Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide
Mar 09

It’s the audience not the influencer

by lisette.paras
Category: Technology

When I was a…

… systems architect I had the opportunity to design these whizz bang things that would change the world one company at a time <tone check: sardonic>. The problem with the world was that it wasn’t always ready for change. So one of the skills I had to develop was to convince the world that it really did want to change.

I would go out and talk to all the stakeholders top down, bottom up, left to right and ensure that everyone felt included in the process and understood the mandate.

After a while I started to get good at this and noticed that there were certain people who were important to win over. Most of them had been around for a while and their peers looked up to them. They said things like:

“The last time they tried to do this…”

“… the whole box and dice fell over and we spent months reverting to a paper based system. It was a nightmare.” When I came across people like this I knew there would be more deployment issues and helpdesk calls from the teams around them. It wasn’t all doom and gloom though.

“This is great!”

“Just what we needed, I’m so glad someone at head office was listening.” Sure enough, when we had people like that, they would be helping out at every opportunity to make sure it worked. As a result we had less problems or when we had problems they were of shorter duration and intensity.

I started to focus all my efforts on these guys…

If I could win over these guys, they would win over the rest, less effort for more reward right?


We had worked all weekend to cut over to new Whizz Bang 2.0 and my little influencer group tested it, and they thought it was great, the testers thought it was great. We thought we ironed out all the bugs. I was as happy as Tran.

By 10am on Monday morning, we still had no support calls hit the helpdesk. This was fantastic. By 11am I was getting suspicious. There are always at least one or two questions. I asked the engineers to check the load on the servers.

Do you see the tumbleweeds?

Barely anyone was using it! I called the influencers and they said that most people thought they needed to use it when the old system worked fine. I had to dig further, so I walked around and chatted to people:

“It was so and so’s pet project anyway”, “It doesn’t do this”, “I hate it”, “Why is this box here and that one there?”

Translation: EPIC FAIL

Long story Jonathan, what’s the point?

In agencies we have good relationships with the media. This is important. It’s what many of our clients come to us for. As good as we are at media relations we should not forget that we are in

Public Relations

Not all PR is media relations. PRIA has a fancy definition with terms like “mutual understanding”, “deliberate” and “sustained”. I prefer:

Do good stuff. Tell people about it.

If you do good stuff people will talk. Do enough good stuff and people will respect and follow and you will get media coverage. Don’t do stuff just to get coverage. It’s hollow and media consumers will see through it. We need to listen. Social media gives us great opportunities to listen to what people want and what people don’t want from our clients, but there are also other ways.

Where we can we need to advise and counsel our clients on how they can do good stuff to increase the love for their brands. Coverage is a by-product of being a good corporate citizen, a good vendor to your customers.

Coverage should never be the focus.






Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide