If you work in influencer relations in Silicon Valley, you want to be at the Churchill Club this Monday March 1st for an evening event featuring John Byrne, Richard Edelman, Paul Bergevin, Peter Diamandis and Frank Shaw.

The event comes on the heels of the 2010 Edelman Trust Barometer, a global opinion leaders study mentioned in my last post. The Trust Barometer is freely available. Bring your toughest questions or just show up for a great evening of discussion, debate and networking.

I’ll be particularly interested to see how this year’s discussion compares with the 2008 event (my comments).

See you there!

What the Public Believes: New Trends in Corporate Reputation Management
Corporations are in the combat zone, struggling to build back trust among all of their stakeholders in the midst of the global economic crisis. Faced with an overall meltdown in confidence, how is corporate leadership—including marketing, PR, investor relations and public affairs—to respond? How should companies retool their communication strategies and address the right stakeholders with the right issues and strike the right tone? This panel of thought leaders speaks out on the most current trends and strategies for managing corporate reputation and sharpening stakeholder engagement.

Individual Churchill Club event tickets run $58 - $90, and normally it’s a cash bar. Reg, more info.

Hashtag will be #churchillclub.

Popularity: 15%

Barbara on February 5th, 2010

Ok, I’ve been heads down on projects all week. However, here are a few tidbits worth noting from the influencer relations world.

Philippe Winthrop, one of my favorite enterprise mobility analysts leaves Strategy Analytics today. You can continue following his adventures at his Enterprise Mobility blog.

Jon Collins, MD and CEO of Freeform Dynamics, is raising funds for Water Aid by running in the Brighton Marathon. More at his Nothing to Declare blog and at JustGiving.

And, if you sometimes doublecheck links to see whether you’re reading about Jon Collins or Jonathan Collins, well, you’re not alone. Just sayin’.

The 2010 Edelman Trust Barometer has raised all sorts of discussion with its findings like this: Trust in social media and mainstream media has dropped like boat anchors, while trust in CEOs has risen. Tech is the most trusted sector. Trust in financial analysts remains high despite their failure to predict/reveal risks big enough to sink nations. Freely available.

Expect to see this latest Edelman Trust Barometer cited as heavily as usual in analyst relations circles. Once again, it puts industry analyst reports (Gartner et al) and business magazine articles as the top most credible, most trusted source of information about companies.

Social media took another big hit this week with findings from a Pew Internet & American Life study on social media and mobile internet use among teens. Blogging has declined sharply among teens and adults under 30. From the summary, “As the tools and technology embedded in social networking websites change, and use of the sites continues to grow, youth may be exchanging ‘macro-blogging’ for micro-blogging with status updates.” Freely available.

Davos is a crucible of influence and influencer relations. My favorite quote this year is from Larry Summers, U.S. presidential advisor: the U.S. is experiencing “a statistical recovery and a human recession” (hat tip WSJ).

Popularity: 8%

Today’s Apple iPad debut has everyone talking, including the tech industry analysts. The launch presented an unusually high profile opportunity for analysts to advance their credibility, influence and client loyalty. All they had to do was get to market quickly (i.e., this morning) with smart, helpful analysis. Unfortunately, only a few did. Instead, most of the industry analysts paying attention to the launch focused on speaking through the press or Twitter.

I checked 25 analyst sites for “ipad” or “apple ipad”. Here’s the short list of analysts who put their clients ahead of their sound bites as of noon Pacific today. My hat is off to all them. They understand that communicating through sound bites and 140 characters is not mutually exclusive to sharing more meaningful analysis — on a real time basis — with clients and online audiences.

Mike Borland, BIA Kelsey, at the Local Media Blog: Hello iPad, We’ve Been Expecting You

Harry Wang, at Parks Associates blog: Will the iPad Kill the Digital Photo Frame Category?

Carl Howe on Yankee Group blog: First take on Apple’s Anywhere iPad

Ted Schadler on The Forrester Blog for Information & Knowledge Management Professionals: Apple’s iPad Will Come Into The Enterprise Through The Consumer Door. Again.

