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Dos and don’ts for choosing the right influencers: A PR professional’s playbook

by | Nov 3, 2023 | Public Relations

We’re all familiar with influencer marketing. Thanks to social media, we’re often being advertised to without even knowing it. Influencers are just about everywhere, and they always have a new product for us to check out or a new service we must experience.

But it’s more than just pushing products. Influencer marketing in PR is a strategic approach that leverages individuals with significant online presence, influence, and credibility to promote a brand, its products, or services to a broader audience. It involves collaborating with influencers who have a substantial and engaged following on social media platforms, blogs, or other online channels. The goal is to use their authority and reach to enhance a brand’s reputation, increase visibility, and effectively communicate key messages.

The growing importance of influencer partnerships in PR can be attributed to several significant factors, reflecting shifts in consumer behavior and the media landscape. Traditional media outlets like newspapers and TV have seen a decline in readership and viewership. More people now consume information and entertainment through digital channels, particularly social media and online platforms. Influencers have risen to prominence in these spaces, making them valuable conduits for PR messages.

What’s more, influencers are often perceived as more authentic and relatable than traditional celebrities or brands. Their followers trust their opinions and recommendations, which makes influencer content an effective way to convey authentic messages about a brand or its products. This is also why they have such a strong, loyal, and growing audience base, which is another reason why influencer partnerships in PR are so desirable. 

However, embarking on a journey towards successful influencer partnerships isn’t exactly easy, even for PR professionals. It’s a relatively new marketing strategy, so there’s a lot of trial and error, dos and don’ts, and approaches to consider. In this article, we’ll provide you with a roadmap of what to avoid and how to choose the right influencer to partner with.  

Dos for finding the right influencers

To unlock the full potential of influencer marketing in PR, it’s essential to adhere to a set of best practices. These guidelines are key to building effective partnerships and achieving success in the world of influencer collaboration.

Define your objectives and target audience

Before you engage with influencers, you must clearly define what you aim to achieve with your PR campaign. These objectives can vary widely, such as increasing brand awareness, driving website traffic, boosting product sales, enhancing brand reputation, or promoting a new product launch.

Understanding your target audience is equally crucial. PR campaigns, with the help of influencers, are most successful when they resonate with the right people. Research and analyze your ideal customers, their demographics, interests, behaviors, and pain points. This information helps you choose influencers whose followers closely match your target audience. The more aligned the influencer’s audience is with your target market, the more likely your message will connect with potential customers.

Conduct thorough influencer research

Begin by identifying individuals or accounts that align with your brand and target audience. Look closely at the influencer’s audience demographics. Consider factors like age, gender, location, interests, and behaviors. 

Next, examine the influencer’s content quality and style. Analyze their posts, videos, and other content to ensure it aligns with your brand’s values and messaging. 

Consider niche and authenticity

Establish whether the influencer has a specific niche or area of expertise that aligns with your brand. Influencers with a strong focus can have a more dedicated and loyal following in a particular niche.

Evaluate engagement and reach

Review the influencer’s engagement metrics, including likes, comments, shares, and follower interaction. High engagement rates often indicate a more engaged and responsive audience.

While not the sole indicator of an influencer’s effectiveness, the number of followers can provide insights into their potential reach. However, it’s essential to balance follower count with other factors like engagement and authenticity.

Assess alignment with your brand and values

Examine the influencer’s online reputation, credibility, and values. Ensure that they have a positive image and are not associated with any controversies that could negatively impact your brand.

You’ll also want to ensure that the influencer adheres to ethical guidelines and legal standards. Verify that they disclose sponsored content properly and comply with relevant regulations and industry standards.

Don’ts for finding the right influencers

As we delve into the intricacies of influencer marketing within the realm of public relations, it is equally essential to be aware of the potential pitfalls and missteps that can hinder your PR efforts. In this section, we’ll explore the “don’ts” of working with influencers in PR, shedding light on common mistakes that can undermine the effectiveness of your influencer partnerships and brand image.

Relying solely on follower count

A high follower count doesn’t necessarily correlate with high engagement. In some cases, influencers may have purchased followers or engaged in follow-for-follow schemes to boost their numbers artificially. These “fake” followers do not represent genuine interest in the influencer’s content, making them irrelevant for PR purposes.

