Mar 23, 2015 / by Erin Feldman

Media relations isn’t only about who you know. It’s also about who’s talking about you. Third-party content, or earned media, can be the deciding factor in whether a reporter or journalist accepts your pitch. What can you do to increase the conversation?

One answer is found in working with influencers. Their content about your brand grows awareness and interest, “influencing” the media to give you attention and coverage.

Here are 10 tips for working with influencers as part of your larger media relations strategy:

1. Determine objectives and indicators of success.

As with any PR campaign, start with the objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs). Media coverage may be one of your goals, but what are the others? Do you hope to increase mindshare with a particular demographic? Grow interest in a product or service? Lead people toward purchasing an item or signing up for a newsletter?

Knowing your objectives and KPIs is important. It helps you determine relevant influencers and guides how you interact with and pitch them.

Want a complete guide to influencer relations? Get our free “How to Succeed With Influencer Relations” white paper now!

2. Map activities and outcomes.

Map Outcomes - Influencer Relations

To accurately measure success, correlate activities and outcomes. Look at existing data to develop benchmarks. Monitor influencers’ work and look for changes in the data. The changes may not be the ones you expected; then again, they may be. The information is helpful in all cases. Use it to shape future influencer campaigns and to refine the activities and outcomes map.

3. Research influencers.

Influence isn’t always a matter of numbers. It’s about quality reach, too. Who impacts your target audience? Those are the people you need to research.

First, research their communities. While they affect your target audience, they may influence others. Second, research their interests. Are they actually relevant to your product or service? Influence is largely about authenticity, so don’t ask them to participate in your campaign if they can’t or won’t do it wholeheartedly.

4. Connect with influencers online and off.

Use all your channels to gain an audience with influencers. Where are they active online? Establish a rapport with them there. When possible, meet them in person. Face-to-face meetings still play an important role and can be the lynchpin in an influencer campaign.

5. Feature influencers in your content.

Spotlight Influencers - Influencer Relations PR

If you want to win over—i.e., influence—influencers, feature them in your content. Interview them for a blog or video series. Ask if they’re willing to host a webinar. Use their quotes in visual content like memes, e-books and SlideShares.

6. Personalize the pitch.

As with reporters and journalists, personalize your pitches to influencers. Share why you think they’re an ideal fit. Establish the value for writing or creating other content about your brand and its product or service. Mention a personal detail you share, such as a love for Torchy’s Tacos or a musician.

7. Know the rules about influencer-created content.

Oreo had some of its work banned in the U.K. because the brand didn’t disclose who had created the content. Make sure you know the rules about influencer-generated content before launching a campaign.

8. Set clear expectations, BUT be flexible.

Set guidelines at the outset. For example, state what content is not appropriate. Give a deadline.

From there, be flexible. View influencers as co-creators. Let them use their unique skills and platforms to your advantage. Take Katy Perry’s “Firework” campaign as an example. She set guidelines that allowed people to explore their creativity.

9. Distribute the content.

Don’t let influencers’ content dissipate into vapor after publication. Treat it as you would any content created by your brand. Distribute it far and wide. You may just attract the attention of that reporter or journalist you’ve been pursuing the past few months.

10. Say “thank you.”

You may compensate influencers in some way or other, but it’s still good form to say “thank you” for their work. It’s also an opportunity to ask them to share content you’ve created such as the eBook that highlights their thoughts and/or opinions.

Want more influencer relations knowledge? Get this free white paper now!

What tips do you have for working with influencers? How have you seen influencer-created content impact your overall media relations efforts?

Featured Image: Sean MacEntee (Creative Commons)

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About Erin Feldman

Erin Feldman is the director of editorial services at Tenacity5 Media. When she isn’t researching, writing, and editing blog posts and white papers, she writes poetry and essays, draws her favorite Write Right character, and plans what art form to study next. She’s based in Austin, Texas and can be found on Twitter @erinmfeldman.