5 Things to Think About When Influencing Influencers
Mar 24, 2015
At its core, an interaction consists of three interrelated aspects:
- who – a person, company, brand, group you talk to or with
- what – something you do, say or give to them
- how – the way in which you accomplish what to who
For a successful interaction, you can’t really have one without another. Kind of like a spoon, Nutella and animal crackers. Or like tissues, Parenthood and a phone to call your mom.
In my entry-level PR life I was more focused on the who. I wrote a blog post called “Always ASAP – Media List Building 101” covering the basics for creating and keeping an up-to-date database of journalists. Shout-out to all of you making and maintaining media lists, at times it can seem terrible not so great, but know it is so very, very, very important to your teams and clients. No one is about that bounceback-email-because-they-don’t-write-there-anymore life.
Currently as Centerline’s inaugural Influencer Relations Specialist, I am still focused on the who as well as the what and how. Last week, I stumbled upon this article on Forbes: 68% of Journalists Unhappy With Corp Communications Pitches, New Study Reveals. Not really surprising but still, #wompwomp. It’s easy to forget what the end goal is when working with any type of influencer, traditional media journalist, YouTuber, professor, analyst, etc.: An effective and mutually beneficial interaction for all parties involved.
Simply put? You want to create a long-term relationship in which you provide related and timely content and they feature you/your clients in a genuine and positive way.
How you get to that successful interaction is actually very basic. Here, our approach is to connect with the right people in the right way, even if that is a more targeted and time-consuming method. We feel it’s much more authentic and successful to go out to the best contacts – sometimes that means only one or two! – rather than blasting a list of hundreds or thousands in hopes that they will not notice the stock message and respond with the outcome we want. We use a highly calculated (not) technique of old school keeping up with the news and trends, utilizing social media listening tools, attending industry events, becoming experts in what our clients do and just being generally awesome.
So, how can we better influence influencers? With the ways in which we engage changing daily, I don’t think there will ever be a hard and fast list of rules that can guarantee success.
With that, here are my current top five things to consider when trying to influence the influencers:
1. Stalk your influencers like crazy before engaging without showing you’re crazy when you actually reach out.
Never EVER rely on reporter databases to know what they do, where they are located or even their correct contact information. (Would you give out your actual email address and phone number to a zillion people fighting for your time, love and attention? Me either.)
Looking for influencers in a targeted area or region? Start by taking the time to double check their whereabouts on their Twitter and LinkedIn profiles. While you’re there, read up on what they’ve been up to personally and professionally and use that information wisely. Don’t be a super creep and start communication with “How was that weekend ski trip in the mountains with the in-laws?” But also don’t be a super annoyance and pitch them something completely irrelevant to their interests and/or beat: “You know what goes great with skiing? Big data and analytics software!”
2. Briefer is better.
It’s no secret we get a ridiculous amount of email and other forms of digital communication on the regular. All the more reason to keep it related (see point #1) and brief. Don’t say so much that you overtake the entire conversation… it’ll come off as calculated and forced. Leave them hanging a little, ask questions, get them to respond back to you and an engagement is born with all sides living happily ever after.
3. Don’t forget the goods, though.
While you want to keep it short and to the point, don’t forget to include all the awesome stuff you (or your client) has to go along with what you’re trying to convey. Pitching broadcast? Include a link to b-roll or related imagery. Interactive blog? Toss in that infographic and microsite. In the survey featured in the Forbes article conducted by ISEBOX, 80% of reporters expressed frustration in needing to spend more than 30 minutes obtaining multimedia material for their stories. Not surprisingly, 80% of journalists also feel photos, infographics and video are very important to effective and engaging content. Do your best to package together the details and paint the almost-full picture (they will want to keep their journalistic integrity) and give them reason to respond and engage with you.
4. Have a drink.
Alcoholic (if you are 21 and over and please be responsible), caffeinated or even a meal! Digital technology is amazing and should be used to its fullest potential without being creepy (again point #1), but it shouldn’t be the only form of communication. If location and legal rules allow, meet in person! Join a local organization or interest group, meet up with fellow college alumni, go to industry events, it doesn’t even have to be business or work related. In-person networking can be incredibly intimidating, but it is also a crazy good skill to have. Bring a friend or colleague with you! You truly never know where a connection is going to come from or when it will come in handy in the future.
5. Be realistic.
Influencers are people, too, and at the end of the day most of us aren’t doing surgery on babies. (For those of you that are, keep being awesome!) Take the time to build an actual relationship and have realistic expectations while keeping your clients/bosses/influence wanters honest and understanding that not every touch point or engagement will result in a huge movement of the needle. If you are continuously giving them reasons to engage with you, eventually the relationship will be mutually beneficial rather than one sided… like that friend who seems to forget their wallet all the time (hello, Apple Pay).
What would you add, change or take away from this list? Do you have a better system for finding and engaging? Is this the beginning of the end of the line in the sand between traditional public relations and digital marketing? Stay tuned for more on influencers and let us know what you’d like to see! I’d love to connect and influence your influencing, I can be found here:
A lifelong northerner, I began my career in agency public relations in Rochester, New York, later moving to New York City, working with a variety of technology and consumer brands from Xerox and IBM to Blackberry and KAYAK. I loved the fast-paced and entrepreneurial environment and learned so much about myself, client and people management, media relations and how to properly mail merge.
Now a relocated northerner and wannabe southerner, I still love the pace, people and spirit of agency life in Raleigh. As Centerline’s Communications Manager, I get to help amplify the amazing content that we produce as an agency and thought leaders through events, media placement, relationships with influencers and social media.