Here’s How to Include Influencers in Your PR Strategy

When it’s done right, influencer marketing is a powerhouse public relations move.

Over 70% of advertisers are using influencer marketing at their companies, according to a 2018 study, and it’s little wonder why: influencer marketing is a fun new way to engage audiences and refresh your PR strategy.

An influencer’s online identity isn’t unlike that of a brand’s. They curate content and track engagement just like any business. So why don’t influencers seem more corporate? Because they show their personality, bring their audience into the conversation and share their vulnerabilities. This personal touch translates into greater awareness of and loyalty to your brand, should you partner with them.

So how can you include influencers in your PR strategy? Read on for your crash course.

Why Influencers are Secret PR Experts

What’s one of the key secrets to influencer success? Relatability. This powerful feeling breeds trust, so an influencer’s recommendation feels like a friend’s advice. Followers want tips on which shampoo to use, how to style a turtleneck and where to buy coffee. An influencer might not really be your friend — but damn if it doesn’t feel that way sometimes.

So when influencers recommend products to their followers, it’s tremendously effective: according to a 2018 study, 38% of individuals aged 18 to 34 trust what influencers say about a company more than they trust what the brand says about itself.

Of course, this is dependent on an influencer building that reputation of trust. When influencers work with brands that align with their values and their audience’s needs, the partnerships appear more natural. Bethany Menzel is a mother, and her partnerships are designed to help fellow mothers. Karen Ramos is an Indigenous Oaxaqueña influencer who’s careful to only work with brands that are intentionally diverse in their partnerships.

This focus on building trust and intimacy is why influencers are secret public relations wizards: they really understand the power of authentic relationships. Their “friendship” might be with tens (or hundreds) of thousands of people, yet they create a space that feels personal. Influencer marketing helps brands snag followers’ interest in a powerful new way that can be even more effective than traditional advertisements.

Adding Influencers to Your PR Strategy

First, know your goals. Your goals dictate everything, including whether you’ll reach out to nano-, micro- or macro-influencers. Are you promoting your brand, or driving conversions? Do you want to reach a broad audience, or a niche market?

If you want to promote your brand, look for macro-influencers with broad reach on the platforms your audience gravitates towards. If your goal is conversions, a micro-influencer with a highly engaged following is the way to go.

Research by exploring different hashtags and following influencers related to your market. You can also use free online tools to investigate influencers, their audiences and their engagement rates. This will help you better understand if a partnership is worth pursuing.

Looking at influencers’ past partnerships can also help you decide how you can work together. If you’re a food-focused brand, find a blogger who has experience doing branded events, like hosting a dinner party highlighting company products. If you’re B2B, you might collaborate with a LinkedIn influencer who has many thought leadership posts under their belt. Or, if you’re travel-focused brand, you could host a YouTube influencer at your hotel for an immersive video post.

Familiarize yourself with influencer rates, as well. The cost of your partnership will generally depend on follower size, according to Hootsuite: the baseline formula for rates is $100 x 10,000 followers + extras, like inclusion in an influencer’s Story Highlights. If an influencer has an especially good engagement rate, though, you might favour that over a lower number of followers.

You can calculate engagement rates by adding all the likes, comments and other interactions on a post, dividing by number of followers and multiplying by 100. Later Media writes that micro-influencers may be willing to post in exchange for product, while macro-influencers might charge $5,000 or more for a single post.

Many influencers have a press kit you can work off of as well.

Influencer Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

Know the possible downfalls of a poorly executed partnership. When it’s done wrong, a paid partnership can sour perceptions of the influencer and the company. As with any marketing campaign, you should be vigilant and detailed from start to finish.

The Fyre Festival scandal, for example, prompted debates on transparency and influencers’ responsibilities. The waist trainers, gummy bears and detox products hawked on the Kardashians’ profiles are frequently called out for ringing false. Bad influencer marketing is remembered for all the wrong reasons.

Ensure that both parties are clear on what’s expected from the partnership before going in. It’s also important to disclose the sponsorship of influencer posts. The Advertising Standards Authority is reportedly cracking down on influencers who sidestep disclaimers, especially in the wake of Fyre Festival. Hiding pertinent information from your audience doesn’t do anyone any favours, so it’s best to be transparent about your partnerships.

Influencer marketing is more than a hot new trend. A strategic paid partnership is a fantastic way to spice up your PR campaigns, as well as reach new markets. Leverage the power of influencers to engage your audience in an authentic, relatable way.

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