When social media became the new shiny object for companies to reach consumers, people everywhere decreed the end of journalism as we know it. Social media became the great equalizer where citizen journalists had the power of the pen with a keyboard and online publishing.

With social networks, measurement brought a new standard to corporate outreach through online channels. Clicks, views and referring sites all could be measured and analyzed. At the same time, bloggers found their niche, built their brands and developed relationships with PR agencies and corporate PR pros.

Now, pundits are bantering about the pros and cons of measuring influence. Sites such as Klout, PeerIndex and others are just the beginning of methods to measure online influence. To be sure, PR, marketing and advertising agencies have been doing various types of custom evaluation ever since online influencer outreach began.

Need mom bloggers who review baby products? How about techie dads for the latest auto gadgets? Green bloggers, early adopters and travel reviewers? Agency and corporate professionals need to index, analyze and categorize all of the above to make sure the right audiences and customers are reached for each company represented.

Unfair? Depends. Subjective? Definitely. However, when a company has popular products and services, and you receive a handful or more of emails every day that say “I just started a YouTube channel and I’d really like to review that $2,000 product, and I want to keep it,” agencies need to keep business objectives and goals in mind when deciding who the influencers are and who just wants free stuff.

— Tonja Deegan is the digital and social media director at Airfoil Public Relations, a high tech PR agency with offices in Detroit and Mountain View.