Dec 06, 2018 / by Sarah Parker

how influencer marketing fits into pitching

We just talked about how social fits into pitching, and since influencer marketing is increasingly an integral part of social strategy, we figured that deserved its own breakdown.

Since journalists are only one kind of influencer, here's how influencer marketing fits into pitching, so you can pitch more focused and impactful stories in 2019 and beyond. 

The state of influencer marketing

This excerpt from The Atlantic sums up the state of influencer marketing pretty neatly: 

"The influencer-marketing industry has exploded over the past several years. According to a 2017 study by Influencer Marketing Hub, 420 new influencer-marketing agencies opened in 2017 alone, more than double the amount that opened in 2015. “We’ve seen the industry go from a rising marketing tactic to an essential part of most marketing budgets,” one executive wrote in Adweek. Analysts estimate it’s currently worth more than $2 billion, and could reach up to $10 billion by 2020." 

Two more studies recently came out, citing Instagram- and increasingly Instagram Stories- as the platform and format of choice for influencer campaigns. 

Influencer marketing is something your brand is probably considering, if you aren't already actively pursuing or engaged in it. You don't have to enter at the highest scale either; many brands are seeing bigger returns on micro-influencers, or even "nanoinfluencers". 

So how does this fit into pitching? We're glad you asked. 

Influencer + social strategy

Just as being socially savvy can enhance or even save a pitch, being influencer-savvy can do the same— and they're inextricably tied together, since most influencers are influential because of the audience they've built on a particular social media platform. (Especially Instagram, as those new studies show.) 

The key many brands miss in building an influencer marketing strategy is that they need to build relationships with influencers, not just hire them for a one-time "pay and pray" campaign or single post. 

Working over time to build and nurture relationships with key industry influencers means a purposeful, targeted pitch has a much greater chance of getting an immediate, positive response. 

It's no different than what smart PR professionals have been doing for years in building relationships with journalists; a journalist is simply one type of influencer. 

Rules for relationship building

First: Don't be creepy. (That's a good golden rule for brands in the era of balancing personalization in marketing with a growing consumer concern over data privacy.) 

Relationship building starts with awareness, so be sure you have social listening set up to stay on top of who is leading and contributing to influential discussions in your industry. These are the people you want to follow, engage with, and eventually pitch for an influencer campaign or partnership if it's a good fit. 

Do this in a way that's natural for your brand and that fits both your brand voice and overall PR strategy. 

Need more specific B2B influencer advice? A Handy Guide to Working With B2B Influencers from PR News is a great place to start. 

The biggest takeaway? It's all about building relationships and then working to maintain them in the long run. 

And if you're looking for tools to make the process easier (like TrendKite Influencer Management), we're always happy to help. 

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About Sarah Parker

Sarah A. Parker is the Content Marketing Manager for Cision, planning, producing and curating content across channels. She previously managed content and social media for several different brands, in addition to working as a freelance writer. Find her on Twitter @SparkerWorks where she is happy to talk all things social media strategy, the dynamic world of PR, and mastiffs.