Influencer marketing is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration

Last night I had the honor of dusting off my trusty old long tail earned media blogger outreach deck and updating it for the new world of earned media influencer marketing for the lovely Brigitte Winter and her Georgetown School of Continuing Studies students.

Up until now, the Elements of Communications Planning students have learned the Georgetown method but now this George Washington University grad added a short hour of Influencer Marketing right on the heels of an hour of Geoff Livingston Content Marketing magic (how in the world do you follow Geoff?).

So, today your speaker is Chris Abraham

Influencer Marketing is One Percent Inspiration, Ninety Nine Percent Perspiration from Gerris

My Personal Digital PR Philosophy

  • Find people where they live (and meet them there even if it’s a forum or message board)
  • Explore the long tail (there are millions of people blogging, sharing, and posting online – and PR tends to pile on the same 100 “influentials”) “We want you to take 50 million of us as seriously as you take one reporter from The Wall Street Journal” (#83 of the 95 Theses from The Cluetrain Manifesto)
  • Spoil everyone (like you would Guy Kawasaki)
  • Be grateful (nobody is required to help you)

Why You Should Reach Past the A-List

  • Blogger outreach tends to focus on only identifying and engaging top-25 influential bloggers
  • Out of those 25, maybe 3 will cover your story over the course of a campaign
  • We collect every blogger who has ever had a thematic interest in our customers
  • We collect them all – all of them – into a “universe” – a list
  • We reach out to each and every one of them – no fewer than 2,000 but often 5,000 – via email
  • But then that’s where the work starts

Why You Should Reach Past the A-List

  • The initial blast is akin to speed-dating
  • Most good pitches don’t require a personal relationship

Success depends on five things:

  • Freshness & quality of the list collected
  • Generosity of the “gift” being offered in the pitch
  • The ability of the email to reach the inbox
  • The charm & responsiveness of the responders
  • Following up twice after the initial email outreach

On the Internet, nobody knows youre a dog

Campaign Questions

  • Goal: what is it you need to do?
  • Monitor: what are you looking to find?
  • Discover: where are people talking?
  • Learn: who are these talking people?
  • Collect: what groups do you need?
  • Engage: how best to connect?
  • Outreach: how best to pitch?
  • Analyze: how did you do?

Goals: What Do You Want to Accomplish?

  • Build brand awareness?
  • Increase community engagement?
  • Prospect new brand ambassadors?
  • Drive sales, traffic, membership?
  • Drive conversation volume?
  • Improve organic search?
  • Get a feel for yourneighborhood?
  • Launch a new product, service, investment?

Monitor: Listen/Look Before You Leap

Google Search is the best tool to get a feel

  • When it comes down to it, Google does an amazing job of giving you a 30,000-foot view of the blogosphere

Spend some time understanding the space

  • It’s not always obvious how people engage with you, your brand, your space, or your industry.
  • Allow your community to lead your exploration; do not be willful: people don’t always use your language
  • Include message boards, forums, etc., in your recon

Try out all the tools: it’s a buyer’s market

Discover: Finding People Where They Live

Social media is much bigger than Facebook

  • There are a multitude of social networks, self-run message boards, threads deep in reddit, and ad-hoc discussions everywhere online (, etc.)

If it exists, there is a blog about it (Rule 34 variant–if it exists, there is porn of it!)

  • There are more than a billion active blogs worldwide

Always start with Google

Influencer discovery

Discover: Finding People Where They Live

Learn: Do They Want to Be Engaged? And How?

Blogs (including online journalists, curators, aggregators, group blogs, and bloggers)

  • Can you find their name and email address?
  • If contacting them is hard, maybe they don’t want to be
  • Look for a “how to engage/pitch” message
  • Follow their directions to a T (or don’t engage them at all)

Forums (including bookmark & link aggregators)

  • Engage forum owners directly, don’t jump in there!

Social Networks (including FB, Twitter, etc.)

