I attended multiple breakout sessions at PRSSA’s Mid-Atlantic District Conference PRogress Through Tech this past weekend, and the Ethics in Media and Technology was one of my favorites. Paige Knapp, the founder of Kylee Social, led the discussion on influencer marketing and its correlation to public relations.
In an influencer campaign followers are getting the message from someone who they presumably trust, rather than directly from the brand itself. The most valuable influencers for a campaign from a PR perspective are those that are strong storytellers, community builders, and knowledgeable about their niche.
Another valuable aspect of influencers is their audience size. When we think of the word “influencer,” usually our minds move toward the online personality who has hundreds of thousands of followers. Paige emphasized that while those influencers exist, pitching them to promote your brand may not always be the most effective because of their engagement rate. Engagement rate, expressed in the percentage of followers who are engaging with your content, allows all influencers to be compared on one scale. Smaller influencers at the nano (less than 1,000 followers) and micro (1,000-100,000 followers) levels average a higher rate, at around 8%, where larger influencers fall around 2%.
Paige made the comparison between influencers and journalists. Both are important to have on your media list as a PR professional as they tell stories and take pitches. There are obvious differences in how we communicate with each. Influencers can be compensated and do not have to be unbiased or follow a code of ethics, and the opposite goes for journalists.
Ethical issues usually come into play in influencer campaigns with social media post guidelines. The FTC’s (Federal Trade Commission) goal is to protect consumers. In an influencer campaign, that looks like clear, obvious, and full disclosure. An influencer has to outline the full campaign deal: if they are being paid to use the product, if they got it for free etc. This usually manifests itself in the “#ad” component, which has to be clearly visible and obvious in the feed post, story, or video. PR professionals have the responsibility to help influencers achieve FTC compliance with their campaign posts.
Paige wrapped up by giving tips on how to be an influencer-friendly PR pro.
1. Build a relationship with the influencer
Follow them and engage with their posts before you need them for a campaign.
2. Add value to the partnership
Make your ask clear and provide a thorough brief of what is expected of them early on in the process.
3. Think long-term
Look at influencers as long-term partners. These relationships with influencers will pay off if you as a PR pro maintain them.
A huge thank you to Paige Knapp for leading this session, and to our Conference Coordinators for putting on the conference!
This blog post was written by Caitlin McGeehan, Digital Publications Editor.