The influencer industry is still relatively new, and because of that there are still quite a few misconceptions about how it all works. I often hear people say how “easy” it must be to get celebrities or influencers to rep your brand — as long as you pay them what they think their time is worth. It’s not that simple. Trust me.
Influencer relations is exactly that — a relationship. We’re in the matchmaking business: making sure the brands we represent and the influencers they want to partner with are the “perfect match.” It’s a two-way street in this industry. The influencers are very protective of their personal brand and will only partner with companies that reflect their core values and beliefs. And our brands, as we continually advise, should only partner with influencers that are passionate about the space they are in.
It’s a tedious process, much like dating, to make sure our brands only engage the celebrities or influencers that are truly right for them.
Finding the right match between a brand and its next celebrity spokesperson creates a real, authentic partnership that the consumer can believe in. Both the brand and the celebrity influencer must be pushing the same core values, otherwise the target audience will see right through it. They’ll know that the influencer is just in it for the money, not for what the brand represents or stands for.
Courting the right influencer requires a lot of research on the part of an influencer relations agency. At Entertainment Fusion Group we do our homework and due diligence prior to engaging any new influencer partnership. We look at past campaigns and case studies to make sure the brand we are representing really aligns with that celebrity, and vice versa.
Lucky for us, the influencer market has blown up, thanks to the rise of social media platforms. This market saturation means we have more people to “swipe left or right on” as we strive to make sure we only share the best matches available with our clients. And even then, once we’ve whittled down the top target list of potential partner influencers, we sometimes run into situations where no one on our shortlist wants to proceed. In those cases, we go back to the drawing board and target a secondary tier of influencers, and so forth, until we find a good fit.
When it comes to interviewing an influencer regarding a potential brand partnership, it’s important to share more about the specific brand and why they want this particular influencer to represent their company. This sets the stage for aligning on all core values and making sure nothing from the partnership will make one or the other party look bad.
For instance, if a celebrity is totally against issues of child labor, they would likely never not want to partner with a bigger brand whose reputation has been linked in the past to regions of the world where child labor laws are not as enforced. Similarly, if a celebrity is an outspoken vegan, we’d want to avoid linking that spokesperson to a product or company that uses animal byproducts.
Once an influencer agrees to a partnership or brand campaign, it’s important to “define the relationship,” with a written contract. For instance, if brand engagement from the influencer on social media attracts the attention of a reporter, make sure it’s written into the contract that the influencer will also be on the hook for potential media interviews. Too often, I’ve seen agencies forget to have these instances locked into the final terms and conditions of the partnership. The result? That brand ends up having to dish out more money if they wish to engage the spokesperson in media relations and other opportunities.
Another best practice that our team constantly implements is this: prior to any media interview, we go through specific talking points with the influencer, which they are required to cover. This ensures that the brand is still top-of-mind during the conversation with the reporter, but not the focal point. By prepping all talking points ahead of time, we can avoid situations where a reporter may bypass discussing the brand in favor of news like the celebrity’s dating status or latest projects.
To learn more about influencer marketing and what I discussed during my guest appearance on the Trust Relations’ PR Wine Down podcast, click here.