In an earlier two-part series titled “Everything PR Pros Need to Know About Influencer Marketing, Part 1 and Part 2,” we discussed the finer details of influencer marketing – who the influencers are, why they can be a valuable marketing resource, and how and when to tap into this new channel. Here, we will expand on that information to help you use these new voices to enhance your brand strategy.

There’s no denying that we are in the midst of the influencer economy. Whether they’re global celebrities or niche industry leaders, organizations worldwide seek out the endorsements of influencers to promote their brands and efforts to a captivated audience. Yet, this shift towards leveraging influencer brands isn’t without its own risk; there are plenty of headlines calling out rogue influencers that have gotten into trouble with the brands they were representing. As industries and platforms evolve and more influencers enter the conversation, identifying the right influencers and equipping them to keep your brand relevant becomes increasingly critical. 

So how can PR professionals best navigate this contest of competing personalities in an always-on social environment? It starts with understanding the role influencers play for your organization. 

Creating Perfect Harmony

It’s easy to generate a list of influencers in a specific field, but it’s much harder to sort through that list name by name to determine who is the right fit for the brand. Unfortunately, there’s no tool out there that can affirm this match. Finding, engaging, and activating the ideal influencer is a true bastion for old-fashioned research. 

Identifying influencers is about activating aligned, niche audiences. You can’t just choose influencers based on their follower count and engagement metrics. Who is their audience? What is their role in their community? How does this community impact your brand? Is this a person your audience trusts enough to buy from?

Understand who your influencers are, what their long-term goals are, and how your brand can help them accomplish their goals. You have to understand their persona and their values and their role in your community if you want the relationship to flourish.

By identifying influencers with similar beliefs, values, and principles as your organization, you can trust that these representatives will operate fluidly with your messaging without compromising your brand image. This trust builds confidence and empowers these individuals to deliver your message, while staying true to their own audiences. 

Understanding your Influencers

There’s always a bit of an internal struggle when it comes to leveraging influencers. Communications teams have specific messages they want delivered, and they expect that delivery to stay true to their brand standards. At the same time, influencers have their own goals and brands that they’ve crafted and that their audiences expect. When those ambitions align, the partnership works effectively. When those ambitions compete, the resulting tension can derail the relationship. 

In order to effectively harness any influencer relationship, PR teams have to acknowledge the influencers’ largest strength—their charisma. Influencers have earned their following through a well-calculated force of personality. These are professionals who have dedicated significant portions of their careers to understanding a specific audience, platform and industry, and have built a brand voice designed to engage that niche. The influencer’s voice is not your brand voice; it’s a megaphone designed to amplify your brand voice, and sometimes megaphones produce a little feedback. 

You may not like everything an influencer has to say, or the way they say it. PR teams have to be willing to let influencers have their autonomy. Work together to craft your messaging to the influencer’s voice, instead of expecting them to bend to your brand standards. The aim for any PR team ought to be championing influencers whose voices align with their own, rather than trying to force a relationship that doesn’t work. 

Be sure to consider the legal matters. Hiring influencers is not as simple as building relationships with brand fans and sending out content. These are contracted roles that require financial payments, monitoring and management, out clauses, content checks and more. To ensure all parties are aware of the deliverables, the timing, the length of time the content will be promoted and more, use a legal contract. Setting goals and expectations for both PR teams and influencers will help avoid future mistakes. 

Employees as In-House Influencers

Beyond influencers, employee advocacy also serves as an excellent method for expanding the reach of your organization’s audience (with fewer legal considerations). The workforce offers a considerable range of networks and audiences that traditional distributions may not access. Encourage coworkers and colleagues to promote their work, company initiatives, and brand stories in a way that feels authentic to them. While organizations shouldn’t aim to control the social media habits of their employees, most brands have adopted internal social media guidelines that can grant the communication teams a bit more peace of mind regarding how their messages are being delivered.

Empowered influencers can be great ambassadors for any brand and a critical resource for any PR team. By working alongside influencers and building mutual trust through shared voices and values, activated influencers become a far more effective asset. With these ideals in place, influencers and brands alike can work symbiotically to engage and increase their core audiences. 

 


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