Influencer marketing isn’t just a fad.
Quality content creators have their audiences’ trust and loyalty – key ingredients in your PR campaign.
And you’re on the right page to learn how to use those ingredients.
This guide will show you:
- 5 ways to leverage influencer marketing to power up your PR efforts, goal by goal
- Real-life examples and tactics that work
- Practical lessons you can implement in your current PR campaign
Let’s start with your most common PR goals:
1. Increase Awareness
Increasing awareness and reaching new markets is an important goal of many PR campaigns.
Influencers can help you achieve that because:
- They hold sway over specific audience segments you can’t otherwise reach.
- Influencers are already beloved and perceived as experts in their fields. Therefore, their followers are less likely to ignore their messages as they do with traditional advertising.
Influencers can increase awareness in a slew of ways:
- UGC: User-generated content is catchy, so social media users won’t scroll past it. Whether used in posts or ads, UGC can enhance your PR campaign’s visibility and shed more light on your brand.
- Hashtag challenges: Hashtag challenges go viral fast, so they can snowball outside your existing market. As your target audience becomes involved in the hashtag campaign, they will spread the word about your brand, products, values, events – or whatever you want to promote during your PR campaign.
- Participating in specific events: Influencers who go to certain events don’t just endorse the event; they stand behind your values, mission, and entire brand.
Pro tip: Don’t just pick the influencer with the largest audience size if your PR goal is to increase brand awareness.
Micro-influencers and mid-tier creators are your best bet for awareness PR campaigns because you don’t just need visibility in your PR campaign.
You need that visibility to lead to social proof.
Side note: Content creators are typically categorized as:
- Nano-influencers: 1,000-10,000 followers
- Micro-influencers: 10,000-100,000 followers
- Mid-tier influencers: 100,000-500,000 followers
- Macro-influencers: 500,000-1,000,000 followers
- Mega-influencers: Over 1,000,000 followers
Take a look at how CeraVe promotes the brand’s Sun and Surf event:
The special guests aren’t celebrities. They qualify only as micro-influencers on Instagram, but they’re definitely experts in their niche:
Bruna Zaun is a professional surfer from Brazil, while Nina Desai is a board-certified medical and cosmetic dermatologist.
Notice: Both their profiles are linked in the post description, but Tom Allison’s (co-founder of CeraVe) isn’t.
That’s a crystal clear message from the brand: the accent falls on their specialists and less on the brand.
- Don’t pick influencers by size but by expertise and engagement in their niche.
- Let your creators speak on behalf of your brand instead of shining a light on it yourself.
2. Improve Credibility and Trust
Influencers can improve the credibility of both your PR campaign and brand message.
Imagine you want to promote your brand as a haven of DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion).
Simply getting this message out wouldn’t create too much trust.
Showcasing specific changes in your company culture and workspace would be better. However, 88% of people trust word-of-mouth more than your branded content.
Instead, partnering with influencers can build that credibility and trust because:
- You gain specific insights into your audience: Influencers are exceptional assets for social media monitoring. They understand their audiences deeply and can craft persuasive messages using their insights.
- You benefit from a transfer of trust: PR has long acknowledged the power of third-party endorsements. And if your influencers vouch for you, your target audience will believe it.
Here’s micro-influencer and autism advocate Lauren Ellzey explaining the concept of spectrum washing. According to her, some companies claiming they’re neurodivergent-friendly don’t take enough measures to support neurodivergent people genuinely:
This post shines light on a questionable practice and makes Lauren’s followers pitch their own experiences.
Now, imagine Lauren would speak up on behalf of a genuinely neurodivergent-friendly company.
Her audience would listen and would trust that company.
Lauren actually did this, partnering with Mentra – a neurodiversity employment network:
Notice that this partnership has elicited many opinions from Lauren’s audience. And Mentra is taking time to get involved in the conversation.
And here’s another example from the Noom app, using its customers as success stories:
- If you want to create credibility with your PR campaign, show your audience the active steps you’ve taken towards a goal.
- Allow a niche influencer to endorse your message based on their insights into your audience.
- Take part in the conversation by putting your audience’s needs and thoughts first.
3. Create Interest
PR campaigns sometimes aim to spark interest in the brand, mission, or products.
And influencers can elicit that interest with thumb-stopping posts, raw messages, or funny takes.
Pro tip: Choose an influencer with an engaged audience and high impression rates.
You need a content creator who has proven they can create social proof, desire, and messages that hook your audience.
Here’s how influencers can create interest:
- They build your brand identity by consistently publishing content aligned with your core values and target audience.
- They leverage specific tactics to make their content more relatable and engaging:
- Trendy sounds
- And more
Creating interest with influencers works specifically well:
- In new markets
- For brands that lack an in-depth connection with their audiences
- New products that need acceptance and social proof
For example, VPNs like Nord VPN always partner with content creators to create interest in their products.
Sometimes, the brand sponsors in-depth reviews on YouTube, while other times, it simply sponsors posts.
