Over on the Enterprise Irregulars, Paul Greenberg recently published part 1 of a 4-part series on how to deal with and think about influencers and the basics around building an influencer/analyst program that is a must read for any Marketer or PR Pro looking to get the attention of one or more influencers to cover their product or service. The post is great because it contains a number of key takeaways, including this key point that most non-PR Pro’s miss: Do Your Homework: understand who they are, not just what they are. That means learn something about them as actual human beings.
It’s amazing how many PR / Media Relations people don’t understand why they should do this. They think that if they just spam the same bullsh!t press release to three thousand e-mails, they will get results. I can tell you that, like the influencers named in the post, every day I get dozens of spam press releases that just get dumped to a spam folder that gets emptied, unread, once a month. Why? Well, not only do I not have time to read them all, and not only do I have no interest in hyped up carbon copy that doesn’t bother to tell me how the product or service will benefit my readers, but I have no interest in wading through paragraphs of hype to figure out if the product or service being hyped is even related to Supply Management. (Now that SI gets about 125,000 visits a month, it gets on spam lists for political and religious products too, for example.) But more importantly, the doctor not only dislikes vendor press releases, but despises requests to blog about or post a press release. SI is about solutions, not about hyperbole. And, if the PR / Media Relations person had taken 5 minutes to actually visit the site and read a few paragraphs of the FAQ, they’d know that. (Unlike many blogs or sites, just about everything a PR / Media person would want to know is in the FAQ!) Furthermore, while multiple press releases typically gets a sender on a spam blacklist, a request for demo is usually answered in an hour with “here’s how much notice I need and, in this timeframe some days I could fit you in”. But I digress.
The point is influencers are people … insanely busy people. While I typically don’t get the 30-50 requests for demos, interviews, and story pitches that Paul gets in a week, I can tell you that I typically get 20 – 25 requests for interviews or stories, with typically 20-24 of the form “Would you like to talk to X / Would you please cover Y quoted/referenced in the Press Release before”, and, these days, ignore all of them. On the other hand, the one that says “we have just released Product X that does A, B, and C for Purchasing/Procurement/Logistics/Supply professionals that we believe would be of benefit for your readers because you cover Z, would you like a demo/discussion” gets a response within 24 hours. Unless, of course, this sentence is expanded into two pages that compares the product to the holy grail, in which case I assume that the company, like the author, has way too much ego and, like Paul, shake my head in disbelief and relegate it to the bottom of the queue.
Now, I might not be front page WSJ (but, in our space, who is?), but if you are building Supply Management technology, can you really afford to kiss-off a niche site known for its coverage of supply chain technology that gets 1,500,000 visits a year? (To put this in perspective, based on a recent post, the Spend Matters family of blogs gets about 3,600,000 visits a year — or 900,000 visits per blog on average, with SpendMatters and MetalMiner getting the majority of visits.) Maybe you can, but since you don’t know where your next lead is going to come from, why should you? (Especially since a demo and subsequent coverage costs you nothing! And this holds true for many influencers in the space.)
Plus, as Paul points out, an influencer can impact
- the purchasing decision of a prospect
- the thinking of an entire industry
- the mindshare that a company will have
which indirectly influences the purchasing decisions of a prospect
- institutional and individual investors
and can often do so with much more credibility than you can acting on behalf of your organization.
So where do you start?
- Figure out what kind of influencer is right for you — be it an institutional, boutique, independent, established, newly emerged, vendor, media, or influencer influencer. It will depend on the specifics of your product/service and the market you want to reach, and you should definitely read Paul’s post for insight on how to make the call, and, depending on what type of influencer is right for you, who some starting influencers are.
- Then, as we stated in the beginning, do your homework.
- Remember it’s the person, not the organization, that you are reaching out to.
- Say the right thing.
- And read Paul’s 4-part series for the details.