing research to improve one’s understanding of consumer preferences, attitudes, and behaviours (as long as you systematically ensure that these have an influence, of course).

Sometimes we also try to infer a 3rd flow (our stakeholders’ influence with us) from implicit data such as sales volume or growth – ‘it’s not selling as fast as we’d expected, there must be something they don’t like.’

Should a competitor have great success with their 1st flow (the competitor’s 1st flow is our 4th) then one might conduct some ad hoc research to find out how it acted upon stakeholders.

This traditional emphasis was probably down to a combination of what appeared to work at the time, what was expected at the time, and what was possible within the systematic and budget constraints of your typical marketing and PR operation. In my experience, too few marketing and PR teams have solid research capabilities, but this itself is an effect, not a cause – an effect of organizations’ inability to optimize resource to best meet the business objectives, but more on that later.

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