It’s March 31st, 1929. You’re caught up in the bustle of the Easter Parade on Fifth Avenue when, shockingly, you see a respectable looking woman light a cigarette – in public! She tells a reporter how a man had told her to extinguish her cigarette recently, and she and her gal pals decided it’s high time something changed. The masses may have thought that this was a strong move toward the liberation of women, but it was in fact the beginnings of public relations. Edward Bernays planted these carefully selected women after coaching them on key messaging, thus birthing the OG influencer campaign for Lucky Strike.
Standing by our commitment to delivering excellence in the industry, A&C hosted a breakfast panel discussion at SOHO house on March 7th to discuss the latest phase of influencer marketing playing out digitally. Lainey Lui of Lainey Gossip, Nancy Modrcin, VP marketing at Metro, and Jessica Lee, Integrated Marketing Strategist at Kin Community, shared their insightful influencer marketing observations, ushering in the first of our new seasonal Salon Series events.
“When you look at the core of public relations strategy, tastemakers have always been an important channel for us to tell stories,” said Nancy.
While the concept of leveraging an effective spokesperson may not be new, the nuances of the tools used, negotiations, and audiences are in constant flux in our rapidly evolving media landscape.
The key takeaway from these wise speakers: know your goals and KPI’s, strategize with care, and one size does not fit all. Beginning with clearly establishing whether your goal is brand awareness or an increase in sales will set you up for success in creative strategy.
And stay on your toes.
Nancy also suggested, “You have to keep a really open mind, because the media mix has changed so much.”
An effective strategy seamlessly integrates influencer relations into the master plan and doesn’t stand alone. You may miss out if you overlook the power of social media, but the bread and butter of traditional communications should always stay in your sightline.
The commonality here is that whether you’re navigating new or traditional media, good relationships are our most valuable currency, and strong relationship development takes time.
Jessica reminded us that this stands true in brand relationships as well.
“There’s a lot of value when a brand works with the same influencer year after year -- it shows brand affinity, it shows that they are loyal to the brand. Its builds authenticity,” she said.
But there’s no one right way to tackle the beast of leveraging influencers on social media. While key messaging is important, in the digital sphere, influencers need to create something their trusting audience will want to engage with.
As Jessica Lee would say, “at the core, it’s content.”
Luckily, great creators can help us hold the reigns.
“When I’m working with a brand,” Lainey shared, “I can say to them, ‘Trust the story of your product in my hands, because I know how to tell a story.’”
Lainey expressed that, rightfully, influencers are being compensated for their story telling skillset; a skillset that requires work but will never be elitist at its root.
“Storytelling is in all of our DNA,” she said. “I do believe that everybody was born to tell a story, and that there is something optimistically democratic about that.”
Lainey spoke to the settling of the “wild, wild west” that is influencer marketing on social media, and how the women dominated field has become a tangible career that is contributing to closing the gender pay gap.
We chose this topic for our first Salon event this year, and reached out to these impressive panelists, because of its persistent relevance. The rapidly changing landscape might sometimes make us feel like we’re running blind, but the fundamentals of public relations always remain the same.
“Beware of anyone who tells you that influencer marketing is dead,” Nancy advised in closing. “It’s not, and it’s always been around. It will evolve and take new shapes and forms, and maybe ten years from now, we won’t call it influencer marketing, but anybody who tells you it is dead and not impactful, is not taking a long-sighted enough approach.”
We're in it for the long haul.