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The Rise Of The Online Influencer

11/05/2015 06:47 EST | Updated 11/05/2016 05:12 EDT
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Public relations has always involved communicating with reputable third-party journalists, who can present news and information about a product, service or business to their audiences.

In 2003, when I first started in PR, media was the main focus of our communication. Reporters were trusted, unbiased experts in presenting balanced news and information on everything from a new food product to the expertise professionals or profile of a new corporate leader.

As social media emerged and the digital community allowed anyone with an opinion, and an Internet connection, to voice their thoughts and show photos of the latest trend, the average citizen was presented with options for consuming information about a product, event or company. People could tweet about their negative or positive experience with a brand, and bloggers became popular sources for presenting their meal at a new restaurant or trying a new lipstick. Sometimes, a citizen even had access to video or photography of a newsworthy event, such as a riot or celebrity citing, before media did.

This is part of the reason the media landscape changed and therefore, so did our job as PR professionals. With fewer people consuming traditional news by experienced journalists, media organizations suffered and many excellent journalists were laid off. There are now fewer journalists to pitch a story idea to and the number of people getting their information from social media platforms has increased substantially.

There are a variety of articles written on the popularity of a blogger; a website that contains online personal reflections, comments and a writer's own experiences, observations and opinions. Blogger relations has been a part of the PR strategy for several years.

Now, enter the online influencer. These are not necessarily bloggers, media or experienced writers but instead someone who is active online and who has developed a large, high quality following and engagement with online communities. Their "following" may be on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, other platforms, or often a combination of platforms. Their influence may come from the fact that they are active in attending events, trying new products and restaurants and maybe taking unique and creative photos of their city.

The influencer often takes great care in answering questions from online communities and engaging with their followers. They often enjoy the role of staying busy in trying new things, going to as many places as they can, and providing online communities with feedback, photos and opinions on what the average person doesn't have time or money for, yet want to know all about.

Sometimes an online influencer has an edgy, controversial or entertaining way of writing, photography or presenting content.

As a PR professional, when we are considering an invite list for an event or a list of people to communicate with about a client's product or service, the online influencer often becomes part of the strategy.

Of course, this depends on the demographic the client wants to reach. If the target audience is active online, the online influencer is most likely part of the mix. Online influencer is not a term that I love but for simplicity, it seems to be a term we go back to repeatedly.

Keep in mind that a member of the media can also be an online influencer. They too may have an impressive online following and the ability to reach a specific demographic through their social media platform(s). Bloggers are often also online influencers but then there are the online influencers who do not have a blog nor are they media.

In PR, the online influencer can be incorporated into a plan by inviting them to client events, sending them products to try, encouraging clients to get to know them or maybe sending them client news or information we think may interest them. Perhaps they post something about this to their twitter or Instagram, sometimes they don't. When an online influencer attends an event, they often take photos to post online and tweet about the experience and product or client right from the event.

Now that you know about the online influencer, I have included some examples of awesome local Vancouver influencers.

  • Brian Webb
    Twitter: @br_webb
    Instagram: @BR_Webb
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brian.webb
    Brian Webb is a leader in the LGBT community as owner of TheHomoCulture.com- a trusted source of gay culture in North America. Brian is always on the move, travelling to the best parties and events around the world and in Vancouver. On his Instagram, you can live vicariously through him and his adventures while he sips a trendy cocktail at a bash full of beautiful people. You will also see products Brian loves along with visuals of fun in the gay community. As PR continues to evolve, and reaching diverse audiences becomes more challenging, online influencers are those we now share news and invites with because they are passionate about life and they find entertaining ways to share their passion with the online community.
  • Erin Ireland
    Twitter: @ErinIreland
    Instagram: @ErinIreland
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Erin-Ireland
    Erin is recognized for her love of fashion, animals and the outdoors but her true passion is food. Erin is the founder of itstodiefor.ca, which serves to connect Vancouverites with the most delicious, and ethically-sourced, food in the city. Although she does blog about food and report on the latest and greatest eats, Erin’s social media presence is strong and with 19.4 thousand twitter followers and 40.7 thousand Instagram followers, any client would love to see Erin post about their product or service. On social media, Erin often includes visuals of beautiful dishes and fresh foods and tweets on the newest local restaurant.
  • Erin Sousa
    Twitter: erincg
    Instagram: @ERINCG
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thesparklenet
    Erin is the founder of Sparkle Media, where she helps clients to connect their brand with audiences through compelling visual and creative content. On her social media platforms, she showcases beautiful and “sparkling” visuals of home, design, fashion and colourful, bright and delightful scenes. You will see everything from a beautiful breakfast in bed to a cozy workplace accessorized with the latest rose hand cream and beautiful mug of tea.
  • Nick Routley
    Twitter: @Phanyxx
    Instagtram: @Phanyxx
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Phanyxx
    Nick takes edgy and raw photos of Vancouver, offering an alternative view to the mountains and seawall most associate with Vancouver. Along with his unique visuals, Nick often includes thoughtful narrative that takes you a place of observation that can have you considering society and the stories behind the people and places in our city.

#PassionateOnlineInfluencers #Vancouver #PR

*Please note that all of the bloggers and influencers we work with decide what content they will post, based on what they genuinely like and what they feel will interest their readers*

*If we do paid campaigns of any kind, this is clearly posted as a disclaimer and it is still based on the style of the blog and audience.*

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