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Influencer Marketing: Not Your Typical PR

April 6, 2009 

In my last issue, I made a case for extending PR strategies to encompass influencer marketing.  With mainstream media rapidly declining in scope, influence is increasingly being exerted from below by individuals using the power of self-publishing to reach out to their peers.

In recent influencer engagements, we’ve learned a few things about how to work with these new media. An important point to remember is that they do not behave like reporters. Journalists are skilled in the “game” that goes on with public relations professionals. You know, it’s the one in which PR is paid to keep pushing and the journalist is paid to be skeptical. The two parties engage in this back-and-forth with a wink and a nod, knowing that each has a job to do.

Influencers often don’t work this way. To them, their online outpost is a display of their passion for the topic that they cover. They care deeply about the subject matter and they usually know at least as much as the PR person who contacts them. Often they know quite a bit more. In some ways, engaging with influencers is like pitching to product reviewers.

Know Your Stuff

You’d better come prepared to this engagement, because some influencers will take lack of knowledge on your part as an insult. This can capsize junior agency people who aren’t prepared for the depth of questions they will get or the scorn they may endure if they can’t answer. Again, journalists know how the game is played, but influencers are more likely to expect the person on the phone to share their enthusiasm. I recommend you put experienced people on this job.

Influencers are also likely to have an opinion. While journalists are expected not to share any biases, bloggers often do what they do precisely because they have opinions to share. Fortunately, a little advance reading can often clue you in to someone’s agenda and even help you decide if they’re worth contacting all. You don’t want to come in with a strong Windows pitch, for example, to a blogger who’s passionate about the Mac. You also don’t want to be blindsided by someone who has made his or her opinions clear and who is offended by the fact that you don’t know them. Again, 15 to 20 minutes of reading can save you a lot of aggravation.

Finally, influencers are more likely to want to get their hands on the product or to talk in depth with the people who develop it. Unlike journalists, they’re probably not interested in analyst quotes or customer case studies. It’s more likely they’ll want to talk to the VP of engineering or the CEO than to the head of marketing. Before you start an influencers program, be sure that you have these people on board.

Their time will be well spent. The right influencers have as much credibility in their community as product reviewers or analysts. They usually have extensive networks of online and real-world contacts and they’re likely to have experience with not only your products but those of your competitors. Engage in a conversation. You might learn something from them.


Our Podcasts are Now Slidecasts

For the past three years, podcasts have been one of our most popular businesses, with nearly 300 programs produced for our clients as well as our own MediaBlather series. Now we’re pleased to take the service to the next level with the addition of slidecasts. A slidecast is an audio podcast with slides built in. It’s a great way to add a visual element to your audio program. Slidecasts are encoded as movie files for viewing on a desktop computer or iPod. Since about 80% of all podcasts are listed to on a PC, they help keep your audience engaged in the content while they listen. Here’s a sample we just produced for our client, Awareness.

Our slidecasts can support transitions, builds and even video clips. We’re offering them as a modest upgrade to our basic podcasts. We work with you to determine where you want slides to appear in the program and then we deliver both an audio MP3 and a video file in the format you choose. We can even add this capability to podcasts you’ve already posted. So if you want to try the next generation of Internet audio programming, drop us a line and let us create your first slidecast!


Subscribers Get Half Off at Inbound Marketing Summit

The Inbound Marketing Summit in San Francisco is less than four weeks away, and I have a small supply of 50% discount codes for subscribers to my newsletter. The Summit is for marketers who are convinced that the world is changing forever and who want to drive a new form of high-quality engagement that turbo-charges their careers. We’ll have Web 2.0 visionaries like Tim O’ReillyChris BroganDavid Meerman ScottJason Falls and Brian Solis on the program. More importantly, we’ll have practitioners from companies like Cirque du Soleil, Harley Davidson, French Maid TV and Microsoft talking about how they’re putting new media to work right now, achieving results and measuring those results. E-mail me to get this special discount!


Tip of the Week: Hosting for SEO

Are you still hosting your blog on Blogspot.com, WordPress.com or one of the other hosted services? You’re paying the price in search engine performance. I recently learned this the hard way when someone convinced me to consolidate my various blogs under a single domain. Search engine performance plummeted. In one case, Google wasn’t seeing my site at all. Once I moved it out of the subdomain and onto its own hosting account, visibility improved dramatically. Hubspot has an article on why this is the case. Hosting on your own domain isn’t difficult, and we can even show you how.


Deriving Value from Social Media and User-Generated Content

Social networks are beginning to yield some interesting payoffs in applications ranging from customer support to product evangelism. This afternoon, I’ll present a one-hour webcast describing the different ways in which businesses can derive value from these networks. The webcast is sponsored by Keibi Technologies, Inc. and you can register here. Best of all, it’s free.


Just for Fun

I came across a wonderful collection of pictures online that gave me more than one smile. I wanted to share it with you somehow, then realized I have the perfect opportunity in my Just For Fun. So enjoy Marco Folio’s collection of hilarious, odd, and adorable pictures! They’re organized by month of posting, so click through to any gallery for about two minutes of delight.

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