March 7, 2009

A great example of influencer outreach

From time to time I tell about a particularly bad job of doing influencer outreach at me.  But I don’t directly balance those stories with examples of good outreach targeted at me.  There are multiple reasons for this, including:

As an alternative, I’d like to share a particularly good example of outreach I just discovered in the political sphere. Last Tuesday, New York Times columnist David Brooks laid into the Obama Administration, writing

… the Obama budget is more than just the sum of its parts. There is, entailed in it, a promiscuous unwillingness to set priorities and accept trade-offs. There is evidence of a party swept up in its own revolutionary fervor — caught up in the self-flattering belief that history has called upon it to solve all problems at once.

Friday, Brooks wrote a follow-up column, saying

Within a day, I had conversations with four senior members of the administration and in the interest of fairness, I thought I’d share their arguments with you today.

Right there, you know something went very right.  An administration critic was pitched, and promptly chose to present readers with counterarguments to his own views.

Brooks didn’t entirely change his mind; that would have been too much to hope for. Indeed, he wrote:

I didn’t finish these conversations feeling chastened exactly. The fact is, after years of economic growth, the White House still projects perpetual deficits of more than $500 billion a year. That’s way too much, …

Plus, I’m still convinced the administration is trying to do too much too fast and that the hasty planning and execution of these complex policies will lead to untold problems down the road.

But he did change his tone, finishing with

Nonetheless, the White House made a case that was sophisticated and fact-based. These people know how to lead a discussion and set a tone of friendly cooperation. I’m more optimistic that if Senate moderates can get their act together and come up with their own proactive plan, they can help shape a budget that allays their anxieties while meeting the president’s goals.

More precisely, he reverted to and indeed went beyond one of the two tones he was vacillating between in his earlier piece, which ended

Moderates are going to have to try to tamp down the polarizing warfare that is sure to flow from Obama’s über-partisan budget. …

If they can do that, maybe they can lure this White House back to its best self — and someday offer respite from the endless war of the extremes.

In essence, Brooks changed his opinion — not on policy proposals per se, but about his perception of the Obama Administration’s approach. Instead of ignoring concerns such as his, they showed in fact they take such issues very seriously.  It’s not that Brooks is taking them at face value (and I suspect his skepticism would have come through even more clearly if he weren’t constrained by a print-page word limit).  But the mere fact that they’re engaging him in this dialogue, in this language, suggests — both to him and to me — that they deserve much more benefit of the doubt than he previously was giving them.

All things considered, that’s a highly successful example of spin. 🙂


25 Responses to “A great example of influencer outreach”

  1. Alison Raffalovich on March 7th, 2009 1:11 pm

    Nice to see the follow-through on administration rhetoric about engagement, accessibility, dialogue. Thanks for flagging.

  2. cirila on November 24th, 2010 6:26 am

    it is the individual whose opinions and views have some bearing on a given purchase desicion

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