By contrast, the Phone Loops brand has created interest in its innovative product through Instagram influencers. These creators have posted pictures of themselves using the product in diverse scenarios, thus increasing social proof and desire:
Pro tip: You can work with an Instagram influencer marketing agency to find and manage influencers based on your criteria.
Finn Partners Singapore uses innovative tactics to increase interest:
- They leverage the office takeover trend on Instagram, using their employees as influencers.
- They post food pictures on their Instagram account, using local hashtags like #SingaporeEats and general ones like #EmployeePicks, apart from the branded hashtags. This tactic significantly increases the brand’s visibility and interest, given that food trends are very popular on social media.
Notice these companies have distinct audiences, brand profiles, and objectives. They used different tactics and social channels, even if both aimed to increase interest.
To increase interest, pick the right tactics and social media platforms for your needs.
4. Building Your Reputation
The disadvantage of living in a booming economy is facing steep competition.
In that environment, you need to build your brand reputation quickly when you’re new. And you need to keep it afterward.
Influencers help you achieve the PR goal of improving your reputation because:
- They can endorse your brand, thus persuading their followers to trust it.
- They can build up your backlink profile with authoritative links from their website, thus increasing your ranking on search engines.
Therefore, influencer marketing helps with different aspects of PR – depending on which you want to focus on.
Let’s say you own a B2B company that retails ergonomic office chairs.
- Getting social media exposure from influencers enhances your reputation on those social channels for the short term.
- But partnering with ambassadors that link to you from their websites increases your reputation in the long run.
Gymshark is one of the brands famous for partnering with athlete ambassadors who underline the brand’s values:
Gymshark wants to convey that fitness is not for weight loss but for physical and mental strength.
That’s why the brand partners with athletes.
You can find different influencers to build your specific reputation. From employees to customers and distributors to niche creators, the world is your oyster.
5. Crisis Management
Influencers can help you deal with crisis management better than sending out conventional brand messages. Creators can:
- Endorse your good faith
- Help you control the narrative on social media and beyond
- Increase your credibility when you apologize
- Move the conversation away from the current PR crisis
More importantly, your team of influencers can help you get the pulse of your audience on social media.
Their insights are essential during a PR crisis, so remember to include these creators in your crisis management team.
Besides, PR crises have the habit of escalating on social media.
But if you partner with prominent social media figures, you can connect with your audience more credibly than if you were to simply send our PR statements.
Here’s a neat example you can consider:
Chipotle hit the news in 2015 when the brand’s products were famously tied to an E. coli infestation. The Mexican food brand tried to mitigate the bad news, negative sentiment, and lawsuits through TV advertising, coupons, and giveaways.
Notice: These tactics didn’t address the main issue: customers’ lost trust in the brand’s safety practices.
Chipotle used its employees as influencers in the Behind the Foil campaign, showcasing the behind-the-scenes kitchen environment:
Chipotle also partnered with specific social media influencers on TikTok and Facebook to rebuild broken brand relationships. These creators posted under the hashtag #chipotlecreator, which helped Chipotle monitor the communication.
Remember: Sometimes, distracting attention isn’t always the best solution. Confronting the problem and showing solutions can help you regain your loyal customers’ lost trust.
- Include your influencers in the crisis management team to leverage their insights.
- Find the best solution for your crisis first; then, partner with creators who can create specific content for your chosen solution.
Best Practices for Influencer Marketing in PR Campaigns
Now that you’re here, you know how influencer marketing can enhance your PR efforts.
You saw specific examples and learned actionable lessons.
But you still have to follow the best practices below to ensure your campaign’s success:
- Define your target audience: Identify the demographics and interests of your target audience and choose influencers who align with these criteria.
- Choose the right influencers: Look for influencers who have a significant following and are engaged with their audience. Ensure your chosen creators have experience working with brands in your industry.
- Set clear goals: Determine what you want to achieve with your influencer marketing efforts, such as increasing brand awareness or driving sales.
- Develop a detailed plan: Outline all the steps needed to execute the campaign, including identifying potential influencers, creative briefs, and measuring success.
- Build authentic relationships: Focus on building genuine relationships with your influencers rather than simply using them as a means to reach your audience. This will ensure your campaign is authentic and resonates with your target audience.
- Be transparent: Be transparent with your influencers about your brand and the campaign, and provide them with the resources they need to promote your brand effectively.
- Listen to your creators: Don’t use your influencers as tools in your PR campaign. Leverage their insights and advice to persuade your audience.
- Monitor and measure results: Keep track of key metrics such as engagement rates, click-through rates, and conversions to determine the campaign’s effectiveness.
This blog post explored five ways in which influencer marketing can enhance your PR campaign, including building brand trust, reaching a wider audience, providing credibility, and managing PR crises.
Implementing these strategies will ultimately increase your brand’s visibility, build a loyal brand community, and drive sales.
Remember to choose the right influencers, set clear goals, and measure the results of your campaign to ensure its success. With the right approach, influencer marketing can be a valuable addition to your PR campaign and take your brand to the next level.
David Morneau is the co-founder and CEO of inBeat agency that helps brands scale their marketing efforts. He has helped over 200 DTC brands to date.