Media relations has changed from focussing on journalists to now identifying and working with influencers.

PESO – the new PR media model has helped shape the way PR practitioners work with ‘the media’.

As a small Glasgow PR consultancy, Aura PR is not blinkered by sticking with the old way, we always look for new ways of engaging to reach and influence our target audiences on behalf of clients.

Media now looks a lot different from 10 years ago, with a decline in print, an increase in partnerships and an increase in content marketing.

If you’ve not already heard of the modern PR media model, PESO, take a look at our slides to help explain. It demonstrates how PR can work across paid, earned shared and owned media, at the same time as demonstrating a return on investment.

Print media

With a lack of resources, including journalists and finance, print media has been in steady decline since online news and blogs started to grow their audiences, by real-time, honest reporting. More are moving towards instant news on the paper’s website but it still lacks the authentic voice of a person.

You also have the option to agree or disagree with an opinion coming from a person (blog), not being politically influenced in what you read in some of the print press.

Although print press use social platforms, referencing Scottish papers in particular, they don’t all have sound social strategies which engage audiences. They are posting news stories, telling people things, often not responding to comments and lack engagement, which means they are just pushing out information.

Influencers are where it’s at! Influencers are people we (the consumer/public) listen to, and who speak to us as normal human beings in their own way, helping us make decisions, form opinions and indeed perceptions. Scott Guthrie wrote a great post about peer influence – it talks about how we don’t trust advertising. He uses Edelman’s 2015 earned brand study and its most recent 2016 Trust Barometre to outline examples. If you look at the Trust Barometre, you’ll see that search engine (71%) is the top way to build your own opinion, followed by television (69%) and then social media (67%).

media relations influencer relations

Why should people care about what you’re saying?

Pay to play was a phrase coined a few years ago. Cut through the noise of huge amounts of content online, directly targeting the audience by paying to reach them – for example, Facebook ads/promoted posts. That’s not changed.

Now, the content we choose to pay to promote to engage audiences needs to be something they will trust and one of the ways in which we can do this is by getting real people to talk about their experience. The content and the person giving their experience must talk about something that people care about, otherwise what’s the point?

A good example is food bloggers – influential food bloggers can really drive custom to a restaurant. Firstly, they are seasoned at reviews and using great images, explanations and personal opinions. The blog has come from a personal experience, all encompassing menu, atmosphere, food, service and how it made them feel. If you’re following a food blogger it’s because you love food and want to read all about the blogger’s experiences.

Celebrities – are they really influencers?

Another area of paying to reach audiences which brands frequently use, is celebrity endorsements – celebrities being paid to mention brands and products. Slightly off tangent, but celebrities being paid to promote products should be telling people it’s a sponsored post, for complete transparency. I’ve witnessed many, especially the likes of Made in Chelsea and TOWIE cast on Instagram, all promoting the same product, but none declaring it paid.

Anyway, back to the point about paying celebrities to reach audiences…

I caught up with Scott Guthrie, Digital Director, Influencer Relations at Ketchum when I was in London a couple of weeks ago. We chatted over a post we had commented on, on Facebook, which came as a result of a blog Scott had written, ‘How brands gain better influencer marketing results when they relinquish control to the influencer’, and one I had just published ‘How PR budgets are changing‘. I was making the point that we now need to apportion part of the PR budget for paid activity. Scott’s point was that influencers know their audience inside and out and brands need to give the control to the influencer, so the story can be told in an authentic way. I asked Scott his thoughts on celebrities being paid to promote brand products.

“Celebrity endorsement isn’t the same as influencer relations. With celebrity endorsement the celebrity lends their fame to a brand or product. The product can lie wholly outside the celebrity’s field of expertise. Communication is one way. Celebs just pump out content. They don’t interact with their following. It’s the old broadcast model. With influencer relations, influencers are influential because they consistently create compelling content that is relevant and resonates with their select audience. They keep listening to and responding to the needs of their following. Influencers nurture their audiences by engaging with them and answering their questions.

“Being popular isn’t the same as being influential. Influencers are change agents. They change actions and behaviours.”

And there we have it – influencers change actions and behaviours. This relates right back to what we are PR practitioners are trying to achieve.

Have you researched who your influencers are when putting your media relations plan together? My example of Scottish press and social media exactly outlines Scott’s point about “listening to and responding to the needs of their following…nurture audiences by engaging with them and answering questions.”

Crack down on disclosures

Stephen Waddington, Ketchum’s Chief Engagement Officer blogged only today about a UK government agency investigating disclosures of online ads and sponsored content. Apparently this is the third online marketing case investigated by the UK Competitions and Market Authority (CMA) in recent months.

“Advertisers that breach consumer protection law online when working with influencers are under greater scrutiny than ever.

“The UK CMA has sought undertakings from UK advertising agencies that they won’t breach consumer protection legislation when working with social media influencers.

“The case relates to the clear disclosure of paid advertising and sponsored content, and seeks to ensure that consumers are aware when content is funded by an advertiser.”

Interestingly Wadds points out that this was once the focus of the Advertising Standards Authority but as media evolves in social the CMA is moving into this space. Read more here.

Tying this post up – media isn’t a journalist anymore. Within the wider media you are targeting, are they influencing anyone?

It all comes to down to the goal, the strategy, the outputs and most importantly, the outcomes.

Thanks for reading this post. If you liked it, please share. Others might find it interesting too. If you’d like to add anything to the post, ping me an email with your thoughts and we can work on a secondary post.

Blog post by Laura Sutherland. Thanks to Scott Guthrie for his quote and Wadds for letting me use some of his content.