Greedy shallow influencers?

Some people are surprised that I – as someone who teaches straight media pitching skills – also advocate that influencer relations should be part of one’s PR tool kit.

Those people are often “classically trained” PR pros – usually former journalists – who have a distaste for paying for content in any form. One 30-year vet owned this attitude in a note to me, saying that she won’t do influencer work because it “feels icky.”

That makes sense if the image that comes to your mind when someone writes “influencer” is a B-list former reality show star with an Instagram following . . . or a 17-year-old whose high school dance workouts blew up on TikTok.

But what about the prescription eyeglass lens campaign that identified practicing optometrists with social followings? Or the nonprofit boosting Black girls participating in tech education who partnered with a photographer popular on IG who introduced them to role models?

Those are a couple of the examples my Inner Circle studied last week when we learned how to “Add Influencer Relations to Your PR Tool Kit.” Our guest experts were two former media relations pros (Edelman and Havas) who transitioned to the influencer marketing agency The Motherhood.

They explained that you actually should WANT to pay for partnerships. Because the influencers who know how to run a business are the best at incorporating your key messages and making sure you get an ROI on your campaign with them. Merely giving free product or access has diminishing returns.

The right influencers spend time and money creating the content that they’ll use to showcase your product or cause. And they’ve invested the same in earning trust with an audience you care about. Why shouldn’t they get compensated for that?

[In 2021 it should go without saying that all paid influencer campaigns must be clearly disclosed as such to the audience, but just in case, here’s that disclaimer – #ad #sponsored, by MichaelSMARTPR.]

Traditional media are shrinking. There are large groups of people who don’t pay attention to any mediated content that’s NOT influencer-driven, as anyone paid to reach teenage boys will tell you.

Unless you work at a “news factory” like a university, hospital or giant organization with beat reporters assigned to you . . . you need to start diversifying your portfolio of skills. I’m not saying drop everything and pick up influencer relations full-time (unless that idea appeals to you). I’m saying be conversant in it so that when it presents the best option to your employer or clients, you can fulfill your obligation to give the best recommendation.

I’m sharing excerpts from Inner Circle trainings like this one as a bonus for people who register for our Inner Circle Wait List.

The next bonus (going out Monday) shares the key tip for pitching podcasters that I had never heard of before our recent training on that topic. Get that tip (plus direct quotes from top-tier journalists about what they are looking for from you) by registering for the Wait List.

This article was originally published on June 16, 2021

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