They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but is it worth $1,000? That depends on who the post is coming from.
Influencer campaigns have proven to be extremely effective even when traditional media has struggled to gain its footing in the digital world. While working with influencers can produce similar results to that of traditional media coverage, especially for consumer-focused campaigns, the process of working with influencers can be quite different and the rules are often hazy.
Marketing and advertising pros have long since tapped influencers as spokespeople for brands dating back to the Queen and the Pope promoting the use of general medicine to common people. The concept of a digital influencer, however, has only become popular in recent years and it’s still developing. What qualifies someone as a digital influencer is up for interpretation – is it the number of followers? Anyone can buy those. Level of engagement? That’s all relative to their follower count. Is it quality of content shared? Yeah, that seems important.
It’s some combination of those things, but the truth is there is no industry standard so anyone can claim to be a digital influencer. There is no professional society of influencers, no set of ethical standards to abide by and, because there isn’t a ton of information out about influencers and their results, there’s no set pricing structure or market for advertising or working with them.
Recently, the FCC put regulations into place requiring influencers to post any endorsements with #ad, although, this is rarely regulated.
The cost of working with influencers can vary greatly from person to person. Some may only request a trade for product or services, while others always require payment. It’s important to remember that just like traditional media, influencers are dedicating their time and efforts to generate content and they expect to eventually monetize what they are doing.
Once we understand that influencers don’t have set standards for how they work with brands or even set pricing, how can you know what to expect from them and the best way to get results that help your bottom line? It all boils down to strategy and budget.
As with traditional media and public relations, always start with the story and the audience you are trying to reach. At RPR, we first dig deep into what we want to convey for a client and then match that goal with a relevant publication or target outlet. The process is similar for influencers because many influencers focus on very specific subjects so we are able to directly reach people interested in those topics through strategic targeting.
For example, in 2018 we worked with an environmentally-focused brand that sold toilet paper from recycled materials. Through a targeted campaign that utilized micro-influencers with followings who showed interest in sustainability and eco-friendly initiatives, we were able to track direct sales that resulted from partnership posts.
When it comes to budget, we have to be realistic. These days almost any influencer worth their salt is charging or expecting something in return for sharing content so a budget should always be set aside for influencer payments. Pricing can vary greatly and there is no set science to knowing if a specific partnership will work, but we advise clients to be flexible with budget and understand that part of influencer marketing is trial and error. With so many algorithms and other factors at play on social media, it can be difficult to pinpoint when is exactly the best time, message, etc. to post for an influencer.
The positive side to the chaos is everything is negotiable. In a good partnership, the influencer will want your team to see results so you want to work with them again and again. Select partners who will allow you to tweak messaging or change the timing of posts to improve results and get confirmation that they will do this in writing – but also give them the freedom to make creative decisions they know their audience will respond to best.
Although it may seem like the Wild Wild West when it comes to digital influencers right now, in some ways it’s not all that different from a traditional public relations and marketing approach. Starting with the end goal in mind and developing a strategy around that is the first step to establishing a mutually beneficial relationship that earns you results.
We’ve got a new gal on our team. Erin Horne is a foodie, a triathlete and she once took a “goldfish shot” – which is exactly what it sounds like and exactly what you don’t want it to be.
Here’s everything you need to know about the newest member of our crew.
Name: Erin Horne
Job Title: Account Manager
Enneagram Number: 3
Where is home for you?
This is a tough question for me now! My hometown is Chicago, but I have lived in five states (Illinois, Indiana for college, California for an internship with The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Georgia, and now Tennessee). I’ve found it takes about 3 months to start calling a new state my “home.”
What are you most looking forward to about living in Nashville?
I’ve become a huge food and drink enthusiast in the past couple of years. I have a list with more than 75 bars and restaurants to try. I’m looking forward to checking out each one!
I’m also a triathlete, so I can’t wait to explore Middle Tennessee through open water swimming, road biking and running.
If you could be a superhero, which one would you be?
Does Buffy the Vampire Slayer count? I’m a bit of a television nerd (one of my majors was Film Studies), so I love a powerful female lead. Buffy did a lot for “women’s films” and females on television—not to mention she had the best friend crew. She was ahead of her time!
What is a crazy story you love to tell at cocktail parties?
I once took a “goldfish shot.” I had to fish for a live goldfish out of a pond, put it in a vodka shot, and then swallow it whole! People love that story at parties, hah.
Here’s another one—while I was working at Ellen, I got to stand in as a band member during Shawn Mendes’ sound check. I was about 10 inches away while he serenaded an empty room and me! This is definitely one of my favorite Ellen memories.
