The limits of personal influence

28 Mar

It's a privilege to be in a position to influence young minds. I never forget this. But it's sobering to realise the limits of this influence.

In the past week, I've spoken to three groups at two different universities about PROpenMic to encourage them to join and participate. (This social network for PR students is a year old and has just passed 4,000 members).

As a result of this direct appeal, just one student joined immediately (no better than the one to two per cent response rate for unsolicited direct mail). I'm aware of the limitations of advertising, but had thought that personal influence would be much more successful.

I've noticed many students joining in recent days from another university I'm involved in (but not through my direct influence). I suspect they're joining because their peers are (third party endorsement and recommendation by someone they trust), but it's also possible that it's in delayed response to things I said months ago.

That's how education works. It's a much less linear and direct process than some people imagine. Just like public relations, really.

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