A news article, even in today’s world, usually tries for impartiality. Influencers, on the other hand, have no such need or requirement. In fact, they can absolutely take sides, steer in one direction, and promote products freely – generally, they disclose if they receive some kind of reward for doing so, but even then, the people following that influencer do so because of some feeling of common ground and experience. That’s why influencers can become a vital part of any PR campaign.
Start with the Basics
If you have a small business and are not able to pay for outside PR at this point, don’t negate the impact of your satisfied customers becoming a primary influencer for your company. Word of mouth recommendations are often considered the most valuable to those looking for what you offer. So, ask for your current customers to share the word about your products or services. You might even offer a reward or discount for doing so. If you are a medical or beauty provider, give a free exam, color, or such for every three new customers they recommend that use your service. That not only could bring you new clients, but can keep current ones happy too.
You can also have a conversation with staff and clients about who they follow, what they like best about that person, things like that. It will keep you current and possibly help you find someone who could become an influencer for your brand.
What to Do with Influencer Recommendations
It is so easy to forget or misplace information – so even before you get the first name, create a spreadsheet where you can list sources, their website or blog address, email addresses, and any contacts you make with them. Keep pulling names and sources together until you have at least 10-25 and then start ranking them in order of best fit for you and your business. After that, if you haven’t contacted them before, start doing it now.
Open up a dialog and ask for their opinions, share what you do and find out what they think would make it better or other ways they think it might be used or marketed. Tweak your products or services and then ask if they would be willing to do an open and honest review. Of course, you run the risk they’ll hate it, but you’ve done all you can to make it a good experience for the influencer, so show some trust and jump in.
“Rinse and repeat” as they say – keep adding new influencers, honing what you offer, and getting new reviews – don’t forget to share them on your social media accounts, so your current clients are reminded about all you do and maybe bring them by a little more often.
One More Step
By following the steps above, you become more and more expert with your efforts. That means you are also becoming an influencer. Shop yourself out, start with local media and let them know you’d be happy to do a guest column once a month on your topic, or that you are available to offer quotes and soundbites on X, Y, and Z. Becoming known as an expert in your field also helps build your business.