The Public Relations Strategist

Authentic influence with Ogilvy CEO Christopher Graves

December 10, 2010

Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide’s Global CEO, Christopher Graves, spoke with The Strategist on Oct. 18 after presenting a workshop titled “Powerful Storytelling to Drive Business Outcomes” at the 2010 PRSA International Conference in Washington, D.C.  Here are some excerpts from our video interview with Graves.

On reaching consumers:
“You have to be all around them, all over them, but not pushing them, not pulling them. You have to let them stumble upon you. You have to let people tell them about you. Probably the best way is the most effective way, and not necessarily a reach kind of way or a frequency kind of way. The effective way is where somebody they trust says, ‘Hey, did you see the . . .’ or ‘I’ve got one of those. . .’ and it’s that instant confirmation from somebody you trust. That’s nothing new — the sort of word-of-mouth, peer-to-peer confirmation is very old. But you have so many more ways of doing that now and so many other perils of doing that badly.”

“If you come in a ham-handed way into social media, and treat it like a sales channel, you get massacred. At the same time, when you have many new ways that you can talk to [your audience], make new friends and engage, you have many other ways where you can be a phony. The authenticity of [talking] to consumers through people they like and trust is both a whole emerging and wonderful area and one fraught with peril.”

On the challenges of having many news channels:
“The challenge is to not treat them like channels because channels may come and go or individual platforms may come and go. The challenge is to look more profoundly at what’s happening in terms of community building, in terms of behavioral economics phenomena such as homophily, where people are sort of birds of a feather trying to find each other.”

On Twitter’s metric of influence:
“If you look at a metric of influence on Twitter, it’s the follower-followed ratio. In other words, it’s possible for me to have 100,000 followers if I solicit reciprocal following. And it’s possible for me to follow more people than follow me. So, that’s not very influential. Let’s say I follow 1,000 people but only 20 people follow me. I have no influence. If it’s the other way around, where I only follow 20 people but 1,000 people follow me, then I’m highly influential. So one of the things that’s coming out of this is it’s not just a matter of connecting, it’s not just a matter of noise, but it’s looking at what might be a true metric of influence: Does anybody want to hear from you? That’s age old.”

On mobile developments and the emotional aspects of storytelling:
“The rise of mobile- or location-based or app-based does no solve the problem of emotion, but it could. In and of itself, it’s not the solution. It’s back to how you can take this app or take mobile or take location-based technology and do something that tickles my brain with it — that makes me think, ‘Ha, ha. That’s cool.’ And more than that, that I’ll tell somebody about it. And that I’ll actually use it more than once. This is where you see hundreds of thousands of apps, but which ones [do] people find that make a huge difference for them?”


Amy Jacques

Amy Jacques is the managing editor of publications for PRSA. A native of Greenville, S.C., she holds a master’s degree in arts journalism from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in advertising from the University of Georgia’s Grady College and a certificate in magazine and website publishing from New York University.


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