Jeff Orr on the ABI Research blog: Apple Joins the Media Tablet Fray with iPad Launch

Andrew Brown on the Strategy Analytics blog: Apple’s iPad…just where does it fit in the Enterprise?

Philippe Winthrop on his personal blog: The Apple iPad: The Enterprise Mobility Perspective

Maribel Lopez on the Lopez Research blog: Apple Makes Further Advances As The Premier Retailer of the Digital Age

Stephen Baker on the NPD blog: Apple Reinvents The Netbook

If you know of others that were published on January 27, please add them in the comments.

Editor’s note on updates to post: added Andrew Brown; Maribel Lopez; Philippe Winthrop; Stephen Baker.

Popularity: 5%

Many tech industry influencers think of Twitter as little more than a vehicle for extending the reach of their opinions. However, Twitter offers more to influencers than a bigger audience. It can be an aide in strengthening expertise as well. Combining the two agendas — improving expertise and expanding reach — makes good sense. One influencer who’s doing this is John Moore, founder of Chilmark Research.

John is a veteran industry analyst and an opinion leader on IT in the healthcare market. He was recently ranked in the top 50 tech industry analysts on Twitter, in a project using Edelman’s free measurement tool TweetLevel (see earlier post).

He provides a clear description of why and how he uses Twitter, including four tips based on his own experience:

  • Do not write off any technology completely
  • Define your purpose
  • Choose who you follow carefully
  • Be engaged and engaging

Check out the complete post. It’s one of the best explanations I’ve seen for people who are serious about managing their expertise and the reach of their opinions.

Popularity: 5%

Barbara on January 18th, 2010

download_t_logo_outlineHow do you measure an influencer’s influence on Twitter? Social media guru Rich Baker (@richard_baker) offers up a great tip from Joe Fernandez (@joefernandez), CEO and cofounder of Klout.com:

“The biggest mistake we see people make is confusing influence with follower count. Having a large number of followers is worthless if those followers are not engaged and paying attention to you.”

Klout.com is a privately held company that measures influence across the social web. For more on Klout.com, read the entire interview.

Popularity: 11%

Barbara on December 4th, 2009

Supernova 2009The Supernova 2009 forum was a worthwhile and compelling event on many levels: the mix of conversations, research, debates, and passionate and intelligent people — all from so many different facets of business, academia, R&D, media, law, government, finance.

Thanks so much to Kevin Werbach and Jeanne Logozzo of Supernova, the Wharton School, and the sponsors for organizing and hosting a superb gathering of minds. It was a privilege to attend.

I used to describe Supernova as a “mini-TED”. That was before there were mini-TEDs and before TED turned into its own kind of stylized performance art. Supernova is not at all a mini-TED. Supernova is a true forum. It’s as much about engaging as it is about listening. That’s a rare thing.

Mary Trigiani has posted a crisp written snapshot of the major conversations that unfolded each day at the Supernovahub. From there, dive into the Supernova Twitter stream using #sn09. Don’t delay. I’m guessing a few thousand tweets went out from and around Supernova. They’ll disappear in the next 10 days or so.

I took just a few photos yesterday, as Supernova 2009 wound down. Fortunately, talented photographers took lots of photos throughout the 3 days. Kendall Whitehouse, Howard Greenstein and others are posting sets at Flickr with the hashtag sn09. I understand videos are online as well; I haven’t seen them yet.

I’ll be blogging here about conversations and ideas and some products beginning Monday. For now, I’m happily heading into the weekend reflecting on it all.

Popularity: 3%

Barbara on October 19th, 2009

Britton Manasco sparked an interesting discussion over the weekend on PR, influencers and the caliber of a client’s vision messaging. Britton’s take:

PR firms, too often, are letting their executive clients down. They are encouraging them to stroll out in the public square unclothed and unprepared. Result? Their clients are exposed as leaders without vision… It seems to me that too few have the strengths, expertise and capabilities necessary to help their clients develop and articulate a powerful vision.

I agree with Britton that CEOs and other corporate leaders need to differentiate themselves and their companies with a compelling vision of their market. There are too few CEOs who inspire us with a vision of where we are and where we could go.

