PR, Influence and the Future of Relationship Building: Interview with Ketchum’s Stephen Waddington

by Yi Zu, Marketing Intern, Nasdaq Corporate Solutions

We live in an age of influence where advice from relatives, friends and colleagues drives our purchasing decisions and shapes our opinions. Building successful relationships with trendsetters and thought leaders takes a well-honed strategy that connects the right content to the right audiences in a useful, meaningful way. Because of its deep roots in the art of influence, public relations is ideally positioned to lead the charge.

At the recent World Public Relations Forum in Toronto, our digital correspondent Deirdre Breakenridge (@dbreakenridge) spoke with industry experts to gather insights on the impact of social media and technology on PR, the keys to relationship building with influencers, and why measurement is critical to success. Stephen Waddington (@wadds), Partner and Chief Engagement Officer at Ketchum, spoke with Deidre about the challenges and opportunities that exist for brand marketers, and what the future holds for PR. You can watch Stephen Waddington’s interview here and read the highlights below.

What attracts companies and influencers?

When it comes to identifying the right influencers for a company and building relationships, Stephen says honesty, openness and integrity are the driving values that must be aligned. Sharing common values and objectives is imperative for a healthy coexistence between an influencer and a company because it allows both to mutually build and share value with the communities that they represent.

How can PR measure the performance and success of influencer programs?

Stephen cautions that while quantitative indicators such as reach, resonance and impressions can measure the impact of an influencer program, he emphasizes that measuring results against established qualitative business objectives is paramount. He emphasizes that building value goes beyond numbers: “Numbers are a proxy, but you have to get to the value at the end.”

How does technology help PR build relationships with influencers?

Technology can help make connections between people and brands. It can create familiarity between the company and the influencer before (or even without) engaging in a human relationship. But Stephen is quick to underscore that a meaningful relationship — when a company connects with an influencer on a personal level — needs to go beyond technology because relationships are about real people:

“Technology can do an awful lot to help us identify, understand and listen — it can do a lot of the legwork in planning and starting to build a relationship. But technology needs to hand off at that point and relationships need to be human.”

Who owns the future of relationship building?

Because social media is so impactful on an organization and touches every department from customer service to sales, everyone within the company has a responsibility for managing relationships. But public relations needs to take the lead role and in its practice of reactive and proactive efforts with engaging and building relationships with customers.

Yi Zu is a Marketing Intern supporting Nasdaq Corporate Solutions. He is currently in the summer internship program in 2016 and is planning to return to Boston University to complete his B.A in Economics and B.A and B.S.B.A in Strategy and Innovation in May 2017.

Nasdaq Influencers helps you identify the most relevant people and communities in your industry, letting you share your content with the right influencers and build relationships with the right audiences. Integrated within GlobeNewswire, Influencers fits seamlessly in your communications workflow. Unlock the power of influencers to make new connections, amplify your brand and drive better business results. Learn more about Nasdaq Influencers.


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