Influencer Relations: Is It Right for Your Brand?

By Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard, PR Foreman

Recently, you’ve been hearing a lot about “Influencer Marketing” or “Influencer Relations.” But what exactly is it, how does it work and is it right for your company’s marketing strategy?

Sometimes referred to as the “new media,” a comprehensive marketing communications strategy often will include influencer relations as a tactic for expanding a brand’s awareness.

What is an influencer?

An influencer is someone that has a large social media following and actively engages with its audience to “influence” them on his or her opinions. While “influencer” might conjure up ideas of Kim Kardashian touting the latest waterproof eyeliner or designer handbag, there are influencers in the industrial, manufacturing and contractor space, as well. While some of these influencers might not boast the same Instagram audience numbers as Kardashian’s 149+ million followers, their audiences can be very significant for the market they are in.

A large social media following can be relative. Nano influencers, with 1K to 10K followers, have small, niche and highly engaged audiences. Micro influencers, the next tier up, with 10K to 50K followers, are often the most informed opinion leaders in their niches and typically have a very engaged community of followers who rely on (and trust) their content.

If you are a nano/micro influencer in a niche market such as woodworking, developing relationships with companies that are promoting the tools or supplies you use can be mutually beneficial for both parties. For the influencer, it provides the opportunity to be the first to experience innovative products and share their experiences and opinions with their followers, providing appealing content that keeps their followers enthralled and looking for more. For the brand marketing products, it provides an authentic, engaging opportunity to get your products or services endorsed by an opinion leader and visibility in front of your target audience. Plus, repurposing influencer content is a great way to showcase the influencer and also add credibility to the brand.

According to research, consumers are much more likely to trust peer recommendations than advertisements. By finding the right influencers in your target audience, brands can build credibility by using a trusted source in the community and, thus, increasing sales. Even for the B2B niche, influencer marketing is about partnering with industry experts to add credibility, distribution and engagement to great brand content.

Questions to answer before launching an influencer program

Before jumping into an influencer relations program, evaluate your company and its offerings and decide if it is a good fit for a program. Does your brand have an e-commerce presence? The idea is for influencers to drive awareness (and ultimately sales), so if there is not an easy, online process in place to purchase your products, now might not be the time to launch such a program.

Do you have an active presence on social media? If not, your effort will be wasted or certainly not amplified to the level that would move the needle for your brand.

Finally, are your products or services ready and ample? No point in engaging an influencer who creates intense interest amongst his or her followers, only to frustrate the followers when the product is unavailable or on back order.

Once you’ve decided that an influencer program is a fit for your brand, you’ll want to develop a strategy and set some goals and objectives and create a process. You’ll also want to track and measure your results.

Influencer relations vs. media relations

Influencer relations, as mentioned earlier, have been likened to media relations. Build and nurture relationships with influencers in a similar fashion as you do with the media. Influencers are interested in trying products they care about and many are looking for the next big thing to show their followers, in the same way a trade media editor may be looking to write about the next industry trend. But they are different, too. People tend to engage more with influencers than they do with traditional media. While someone may read a story and not necessarily share it online, they would be more inclined to share a post or image from an influencer.

Another difference is that the collaboration between brand and influencer is typically done for a monetary fee, free products or a combination of both. If your product doesn’t lend itself to being sent out to influencers, consider planning an influencer event where you bring influencers together at a trade show or industry event to experience your products and engage with their peers, as well as the brand.

Getting started with influencer relations

You may want to consider a trial run program, especially if upper management is skeptical, to see what type of success you can expect. Remember, like anything, curb expectations and allow the program to grow and gain momentum naturally.

Influencer marketing is here to stay and is growing to be an increasingly popular tactic for reaching target audiences and gaining market share. Getting influencers to persuade your audience can drastically work in your favor when executed properly.

Have questions about whether an influencer relations program is right for your brand? Or need help strategizing or implementing your influencer program? Contact

Stay tuned for our next post on influencer marketing, “Tips for Implementing a Successful Influencer Relations Program.”





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Take the Interview

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter

It’s time when we start thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. Which means we’re making plans to improve ourselves over the coming year, as well as improve our marketing efforts.

Here’s a PR resolution for your organization this year: Take Every Interview.

