The Data-Driven Influencer Strategy

Building relationships and delivering results with media insights

While the term “influencer” has come into vogue in the past few years, building relationships to advance a company’s goals is as old as PR itself.

What’s new — and what separates the most successful communications teams from the pack — is using sophisticated analysis to guide a brand’s influencer strategy. This gives PR experts a clear playbook for proving the value of their initiatives and becoming strategic partners to their businesses:

  1. Uncover new influencer opportunities using insights hidden in the context of your coverage
  2. Cultivate and nurture strong relationships with those influencers, using data to personalize your outreach
  3. Measure the positive impact of influencer outreach on the company’s KPIs

If you can uncover influencer opportunities faster than your competition can, then produce data that ties your influencer program to business outcomes, you can quickly become a strategic asset to your company

Quality media analysis gives you that edge.

Find the Brand Evangelists Hiding in Plain Sight

As wonderful as it would be if Guy Kawasaki blogged about your B2B software or Kim Kardashian sold your beauty products, some of your brand’s most powerful potential influencers aren’t even on your radar.

No matter how many alerts you set up, they won’t catch every opportunity. This is especially true on social media, as many algorithms don’t pick up on patterns in short‑form content without the aid of hashtags or user mentions.

The good news? If you can find those hidden gems, you can carve out industry whitespace before your competition discovers it. Here’s how:

  • Review articles and posts from a variety of traditional and new media sources to catch social conversations about topics related to your brand.
  • Overlay demographic information to uncover people who are engaging with or writing about your brand and growing in influence.
  • Look at the context and underlying sentiment of the coverage you’re getting. Who already promotes or supports your brand? How can you leverage that passion?

Brand Safety: When Influence Turns Into Baggage

What happens when you don’t use data to vet an influencer thoroughly?

In early 2017, Disney famously severed ties with one of its most visible influencers, YouTube streamer PewDiePie, after a series of racially insensitive stunts cast a shadow over the family‑friendly brand.

Quality data analysis can bring many troubling behaviors to light before they have the chance to tarnish your reputation. Investing more time into research can keep your communications team out of crisis mode.

Use Data to Perfect a Personalized Pitch

Pitching is like dating. You find an influencer you think is the right match, craft what you think is the perfect opening, and then — often, silence. Worse, you might get a snarky reply. If you miss the mark completely, you could end up on a listicle about terrible PR pitches.

Accurate analysis provides an invaluable assist here. Every PR pro knows that research is key to striking the right chord with a reporter, but nobody has the time to read everything someone’s ever published. Your author and outlet databases are a start, but they mostly focus on what and where those authors write, not how they cover a topic. Analyzing how someone has written about a topic, industry, or competitor is critical for your outreach.

This dashboard provides a 360° view of what an author is writing about, including outlet power (reach), how many times an article was syndicated, tone for your brand, significance of the brand mention, and the trending score for that article.

Use Data to Prove Your Influencer Campaign Is Delivering

By finding the right channels and personalizing your outreach, you’re already setting your influencer campaign up for success. If you have data to prove your influencer program is knocking KPIs out of the park, you have the leverage to advocate for more communications resources and budget.

Ways to Measure Influence

  • Sentiment and tone. Measure tone on your brand, your executives and spokespeople, your products and services, your industry and competitors. How does that tone map to your reputation drivers, corporate values, and goals?
  • The frequency of coverage. How often does a particular influencer or platform write about — or at least mention — your industry? Your brand?
  • Audience reach. How many followers does an influencer have on their social platforms, and are those the right platforms and the right type of influencer for broadcasting your brand’s message?
  • Audience engagement. How often are an author’s articles viewed and shared? Does engagement increase depending on which experts or spokespeople are quoted, and how often a particular SME is quoted?

Measure Influencer Success As It Happens

Start by establishing your baseline across brand values, from the quality of your products and services to the public perception of your corporate culture. By watching these data points over time, you can get strategic about adjusting your messaging, surfacing additional influencers, or reconfiguring your media outreach.

All of this improves your chances of success, provided you’re getting the right insights about the right data.

Gain Deeper Insight Into Your Influencer Strategy

In this PublicRelay chart, the bubble sizes denote the reach of the publications each academic influencer appeared in. This illustrates that even though these experts are not quoted in a large number of articles, the articles that quote them are shared widely on social.

6 Types of Influencers — And How They Benefit Your Brand

Now that you know how to find the right influencers, let’s take a look at six categories of influencers, how each helps your company achieve its goals, and the questions you should ask to find the right fit.

1. Media Outlets and Reporters

Benefits of Author Relationships

  • Specific audience reach
  • You can tailor and pitch content you know they will use

How to Find the Right Fit

  • Is this channel relevant to your topic or industry?
  • How frequently do they publish — in general, on the topic, on your industry, and on your organization in particular?
  • What is the outlet’s or author’s social media reach?
  • What sentiments underlie their coverage? Is it positive, negative, or neutral?

2. Academics and Subject Matter Experts

Benefits of Academic Relationships

  • High levels of credibility and expertise
  • Sense of objectivity

How to Find the Right Fit

  • Is their expertise widely known?
  • How frequently do they publish?
  • How frequently are they quoted or cited?
  • What is their audience reach?

3. Celebrities

Benefits of Celebrity Relationships

  • High levels of credibility and expertise
  • Sense of objectivity

How to Find the Right Fit

  • Do they have an impact on syndication or social sharing?
  • Are they relevant to your brand?
  • Is their reputation compatible with your messaging and mission?

4. Customers

Benefits of Customer Relationships

  • High level of buyer-to-buyer trust
  • Genuine interest in your product or service

How to Find the Right Fit

  • Can they speak credibly about your industry or buyers?
  • What’s the customer’s social reach?
  • Does the customer’s media activity cast your brand in a positive or negative light?

5. Politicos and Pundits

Benefits of Political Relationships

  • Often have serious audience reach
  • Can bolster trust in your organization’s values if they align
  • Frequently in the news

How to Find the Right Fit

  • Are you in an industry that has to deal with politics? Is it better to avoid politics?
  • Is your business affected by party lines?

6. Your Own Spokespeople and SMEs

Benefits of Internal Influencers

  • Can demonstrate your company’s passion for its mission
  • Convey a positive company culture
  • Provide credibility and thought leadership
  • Easier to keep on message

How to Find the Right Fit

  • Are they positively impacting your brand?
  • Do they accurately reflect your brand’s values?
  • Is it likely they’ll have the necessary reach?

The PublicRelay Difference

PublicRelay brings the best technology and the best people together to deliver the insights that help you uncover and measure the influencers most likely to move the needle. Here’s how:

  • Fully analyzed results in near real-time
    Our team is responsible for making sure your media analysis is correct — no more valuable time wasted massaging “directionally correct” output. You can take our accurate analysis straight to the Board.
  • Insight into the impact of social sharing on your earned media
    Your Trending Score tells you how traditional and social media coverage interacts so you can be more proactive and strategic — leveraging each channel for maximum impact.
  • Context, not just counts
    Every article is categorized by what matters to you — from brand and reputation concepts, like thought leadership or workplace environment, to which authors are covering your peers but not you (and how to reach them).
  • An extension of your team
    We hire less than 1% of the media analysts that apply, so you get a dedicated, highly educated analyst located in the US that collaborates directly with you and your team.