The lines between paid and earned media continue to blur. Online influencers and bloggers, unlike traditionally trained media, realize their content and access to their audience is worth money. So when a public relations person reaches out, many more are responding with, “Here’s my fee.”

Certainly, there are still many content providers, journalists, bloggers and influencers that understand the role of PR and know the content sometimes is relevant and useful to their audience. You can still earn organic placement with the right influencer, content and targeting. But more and more, the bigger the influencer, the more likely it is your placement will need to be paid, not earned.

While there are many tools out there to help you identify influencers and even some database companies that try and list a given influencer’s paid or sponsored post rates, one new tool on the market place is trying to solve this paid placement chaos with a service that benefits both sides of the equation.

The Shelf is not just an influencer identification tool, but one that helps brands set up paid outreach campaigns, set a price, target influencers based on a range of factors and invite those influencers to the campaign. If they accept, the influencer is paid the listed amount for the execution. It’s like a paid influencer campaign Craig’s List.

Emily Ho Sandford's tab on The ShelfThe influencers involved are able to proactively seek out paid offers from brands they like, accept invites from brands that target them or simply defer or decline without a lot of back-and-forth emails or interruption. Public relations pros can take the time and uncertainty out of influencer outreach by simply saying, “For this campaign we’ll pay X dollars for a placement.” The tool even allows you to filter influencers by price range.

Influencers are presented in Pinterest-like fashion with data like number of followers, brands they like or have endorsed, prices they charge and the like. The image here is of my pal Emily Ho Sanford – Authentically Emmie – who I found searching through Kentucky-based bloggers. You get a quick scan of how many posts and comments she gets and the size of her network.

Click through to the full profile and you get a trending graph of her network growth over time, recent posts and event lists of brands she’s written about and items she’s recently featured. So if you don’t know who you’re targeting you can decide within the tool if a given influencer is a good option.

Emily Ho Sandford's influencer data on TheShelf

For now, The Shelf is only servicing the fashion vertical. But the user interface and thoroughness of the tool allowed me to set up and target influencers for a client of mine in minutes. While its effectiveness is dependent on how many influencers will use or accept offers on the platform, the ease of making offers and finding and inviting the influencers that meet your target criteria certainly sets the platform up for success.

Agencies can manage multiple client campaigns in The Shelf, too. And, wouldn’t you know it, the folks behind it have learned a thing or two about influencer outreach while building this thing. So, they’re sharing what they know with the greater PR community.

Is it the solution to your paid influencer outreach confusion? If you target fashion influencers, maybe. The team tells me they have coming plans to expand into other verticals as well. But with the cluttered and confusing world of knowing which influencers charge and how much, this tool is one hell of a jump on a solution.

Check it out at

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