Over the last 20 years, the rise of the Web and the emergence of social media has fundamentally changed the role of public relations (PR). To regain the confidence of consumers, who trust peer – to – peer recommendations (P2P) and expert opinions more than publicity, organizations and brands must now appeal to influencers to distribute and amplify their message. With ad blocking options, the relationship with influencers is even more important than the issues of public relations. There are six challenges we can identify.
1 – Develop social commitment to regain consumer confidence
As the recent Edelman‘s report Trust Barometer 2016 demonstrates, one of the first roles of public relations with community influencers is to regain consumer trust in businesses, organizations and the media.
(Fig. 1 – Edelman Trust Barometer 2016 – Post-Recession Highs)
In 2016, there has been a rise in consumer confidence which is mainly due to employee engagement and CEOs leadership on social networks (with an increase of 4% to 8% compared to 2015).
(Fig. 2 – Edelman Trust Barometer 2016 – Peer, Employees More Credible Than Leaders)
Better informed and aware because of the Web and social media consumers demand greater organizational transparency, and an authentic and genuine social commitment. At this level, the role of community influencers is to disseminate and amplify the message through their network.
2 – Target the right types of influencers regarding the objectives
One of the new challenges for organizations is identifying the right kinds of social media influencers, and building profitable and equitable relationships, according to the objectives of the campaigns.
Marketing agencies and public relations firms also realize the limits of recommendation campaigns, or spokesmen using celebrities or stars of the social media platforms (like YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope) (which now called “influenceuratis”). In both cases (celebrities and “influenceuratis”), the intervention of these influencers will reap positive results for campaigns with business objectives sales or traffic, but they aren’t strong enough to rebuild consumer confidence or customer loyalty.
3 – Build long-term relationship with influencers
As demonstrated in the 2015 Augure study “The State of Influencer Engagement” long-term relationships developed with opinion leaders, and ambassadors in business outreach programs bring benefits that now favor organizations.
(Fig. 3 – Augure – State and Practices of Relationships – Influencer Engagement Use Cases)
Like the muses and “influenceuratis” whose scope is limited, opinion leaders and ambassadors can participate in many activities on networks, and bring greater visibility to the brand allowing it acquire greater visibility while helping to improve crisis management and media relations.
4 – Involve CEOs and management teams in social media strategies
Today’s connected consumers exert an undeniable influence over the organizations. They demand to be listened to by authorities able to make decisions and want to get quick satisfaction for their requests. Even when a department manager or support staff can solve an issue themselves the involvement and the rapid commitment of executives and managers are essential to managing the crisis better. +80% of the social media user what to “talk” to the CEO.
In the fall of 2015, Volkswagen lost over $ 15 billion in market share after ¨Dieselgate”. The existing management has been slow to respond to the crisis generated by the diesel engine emission scandal. While the news about the scandal spread quickly, the company was completely silent on social networks for 48 hours. During this “social media blackout” consumers felt deceived, and shareholders panicked. It took the personal intervention of the new CEO Matthias Muller and the resignation of several leading figures to calm consumers, shareholders and alarmed employees.
(Fig 4 – Edelman Trust Barometer 2016 – Every Voice Matters)
5 – Promote the co-creation and distribution of content by the ambassadors
To bring more credibility to their message, companies and organizations need to involve more spontaneous ambassadors in their influence marketing strategies. Some organizations now implement staff awareness programs and the means to encourage spontaneous ambassadors to become more involved in social networks. Connected consumers now expect organization authenticity and transparency and want the staff and management to tell the story.
L’Oréal Canada leads by example. They opted for employees to create content by launching Factory Content; a space facilitating the creation and distribution of content generated by staff for social networks. This area is a production studio available to employees who wish to create original content for social media, whether tutorials or makeup tips, testimonials or product evaluations. The content is then distributed in the brands print publications and social media platforms and consequently promotes more personal communication and connection with consumers.
6 – Rally the forces around influencer relationships
In the digital age, PR must not only manage press relations with traditional media and Web but also ensure a coordinated and consistent presence on social media, to effectively manage crises and develop lasting and profitable relationships with community influencers. And because the communication channels and interventions are increasing, one of the main roles of public relations will be to rally all the forces active on social media around influencer relationship.
What are your thoughts about the new roles of public relations with influencers? What is your experience? Share your opinions with us.
2016 Trust Barometer – Edelman
State of Influencer Engagement in 2015 – Augure