Do you need to engage with influencers as part of your PR strategy? (Spoiler: yes)

18 October 2021  |  Insights
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From Marcus Rashford to mummy bloggers, Charlie Mackesy to Joe Wicks, social media has given rise to a new generation of ‘influencers’ who are prominent authorities in a particular field and have created a connection with thousands – or even millions – of people online.

These men and women have built tribes of people around them through their social media and blogging platforms, gaining their respect, trust and affection.

Their influence and impact are huge, so it’s no surprise that over the last five years, commercial brands have seen it as an alternative to traditional advertising or marketing.

Influencer marketing – where brands partner with influencers to endorse their product or service, often for money – has grown from obscurity to a form of marketing where even the biggest commercial brands understand its value.

As influencer marketing has grown and matured, more and more agencies and platforms are springing up to streamline the influencer marketing process for both brands and influencers.

Think of your church, organisation or charity as a brand. While you are not selling a product, you are promoting and selling an idea, a cause, a vision.

Many charities don’t have the budgets for influencer partnerships – but that’s where PR powers of persuasion and relationships can help.

If your charity or cause ties in with what an influencer is passionate about and fits their public profile, they may well be motivated to speak out on your behalf without a hefty fee.

So we’re taking the principles of influencer marketing and applying it to our PR work with charities and faith-based organisations with the aim of engaging influencers to enlist their support – to be your advocates, to speak about your mission or to generate a buzz about your campaign.

Relatively few charities – certainly outside the larger, well-known names – are using social influencers in an integrated and sustained way and are missing a golden opportunity to increase the visibility of their cause in an authentic and personal way.

What is an influencer?

An influencer is someone who has the power to affect the decisions of others because of their authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with their audience who they actively engage with. Influencers in general are prolific on social media and it is through these channels that their considerable influence is exerted – with followers buying the products they use, or donating to the causes they support.

Influencers range from micro-influencers (1,000-50,000 followers) who are ordinary, everyday people, known on social media for their knowledge in a specialist niche, to mega-influencers (1M+ followers) who have gained their fame offline – actors, sportspeople, musicians for example.

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The categories of influencers.

Think of an influencer as a mutual friend connecting your charity or organisation with your target audience.

While influencers can be nearly anyone, regardless of job title or status, all influencers have a key set of characteristics that make them great at what they do. All highly effective influencers are engaging, are considered thought leaders, are trustworthy, are great communicators, and are able to convince and persuade.

But how can working with influencers benefit your organisation and why is it more important than ever for you to embrace this growing trend as part of your PR strategy?

Here are four reasons why you need to investigate the benefits of influencer engagement.

1. It reaches the harder to reach

The latest statistics reveal that two out of three adults aged 18-29 use Instagram and 72 per cent of Gen Z and Millennials follow influencers on other platforms such as TikTok, YouTube and Twitter. As our ways to communicate, connect and digest the news continue to exist in the digital sphere, it is crucial that your organisation embraces this evolution by future-proofing its relationships with the outside world.

Our belief is that the strategic importance of engaging with influencers will continue to grow and connecting to your audience through influencers will set you apart from other organisations in your field.

2. It's effective

It is literally word-of-mouth at scale, where people listen to the people they trust who use storytelling effectively, communicating clearly and with heart. Influencers nurture a direct, emotional connection across social media. They hold the power to inspire engagement through these relationships which have already been developed between influencers and their audiences.

By aligning with trusted influencers whose values match your mission, your organization can speak directly to their network and communities to reach your target audience. Because of the loyalty of their audience, influencers can raise awareness and highlight your cause through their recommendation.

Working with influencers has been adopted by commercial, global brands precisely because it is effective, targeted and consistently delivers.

3. It brings authenticity

In the same way that spokespeople add legitimacy and relevance to a brand, influencers can help signal that your cause is important to generate credibility from a trusted source. This is especially helpful for an organization or charity that is new or is yet to connect with an audience they would like to reach.

The appeal of influencers lies in their authenticity and their direct communication with their followers. Harnessing this authenticity is gold dust.

Your PR campaigns can be boosted by having an agile influencer strategy in place which amplifies your campaign’s key messages.

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YouTuber and Influencer Caspar Lee launches #LookingForward campaign alongside The Prince’s Trust

4. It brings creativity

Influencers are usually passionate in a particular area, often based on their own personal stories. Working with influencers provides an opportunity to tell culturally relevant stories that capture interest and imagination.

Collaborating with influencers can inject freshness and originality. If they have not been linked to a charity before, then a partnership could present them with a new opportunity.

If you’re working to tackle something they have an interest in, then the likelihood is they will be more willing to lend a helping hand. They may want to be involved first-hand, and by their very nature, influencers are creative, so don’t be afraid to sit down and brainstorm – the end results could be a very impactful and compelling campaign.

How can we help?

Jersey Road PR is forging connections with Christian influencers, change agents and networks across the worlds of sport, music, the arts, education, youth engagement, personal development, activism and more. We already have far-reaching relationships with highly influential individuals in the church and those working within Christian and faith-based organisations.

But it takes time, experience and skill to develop and nurture these valuable relationships, and the best relationships will develop over time to become a natural part of your organisation’s narrative.

A recent study found that 34 per cent of brands that run campaigns in-house state that finding influencers is the most significant challenge for them.

We are the specialists who can match the goals of your charity, campaign or organisation to identify influencers who are connected to the people you want to reach.

Contact us today to find out how we can come alongside and support you on your influencer engagement journey.

Written by Julia Hallawell, Influencer & Engagement Manager, Jersey Road PR.

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