Pitching influencers is a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.

As you’re compiling your media list, you can hear your colleagues’ voices echoing in the back of your head, “Oh, wouldn’t it be awesome if we could get [mega-popular A-list influencer] to cover our new line of products?”

“Yeah, totally,” everyone agrees. And your boss says, “Yeah, we should definitely make that happen!”

We as in you, that is. And now you’re coming up short with ideas on how to get A-list influencers to cover your brand. Maybe there’s another way? If so, it could save you from the humiliation of pitching even when you sort of know that it won’t work.

The Nash Equilibrium

Some of you might have seen the movie A Beautiful Mind (2001), starring Russell Crowe. In that movie, if you saw it, you might remember this scene (scroll to 1:20):

Everyone’s wrong and that can be a good thing for you.

When it comes to pitching for publicity, everyone goes for the big game, “the prettiest blonde in the room”. But, of course, this violates the Nash Equilibrium by not taking into account the actions of others. In most cases, the major media outlets in any niche gets ten times the attention compared to the number two. And from there, it trickles down. So of course, it does make sense to go big if you think publicity is all about reach (we’ll get back to that in just a second).

Let’s talk about the “Magic Middle”. What does it mean?

The Magic Middle Influencers

David Sifry, the founder of Technorati, coined the term “Magic Middle” for bloggers with 20 – 1,000 active inbound links. The term was made popular largely by Brian Solis, who discusses it in his book Putting The Public Back Into Public Relations. These magic middle influencers carry a lot more influence than one might think; many top influencers are today professionals, meaning that they actually can make a living off their digital impact. The same can, of course, not be said for the magic middle influencers.

So why do magic middle influencers keep pushing through? The answer — passion and ambition.

This is not to say that A-list influencers don’t have passion or ambition, but the magic middle bloggers keep at it without the incentives. And that counts for something. Now, their influencers might not be all that large. Especially not compared to the A-listers and their online entourage. But how many influential brand ambassadors does it really take for your company to do significantly better?

Conversions are Better

Referral traffic volume often has very little to do with conversion rates. But, what does this have to do with magic middle influencers?

Traffic from passionate and relevant influencers usually converts extremely well. Their community trusts them and when they send traffic your way, they do it out of passion, rather than for money or fame. Such influencers tend to be passionate about their niche subjects, sharing and learning from each other in a circle based on trust and dialogue; they are the tastemakers of modern day society.

And yes, it’s said that one in ten people tell the other nine how to vote, where to eat and what to buy.

Magic Middle Influencers

Getting top influencer publicity isn’t by any means impossible. Lots of times, it makes complete sense to go big. However, you often can’t expect the biggest names to be loyal to you. But if your company appreciated and acknowledged a magic middle influencer, you might just earn a long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationship.

And who knows, with your help, they might make into the big leagues themselves and your emails will be amongst the few that actually reaches them?

Photo by Luke van Zyl on Unsplash.

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Jerry SilfwerElia MörlingAlexandraFunFitMaël RothJoel Lundberg Recent comment authors

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Elia Mörling

Jerry, thanks for another awesome post.

I have two thoughts.

1) Danny Brown did a study showing that the people with the biggest reach do not necessarily have the best influence when it comes to moving people t0wards action. Instead he recommends companies to identify and collaborate with “micro-influencers” that do. There are some interesting services that aid this work. For example Tellagence predicts how your information can spread through micro-influencers.

2) If we start off by thinking about the tribes we want to reach, e.g. the tribe of sustainability, or entrepreneurship or golf, we can then proceed to identify the influencers within that tribe. I think many companies go wrong when they simply look for celebrity endorsements, rather than starting off with identifying tribes and thinking about the value they can bring them.

Keep up the good work! I am beginning to see a pattern emerge. Your posts are forming an intricate tree of nodes, all cleverly linked, amounting to a massive body of knowledge.


As a blogger in the Magic Middle who is very passionate and discriminating, thank you for this post. I know for a fact that our readers trust our recommendations because we only do stuff we believe in and have tried ourselves. We started our blog to help others, yet we also like to make money! Thanks for your well-written analysis. As to recommending a blog (besides ourselves – I work with my twin sister), I’d say http://gogingham.com is a great choice. She shares tips about frugal living, and is a good writer.

Maël Roth
Maël Roth

Excellent article. I’ve started a draft on my blog on the long tail of influencer marketing in which I write about the very same subject; don’t always go for the big one, rather consider working with several smaller bloggers because the impact could be much more significant, not only in terms of ROI.

Thanks for the insights anyway :-)

Joel Lundberg
Joel Lundberg

This is an interesting perspective Jerry. I especially like the reference to A beautiful mind, being sort of a cineast myself. Good stuff!