PR Pros Lean on Employees For Influencer Marketing Efforts

March 29, 2019

Around half (49.2%) of US PR professionals say they use influencers to get brand stories and key messages out, while close to one-third (32.5%) are considering doing so, according to the results of a recent report [download page] by PR News and Meltwater. But perhaps cementing its reputation for looking for ‘free’ coverage, almost 4 in 10 (37.9%) of those using influencers don’t compensate them in any way.

While close to one-third (29%) say they do provide monetary inducements for the influencers they work with, about 1 in 6 say they provide free products/services, with the same percentage offering access to their products, executives and events. This is despite the fact that more than half (55.6%) say the influencers they have worked with have delivered a positive ROI – although there is no indication as to the breakdown of this segment between those paying-to-play and those avoiding such incentives.

As for what types of influencers are being used, the most common type – as used by just over three-quarters (76.9%) of those surveyed – are Social Media Influencers. But second on that list are Internal Employees and Spokespeople, with two-thirds of respondents who use influencers turning to employees to get brand messages out.

Previous research has highlighted the myriad of benefits that come from allowing employees to speak about the companies they work with. For example, data from Sprout Social shows 72% of consumers say they feel more connected to brands when employees share information on social media, while Edelman’s annual Trust Barometer reported that the majority of consumers trust an employee when they are forming an opinion about a company. And views don’t necessarily need to come from the top – regular employees are seen as more credible than the leadership team, and internal staff can also boost the recruitment image of a firm.

Measuring The Impact of Influencers Remains Challenging

Past studies have noted that the majority of marketers believe that influencer marketing is comparable to – or better than – other channels in generating ROI.

The majority of PR professionals surveyed for this report say their influencer investments have paid off, though there appears to be a substantial proportion (29%) who do not know whether the influencers they have used have delivered ROI.

The ability to prove ROI is the biggest challenge with the rise of influencers in communications, with around one-third (33.9%) identifying it as such from a list of 5. This comes above uncovering/identifying influencers (21.6% share of respondents), the time needed to manage campaigns (18.6%), budget (15.6%) and competition for the best influencers (9.3%).

Going into more detail on measuring the impact of influencers, some 43.2% said they use social metrics, including engagement, interactions, reach and sentiment as their main metric.

Other Highlights:

  • Roughly 6 in 10 (59.2%) PR professionals say the primary method they use to uncover or identify relevant influencers is manual research.
  • Some 62.1% say they use influencers by incorporating them into their own content. A minority (40.2%) say they allow influencers creative license in promoting their brand.
  • The most common reason that PR professionals give use influencers is to give their brand’s message an authentic voice.

The full report is available to download here.

About the Data: Results are based on a survey of nearly 400 US-based PR professionals, 49% of whom currently use influencers to get their brand story / key messages out.

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