A cautionary tale of identifying real influencers following PRCA’s findings in its Digital PR Report 2015 of upsurge in blogger outreach – writes Scott Guthrie

This week the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA) revealed the findings of its Digital PR Report 2015.

The third annual PRCA Digital Report, produced in partnership with YouGov, provides a benchmark of how the PR industry is performing with digital communications.

One key finding was the growth in blogger outreach for both in-house and agency PR practitioners.

This is a welcome trend as public relations expands its value to brands from media relations to include influencer marketing. The PR discipline is evolving, inching along the value chain towards ultimately helping firms become fit for purpose in the social age. Embedding communication skills into every corner of business. All departments embracing the social web.

“Influencer marketing is a natural evolution of media relations practice. New, highly engaged and trusted influencers have emerged alongside journalists on almost every social platform.” writes Stephen Waddington, partner and chief engagement officer at Ketchum.

The Digital PR Report 2015 reveals that in-house investment in influencer (e.g. blogger) outreach/engagement has seen growth of 11% over the past two years – from 41% in 2013, to 50% in 2014, and to 52% in 2015.

PRCA inhouse blogger outreach

In the past year there’s been an upsurge in in-house PR departments expecting PR agencies to be able to deliver many digital service areas. Blogger outreach shows 18% growth.

The PR agency side is growing to meet these in-house needs. Eighty-two per cent of agencies offer blogger outreach/ engagement.

PRCA PR agencies blogger outreach

In-house PR practitioners are also trying to up-skill in this area. When asked which three things they need more education in, the biggest percentage of in-house comms people need more education/insight around blogger outreach (36%).

There is, however, a cautionary tale in this race to embrace influencer marketing. That is to know how to identify influencers who will really offer a decent ROI on your PR pound.

In an article written today on mUmBRELLA, Australia’s leading online media and marketing publication, Tim Burrows recounts an extraordinarily chat he had recently with a blogger:

For the sake of argument, we’ll call her Penelope”. Writes Burrows, content director at mUmBRELLA.

“Having established her “influencer” credentials by building up a following in her particular Instagram niche, she had been urged by the [PR] agency representing her that it was time to launch a website.

“This agency … had advised Penelope the best way of getting more dollars from clients was to have a web presence too.

“So Penelope went ahead and built a blog, and the agency designed her a media kit.

“In that kit, she was surprised to read that her yet-to-launch offering apparently had more unique visits per month that many mainstream news sites.

“Penelope asked her agency about the outlandish claim. It was normal in a media kit to take an optimistic guess at what the site might one day achieve in traffic, she was reassured.

“But what if a client asked for proof, Penelope wanted to know? “That’s what Google Analytics and Photoshop are for,” the agency replied.

Further reading

PRCA Digital PR Report 2015

Press release September 14, 2015

The encouraging face of digital according to the PRCA by Neville Hobson

PRCA Digital PR Report 2015: Key findings by PR Week

The newer the medium, the worse the media bullshit by mUmBRELLA

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Scott Guthrie is a professional adviser within the influencer marketing industry. He is an event speaker, university guest lecturer, media commentator on influencer marketing and active blogger. He works with brands, agencies and platforms to achieve meaningful results from influencer marketing. That tells you something about him but it's not giving you a lot of detail, is it? So, read more here.

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