PR professionals have been engaging in media outreach since the invention of public relations. Influencer relations, on the other hand, is a modern concept. We are often asked about the distinction between the two and the best way to prioritize outreach. It’s a good question and we do have some recommendations.
The Evolution of Information
Before the internet, and even in its early days, the public’s access to information was controlled by a relatively small number of people. Editors decided which stories made the paper and producers chose what was on the news. Journalists and reporters acted as gatekeepers controlling which messages the public received.
That’s all changed now, of course. The story printed in this morning’s newspaper isn’t news, it is history. Everyone can publish whatever they like, on multiple channels, at any time. Granted, most people don’t have a large audience that cares about their thoughts and opinions on various subjects, but some do. These people are called influencers.
Thinking Differently about PR
This shift in how the public gets information requires a different way of thinking about PR. Traditionally, the number one priority of PR departments was media outreach. Getting a favorable mention in a top tier publication was the Holy Grail. But today, a blog post, tweet or even a “like” from a trusted influencer with a lot of reach in your space may be even more valuable. Does this mean that media outreach should be abandoned? Of course not, but it does mean that influencer relations must be taken into account when crafting a modern PR strategy.
If the idea of managing a media outreach plan and an influencer outreach plan has you overwhelmed, don’t panic. Just like technology has made it possible for everyone to produce and publish content, it has also made it possible for you to identify the most important media and influencer contacts for your brand. Modern PR measurement tools (the best ones anyway) allow you to connect mentions of your brand by both journalists and influencers with the impact those mentions have in terms of website traffic, lead generation and customer acquisition. With this approach you can focus on the key contacts who are most important to your brand’s success.
There’s no need to boil the ocean. In a world where so many voices have a platform, what you need is very clear focus on the ones that matter most.