As the communications industry continues to become more sophisticated, it’s vital that your messages reach and resonate with your target audience. While crafting a strong narrative, writing attention-grabbing press releases, and publishing your own content are all important aspects of engaging your audience, these methods are not enough on their own. Today’s public relations leaders must understand how to partner with influencers to effectively deliver their message to the intended audience. In fact, Edelman found that 63% of consumers in a global survey trust what influencers say about a brand more than they trust the brand’s advertisements.
Types of Influencers
Influencers are individuals with established audiences – often in niche areas – that have built trust and authenticity with their audience. By understanding how to engage with each group and how they can impact the reach of your message, you can get the most out of your communications efforts.
There are three common types:
Social media influencers are people who engage with your social media content and share your company’s news coverage, ultimately extending your message to their followers.
Reporters with established expertise in your industry often have a dedicated following that trusts their endorsements. Further, they have access to publishing platforms which can broadcast your messages to their readers.
Third-party influencers are recognized experts in their field and are frequently cited by the media as an authoritative source. Though they are not affiliated with your company or the media, associating with this type of influencer can lend credibility to your brand messaging.
Why are Influencers Important?
Influencers are important because they increase the reach and impact of your messages by improving their visibility and credibility. By extension, you can improve awareness of and trust in your brand within your industry space.
By routing your messages through people with established audiences, their visibility can be significantly increased. You can also target people more directly based on their location, interests, or demographic profile. For example, if Floridians are your target audience, a reporter from a local publication, like the Miami Herald, is more likely to reach that audience than a national publication, such as the Los Angeles Times, despite the latter’s larger readership.
Reaching your target audience with your message is only effective if they also trust the source. For this reason, it’s essential to consider the credibility and reputation of the influencer you choose to engage with. For example, if your story is about a scientific discovery, a reporter with National Geographic would lend more credibility than a reporter from ESPN.
How to Find the Right Influencer
Determining the right individual to share your message is dependent on your communications strategy. However, we recommend partnering with those who can best persuade your target audience, rather than reaching out to dozens of people who are not aligned with your goals. In other words, opt for a targeted approach rather than a wide net. To find the right partnership, ask yourself four questions:
Who does your audience hear from and trust?
A thought leader’s visibility and credibility can go a long way in reaching and building trust with your target audience. By researching your target audience and determining their demographic and psychographic profiles, you can more effectively identify their trusted sources of information.
Who generates engagement with media coverage?
Reaching your audience is only the first step. For the best results, they need to engage with your message to build your brand. You can measure metrics, such as social sharing of media coverage, to pinpoint the topics and stories your audience care about most. This method will also allow you to identify the influencers associated with the highest levels of social sharing.
Who covers the right topics?
The most effective way to locate reporters who cover topics relevant to your target audience is to monitor coverage of your company, industry, and competitors. You can also find third-party experts in your field by tracking industry news, as well as making note of individuals or sources who are frequently cited or quoted.
Who portrays your company in a positive light?
Focus your resources on individuals who will act as ambassadors of your brand by portraying it positively, rather than those who will neutrally mention it. You can maximize the return on your outreach by tracking the sentiment of various influencers’ coverage of your company and your industry to identify those who will be supportive of your message.
How to Reach Out to Influencers
Once you’ve found the partnerships you’d like to foster, personalize your outreach to ensure each engagement is unique. There are a host of in-depth resources on engagement to guide personalization, from honing your pitch to authors to working with social content creators.
Avoid the automated, semi-personalized emails that only require swapping out names and key details. Personalizing your strategy starts with ensuring your pitch is aligned with the influencer’s interests and expertise. This method will help your message to resonate with their values and build a strong campaign that meets your communications goals.
Measuring Influencer Impact
As you begin including key thought leaders in your communications strategy, ensure you have a media measurement program in place. Not only will media measurement help you develop outreach targets, but it will also allow you to evaluate the effectiveness of your strategy.
At PublicRelay, we create custom media monitoring and analytics programs to help each client identify the influencers most valuable to their brand. Launch and measure your influencer strategy today!