Just as traditional media evolves and becomes more digital, so does media relations. While targeting key reporters and top-tier publications is still at the core of PR efforts, there’s one more emerging avenue that can’t be overlooked: digital influencers.
Digital influencers are social media movers-and-shakers, the bloggers with a huge following and the people who practically invented word-of-mouth marketing. They’re not exactly traditional reporters and editors working for an established publication; they’re the CEO with 35,000 Twitter followers posting interesting bits from their area of expertise.
In today’s digital arena, harnessing the power of digital influencers for PR can do wonders for a campaign.
Think of it as Social Media Relations.
Identifying digital influencers is relatively easy, but can also be reasonably time consuming. The process involves taking a deep-dive into social media to find the digital influencer trifecta: people with a solid following, an engaging voice and an area of expertise.
Search smartly on social media for keywords and hashtags that represent the vertical or topic you’re looking to reach. Find competitive businesses or specific reporters on Twitter, and discover who they’re following. It’s a game of cat and mouse where you’re not looking for traditional reporters but for influencers in the digital marketplace.
It’s also smart to identify the most-used hashtags for each topic to help ensure you’re becoming part of the right conversations. Searching for both account and hashtag information is easy with inexpensive tools like Twitonomy.
Once you identify a group, start casually engaging them. A hard-sell or pitch at first could be a turnoff, regardless of how compelling the piece of information is. Instead, follow each digital influencer and begin interacting, retweeting, favoriting, liking and commenting. Once you build a relationship, pitching appropriate news or information will seem less like a one-off sale and could result in a mention to their massive list of targeted, interested followers.
You can also do the entire process on platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. For those social sites, target groups – rather than accounts – filled with engaged professionals in a specific field. For example, if your next campaign includes a thought-provoking video about data security, find groups dedicated to IT leaders, CIOs and other potential influencers.
As the media evolves, so must media relations. Using social media as a means to find digital influencers is one way of bolstering your public relations initiatives beyond traditional publications. It’s digital public relations.