Over the past few years, the rules of the game for PR pros has changed. Instead of addressing specialized targets, local publications, or television networks, they’re pressured to stay on top of multiple sources: a 24-hour news cycle, blogs, and social media — oh my!
We’ve never been more connected. According to a report by Ericsson, there will be 50 billion+ internet connected devices by the year 2020. So, the demand for personalization – reaching the right audience at the right time with the right message – has never been stronger.
We can all agree that the struggle for PR professionals is real. How are they cutting through the digital noise and resonating with the right audience?
For starters, they’ve embraced working with influencers. Influencers help brands stay relevant. They’re like the evolved cool kids from high school. And harnessing the power and trust that people have in influencers can really supercharge your PR campaign.
To help get you started, here are a few of my favorite ways to pull influencers into your PR campaign.
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Seek product reviews from influencers
Ever bought something only because a friend told you how much they loved it? Of course you haven’t. We never do things because our friends do.
It actually makes sense, considering 90% of people today trust peer recommendations over company ads. Why? It’s much easier to trust someone’s opinion about a product when they aren’t getting paid to sell it.
CEO of Intuit, Scott Cook, said it best, “A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is–it is what consumers tell each other it is.” When an influencer recommends or uses a product, people are more likely to trust them than the company selling it.
Check out how beauty brands like Lancôme and L’Oreal are doing this. Remember that influencers can be anyone, including social media personalities.
Well, Lancôme and L’Oreal work with makeup artist Michelle Phan, who has over 8.5 million subscribers on YouTube, to sell and endorse their products. In her videos, she shows her followers how to replicate celebrity makeup looks.
These partnerships have become so popular that brands are turning to tools like Influenster, a platform that connects them with potential ambassadors to participate in review campaigns.
Reviews are great because they’re very product-centric without being salesy. Influencers can share their own story and experiences, go into detail about using the product, and entertain their audience, while still promoting your product very directly.
Use influencers as brand ambassadors
Influencers have loyal audiences. They’re trusted sources of authority. Aligning with them is a fantastic way of attracting publicity and “piggybacking” off of their brand recognition and loyalty.
There are generally two ways influencers can help promote a brand: the paid way or the unpaid way.
Paid brand ambassadors can be a celebrity or a speaker at an event, and the relationship usually lasts as long as a contract permits. It’s a pretty official partnership where the two parties work closely together on projects.
An unpaid ambassador may promote you through word of mouth, on social media, or wherever they have influence. They’re not always so cut and dry. It may be a more informal partnership or act as more of an advocate or cheerleader than a spokesperson.
I recently saw a great campaign by Skype called the Skype Passion Project. They sought out unpaid ambassadors scattered across the globe to connect and share their passions (music, food, fashion, etc).
The campaign provided more than 100,000 website visits and over 5,000 campaign shares. What’s more, Skype found that 10% of their new visitors downloaded the Skype mobile app. Cheers to that, PR professionals.
Collaborate on content
It’s no secret that influencers love to create great content on topics their followers care about. Partnering to create content together can be a great way to begin a relationship. Here are a few ideas for content campaigns with PR influencers:
- Write a blog post or series together.
- Record a video or podcast episode.
- Hold a webinar hosted by an influencer.
- Hold a live online Q&A with your community.
- Create a contest with the influencer.
Contests are my personal favorite. There are a number of fashion brands like Modcloth that send new lines to fashion bloggers to review. Sometimes they’ll spice things up with a contest and the influencer’s audience can enter to win the new clothes.
Solve problems in your community
Think about the challenges of your industry and work with influencers to discover solutions together. This is something we are hearing much more about. For example, British Airways was recognized by Forbes for being innovative in their partnership.
They brought together a group of influencers from Silicon Valley to address the intersection of science and technology. The innovative part? They did so at 30,000 feet in the air on a flight from San Francisco to London. In only a few hours, the groups came up with 20+ solutions and four were eventually presented to United Nations ITU Committee.
What are you waiting for?
Influencers are a powerful choice for your next PR campaign. And there are tons of tools out there that help make finding, collaborating, and engaging with influencers easy. For example, our own influencer dashboard.
Note: this post was originally published in June 2015 and has been expanded and updated.