Our Thinking

Influencer Marketing: Let’s Stop the Free-For-All

As influencer marketing moves from a buzzword to a standard part of a marketing plan, the battleground continues over who should own it. And, frankly, it’s getting kind of tiring.

Digital agencies, social agencies, media agencies, and public relations agencies all have their own pitches and programs, and many marketers are confused by it all. And because there is no clear answer, at least in some minds, clients are falling for branded offerings and catchy program names and mistaking popularity for real influence.

The reality is – if you’re doing it right – the same tenets of a great media relations program still apply to influencer marketing. After all, influencers are a form of media.

Just like PR pros have always done with media, you need to have a great story to tell, great trusted relationships, and pitch the best story to the most relevant reporter and to the medium that reaches your target audience in an authentic way. You should also provide great content, or at least fodder for them to make their own great content.

But now that money exchanges hands with influencers in most cases – all disclosed per the proper FTC guidelines, of course – it seems obvious the paid media planners and buyers join forces with the PR professionals to consider every opportunity and find the right way to approach.

Where brands get the most results though, is when you apply the best of both worlds – paid and earned working together. While authentic relationships often yield the most worthy posts and endorsements, and should be leaned on when possible, the influencer-marketing plan should be part of your overall media plan.

Clients are getting the biggest bang for their buck when public relations works hand-in-hand with media planning and buying early on to ensure everything ladders up to the overarching strategy, and we are getting the right eyes on the best content.

Let’s stop the free-for-all and focus on the convergence of paid and earned to get people to think, act, and notice.

Eight critical steps to developing a successful influencer plan

  1.  Definition: understand your target’s mindset and their passion pillars – and who they view as trusted resources
  2. Create the engagement brief: a road map, including key metrics, drawn from rich consumer insights
  3. Develop criteria: customized filters to select the most impactful influencers
  4. Identify the influencers: find the right people to deliver the right messages
  5. Listen and qualify: ensure authentic relationships by understanding the influencers through a brand-specific lens
  6. Develop the relationships: create personal connections and build trust
  7. Create real value: ensure the relationship is beneficial for all parties
  8. Measure, modify, and repeat: continuous tracking of key measures throughout, and optimize in real time.

Read the full article by Carmichael Lynch President Julie Batliner  at PRWeek.

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