Every time you have an interview request from your local media or trade outlets, take it.

One of the biggest frustrations for a public relations practitioner is turning down editorial opportunities. An editor of a trade publication that we work with regularly at Sonnhalter told me this week that one of his biggest struggles is getting companies to take advantage of editorial opportunities with the magazine. (more…)

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Are You Ready to Talk to the Media?

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter

1218_5360518We’re officially in trade show season, which means planning booths, putting together promotions, connecting with customers and preparing your staff for the show. One often overlooked aspect of trade show participation is the media.

When you exhibit at a trade show, you can trust in the quality and relevancy of the attendees as potential customers. You can also trust that the media that is most important to your ideal customer will be at the show, so make sure you prepare to talk with them as well.

I once supported a company at their biggest industry show. I’d set up meetings with media at the show and spent a lot of time in their booth. During a lull when I didn’t have anything scheduled, I decided to go eat lunch. When I returned, the sales rep in the booth handed me an editor’s card and told me he’d stopped to see you. I asked about the interaction with the editors, what had been shown to him and so on, just to find out that they had given him my card and sent him on his way. Throughout the show, the booth staff was so laser focused on getting leads that every time they encountered the media, they said two words, “See her” and pointed them to me.

It’s important to treat the media personnel at a show as if they are just as important as a customer … if not more. Trade media have a huge audience of hundreds or thousands of the people who you want to reach.


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10 Reasons to Incorporate a Consistent Press Release Program in Your Marketing Plan

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter

1287_5028055-PressReleaseThe press release is possibly the most basic element of public relations and is still the most effective method of getting your organization’s news out. However, the concept of consistency is often overlooked when considering press releases.

Having a consistent press release program can provide a variety of benefits to your company.

What exactly is a consistent press release program? Often we aim to distribute an average of one press release per month for our clients; if it’s a slow news year, that could be 8-10 press releases instead. The key is consistency.

Here are 10 reasons to establish a consistent press release program:

  1. Strengthens your brand’s relationship with the media
  2. Positions your brand as a reliable source when publications need input for round-up articles
  3. Press releases can spur interview requests for more in-depth media coverage
  4. Press releases strengthen your brand
  5. Improve your search rankings
  6. Complement other marketing efforts
  7. Provide content for social media posts
  8. Reinforce your brand’s position in the industry
  9. Provide support material for other media relations efforts
  10. Get your news in front of your target audiences
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Takeaways from 2014 PRSA International Conference

Rosemarie Ascherl, PR Foreman at Sonnhalter

Earlier this month I had the privilege of attending the 2014 PRSA International Conference in Washington D.C. For three days I was exposed to an incredible amount of expertise, knowledge and thought-provoking ideas, that left me motivated and energized when I returned to my office.


While the takeaways were numerous, a couple really stood out.

Every company should have a media crisis strategy. Crises do happen. Having a plan in place can make all the difference in managing the outcome correctly. Of course, you never know exactly what your company’s crisis will be, but establishing a crisis management team, identifying key audiences, creating a media statement template and conducting media spokesperson training are all elements that encourage better preparedness. Contrary to the goals of most public relations professionals, who are seeking media coverage, in a crisis management scenario, success is NO story.

Visuals continue to rule. We live in a visual world, and compelling images that resonate with your audience are imperative to communicating your message. Bigger images are better. Smart phones are getting larger to accommodate larger images, and in response, clothes manufacturers are designing clothing with large pockets. Consumption habits are changing as well—in 2013, the average view went down to 8 seconds from the average view in 2000 of 12 seconds. Images are also becoming very short-lived as evidenced by Snapchat and Slingshot apps. Visual data is driving the industry, and sooner rather than later, as communicators, we will need to optimize for wearable technology such as Google glass.

The media is facing their own set of challenges. As communicators, we need to do everything we can to help the media do their jobs. Deadlines are faster, resources are shriveling and the expectations are to do more with less, and faster. Often media contacts don’t have time to take phone calls; instead, develop a relationship with them on Twitter. Be sincere and learn what their interests are and the types of stories and angles they cover. Provide content that is readily usable, packaged with research and sources, saving time and helping the media contact meet their deadline.

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