Industry influencer relations…it used to be true that the number of people talking about you correlated with the success you were having, or could expect to have. If you were the conversation piece, or a part of it, generally you were “in.”  All press is good press, or so it was thought. And, at some point in everyone’s life, they could expect to be part of a CONVERSATION. They would get their 15 minutes of fame.

Today, more than at any other time, there really is conversation. Phone calls, articles, blog posts, tweets, social media site updates…….it borders on a riot. If you examine closely, there is no ONE conversation. It’s millions of statements large and small. But make no mistake, they are conversations. Almost no topic is taboo. Everyone has an opinion.

Mainstream Conversation

Years ago, major media weighed in and set the agenda for mainstream conversation. Let me be a bit more specific. More accurately, they were leveraged to project the agenda for conversation. If there was something “interesting” or new or exotic, or it could be shaped that way, major media reported it. They still do. Gun rights, Obamacare, Fiscal Cliff, Cyprus, etc.

But I digress.

There are many weapons in the public relations arsenal for communicating to decision makers – the people you ultimately want to influence. For years it meant driving or injecting messages at decision makers with anevolving array of communications tools: news, speeches, bylines, Q&A, videos, among many others.  They are still very effective today.

The PR industry is nothing if not increasingly sophisticated. It shifted strategy and evolved to leverage new tools to inject messages into, or commandeer a conversation to reach decision makers. Riding a meme can be very successful. With the advent of social media, PR has the ability to help companies truly join the conversation. Very effective.

The question is at what level, or entry point, are you joining the conversation.

Often the deciding factor in a decision to purchase something is because your friend, or someone you respect, told you to buy it.  That is what we want. I think we forget this sometimes, but we are in the relationship business.  While we can help our a client engage in a conversation with decision makers, we are only doing part of our job if they are not becoming part of the conversation with people they trust, admire and respect – industry influencers.

Who are industry influencers? Ask ten different people and you are likely to get a dozen different answers.

Industry influencers are a select group of people in industry, business, academia, government and media (traditional and new), to name a few, that really can refocus the agenda for a particular conversation. Each content area has its own industry influencers.

Some people widen the definition to include every day citizens that have the connections that can move an issue locally. I’ll discuss in greater granularity what constitutes an industry influencer, in future posts.

Industry analysts and influencers act as message force multipliers because they write articles, blog, tweet, issue reports, speak at industry events and talk to decision makers, among many other activities. Within the public relations context, industry influencer relations is the future of our industry.

So, how do you get your company engaged with the thought leaders and market movers? It is like losing weight, it does not happen overnight.

Read more here: Influencer Relations Marketing: Who Are Those Influencers Anyway

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