We disagree somewhat on how much of a role a traditional PR team can be expected to play in the development of vision. I say less, Britton says more.

In my experience, vision is not a PR project. Vision isn’t the result of a messaging brainstorm. It comes from everyday dialogue and reading and observation. The group of people best equipped to inspire and nuture a CxO’s vision come from inside the company and from the CxO’s peers also deeply engaged in the marketplace — external thought leaders from the ranks of management consultants, competitors, partners, academics, etc.

Check out Britton’s post and comments from Chris Selland, Ardath Albee and Steve Parker and me.

Popularity: 2%

Barbara on September 10th, 2009

There are several good reasons to replace the terms “influencer” and “influencer marketing” in the marketing vocabulary. What are the best  alternatives? I don’t know the answer, however I see signs of a backlash against misuse and abuse of these terms.

What are the issues with the word influencer?

To start, not everyone likes being branded as an influencer. As Evan Quinn so often tells me (and I’m not the only one), many analysts bristle under the “influencer” label.

Then too, there’s the growing confusion around who is an “influencer”.  As Duncan Brown so often says, not everyone is an influencer. You can’t transform anybody into an influencer. Finding influencers is just not that easy, even in the wild west of social media.

Finally, as Nick Hayes says, “None of us has ever seen anybody with a business card that says ‘Influencer’.”

By contrast, there are the outstanding examples where the terms are applied appropriately and best practices applied flawlessly.  Case in point: Don Bulmer’s program at SAP. Such clearcut instances are more exception than norm.

The right words are out there. If we pay attention, we’ll recognize them when we hear them.

Popularity: 15%

Barbara on September 1st, 2009

Transparency is one of the words that has become a victim of Web 2.0.  Everyone has their own idea of what transparency means in social media, and what constitutes embracing transparency.  A good example: the recent MobileCrunch expose on Reverb Communications and the Apple App Store.

The plot is simple enough:  an integrated PR-marketing agency has paid staff (whether employees or interns) purchase its client’s applications and then write reviews on the Apple App store.  MobileCrunch’s Gagan Biyani raised the flag because the reviewers do not include a disclaimer in each review that they work for an agency being paid to promote the application.  In other words, not enough transparency. Reader responses to the article — from Reverb Communications and 150+ others — reflect the opposing views on what constitutes transparency and acceptable standards of ethics on UGC sites.

This sort of thing is hardly news.  It’s been going on for years at “reader” product reviews at media sites.  Companies and their agencies have been planting positive reviews for as long as we’ve been reading them.  We — the audience — all knew that this was going on.  The only thing that has changed is the type of site where it appears. Few of us are surprised this practice is cropping up in social media and user-generated content sites.

So, what’s the moral of this story for marketers?

It demonstrates that marketers need to get past the notion that it’s OK to each craft our own definitions of transparency.  We need to come together, as the marketing industry, to agree on a shared definition and best practices for transparency.  The definition needs to span all the marketing silos — PR, advertising, marketing communications and every other marketing discipline — using social media as a communications channel.

Until then, all marketers are at risk of being viewed as little more than carpetbaggers intent on plundering social media sites for personal gain.

Popularity: 2%

Barbara on July 15th, 2009

donbulmer_sapDon Bulmer, the SNCR-award winning head of influencer relations at SAP, is forming an informal think tank project on social influence, and in particular, best practices for social influence. He’s issued an open invitation to participate and contribute content.

He’s outlined an ambitious agenda. In his words,

“As I think about this I am inspired to look more deeply at how social media has affected the dynamics and rules of ’social influence’ across a number of areas of society (business, politics, philanthropy/giving, personal productivity/advancement, etc.). To understand how the phenomena has affected the behaviors and motivations of people for greater benefit and activism.”

I’m in. Looks like a good opportunity to ponder influencer dynamics beyond the business setting and to do it in the company of great minds. Get the scoop at his blog. Or if you work inhouse on the corporate side, consider collaborating in concert with the Influencer Marketing & Influencer Relations Group at LinkedIn.

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