What do you do for fun?
I love to read, especially magazines. I have a huge stack of Entertainment Weekly, Southern Living, Food & Wine, Bon Appetit and more waiting for me to dig in at home. I also love competitive sports. You can usually find me training for some sort of race or playing on a sand volleyball team.
What’s your spirit animal and why?
I’ll go with a dolphin— I love water, I’m social by nature, and I’m always on the move.
If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
As much as I love a good chocolate chip cookie, I have to go with pretzels. They’ve been my favorite snack for as long as I can remember.
My current favorite is this lyric from Lucius’s song Dusty Trails:
‘If we skip to our pre-fulfilled dreams, we’d be lost without our own advice.’
From the moment I decided to move to Nashville, Reed Public Relations was on the top of my list of places to work! I’m thrilled to be here.
The words “thought leadership” get tossed around a lot in our industry, but few people actually understand what it means or how to achieve thought leadership status.
Here’s a secret: it’s really not that complicated. A thought leader is just that—someone who is a leader of thought in their industry or field. You must have expertise that people want to hear or read about. Those “thoughts” are usually pretty niche, and you should have the skillset, degree or personal experience to back them up.
Become an expert.
To become a thought leader, start with your expertise. Did you invent the internet? Engineer the first self-driving car? Create microwavable popcorn? It’s OK if you didn’t.
You don’t have to be the first to do something in your field to be considered an expert, but you do have to have the technical skills and knowledge to back up the advice you’re dishing out. Our expertise lies in crafting the message and getting it noticed, but good thought leaders are able to bring real value and authenticity to their audiences.
Be willing to advise.
Being a thought leader takes courage. I have had a number of clients ask to be positioned as thought leaders, but when the time came for those articles or content to publish, they were hesitant because of others who might have differing opinions.
I totally get it. Putting your expertise out into the world is a scary thing. I say this as I’m actually doing it. But have some confidence in yourself. You can’t be a thought leader without voicing an opinion.
Lay a foundation.
Once you’re a subject matter expert and feel you have something valuable to contribute, that’s when the magic can happen. Although, it’s not actually magic; there’s a strategy behind it.
A PR team or in-house PR manager should first work in your local market and with industry publications to establish credibility. In most cases, before landing the The New York Times, you have to start with the local daily or business publication. Any national reporter will immediately Google you if they receive a pitch and don’t recognize your name. When they do, you want them to find positive articles and clips of you sharing your expertise on a local or regional level. A baseline of relevant, local coverage paired with a skilled pitch and a timely angle can be just enough to pique a national outlet’s interest.
Be patient. Keep trying.
The final piece of the equation is one of the toughest: patience. Once you have a solid hold on your local media market, a PR team should continue to develop fresh angles and ideas to have your expertise included in bigger and bigger outlets. This might include tying your expertise into a current national trend or developing a column with a unique perspective.
Securing coverage can happen quickly if the timing is right, but it typically takes weeks or even months for print publications that have long lead times. The key is patience and continual outreach to boost your chances of a national feature.
If you are truly an expert, have quality content and establish a solid baseline of local coverage, you could be a thought leader! It won’t happen overnight, but when it does, establishing yourself as a thought leader in your industry can separate you from the competition and help build trust with your audiences.
Don’t forget that thought leadership is just one component of an overarching communications campaign. Whether establishing your expertise locally or working toward your next national feature, always be sure your thought leadership plan is strategic, measurable and aligns with the overall goals of your organization. With a little patience and a lot of perseverance, you’ll soon be fielding calls from reporters reaching out to you for insights and comments!
After the news broke that 50 high-profile individuals allegedly took part in a long-running scheme of bribery and cheating to get their children into prestigious universities, those ensnarled in the legal scandal also face an uphill PR battle. Our President and Founder Lauren Reed sat down with Liza Graves, CEO and writer for StyleBlueprint, to talk about what is likely going on behind the scenes for those involved, including television stars Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, and how they can begin to repair their public image.
What’s the lesson learned for all of us here (beyond the obvious of not lying and being truthful!)?
Lauren Reed: You should never do anything that you would regret seeing in the headlines! Deeds done in the dark will almost always become illuminated at some point. Truth has a way of prevailing, and everything is so much more intense when you are in the public eye. This whole situation also has me really thinking about personal core values. What is the legacy we want to leave? Do our actions reflect this?
What are they likely being advised to do?