Also, focusing solely on macro-influencers with massive follower counts might not be the most effective approach. In many cases, micro-influencers with smaller, more niche followings can yield higher engagement and conversion rates because their audience is often more dedicated and closely aligned with a specific niche.

Ignoring audience demographics

PR campaigns are often designed to reach specific demographics. When you disregard an influencer’s audience demographics, you risk partnering with someone whose follower base does not align with your target audience.

PR budgets and resources are limited, and it’s inefficient to invest in influencer partnerships that do not effectively reach your intended audience. Ignoring audience demographics can lead to a waste of resources on campaigns that do not yield the desired results.

Neglecting to vet an influencer’s reputation

When you collaborate with an influencer, their reputation directly impacts your brand’s image. If the influencer has a questionable or negative reputation, it can harm your brand’s credibility and reputation by association.

Overlooking authenticity

Authenticity is a cornerstone of an influencer’s credibility and trustworthiness. Audiences value influencers who are genuine and transparent, and they are more likely to trust recommendations and endorsements from authentic individuals.

Authentic influencers are more likely to be transparent about sponsored content. This transparency is not only ethical but also required by advertising regulations in many regions. Overlooking authenticity can lead to influencer partnerships that lack transparency, potentially damaging your brand’s reputation.

Your strategy for building strong influencer partnerships

These steps collectively form a comprehensive approach to building strong influencer partnerships that are based on effective communication, authenticity, clear expectations, and a data-driven approach. By following these steps, you’ll be on your way toward building strong influencer relationships that can lead to successful PR campaigns that resonate with your target audience and achieve your brand’s goals.

1. Craft a compelling influencer pitch

A compelling influencer pitch is a well-crafted proposal that introduces your brand and the collaboration opportunity to the influencer. It should highlight the key benefits of working together and why their audience would be interested. An effective pitch demonstrates that you’ve done your research and shows respect for the influencer’s work.

2. Establish clear goals and expectations

Setting clear goals and expectations is fundamental to a successful partnership. Both you and the influencer should have a clear understanding of what you aim to achieve through the collaboration. This includes defining objectives, key performance indicators (KPIs), timelines, deliverables, and compensation. Clarity in expectations helps ensure everyone is on the same page.

3. Foster authentic relationships

Building an authentic and genuine relationship with the influencer is key to a successful partnership. Authenticity is appreciated by both the influencer and their audience. This involves being sincere, respectful, and transparent in your interactions. Engage with the influencer in a way that goes beyond a transactional relationship and respects their individuality.

4. Collaborate on creative content ideas

Collaborating with the influencer on creative content ideas ensures that the content produced is engaging and resonates with their audience. It’s essential to encourage the influencer’s creative input and allow them to infuse their unique style and perspective into the content while ensuring it aligns with your PR message and campaign goals.

5. Leverage influencer expertise

Influencers have an in-depth understanding of their audience, platform, and what types of content perform best. Leverage their expertise by trusting their judgment and recommendations. This includes allowing them to adapt your brand message to their unique voice and the preferences of their audience, ensuring authenticity and relatability.

6. Measure and analyze performance

Measuring and analyzing the performance of the influencer partnership is essential for optimizing the campaign and demonstrating its impact. Monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) to assess the success of the collaboration. Data-driven insights can help you make informed decisions and refine your strategy for future campaigns.

Conclusion

In an era where authenticity and credibility are paramount, influencer collaborations offer a bridge to audiences in a manner that is both relatable and trustworthy. As PR professionals, embracing these strategies will not only enhance the effectiveness of your campaigns but also position your brand at the forefront of evolving consumer trends.

So, let this be an encouragement to all PR professionals: seize the opportunity to harness the power of influencers and integrate these strategies into your toolkit. As you do, you’ll discover that the world of public relations has evolved, and your ability to tell your brand’s story and resonate with your audience has evolved with it. The future of PR is here, and it’s shaped by the authenticity, reach, and influence of the digital age.

Natalie Slyman
Natalie Slyman is the Content Marketing Manager for Benchmark Email, BenchmarkONE, and Contacts+.

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