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Understanding the 8 Media Influencer Buckets, and How to Reach Them

With the media landscape growing increasingly fragmented, I’ve found it helpful to segment the various types of third-party influencers into eight buckets.

Each group needs to be handled differently, and some of them you may even pay to collaborate with. The common thread is that each bucket contains third-parties your audiences trust.

  1. Traditional media — I know this is an obvious one, but it would be confusing if I left it off this list. Traditional media is defined as outlets with an offline component, like a tangible newspaper or TV feed, as well as their online version.
  2. Digital-only media — This refers to outlets with multiple staffers and advertisers that exist only online: BuzzFeed, Business Insider, Quartz, Refinery29. For now, I’m putting podcasts here, although there’s an argument they fall under No. 5 as well.
  3. Trade media — These are industry-specific publications. They can exist online or offline.
  4. Bloggers — Single-author blogs have a ton of pull with their core audiences, even if content is paid (see Tim Ferriss or Ree Drummond at the top end).  If a site has multiple authors (the occasional guest poster is excluded from this), then they’re No. 2.
  5. Power social influencers — Power social influencers are niche famous individuals with a meaningful following on Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat or whatever platform. They are trusted by their followers, too.
  6. Celebrities — Celebrities aren’t just household name entertainers; they could be anyone from a mayor to a speaker, an author to a thought leader. As long as they can reach people.
  7. Other organizations’ content marketing — They have an audience and they need to keep serving them fresh, useful content. Who cares if they’re another business or nonprofit? Establish a personal relationship with the content team and work out a way to share each other’s stuff. Start by looking at your customers, suppliers, vendors and industry groups.
  8. Aggregators — This is where I’m putting theSkimm — even though it’s functionally more a digital-only media outlet — because it’s a great example of the power of this overlooked bucket. Another daily email that aggregates news with outside influence is the Aspen Institute’s Best Ideas of the Day. Trade associations and industry groups usually have well-read aggregators. Those editors welcome well-targeted, highly relevant suggestions just like anyone.

Each one is measured by different metrics and tools, requires different research, and responds to different forms and styles of outreach. Buckets four to eight are the newer options you’ll need to experiment with. Start now, and as their popularity increases you’ll already be an expert.

It may take time to develop a style for each bucket, but once you do, your time investment will pay off as you see your placements take off, and your career prospects as well.


Michael Smart teaches PR professionals how to dramatically increase their positive media placements. He’s engaged regularly by organizations like General Motors, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Georgia Tech to help their media relations teams reach new levels of success. Get more media pitching knowledge from Michael Smart here.

Want to dive deeper into Smart’s tips for landing more media coverage? Check out his workshop “Secrets of Media Relations Masters” or his online course “Crafting the Perfect Pitch”. 

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Michael Smart

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