LR: Because it is an ongoing matter, legal is likely insisting they remain silent. If and when they release something, it will be a brief and strategic statement. For now, though, they are staying off social media and not speaking with media even if they truly desire to respond to their fans. In my experience, that is always the most difficult PR aspect of a crisis situation. Even if they want to be transparent and show remorse publicly, they simply can’t say much yet.
During Black History Month (February), our team worked with McDonald’s of Kentuckiana to recognize outstanding students in the area. What our client got in return from this scholarship program was much more than media coverage and community goodwill. Through the program and the commitment of the owner operators of McDonald’s in the Kentuckiana area, we saw firsthand how giving back can change lives and make a difference.
For 15 years, McDonald’s Black History Makers of Tomorrow program has celebrated diversity and young leaders in Kentuckiana by awarding scholarships to local high school seniors who demonstrate exceptional leadership, character, scholarship and community service. This year, McDonald’s Restaurants of Kentuckiana awarded the largest group yet by giving a dozen students scholarships totaling $18,000. RPR was given the opportunity to coordinate a ceremony that honored the recipients and raised awareness for McDonald’s contributions within the local community.
The 2019 event was the most well attended by the organization and its employees to date and featured Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, Reverend and President of Simmons College Kevin Cosby and Dawne Gee, news anchor with WAVE 3. Twelve young people from high schools throughout Kentucky and Southern Indiana were awarded scholarships. Each of their entries was so outstanding that winners were separated by just tenths of a point.
From creating the scholarship entry and judging process to recruiting community leaders to speak and finalizing all event logistics and details, it became evident to our team that the future is bright for future generations in Kentuckiana.
RPR turns six this month.
I started to write an all too sappy and sentimental post thanking six people for six years in business. The thing is, though, I couldn’t narrow it down to six. Six years ago we didn’t exist and now we’ve worked with major brands like McDonald’s, Ford Motor
Company, Google, Bank of America, Orangetheory Fitness, O’Charley’s, Madame Tussauds and more. I clearly couldn’t have done that on my own, and there are just too many people who have graciously helped me along the way to name everyone in one blog post.
Instead, I took a late-night trip down memory lane (aka our company social media accounts and internal employee-only Facebook page) to narrow down some of my favorite moments over the last six years.
1.) I’m including this as proof that yes, at one time, men actually worked at RPR. Well, okay, one man. I’m not sure what happened (maybe it was the lavender wall in our lobby?), but let’s just say I certainly get my fill of girl talk these days with an all-female team. Jason, we miss you!!! All other male PR professionals, please feel free to apply.
2.) When I started this business, all I needed was a laptop and a good Internet connection. As the team grew, we started looking for office space and eventually found a spot to call home in Midtown. While signing the lease was a huge leap of faith (we’re locked in for at least five years?!), it was also one of the most exciting moments. During the build-out, we were stopping by every 2-3 days – ok, every day – until it was finished. Katie even risked traveling on a treacherous snow day to be here on furniture move-in day.
3.) When you move into your brand-new office space right before Cinco De Mayo, you obviously have a big party. And when you have a big party, you obviously have to rent a donkey and bring him into the new office to film the invitation. This basically describes the past decade of my and Katie’s relationship. I’ve always said I don’t want to go up against Katie in anything because she’s the grittiest person I know. We have these kooky moments of inspiration and by golly, she figures out how to make it work. Even if that means coaxing a 200-pound animal into our building’s elevator…
While the landlord didn’t love the party or the live farm animal in our office, it made for a great blog entry.
4.) Hannah Paramore was my first client and this is documentation of my disbelief that someone was actually paying me real, actual money to do PR on my own, without the name or backing of my previous agency. She believed in me when she had no business doing so because, goodness, there was so much that naïve but eager 29-year-old didn’t know. I thought I was just going to freelance until I “figured things out and got a real job” but Hannah was busy hooking me up with a banker, an accountant, potential clients and everything else I needed to start a business. She’s still a client today but also so much more. I know I can count on her to celebrate the highs of the business and to help me work though the lows. Even though Hannah is the client, I’ve learned so much from her and I’m forever grateful.
And while I don’t make my husband take pictures of me with every check that comes in the mail these days, six years later I do still feel immense gratitude for our clients with every single bank deposit.
5.) Nashville City Club. 2017. RPR Holiday Party. Some wine was consumed.
Hey, do y’all want to get tattoos?
No caption necessary.
6.) Clearly, we like to do backbends around here. When your team says they are too busy to go take a yoga class, you bring the yoga class to the office with a private yoga instructor. There’s something about synchronized breathing that brings you closer as a team… or it might just be a collective love for the lavender-scented towels you get at the end.
