What goes up must come down

Influence: like Plinko?

I've typically thought of influence tactics as uni-directional, in a downward direction.  I imagine that the traditional approach of getting a message widely disseminated consists of targeting a beacon and letting your message bounce down a pyramid of nodes, like Plinko.

A "good" beacon exhibits wide reach, in the media sense.  Traditional media fit the bill quite nicely here.  The better the beacon, the more widely your message will travel.  The more beacons you seed, the more pyramids you'll sow.

Tom O'Brien's comment on influence has got me thinking about how beacons operate in social media.  They get used in two ways:

  • Some programs target influencers as "quality beacons" that disperse messages effectively to a niche.
  • Other programs target influencers in "beacon quantity," reaching out to as many nodes as possible within budget – think mommy networks, BzzAgent.

No doubt, social media has democratized influence and both of these approaches work.

What if we turn the board upside-down?

But I wonder if there's another more surgical approach to outreach that doesn't assume a uni-directional downward message dispersion.  What happens when you connect to beacons that will transmit upwards instead?  Doesn't it follow that what goes up, must come down?

For example, I was recently emailed by an author who said that a certain trade publication wouldn't review a new book.  I know the book has been sent out and been reviewed by some well-read bloggers, i.e. quality beacons.  But wouldn't this have been more effective by targeting "influencers" who would be able to connect directly with traditional media?  I know journalists participate in pyramids like everyone else – but I'm pretty sure no one wants to write a story two weeks after it's been kicked around in the blogosphere.

Maybe this is what professionals already do…

Maybe this is just PR 101 and I don't know it.  I've never had any formal outreach training, which you can probably tell…so if I've offended the PR professionals who read this blog, I apologize – please enlighten me!

From the outside, it seems like today's blogger outreach should be happening at step two, preceded by a step one of more precise and surgical targeting of upward-facing influencers – and rarely, if ever make a noise within the echo chamber, let alone in public.