Social media influencers have changed the role of public relations when it comes to reaching an audience. Forbes explains: “The voice of the customer has always been one of the most powerful concepts in marketing, and today’s social media platforms act as one giant megaphone for that voice.”
There are varying perspectives on social media influencers and their role in earned media and brand building. Is it earned media? Is it paid media? What’s the ROI? Are free goods and services enough compensation?
As social media channels evolve and influencer marketing becomes more sophisticated, it continues to be a hot topic. We thought it’d be best to hear from influencers themselves. How can we make influencer relations beneficial for both brands and influencers, while ensuring we’re all being ethical and fair to all involved? Thank you to those who took the time to share their perspective with us, including @aliviafields (aliviafields.co), @grether (grethershot.com), @luckyalexandra (luckyalexandra.com) and @themandagies (themandagies.com).
Q: What do you wish every PR person knew about influencers?
A: Influencers know their audience best, and what will resonate. Give influencers the freedom to communicate with their own storytelling style. Many influencers work full-time on brand collaborations—it’s not a side hustle.
Q: How would you describe what you do, to someone who doesn’t know what influencer marketing is?
A: First, most of us dislike being called influencers. Other accepted terms include storyteller, travel photographer, word-of-mouth marketer or content creator. I’m a professional content creator, which means I wear many hats. Our job is to share our lives and experiences to connect with our audience and encourage them to act on something, behave a certain way or make a purchase.
Q: What do you think PR people should do more of?
A: Research. Influencers get many emails from PR pros to feature brands that don’t align. When pitching an influencer, make expectations clear and connect one-on-one vs. one email to many influencers. Always be available to help the influencer. Don’t assume they will grasp the marketing importance of a project on their own.
Q: What do you think PR people should do less of?
A: Compensate fairly and don’t just offer a “free” trip as payment. PR is valuable. A for-profit company should not expect free advertisement in exchange for a product. We often get too many “free” products that aren’t relevant to our audience.
Q: What do you think PR people should do differently?
A: There should be some relationship building with the influencer, before PR pros ask for favors. It’s also important to carefully listen to influencers’ concerns and requests. Many times, we’re asking for changes to an itinerary or deliverable because we know it will connect better with our audience.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
A: PR pros should host more meet and greets. The game really changes when faces and names are put together—it brings a more personal and collaborative touch to campaigns.