If your PR/marketing responsibilities include trying to expand visibility for your client’s brand, be sure to include in your plan reaching out to influencers. But just to be clear from the onset, who exactly is an influencer? The fact is, anyone can be an influencer, as long as they inspire someone to act.

As defined, “Influencers are people who have the power to affect the purchase decisions of others because of their real/perceived authority, knowledge, position or relationship. To be clear, an influencer doesn’t necessarily have to be a celebrity, journalist or blogger.”

As such, influencers can provide valuable context and credibility to a company seeking to connect with a target audience.

Here are some easy to follow steps when considering influencer outreach.

* Develop a list of influencers in much the same way you develop a media list. Doing your homework before approaching influencers is no less essential than when approaching reporters. Just as it is important to know a reporter’s beat(s) and read articles he has written before pitching a story to him, it’s essential that you first learn about an influencer’s areas of interest and know what he has written recently.

A recent Cision study showed that 80 percent of influencers are pitched off-topic information from brands and that they wished brands knew more about them before reaching out.

That is not a way to win an influencer’s support.

* And while the number of followers a potential influencer has is important to note when considering reaching out to him, what’s more important is the measure of his influence, particularly on subjects areas related to your client. Is the influencer engaged with others? Are people motivated by what the influencer says or does?

* Along with that, analyze how credible the influencer appears to be in the areas of importance to your client. Is the influencer a knowledgeable source on the subjects that matter most to your client?

* Next, consider on what social media platforms the influencer is active. If your client is active on LinkedIn and Twitter, for example, but the influencer’s primary platforms are Instagram and YouTube, very likely this influencer is not a good fit for your client’s needs.

* Now, where to find the appropriate influencers…While there are lots of tools available now to find influencers, and everyone seems to have his favorite, you may want to at least check out BuzzSumo, Traackr and Followerwonk (for Twitter) for starters.

And check us out, as well. Here at Rountree Group, we find the right influencers for our clients on a regular basis. We are glad to do the same for you. Just give us a call or email us, and we will put our expertise to work for you. You can reach us at 770-645-4545 and http://rountreegroup.com/