Know What Makes Influencers Tick

If you work with influencers – be they traditional media, analysts, bloggers or something in between – you need to know what makes them tick. In my “Influencing the Influencers” presentation, I somewhat flippantly called this stalking (of which I meant the non-creepy, from afar kind).

This thread between the BBC’s Dave Lee & online journalism lecturer Andy Dickinson is but one example of how just doing something simple, like monitoring Twitter, can make you smarter about the influencers you work with…and, in turn, make their lives a bit easier.

What looks like a fun exchange about headline character count is, to the insightful PR pro, a deeper education in how the BBC and Dave work. Armed with this newfound knowledge, a smart flack will tailor any story idea he pitches to Dave (or other BBC journalist) to the BBC’s 30-4-16-40 rule.

So, sure, some may call me a professional influencer stalker. I’m okay with that, especially when it means I’m giving myself a leg up on my competition and doing my part to stop the spread of PR spam still running rampant in the industry.

2 responses to “Know What Makes Influencers Tick”

  1. Ha! Well stalked, and interesting points.

    I would say, however, that the whole deal with the short headline and 4-par intro is an immense head-scratcher, and one that’s very tricky to get right. We spend a lot of term learning it, and honing it, before being let loose on the BBC News site.

    So with that in mind, I’d advise PRs (or anyone pitching something to us) not to stress too much about it…. I wouldn’t have a preference on a story if a PR pitched it in a 4-par friendly style.

    Much more important, I’d say, is knowing what the first paragraph would be. Selling a great top-line is key … not just for us, but for any publication.


  2. Agreed. When I was first starting out in PR, I did a stint in the media relations department at AT&T. Absolutely top-notch professional organization. I learned a ton, but the single-most important thing that stuck with me was a piece of advice from an ex-wire reporter who took me under his wing: “You have to write the lead so your grandmother can understand it.” – Jim Byrnes, AT&T


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