Under The Influence: Cision Talks Social Influence

Thanks to my current PR firm Blanc & Otus, I got to sit in on a Cision webinar on social influence last Thursday, called Under The Influence. You likely already know about Cision as one of the leading online databases for all things journalists. PR people use Cision to find the proper contacts for journalists, editors, and bloggers at key publications or media outlets.

What you might not have known about Cision is that it is deeply immersed in the world of social media as well. Thus, it was appropriate for Cision to host a webinar about social influence. The talk revolved around how public relations professionals can locate and identify influencers. The hosts of the webinar identified four key steps.

Step 1: Find your keywords. You have to know what your company talks about before you can begin looking online to see who else is talking about it. If your company talks about smartphones, you want to find influencers who talk about smartphones. It won’t help you to find influencers who talk about knitting.

Step 2: Research. This is the part where you have to get your hands dirty. Dig around to see who is talking about your keywords or topics that you identified in step one. You can use Cision for this, or other services such as Google News or Blog searches.

Step 3: Where is the conversation? It’s important to know where the conversation is taking place. Is it in traditional outlets such as television news stations and local newspapers? Is it in Internet forums and the blogosphere? This can make a big difference in terms of how your court your influencer.

Step 4: Do your math! Well, not quite yet. But ultimately, you’ll want to set (quantifiable) goals for yourself. It’s important to know where you’re going to look to measure how well you’re public relations efforts are working. Are you looking to increase unique page views online? Perhaps you might be looking for something more social like blog comments, inbound blog links, or Twitter mentions. Whatever your pick, always keep some numbers floating in the back of your mind.

All this conversation ultimately led to a grand question: As a public relations practitioner, can you treat traditional journalists the same way as you would treat a new-age, digital influencer? I for one think that new influencers require new forms of pitches. No longer will a simple, one-page press release cut it with the new digital influencers. I think that there are new rules around courting these bloggers, vloggers, and digital moguls. The new rules revolve around building relationships first and foremost – authentic ones! Only after true relationships and engagement has been formed can you begin to disseminate key information to the influencer to spread around.

So just remember – in this new age, relationships come first. What are your thoughts? How do you go about building relationships with digital influencers?

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