I’m thrilled to run a top 10 PR blog. Why? Because I write about influencer marketing. PR should shape influencer marketing but it can’t do it alone.
Yesterday Vuelio, the PR software firm, included this website in its list of top 10 PR blogs in the UK - and I’m thrilled.
Yes, I’m thrilled because it will give my mother something to discuss at the golf club. It will provide amusement to my brother ‘down the Spoons’ or the Oriental Club, too.
Naturally, I’m thrilled to be included alongside industry heavy-weights old and new who tirelessly contribute to the progression of public relations and the communications industry as a whole.
But, I’m most thrilled to be included in this top PR blog list because I almost exclusively write about influencer marketing. Of the 60-plus articles I wrote for this site last year 47 of them were influencer marketing related.
I believe influencer marketing has a higher calling than selling stuff. Yes, working with influencers can greatly affect product sales positively. Watch company Daniel Wellington, for example, has built an entire empire from selling mid-priced timepieces on Instagram through influencers. But influencer marketing can transcend selling. Many of influencer marketing’s tactics are transferable. It’s the intent and impact which can be applied towards achieving different outcomes.
Applied wisely influencer marketing can also assist with:
- Employee advocacy
- Strengthening an organisation's positive reputation with the people who matter to them
- Crisis management
- Communicating an organisation’s purpose
- Drawing awareness to a cause
Marketing and public relations: a difference
The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) defines marketing as “the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably".
The CIM website also explains that "It [marketing] is all about getting the right product or service to the customer at the right price, in the right place, at the right time."
Of course, every business is ultimately in the business of staying in business. This involves creating a sustained profit. And, naturally, profit comes from selling stuff. But generating profit over the long-term requires loyalty from employees, building mutually beneficial relationships with suppliers and customers and nurturing support from the general community. These are bedrock PR skills.
PR practitioners know this.
The Chartered Institute of Public Relations defines PR as “the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics."
"Everything a company does is PR. That makes PR a management function, not a communications function," explained professor Harris Breslow last week in Dubai.
PR sits at the nexus of conversations between an organisation and its stakeholders/ publics/ important people. By ‘scanning the environment’ and listening to conversations about the organisation and its competitors, locating where these conversations are being played out and by whom public relations practitioners are well placed to help organisations identify opportunities and risks. To determine who is influencing the opinion-forming and then to aim to neutralise impact from dissenters and to amplify the impact of advocates.
Whilst other creative disciplines concentrate on prospective and existing customers the PR practitioner attempts to earn mutual understanding with all people important to an organisation.
PR within influencer marketing
Research by influencer marketing platform, Traackr [gated content; requires contact details] found that marketing continues to maintain ownership (their word not mine) of influencer marketing. 43% of survey respondents said that the marketing department was in charge of influencer marketing. However, tellingly, this percentage has dropped sharply from 70% of respondents recorded the previous year (2017).
Indeed, public relations is now the second most cited leadership group for influencer marketing. More than a quarter (28%) of respondents said PR lead influencer marketing. This represents a jump from just 16% in 2017.
PR is in charge when it comes to influencer marketing activation according to the Traackr data. 64% of practitioners running IM programs are PR professionals, according to participants.
The second largest discipline running influencer marketing is social media marketing (58%), followed by brand/product marketing (52%) and digital marketing (41%).
It’s worth noting that in this year’s report, PR has overtaken social media marketing as the primary leader in influencer marketing for the first time. These groups also represent the earliest adopters of influence who have been some of the industry’s longest practitioners.
It appears then, that PR is doing a lot of the doing, but not all of the leading. Part of this might be due to our confidence as a discipline. Jim Donaldson, CEO UK and the Middle East for FleishmanHillard marked out this word in his opening remarks to last month's PRCA trends conference. It's a sentiment explored by Maja Pawinska Sims in her Holmes Report article Time For PR To Embrace Its Own Purpose published earlier this week.
This is why I’m thrilled for this site to be included in an industry-recognised list of top 10 PR blogs.
“No one challenges that media relations is a public relations function. No one else lays claim to it (it’s never been called ‘media marketing’), to the extent that many of us are able to disown or downplay the practice. Yet the new practices that have emerged over the past two decades are not labelled as public relations: they’re called ‘digital marketing’ or ‘content marketing’ or ‘influencer marketing’” argues Richard Bailey, PR lecturer and editor of PR Place in his article 2018: The year of influence.
PR should have a leading place in shaping the future of influencer marketing, but it can not achieve this in isolation. We must embrace the other creative disciplines to define best practice and push for more than greater awareness but greater adoption of best practice.
Last year influencer marketing was mired by influencer fraud and a perceived failure by many influencers to effectively disclose their material connections with brands.
These two areas will continue to figure large throughout 2019. But, added to this list will be ethics and values both from creators and from a brand's point of view. Social media platforms will be put under increased pressure to regulate content on their platforms. Industry trade bodies will enforce their codes of conduct on members who transgress. Ensuring the best possible outcomes for brands, influencers and consumers will mean industries coming together to shape the future.
That's why I'm thrilled to have this site included in the list of top 10 PR blogs (for the second time in a row).