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Three simple tricks to getting influencers to pay attention to you

on January 26, 2011

While everyone can influence their family and friends, we reserve the term “influencer” to people who have platforms (e.g. blogs) that can speak to an anonymous group. Like getting coverage in a media outlet, an influencer’s approval or publishing can amplify your message. Seeing similarities, communications firms have been treating influencers the same way they’ve been treating press. Much of that communications results in lots of press releases. They’ve become a necessary evil that even the PR industry hates. By the sheer numbers these press releases are being sent out, you’re inevitably going to hit a few people that happen to be interested.

Even if you hate press releases and you’re pushing them out, you can’t rely on them as your only form of “industry voice building” communications. I get pitched stories all the time. Every day I get a mass email that’s a big PR announcement or “story idea.” I delete all of them. Let me repeat that.

I delete all press releases.

Now I might not be the most ideal target because I don’t currently have a regular beat with any media outlet, but if you want to reach a journalist or blogger like me (and I’m way down on the totem pole of influential bloggers) then sending press releases is the equivalent to coming to my office and filling my garbage can with more useless paper.

“Hi David, Steve from PR company X. Just thought I’d come by and fill your garbage can with some of our clients’ latest announcements. Have a great day!”

If you want someone to pay attention to you, just remember these three principles:

  1. Everyone enjoys being recognized.
  2. Everyone enjoys a compliment (or debate).
  3. Everyone enjoys giving their opinion.

“Hey David, I read that article you wrote about getting industry influencers to pay attention to you. I thought it was fantastic. Was wondering if I could get a quote from you on the topic for my blog.”

I will always open that email and respond to that kind of request, and I don’t know of anyone who wouldn’t. Heck, if you were that nice you could be writing a flier for your junior high school ecology class and I’d still give you a quote. You can never lose by acknowledging someone’s work, complimenting it (or opening up a debate), and then asking for an opinion.

Why is it critical to ask an opinion of an influencer?

Asking for an opinion or opening up a debate is the follow through that’s necessary to be remembered. If you don’t, your conversation ends at the compliment. Again, compliments are never looked down upon, but they’re very difficult to respond to. After being complimented there’s little more one can say beyond, “Thank you.”

While recognition and compliments are great, if you actually want the influencer to pay attention to you (that’s the goal here, right?), then ask for their opinion on a related topic. The goal here is you want to do something to continue the dialogue.

Stock photos courtesy of Shutterstock.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

TinyVox January 26, 2011 at 11:36 pm

People that influence me do so because they deserve it. They create thought-provoking content, and I think the most they really need is not to be flattered so much as to have their ideas considered thoughtfully. I almost hope my “influencers” don't even consider themselves such, or at least see that as a tiny star in their constellation of awesomeness. I'm not tuned into Scoble because he's an “influencer” – it's because he lays down fundamental laws of product development on a regular. Still – this was a really thought provoking article.

David Spark January 26, 2011 at 11:44 pm

Who you do and don't follow as an influencer and why was not the argument I was making. Regardless, I do appreciate you commenting on it.

The point I was trying to get across is that if you want to reach someone who may be an influencer, you can't go wrong acknowledging their work, complimenting it (or creating a debate), and then asking for an opinion.

TinyVox January 26, 2011 at 11:47 pm

You are totally right. I think I was just sensing a tautology there – I can't help but speak back when invited to by a comments textarea underneath a thought-provoking article :)

David Spark January 27, 2011 at 1:02 am

You're definitely adhering to a couple of rules, recognizing and complimenting. :)

Laurent February 2, 2011 at 7:59 pm

Hey David,
It all hinges on relevant: Identifying relevant influencers for whatever you want to do, researching their content to find common or opposite view / interest, and delivering a 1-1 personalized relationship which may start small (comment) and grow overtime.

David Spark February 2, 2011 at 9:05 pm

If you're acknowledging something somebody wrote, and then compliment them (or open debate) and then ask for their opinion, guess what? ALL of that is relevant. That's the point. :) Don't have to research. Just follow those three principles and you're good as gold.

chrisyeh February 3, 2011 at 1:11 am

It's really important to provide an easy path to respond. I remember that on my own blog, I was puzzled by why some of my most carefully crafted posts didn't draw comments. Some of my frequent commenters told me that when the posts were too polished, they felt like they had nothing to add, and thus remained silent!

Miss Britt February 3, 2011 at 2:20 pm

What a simple idea – and yet I'd never thought of it!

David Spark February 9, 2011 at 5:38 am

When I interviewed Chris Brogan for my now defunct “Be the Voice” blog and podcast (…/), I asked him how come some of his posts get tons of comments and others get none, and he said he purposefully writes incomplete blog posts so it actually invites comments. Seems you did the same thing, but unknowingly.

David Spark February 9, 2011 at 5:39 am

Thanks Britt!

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