Atlanta CEO

Where Have all the Influencers Gone? Blanc & Otus Public Relations

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Where Have all the Influencers Gone?
By: Beverly McDonald, Blanc & Otus Public Relations

There aren’t just a few influencers in our market that control the message to the masses like there were five years ago. Influencers are everywhere today and, in fact, they outnumber actual companies. When the Internet, the most prevalent communications medium in history, is combined with people the result is pervasive word of mouth and the rapid rise of influencers. This combination has fundamentally changed the way we deliver and control our marketing messages to our target audiences.

In 1977 editorial and advertising held the position of the number one influencer for almost all consumer buying categories. By 2001 word of mouth became the primary influence for purchasing decisions in all major categories except fashion. A recent report called “The State of the News Media” demonstrated that daily newspaper circulation has fallen 11 percent since 1990 and the network evening news ratings have declined 34 percent since 1993. So in 25 years word of mouth has taken over as the biggest influencer of purchases for both business to business and consumer purchases.

This begs the question, if the influence of traditional media is declining, how are people getting their information in order to make purchasing decisions?

I would venture to say it is “participatory journalism” – blogs, micro media, 30+ million web sites and RSS feeds — comprise the way people are sharing information, interacting and influencing each other.

What does it mean to Chief Executive Officers?
When you are developing plans around your strategy to reach a target market consider that limiting your campaign to traditional promotion methods probably won’t deliver the results you and executive management are looking for. If your plans don’t have a component that speaks to generating heavy word of mouth, it needs to be added. Dig deeper when crafting your plans to uncover and segment who is influencing your market and how to get them to talk about you. You need to consider building your own web logs and developing your own influencers by using the goodwill of your happy customers or partners. Taking advantage of technology such as RSS feeds to get your voice heard can require a bit of cooperation with your IT department. Get started on everything early to make sure all facets of your plan are ready from the start so you can begin your campaign firing on all cylinders.