For leading brands, it’s important that customers perceive their organization as credible, trustworthy partners. As “fake news” and public distrust of the media have hit a high, so comes the decline in traditional media’s ability to influence public opinion. Businesses must turn to other circles of influence in their industries to supplement the building of brand equity. Enter, influencer relations. Some companies still think of media relations as the only solution for all reputation and brand equity issues. While positive word of mouth echoed through editors in your industry can be the traditional public relations go-to, the definition of PR is changing. The 24-hour news cycle has given rise to voices that are heard beyond traditional channels (i.e. television, radio, newspapers, etc.). Everyone’s a journalist these days, and it’s more important than ever to have organic brand advocates and strong relationships to support your media relations efforts. If this sounds like completely new territory for you, fear not. When identifying influencers to target as your brand advocates, our advice is to follow The Three R’s: 1. Relevance. The first key to building out an influencer relations program is to choose people who understand your niche space and have authentic authority over the topic. Ask yourself, is this person’s position or professional affiliation relevant to your goals, position and work? 2. Reverence. More important than an influencer’s positioning in your space is a consumer’s perception of their positioning within the space. Is the proposed advocate in a position of importance within your industry with the ability to impact hearts and minds on a broader level? 3. Reach. Finally, if the advocate checks the boxes of relevance and reverence, it’s time to assess their ability to connect with your target audience. Does this influencer have a strong media presence or valued connections with the media as demonstrated through event participation, media clips or speaking panels? Also consider their own content such as whitepapers or reports that may support your topic. There’s no denying word of mouth is integral to any business’ public relations strategy, and influencer relations goes one step further. Those who carry the most clout in your space may not be editors and media outlets. By identifying and building relationships with key groups and individuals, there’s opportunity to create strong, organic brand advocates proven to be more trusted by consumers.