An astonishing amount of mindshare has been devoted to influencer marketing this year. Interest in influencer marketing is at all-time highs, and based on Google searches for the topic, there’s little indication that interest will flag.
However, for public relations practitioners, influencer marketing poses significant challenges, such as:
- Cost: influencer marketing costs reach into 7-figures for top-tier influencers, far out of range of most public relations budgets
- Access: influencers guard themselves with agents, agencies of their own, and handlers, making working with them challenging in some cases
- Alignment: influencers can spend just as much time marketing themselves as a client’s message; without strict contract terms (and extra costs), influencers may be out of alignment with a client’s message
Given these potential complications, how might we leverage our public relations capabilities to align with or reach influencers on more traditional PR budgets and messaging?
Reach Influencers Through Their Media
The best influencers are constantly consuming information of value to their audience; depending on their niche, that information may be from industry publications. Thus, instead of – or in addition to – pitching influencers directly, what if we focused our time and attention on the publications they read?
This is a modern twist on an age-old PR strategy: by creating awareness in publications that our target audiences read, we help our companies and clients grow. What’s different is that instead of solely targeting the high-probability purchaser as an audience, we also target new media through influencers and non-traditional publications.
How To Find Influencer Media
How might we go about determining this? Fortunately, our influencers have already done the hard work for us by sharing what they read. Some of the best influencers share dozens, if not hundreds, of pieces of content every week. By analyzing what they share, we build a map of what they read and find most compelling.
Let’s step through an example. The Dreamforce conference is one of the largest and most successful conferences in the world. This year, over 175,000 people attended the massive event in San Francisco. Using our custom-built influencer identification tools, we examined hundreds of thousands of conversations from Dreamforce 2017 and distilled down the social shares to a list of the top 100 most talked-about individuals (excluding corporate entities).
Once we know who our most influential, most talked-about people are, we extract a year’s worth of their social shares. What do they talk about? What do they share, especially when not at an event? For our Dreamforce list, this comprises over 100,000 social posts.
Using custom-built software, we extract out the publications from this corpus of links to find what catches our influencers’ eyes and compels them to share.
We see the usual mix of traditional publications in our list; however, we also see a number of blogs and other media properties we might not normally pitch.
This becomes doubly true once we look past the top 25 or so properties:
Instead of a list of 10 publications that everyone tries to pitch, we have dozens, if not hundreds, at our disposal to reach the influencers in a particular industry.
Hit the Right Targets
The most skilled archer will never win a competition if they score a perfect bullseye on the wrong target. The best PR professionals will never deliver impact if they land great hits in the wrong publications. By using influencers’ own shares to identify the right publications, we stand a much greater chance of creating significant, meaningful impact for our companies.
Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology