How to Engage Influencers (& Get Them To Care About You)
Public relations is a tough job. You have to fight to get journalists and influencers to care about your story, and it takes energy and effort to nurture those media relationships. But once you establish yourself as the go-to resource in your field and shift those influencers’ eyes from seeing you as a coverage-hungry PR monster to a respected thought leader, your efforts will have paid off.
So where do you begin in engaging influencers who could write about your brand or quote you in an article? It starts by giving without expecting anything in return.
Become Their Biggest Fan
Who doesn’t love it when someone shares their articles on social media? When you bring your pom poms to the party, you can quickly escalate your relationship with an influencer.
Sharing their content via social media is just one component of the formula. You should also become a regular reader so you get to know the types of content they write and leave thoughtful comments on their posts. Don’t go overboard with the praise and attention, but do make it clear that you are genuinely a fan.
What This Gets You: Don’t expect overnight that a journalist will prance your way and decide to do a front-page feature on your brand. In fact, don’t do this to get anything in return. Journalists can smell a PR pitch, even if you’re not yet giving it. What it will get you is attention. Journalists and influencers will open your emails when you do pitch, but only if your efforts to become a part of their world have been genuine and ongoing.
Do The Thinking For Them
Another benefit of staying on top of what an influencer is up to is that you may be able to give them story ideas based on what they’re currently working on. If you notice an influencer tweets “Researching mobile payments and looking for experts. Send them my way!” and you just read something interesting on the subject, don’t be shy about reaching out and suggesting a story idea, even if (especially if) it has nothing to do with your company.
What This Gets You: Because journalists have to try to maintain both breadth and depth on their beats, it can get overwhelming to constantly come up with topics. If your suggested topic is a good one, they just might take up the idea. And that, my friend, puts you in their good graces.
Be an Active Participant
If a journalist is looking for a quote on a topic that you’re an expert on, jump on the opportunity…but do it right. So many people respond to Help a Reporter source requests without fully reading what’s required, and that’s a fast trip to the Trash folder in a journalist’s email. Sometimes they want three tips on a topic. Others want an overview of your expertise so they can consider you for an interview. Read the fine print, and make sure you deliver exactly what they want.
What This Gets You: The more you follow instructions, the more likely you are to get quoted. Then you’ll be more likely to get tapped again for future articles.
Consider this the PR equivalent of the Slow Food movement. You won’t get overnight results, but if you work to engage influencers, they’ll pay more attention to you.
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