Public relations in the modern era has become increasingly complex. Traditional mediums used to craft a business’s image have been superseded by a plethora of online options that brands can use to connect with the public. From email and social media to internet press releases, there are countless ways to get the word out about your company.
One of the most effective modern forms of online PR is using influencers to spread your brand’s message.
The Skinny on Influencers
Brand influencers have created an incredibly powerful marketing channel. In fact, 70% of consumers trust influencers more than traditional celebrities and nearly one in two consumers literally rely on influencer recommendations to make a purchase.
Why so much success? For a variety of reasons. For instance, influencers are:
- Often more popular than mainstream celebrities.
- Cost-effective options with easily trackable metrics and a tremendous ROI.
- Viewed as authentic to an informed consumer base that is skeptical of traditional advertising.
In other words, influencers aren’t just extremely effective. They’re often preferable to traditional PR methods, such as press releases, newsletters, or in-person events.
How to Integrate Influencers Into Your PR Strategy
It’s easy to see why influencers should be an integral part of most PR strategies. However, finding the right influencers to work with can take a bit more work. Here are five steps to consider as you go through setting up a successful influencer PR strategy for your brand.
Whenever you engage in public relations, it’s always important that you sit down and create goals before you do anything else. Try to create SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-based) that represent what you want to accomplish throughout your public relations efforts.
These goals can vary from the quantity and scope of influencers that you want to work with to the messages that they promote, their particular fit with your public image, and the ROI that they generate — all of which are addressed below.
Once you have goals set, it’s time to plan out how you can effectively achieve them. A few questions to ask yourself as you pull together a PR strategy include:
- What platforms should you focus on? Social media platforms are common PR tools, but have you considered what platforms your target demographics focus on? These are the areas where you’ll want to find influencers to work with.
- What kind of influencers will you target? Do you have the resources to pursue those with larger audiences? This is more in the vein of old-school celebrity PR sponsorships or partnerships. However, you also have the option to cobble together a coalition with smaller micro-influencers to help promote your public relations efforts. Can you afford to integrate both options into your strategy?
- Do you have a budget? How much money can you put toward a PR influencer strategy? Have you researched competitive rates for influencers in your industry, in particular? Each influencer will have a different price and most are open to negotiating rates, so you should go into each interaction well informed.
- Have you considered metrics? Tools like Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel, and even Instagram Analytics can help you track consumer response to your PR influencer campaigns via things like traffic, mentions, sales, clicks, shares, hashtags, and other metrics. This can help you put a value on their services in order to see if each individual influencer is worth continuing to work with in the future.
Use these questions to help you round out a thorough influencer strategy that fits within your larger PR efforts.
Look for Complements, Not Competition
Every influencer that you consider working with should clearly and comfortably complement your business.
When it comes to identifying influencers, there are no shortcuts. You need to take the time to investigate which online personalities are connecting with your audience. If you send out a press release, you don’t want them to share it with their followers if they aren’t even interested in updates from your company or industry. As you conduct searches and investigate profiles, look for personalities within or adjacent to your industry who complement your brand.
Make sure they aren’t already promoting a competitor or have their own product lines that compete with your products. Instead, look for those who are a respected authority within your industry with a loyal fanbase and a willingness to endorse your brand as a genuine solution to their followers’ problems.
As you begin to reach out to influencers that could potentially work with your brand, make sure to avoid coming across in an awkward or stalker-y manner.
Take the time to naturally interact with them on social media, comment on posts, share their content, and generally approach them with an air of respect. Remember, you’re going to ask them to represent your brand. You want them to have as positive a relationship with your company as possible.
Give Your Influencers the Goods
Finally, be prepared to give your influencers what they need to succeed. In other words, just because you paid them for their services doesn’t mean you go all Ebenezer Scrooge on them with everything else.
Consider the goals that you’re trying to reach and then equip your influencers with what they need in order to help you achieve them.
For instance, if you want to spread a certain message, such as a new product release, make sure to clearly communicate what that message is. Provide detailed and informative press releases and give them physical copies to review and use as a prop in their content whenever possible.
If you’re going to be using other social media content, let them know, as well, so that they can complement it rather than produce identical information on their own channels
Integrating Influencers Into Your Public Relations Strategy
Influencers are a powerful element of many modern PR campaigns. However, just because they create results doesn’t mean that you can casually use influencers to build your brand’s reputation.
Make sure to take the time to properly plan and execute your influencer strategy in order to incorporate each influencer into your larger PR scheme and make their efforts as effective as possible.