Home Influencing the Influencers: You’re Doing it Wrong

Influencing the Influencers: You’re Doing it Wrong

It’s no exaggeration to say that we each receive hundreds of pitches every week at ReadWriteWeb. Companies, through their PR and marketing folks, go to great lengths to get a little “free” press for their products. The problem is, most of them are doing it wrong. That probably includes your company, unfortunately. The good news is, it’s really not that hard to get it right. Just ask Mike Maney.

I caught up with Maney recently while I was at Monktoberfest in Portland, Maine. Maney is one of my favorite PR people, though he might not agree with the term. Maney says that PR pros, marketing strategist, social media gurus, advertising buy folks and creative geniuses are “dying.” In their place? Influence managers. These days Maney is going by “head of influencer management” at Alcatel-Lucent.

Why’s Maney one of my favorite people to work with? Maney gets a few fundamental things about communicating with press, peers, developers and other folks that many PR people don’t. First principle? “You can’t influence an influencer unless you are an influencer.”

How do you become an influencer? He gives the roadmap of the road to influence in a presentation he did recently and put up on SlideShare. Slide 26 has the good stuff, just five tips that every “influencer” should memorize:

  • You have to be part of the business.
  • You have to be as good (and as confident) as your spokesperson.
  • You have to be a storyteller, not just the person who pitches the story.
  • You have to get your hands dirty with data.
  • You have to engage and participate.

Being part of the business is a no-brainer. That means that influencers need to be part of the decision-making process from start to finish, or pretty close, to be effective. Otherwise, they’re left to tell a story they’re not a part of and may not be that compelling. It also means that the effectiveness of PR agencies is waning, bad. Online publishing is a fast and furious game, and the lag time for getting information out of a third party that’s not embedded in a business is terrible most of the time. That’s not to say there aren’t excellent PR folks in agencies, but… it’s not the world’s best scenario.

Influencing the Influencers

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Mike Maney

We get tons and tons of pitches, the best ones are from communicators who tell a story directly rather than reciting it as a third party. You can tell which folks are going through the motions, and which ones are excited and are part of the business they’re representing.

But the last is the most important: Engage and participate. The PR folks, sorry influencers, that I know that do this are few and far between. But those that do, in conjunction with the other tips, are usually quite effective. It’s a lot more work than the “pray and spray” approach of sending out press releases to the widest possible net, and then hoping someone bites. But it does tend to work.

The other thing Maney does well, of course, is not taking himself too seriously. Too many folks are afraid to crack a joke, talk informally and generally make a human connection with co-workers, peers, reporters, and audiences. Big mistake. The marketers that build and maintain relationships are the ones that do the best at getting their message out.

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