NEW YORK—With more and more public relations practitioners focusing attention on “influentials”—the 10 percent or so of individuals who drive public opinion—Ketchum has launched a new service it calls Ketchum Influencer Relationship Management. The proprietary approach identifies influentials, reaches them with appropriate messages, and measures relationships with them.
“In a time when people drown in information, influentials play a crucial role in how people think and act,” says Paul Rand, a Ketchum partner and leader of the IRM development team. “They serve to filter and validate information for people who want trusted counsel. Ketchum IRM becomes a marketer’s new currency in strengthening relationships with its most powerful and vocal advocates.”
Ketchum IRM draws on a seven-step process—segmentation, ecosystem mapping, prioritization and benchmarking, strategic alignment, engagement, measurement, and managing—and features an online portal through which clients can manage program progress. Ketchum says several Fortune 500 companies have piloted the program successfully to accelerate the effectiveness of their overall marketing campaigns.
Researchers at RoperASW have pioneered much of the study of influentials and say consumers and buyers increasingly look to this mix of key individuals or small groups possessing specific, relevant knowledge that can help simplify how they think and act.
“Today, a fragmented market has made it possible for buyers and decision makers to opt out of mass-market advertising, which means a different route must be taken to capture their hearts and minds,” said Ed Keller, chief executive officer of RoperASW and co-author of The Influentials: One American in Ten Tells the Other Nine How to Vote, Where to Eat, and What to Buy. “The Ketchum IRM program is a thoughtful and organized approach to help get influencers on your side.”
According to Ketchum, reaching consumers, buyers and other key targets directly is getting tougher, with the typical consumer facing information overload, bombarded by 10,000 to 30,000 commercial messages daily, plus an additional 200 or so personalized messages in the form of phone calls, e-mails, faxes and memos.
“Add recent questioning of corporate credibility to this mix and it’s easy to see why an outbreak of recent books, articles and stories question the value of simply using current mass-advertising and mass-marketing strategies while highlighting the growing importance of influencers,” says Ketchum senior partner and chief executive Ray Kotcher. “Every company today knows that it must do a better job of identifying and strengthening relationships with its key advocates. That’s why I believe Ketchum IRM is one of the industry’s and our firm’s most significant innovations.”