So, there you are, preparing to pitch some A-list journalists and online influencers for your company. It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.

In other words: You.

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 [your choice of tier-1 media here] to cover our new line of products?”

“Yeah, totally,” everyone agrees.

And your boss says, “Yeah, we should definitely make that happen!”

As in we still meaning … you. And now you’re trying to come up with a way for your company to get featured. But maybe there’s a better way? If so, it could save you from the humiliation of pitching even when you know it won’t work.

But how?

The Nash Equilibrium

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


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 (fancy word alert!) 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 discuss the “Magic Middle”. What is that?

The Magic Middle Influencers

David Sifry, the founder of Technorati, coined the term “Magic Middle” for bloggers with 20 – 1,000 active inbound links. Like yours truly, for example.

The term was made popular largely by Brian Solis, who discusses it in his book “Putting The Public Back Into Public Relations”. The idea is, that these Magic Middle Bloggers actually carry a lot more influence than one might think. Because if you think about it for a second:

These days, many top bloggers are pro bloggers, meaning that they actually can make a living off their blogging. The same can of course not be said for the Magic Middle bloggers.

So why do they do it?

Two words — passion and ambition.

This is not to say that A-list bloggers don’t have passion or ambition, but the Magic Middle bloggers keep at it without the incentives. And that counts for something. Now, their audiences might not be all that large. Especially not compared to the A-listers and their online entourage. But how many endorsers does it really take for your company to do better on the bottom line?

Small Numbers Matter

Referral traffic volume often has very little to do with conversion rates.

Let’s say you get tons of traffic from Facebook and Twitter, but very little from LinkedIn. Many companies then decide that they need to do more stuff on … Facebook and Twitter. Based on the same numbers, others in the same situation might want to strengthen their LinkedIn strategy to get it up to par at least. But in reality, it could be that Twitter is outperforming everything else when it comes to onsite conversions. But most never sees it that way.

Check out Wait, Was That A Click Or Conversion by Copyblogger.

So, what does this have to do with Magic Middle Influencers?

Traffic from passionate and relevant bloggers usually converts extremely well. Their community trusts them and when they send traffic your way, they do it out of passion, not for money or fame. And I bet, that these people, those who are passionate about their niche subjects, sharing and learning from each other in a circle based on trust and dialogue — these are the tastemakers of 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.


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

  2. 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 :-)

    • Thanks for stopping by, Maël. On that note, hope you like the new blog design. I know I probably messed up some potential referral traffic for your guest blog post since it came up just before the switch, but I’m going to create a resource page for the guest posts and that should add some extra visibility over time, I hope.

      Have a great weekend!

  3. 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 is a great choice. She shares tips about frugal living, and is a good writer.

  4. 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.

    • Thank you Elia. Awesome tip about Danny Brown, I’ll sniff out that research immediately — sounds very valuable. And, I’m a Danny fanboy so I definitely need to get on top of that.
      Have a great week, man!

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