Prepare to see more baby pics and engagement announcements on your Facebook News Feed — the social media giant is changing the way it determines what users see first when they log in.
Mark Zuckerberg recently announced a new algorithm that will prioritize updates from family and friends over posts from businesses, brands and media companies. This is great for keeping up with your great aunt’s trip to Belize, but what does it mean for your company’s social media strategy?
(Wait, you do have a social media strategy, right? If not, let’s fix that first.)
Whether you are a Fortune 500 company or a small business, the new algorithm is sure to impact how you reach and interact with consumers. Here’s what to know and how to prepare for the shift to keep audiences engaged:
Micro-influencers are even more important.
As social media as a whole has changed over the past few years, our strategies have adapted to include partnerships with micro-influencers — individuals with between 1,000 to 10,000 followers who aren’t quite celebrities or media contributors but create quality content and have significant pull with their niche audiences. Their followers trust their opinions and have a genuine investment in what they are up to day-to-day. Because many of these micro-influencers are not considered media or individual brands, they will be key to reaching consumers in coming months. The way we select and work with them may change, but they will be essential to a successful social media campaign nonetheless.
Your ad budget may need an increase.
Facebook says the new algorithm will not affect paid posts on the platform , but it remains to be seen how the changes will affect ad pricing and the bidding process. Posts from brands will not be completely shut out, but they will be ranked as lower priority — unless you’re prepared to pay — and we can infer that fewer chances to reach consumers likely means a higher price tag. Being strategic with your social media ad dollars is crucial. Run multiple campaigns, track results, and if at all possible, hire an expert to manage the process for you.
A traditional PR strategy is still necessary.
A well-rounded campaign should incorporate social media, not rely on it completely. If you already have a traditional PR strategy in place, it will lessen the blow from the Facebook drawbacks. Take the first few weeks of 2018 to get your PR plan in order, including a media and social media strategy, crisis communications plan, community partnerships and involvement in any local or industry events. Ensure you are reaching your audiences in multiple ways and that messaging is consistent across all platforms.
Our Vice President Tori Ross recently joined PR pros from around the country in sharing their best trade secrets with Fit Small Business. What stellar advice did she have to help brands extend their reach to their target audiences? Understand how social media influencers work before dishing out big bucks to the first person with a large following. Tori says:
When it comes to working with influencers such as bloggers, celebrities and other social media personalities to promote your small business, sometimes less is more in terms of followers. You can easily spend hundreds or thousands of dollars for a single sponsored post from big-name influencers. However, studies show that as an influencer’s number of followers increases, their audience engagement decreases.
Individuals with between 1,000 to 10,000 followers – known as micro-influencers – actually hold more power in today’s digital world. These micro-influencers tend to have a more engaged, loyal following. They are more likely to be seen as a trustworthy source of information and recommendations than influencers with hundreds of thousands or millions of followers. They are also usually more open to sharing posts in exchange for goods and services rather than monetary exchanges so they can be a cost-effective in that way as well.
At the start of any relationship—whether it be with a client, a vendor or even a significant other—discovering the best communication method for that person is crucial. It’s what ensures a healthy relationship for both parties and builds trust for the duration of that relationship.
When it comes to our clients, we want them to feel valued and taken care of. That’s why we always respond to emails, calls or text messages in a timely manner. In fact, we have an internal client services policy that requires us to respond within 2-4 business hours. We never want our clients to have to follow up with us or wonder what we are doing to further their business. Our goal is to provide them with as much information as they need about our tactics and strategies before they have the chance to ask.
Before we are too quick to reply, though, we always strive to answer the following questions:
Are we answering their needs?
We aim to be strategic with each response. Our communications should be productive, beneficial and efficient. We understand clients don’t have time to waste during the workday.
Are we strategizing for the future?
The client’s best interests are always at the forefront of our minds. Rather than thinking only on the present matter at hand, we think about results and future opportunities when assisting the client.
Are we going the extra mile to avoid additional work on the client’s end?
We’re always going to provide the client with all of the necessary information needed for their reference or review. For example, rather than asking them to refer to an email I sent two weeks ago, we simply remind them of our past conversation so they are not forced to dig through their old emails. The last thing we want to do is ask our clients to go the extra mile – that’s what we’re here for!
At the end of the day, we want nothing more than to make our clients happy and their jobs a little less stressful. We love that we have developed strong, long-standing relationships with our clients as a result of our clear, quick communication methods and we will continue to do our best to keep them coming back.