• Communications teams are challenged to continually increase their influencer network
  • Too often, communications teams take the time to evaluate the influencer list but neglect to consider if their own organization is ready for engagement
  • A data-driven approach to influencer prioritization helps communications teams make informed decisions about influencer engagement and tactics

A blind pitch + a templated email outreach + a large database of contact names = a disaster waiting to happen.

Sensitive news story + obvious self-serving promotion + dynamic influencer = unwanted attention.

Paper wood table

Back in my agency days, about 17 years ago now, a well-known tech journalist implemented a “buzzword detector” in his email system that would send a bounce-back to any emailed pitch that exceeded a set number of buzzwords. It was comical at the time, because most of us were guilty of sending email pitches consisting of a small personal message along with the full text of a press release. While the press release was usually the culprit, being familiar with that journalist and his sensitivity for buzzword overkill forced me to spend time crafting a message that was personalized and very carefully worded. The lesson is still applicable today.

We communications professionals know that we need to consider many critical things before conducting any outreach. At the same time, the communications team and its supporting agencies are under pressure to secure interviews and resulting coverage by more and more influencers. For most companies, the influencer list has grown organically and has become pretty large, cumbersome and a bit unruly. There is always a risk that the team will avoid the massive influencer list and instead rely on the old tried-and-true influencer relationships, and potentially exhaust those avenues, limiting their possible outputs.

We recommend that communications teams take the time to evaluate all influencers on the basis of the needs they fulfill for the audience, balanced with their readiness to engage. It’s important to evaluate both the influencer AND the state of the team’s own organization. While the influencer may seem ideal for engagement, the team also needs to take a close look at its organization’s readiness to ensure it is the right time, topic and opportunity to engage. Do we have the customer reference to be successful? Do we need budget to engage this influencer? At a minimum, communications teams should audit their influencer list prior to annual planning for overall alignment and potential changes. Ideally, influencers and organization readiness then evaluated throughout the year in support of specific campaigns.

Using a data-driven approach to evaluating influencers and influencer engagement tactics helps the communications team determine where to prioritize its efforts for engagement, build increased awareness and avoid getting any buzzword overkill email bounce-backs.

If you’re interested in this topic and others, make sure to attend SiriusDecisions Summit in May where Aaron Cullers and I will present “SiriusLab: Prioritizing Third-Party Influencers Using the SiriusDecisions Influencer Scorecard.”