Reach vs. Influence


An acquaintance of mine was upset by a decision made by an event organizer.  They desired a different outcome.  The board of the event held a meeting to confirm the decision made by the event organizer.  The acquaintance threatened the solid standing of the event by leveraging his significant social media presence to suggest a boycott of future iterations of the event.  It was an emotional decision, and clearly, this individual felt strongly about righting a perceived wrong.  What they failed to understand was the difference between reach and influence.  Their message would reach a large number of people.  Nearly all of those individuals did not participate in the event nor did they influence future versions of the event.  He could publish a sensational headline, but few people would read the article or more importantly take action.

Mistaking reach and influence is common.  There are a vast number of channels through which we can contact our affinity group (Seth Godin would suggest ‘tribe’).   The essential question is how many people will act on our behalf.  I empathize with numerous challenges faced by individuals.  Less frequently do I take measurable steps to help them solve a problem.  People must believe what we believe and then see themselves as uniquely positioned to influence the outcome before they take significant action.

Growing Trust from Broken Promises

John Oliver’s, Last Week Tonight on HBO produced a piece on the Miss America Pageant and Miss America Foundation that could carry ramifications and opportunities for the social sector.  His team investigated and revealed that the actual value of the scholarships awarded compared to the stated ‘provided’ value of the scholarships represent during the pageant’s telecast equate to an eye-opening difference.  John stated the pageant “gives out way less than the 45 million dollars in scholarships (he claims less than $4-million) and yet two, whatever the number is one thing does still seem to be troubling true…because even their lowest number is more than any other woman-only scholarship we could find.”  Instead shining the spotlight completely on the semantics and mathematical formulas employed by the Miss America Pageant and Miss America Foundation he challenged the audience to consider support woman-only scholarship organizations, such as: 

Society of Woman Engineers                              Patsy Mink Foundation                                    Rankin Foundation

I am not sure of the impact of this news story for the Miss America Pageant and Miss America Foundation.  It does not appear to immediately enhance the public’s trust in the social sector.   Perhaps the greatest opportunity for growth is that woman-only scholarship funds can use the conversation to share their purpose and offer a call to action.  When others break loyalty and trust, there is an opportunity to re-enforce the relationship each of us fosters with our own tribes.