Wednesday, October 30, 2013

You can pull a “PR-180,” engage highly influential people, and energize your content marketing strategy

By Mark Helfen


What if you could engage with well-known and influential “thought leaders,” and in the process both develop a relationship and increase the credibility of your content production efforts. David Spark has a way. By pulling a “PR-180,” you can engage influencers, establish a relationship, and increase the reach and influence of your blog.

Spark is founder of Spark Media Solutions, a content production company. He describes himself as a “brand journalist,” and creates content of all kinds – video, written, podcasts, and more. He is about to produce his first e-book. His objective is building an editorial brand for his clients. Spark will be speaking on the topic Building Influencer Relations through Content at our next SVForum Marketing and Social Media meeting at 6:30 on Monday, November 11 at the Citrix Startup Accelerator, our usual time and location.

From Sparks perspective, content is an absolute requirement – see his post here. But attracting people who are well known influencers, who you might “never dream” could help you, increases your influence. In other words, you can create interesting content, increase its value, and develop relationships all at the same time.

The normal path is to contact the PR or media relations department at the company the influencer works for, and hope for an eventual interview. But Spark is more closely aligned to the Woody Allen quote – “Showing up is 80 percent of life.” So his interview strategy is to just show up. At trade shows, conferences, or wherever the person he wants to connect with will be found.

Of course, it not quite so simple. You need to be totally prepared. His example is a video interview, where you need to be able to have your equipment on and operating within 10 seconds, to show professionalism and competence.

An interview with an influencer posted on your blog or YouTube channel brings three values: It’s a great reason for engagement with the influencer; the credibility of your content goes up with the implied endorsement of the person being interviewed; and you can follow up and build a professional relationship.

I asked Sparks if this strategy is easily copied. Everyone does it and eventually the idea wears out its welcome. His reply was that after 7 years, “he’s still waiting for direct competition.”

Not everyone feels that they can walk up to someone they don’t know and ask to interview them.

“The first time is really uncomfortable,” he said. But you keep trying, and it gets easier. You learn to overcome what he refers to as the “the last three feet” problem approaching people at a trade show or meeting. You can also practice in a safe environment, with friends or within your own business.

So you can editorial brand value with the help of key influencers. Learn how next Monday night.

Be sure and sign up at the Marketing and Social Media Meetup site:


Mark Helfen is a freelance writer, journalist, and marketing consultant.

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