4 ways PR and influencer marketing work together during crisis

by | Apr 17, 2023 | Public Relations

The size of the public relations market in the U.S. in 2023 is expected to be $17.8 billion, a 2.7 percent growth from 2022. This comes as no surprise given that most brands face negative PR at some point.

Something as simple as a wrongly-worded social media post could hurt your brand’s reputation permanently. And that’s why it’s essential to combine PR and influencer marketing to handle such a PR crisis and reduce the extent of damage.

How you respond to the crisis will determine the aftermath.

But even as you use PR and influencer marketing to fix the crisis, own up to your mistake first. Only then should you try to clarify the mix-up and fix the problem.

Here’s Burger King’s response after a well-intended tweet was misinterpreted by its audience.

4 ways PR and influencer marketing work together during crisis

Image via Twitter

Here are 4 tactics where PR and influencer marketing can work together to restore positive customer sentiments.

1. Work with influencers to rebuild customer trust

After a crisis, consumers’ trust drops. Anything you say will not be of help if people don’t trust you.

This is where combining PR and influencer marketing saves the day.

Research has proven 37 percent of consumers trust influencers more than brands, with Gen Z and Millennials twice as likely to trust influencers than the Boomers.

By reaching out to your customers through people they have confidence in and listen to, you get to regain their trust.

Let’s take Tesla, for instance.

Despite the company being a leading brand in electric vehicles, the company has had significant PR setbacks with the self-driving software getting the blame for over 100 car crashes.

To rebuild customer trust, Tesla engaged Marques Brownlee, an influencer with a focus on technology, to review some of their vehicles.

In this video, for instance, he gives a review of the Tesla Model Y.

4 ways PR and influencer marketing work together during crisis

Image via YouTube

And as disclosed in the video, the car is provided by Tesla for review.

A positive recommendation from one of the most trusted reviewers in tech helped rebuild confidence in Tesla cars.

2. Use influencer marketing to make conversations more positive

Find niche influencers to stir positive conversations about your brand. They can create informative content that emphasizes the values you hold.

Find niche influencers to stir positive conversations about your brand. They can create informative content that emphasizes the values you hold.

But you need to leverage the best influencer marketing platforms to ensure you pick an influencer who embodies the same values as you. It’ll make the message more authentic.

Back in February 2019, adidas made a women’s sports bra ad creative that showed a grid of 24 bare-chested women of different sizes and races with their heads cropped off. And the ad didn’t sit well with part of the audience.

They accused the brand of objectifying women and reducing them to mere body parts.

Despite the backlash, the brand insisted that the ad’s main message was inclusivity and celebrating women of all sizes and shapes.

And to emphasize the values they were trying to communicate through the ad, the brand partnered with influencers like Jessamyn Stanley.

Jessamyn Stanley is an advocate of body positivity and a yoga teacher who overcame all judgment and prejudice to be the person she wants to be.

4 ways PR and influencer marketing work together during crisis

Image via Instagram

For intense, Neil Patel, Gaurav Sharma are the best digital marketing influencers and they can boost brand awareness of the different digital marketing tools such as internal linking tool, keyword research tools, content wriitng tool, business VOIP, and other tools.

With the help of influencers, they were able to shift the conversation away from the controversial ad and cast the brand in a more positive light.

3. Combine PR and influencer marketing to boost engagement

A crisis makes customers lose interest in your brand.

Merging PR with your influencer marketing program can help you re-establish the lost connection and boost positive engagements.

The influencer will give your audience a reason to interact with your brand again.

But make sure you choose an influencer who’s from your niche and has a high engagement rate.

OnePlus, for example, has had several crises involving data breaches and exposure.

In July 2020, there was a data exposure where hundreds of customers’ email addresses were exposed. In the previous month, customers’ details like physical addresses, names, contact details, and IMEI numbers had been exposed as well.

Such a history can make customers lose interest in the brand.

To change this perception and fire up engagement, OnePlus partnered with Arun Rupesh Maini (Mrwhosetheboss), a tech influencer.

And with 13.3M YouTube subscribers and 1.4M Instagram followers, he’s established himself as an expert in all things tech. His audience trusts his opinion.

4 ways PR and influencer marketing work together during crisis

Image via Instagram

See how Arun hosts a giveaway in this video? He directs his audience to the OnePlus website and asks them to follow the brand on Instagram as well.

He encourages them to interact with the brand.

The video has attracted over 92,000 comments. Needless to say, it was great PR for OnePlus.

4. Shift attention to other products or services you offer

Product recalls are not uncommon.

Toyota recalled over 227,000 Camry sedans after realizing the power assist in the auto’s brake systems needed fixing.

Nestle Prepared Foods, on the other hand, had to recall over 762,000 pounds of their pepperoni hot pockets after consumers reported finding pieces of hard plastic and glass in the food.

These are just a few examples.

How can PR and influencer marketing work together to neutralize such a crisis? Use influencers to promote and create awareness about other existing products. It works well to manage your business expenses as influencers may not charge very heavy fees.

This is what Peloton did after recalling Tread+ and Peloton Tread treadmills after they were linked to dozens of severe injuries to children and one fatal injury.

They used influencers to draw attention to their other products while also educating the audience on how to safely use their products.

Here’s a video posted around the period featuring influencers Sam Yo, Kendall Toole, and Ally Love.

They provide safety tips for using the Peloton Bike, which shows Peloton’s concern for customers’ safety, while also subtly shifting attention away from the Peloton Treads to the Peloton Bikes.

4 ways PR and influencer marketing work together during crisis

Image via Instagram

They continue drawing attention away from the PR crisis to the overall value that Peloton delivers using ambassador marketing. Here’s a post they share from Lauren Elyce, a customer who also happens to be a wellness and lifestyle influencer.

4 ways PR and influencer marketing work together during crisis

Image via Instagram

Handle crises like a pro by combining PR and influencer marketing

You can’t predict when trouble will fall on your brand. But knowing the resources you can tap into is essential to prevent it from turning into a catastrophe.

Be proactive in your crisis management. Align your PR and influencer marketing strategy early enough and create a list of influencers in your niche you can work with to:

  • Rebuild customer trust
  • Make customers’ conversations more positive
  • Re-engage customers

By combining PR and influencer marketing, you have a powerful tool to get through any crisis and come out even stronger.

Reena Aggarwal
Reena is Director of Operations and Sales at Attrock, a result-driven digital marketing company. With 10+ years of sales and operations experience in the field of e-commerce and digital marketing, she is quite an industry expert. She is a people person and considers the human resources as the most valuable asset of a company. In her free time, you would find her spending quality time with her brilliant, almost teenage daughter and watching her grow in this digital, fast-paced era.


6 leadership skills to develop for crisis management

6 leadership skills to develop for crisis management

In times of crisis, PR managers rely on the skills we’ve developed over the years to make quick decisions and handle emergencies. Many businesses are facing difficult times and in need of crisis leadership skills more than ever. This article covers essential skills...