I recently heard a great lecture about the idea of controlling or influencing individuals. It got me thinking. What is truly better? I’m sure when you get down to the nuts and bolts, it’s a very personal decision.

“The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” Ken Blanchard

In the fast-paced and ever-changing world of public relations and marketing, we often forget what our true purpose is. Is our purpose to control or to influence the community we want to serve or the consumer we want to buy our product?

By definition, control is to “exercise restraint or direction over; dominate; command.” The words used to describe control don’t seem very positive, do they? When you insert influence instead into the equation, how does it change the perspective?

The definition of influence is “the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.” I think this word has a more positive vibe.

“The people who influence you are the people who believe in you.” Henry Drummond

I’ve worked in the field of public relations for 25 years, and I’ve seen a lot of control when selling a brand or marketing a campaign. I’ve seen plenty of control in fundraising as well. Desperation is not a pretty sight.

I truly believe the best way to increase your brand is to be an influencer and engage with your audience through your content and your community in an authentic way. You need to serve others. Then it is truly THEIR choice.

In the long run, it’s more likely an individual will engage again and tell others about your organization or an individual if you are clear and consistent in your approach. Not controlling. In order to gain awareness for an organization or individual, you need to create a community and increase visibility and credibility.

“The greatest ability in business is to get along with others and to influence their actions.” John Hancock