  • Engage before befriending before pitching

Collect: Demo-, Geo-, Psycho-Graphic Lists

The A-list (the crème de la crème of influence)

  • Generally professional bloggers and journalists, including the blogs and profiles of mainstream media platforms, celebrities, high Klout scores, high-traffic blogs, authors, actors, scientists, pundits, newsmakers, and people with mad followers
  • Will blog for free, but only if they’re compelled to (exclusive content, big news, financial releases, new investment, etc.)
  • Never, ever, include A-list bloggers in a bulk email pitch – hand-written only
    Prepare your kid-gloves and your checkbook – find ways to woo them personally (over lavish meals, inviting them to HQ, or meeting them down at one of the many conferences they attend)
  • Become a persistent “bestie” – either as someone who is a communicator pitching them good, consistent, and valuable content or, even better, a personal friend who doesn’t just collect them as a method of access or a sign of prestige

B-D-List (the mid-section of the long tail often asks for money)

  • While not all B-D-list bloggers lead with an advertising rate sheet, many do
  • Most PR campaigns aren’t budgeted for advertising spend so I don’t pay for posts
  • Ideally, earned-media is the goal of PR campaigns, so it’s up to you
  • Many of the B-D-list bloggers can get you what you need for less than a strong ad buy
  • While disclosures are essential everywhere, they’re doubly so for “advertorial” content
  • I tend to put any blogger who asks for money into a DNC* list
  • Midrange bloggers are easier to access, harder to garner earn media mentions from, but a worthy
  • investment of time and attention toward a long-term relationship
  • People help out their friends, so becoming close may curry favor for earned media pitches
  • I generally include B-D-list bloggers in general long-tail bulk email outreach

E-Z-List (the long-tail of the blogosphere, including ~1 Billion bloggers)

  • While a billion active blogs are well out-of-scope, please remember:
  • No matter how obscure your product or service, there’s probably a blog about it
  • The original Rule #34 is: If it exists, there is porn of it; same for the blogosphere
  • Collect email addresses, blog name, and maybe location only for E-Z-list
  • While I might be willing to chase down the contact info of A-D-list bloggers via forms or hunting them down via LinkedIn or Facebook Messenger, Dailymile mail, or Twitter DMs, I only engage long-tail bloggers if they share their email address gladly
  • If bloggers don’t make it easy to contact them, they may not want to be contacted; and, if you contact someone who doesn’t want to be, there will be serious blowback
  • Send everyone in your list a bulk email pitch but be ready to engage in person
  • Don’t worry, most people aren’t fanboys – a cold-pitch is fine if your “gift” is generous

Engage: Pitch It Slow and Right Over the Plate

Tell, dont sell

  • Lead with the news, not the used car

Pitching is speed dating

  • You don’t need to overwrite
  • Allow people to be intrigued

Less is more

  • Attention span is limited
  • Pre-masticate message into easy-to-understand pabulum
  • Don’t include attachments or inline content

Dont BS, brown nose, lie, or flatter

  • “Please dont say you read and love my blog, then pitch me on something that I never cover here” — Mack Collier

Outreach: The Catch Is the More Important Part

The informational microsite

  • Internally, I call it an SMNR
  • Social Media News Release

The kitchen sink theory

  • Don’t limit the SMNR to just the pitch
  • Bloggers are libertarian contrarians
  • Give a lot to look through – give them options

Steal me, steal me!

  • Optimize content to be copied-and-pasted
  • Pre-embed embed codes
  • Pre-link and optimize for SEO, etc.

Outreach: The Magic Happens in the Inbox

Outreach: Yet Another Mail Merge

Analyze: It All Comes Down to the Bottom Line

Track using site analytics tools

  • Google Analytics tracking code in the SMNR
  • Server-side analytics tools: AWstats, Webalizer
  • Track both SMNR & target site

Track using media mention tools

  • I presently use SDL SM2 (Alterian SM2)
  • Primary, secondary, tertiary, etc., mentions
  • Lots of free and fee-based tools
  • Google Analytics is becoming more SM-savvy

Track using specialized landing pages

  • Using affiliate tricks-of-the-trade

Analyze: The Proof Is in the Pudding

Current Client: Skinny & Co. Coconut Oil

  • Currently, Gerris Corp is working on an earned media campaign for Skinny & Co. coconut oil.
  • SMNR:
  • Client is the perfect client for earned media:
  • Product is timely and sexy
  • Client is generous with all influencers
  • No influencer floor
  • Beautiful packaging and top-quality product
  • In two months, 302 blogger product requests:185 first month, 117 month two
    125 earned media posts month 1, 82 month two

Current Client: Skinny & Co. Coconut Oil