Hearing it Through the Grapevine: Influencers in Food and Wine


By Jenna Faller

I’ve long suspected that journalists and editors, just like me, peruse social media for inspiration. How else can you explain the 1.8M+ hits on Google for Josh Ostrovsky? The Instagram sensation has mastheads below his name including Mashable, Financial Times and Vogue. My suspicions were confirmed (as if I needed more proof) in a recent study conducted by the University of Indiana School of Journalism, stating that “60% of journalists said they use social media to find story ideas.”

In my experience, this is especially true for food and wine media. This revelation should inform how we as PR professionals strategically engage influencers – knowing (and hoping) that we could be sparking the next #whitegirlrosé pop culture movement.

Below are a few tips and tricks to make sure you’re making the most of your influencer campaigns, whether it’s a Pinterest-perfect event or a one-off sample mailing.

Be on-brand, but not boring: Work closely with each influencer to create a personalized campaign that will resonate with their audience and get your message points in there organically. These influencers know their followers inside and out, and this tech savvy generation can smell a sponsored post a mile away. Trust their guidance on what will and won’t work. No one wants to see a professional, in-studio, too perfect to be real, burger shot in their news feeds.

Be brave: Social media is still a place where your brand can experiment with new, irreverent and interesting positioning. Take advantage of the instant, in-the-moment nature of the platforms. Bravery is relatable, real, and often rewarded.

The more the merrier: While it’s important to align your brand with tastemakers who are driving trends in your industry, don’t just invite the typical player’s to interact with your brands. From cheeky personalities to travel bloggers to lifestyle experts – the possibilities for reach and impact are endless, and so are the audiences that they speak to. Think outside your industry…Maybe a makeup YouTube star always has a glass of rosé next to their webcam – that could be YOUR rosé, sponsoring a makeup tutorial that highlights a springtime color palette.

Product placement: Be generous with product sends! Even if you don’t have budget for a sponsored post. Do your research – if your product fills a niche or need for the influencer, chances are they will use it and post it.

Check the calendar: Social media influencers are always tapping into trends in the industry. This is your brand’s opportunity to leverage the next craze in entertaining or holiday. Don’t forget to celebrate the influencer’s personal milestones such as personal life events, anniversaries and follower numbers are always reasons to create a special post.

VII (Very Important Influencer): Influencers LOVE a good event. Their newsfeeds demand constant content, and Instagram-worthy events are just the ticket. The best part? Often times, they can leverage their own blogger network and bring friends. Always create opportunities for dynamic image sharing, succinct content and valuable recommendations for their followers.

If you’d like to read more about how influencers use social media to find ideas for stories, check out these three charts.