When it comes to effective communications understanding your audience and how they consume media has never been more important. The media landscape has become increasingly complex and gone are the days of assuming a piece of coverage in the national, regional or local press will get in front of those that need to see it.

So – the big question. How are they consuming messages? In short snack-able chunks on their phone, or for an hour over lunchtime at their desktop PC? Are they watching BBC News of an evening or reading the Metro on their way home? Do they use Facebook… or Instagram? TikTok… or all of the above?

Who do they follow? The Beckhams? Perhaps. The Obamas? Probably. A micro-influencer that blogs about the things that really matter to them? Almost definitely.

Over the last few years, third party advocacy has disrupted traditional media. The rise of ‘influencers’ – big or small – has meant that brands suddenly have a new mouth-piece to communicate through; and it’s one that speaks directly to the audiences they want to target.

For PR professionals, seeking out new channels and new ways of working is part of the ever-changing challenge of communicating with audiences in the right way, through the right channel, at the right time – and working with influencers has become part of that.

Influencer partnerships can have huge benefits but, be warned – there are pitfalls, too. Here we explore some can be easily avoided…

An unclear brief

It’s easy to assume an email chain or a phone call has cemented exactly what you’re looking for and when, but rarely is this the case. Providing a crystal-clear brief that captures exactly what you want to achieve out of the partnership is a must. Ensure your briefing document captures expected outputs and clear brand guidelines too.

Don’t forget the contract!

Influencers who are used to working with brands will be happy to get a contract in place.  Ensure you include details of how and when you’re going to pay – but also expectations of the partnership, including the amount of posts and stories agreed, and your required reporting metrics, etc.

ASA compliant

It’s crucial to ensure that any posts generated on clients’ behalf are Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) compliant. Ensure that #ad is clearly used on content, and that branded content features are installed on the relevant channels.

Working with agents

Dependant on the audience reach of your chosen influencer you may find you need to work with an agent rather than with the individual directly. This can add an extra layer of time and complexity, so be prepared to build that in to your plans.

Staying on top of the news agenda

Don’t assume the influencer will know when to hold content back. Keep talking to the influencer you are working with and prepare to adapt to change if needed. Do not go ahead with planned content if something in the news agenda suggests the timing may not be right.

Don’t let tracking be an afterthought

Ensure you have thought about reporting metrics and tracking links well in advance. Don’t let these be an after-thought; it’s confusing for the influencer and it’s putting you on the back-foot.

Check, check and check again

Influencers are well used to working with tracking links and hashtags, but it can be confusing when different links are required for different posts throughout the campaign period. Always check pending posts for errors. Any mistakes can be easily changed, but if these aren’t spotted until well after a campaign launch, it can have a negative impact on campaign results.

Keep the content

Where an influencer is working with you to create new content, ensure you obtain high-res images that can be saved for future use. Influencers can work with many brands and it’s not always top of their agenda to share raw content with you once a campaign is over.

SEO

If you’re looking to utilise content to boost SEO, make sure you have the rights to do some from an influencer generated content (IGC) or user generated content (UGC) perspective.

Don’t wait to evaluate

Capture influencer stories as and when they’re posted. Once they’re gone, they’re gone!