Winning friends and influencing people

Chris Brogan has an excellent post on his site this week on how to influence him, and it translates to how to reach out to anyone either online or not.

One of the key points he makes is “don’t let the numbers fool you” and that is so important. I’ve blogged a bit about this before and according to some of the AHA crew, I am a bit obsessed right now with this topic. It’s not how many people you reach, it’s which people. Reaching a blogger with 100 key readers or one with a wide-range of 10,000 creates different results, but the one with 100 readers may be of more value to your organization.

He also touches on building up a relationship, and he’s right. He also admits it doesn’t scale, but—and I admit that this is much simpler to do when you are a small agency like we are—we pay attention to the fields/industries of our clients. It’s part of our role to understand their areas of expertise. We’ll never be as knowledgeable in this area as our clients, but we get in there and read blogs, we follow people on Twitter to learn more, and we subscribe to the trade publications and follow the topics in traditional media. We participate and often that means we build relationships ahead of time. We spend some time listening and learning before we start talking and I think that helps us to connect. We will never be able to build a relationship with everyone before we reach out, but it certainly helps when you have a reputation for getting involved, listening and learning before you do.

He also hits on what we, at AHA, believe is a key point that it’s important to get out and talk with people and not pass this “task” on to a junior person. Both Paul and I are the key people when it comes to blogger and media relations. In many campaigns, we often recommend that our clients take on components of the outreach as well, connecting directly, person-to-person. Not the communications person, but those on the senior executive. It’s a different approach to communication that fits the new world we live in. It makes a difference in the result and the fact is, it can be an important exercise for the person reaching out. We’ve had CEOs and SVPs tell us that by doing this they received valuable feedback (good and bad). We’ve seen some solid partnerships formed because of this type of one-on-one outreach and one CEO in particular told us that it reenergized him in his role. He hadn’t realized it until he got involved in an outreach campaign that he had only been speaking to people like him. He remembered why he got into the industry in the first place and reignited his passion for what he was doing. And the organization garnered some solid coverage in both the blogosphere and traditional media. Well worth the time and effort.

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