5 Ways Influencers Shape Brand Perception in PR Campaigns

Rose Chase Bolton (She/Her)

May 20, 2024

The world of public relations is still evolving. Influencers now play an indispensable role in PR campaigns, shaping brand perception. 

Unlike traditional PR methods that manage the overall image of a brand through a range of media channels, influencers use their relationships with their audience to create a more direct, impactful influence.

When used as part of a PR campaign, influencers can significantly impact brand perception in ways traditional PR campaigns cannot, including:

  • Fostering genuine connections
  • Reaching your audience on social media
  • Using social media analytics to your advantage
  • Targeting niche audiences
  • Directly engaging with audiences
  • Diversifying content

Here, we’ll explore how integrating influencers into PR campaigns can impact brand perception in ways traditional methods can’t. 

1. Agencies Help Foster Connections with Consumers

Challenge: Social media has presented brands with a way to showcase more of their personality, story, and overall message. Consumers now see brands on the social media platforms they frequent, seeing countless other brands and businesses at the same time. 

Solution: PR agencies must create and nurture a connection that allows brands to reach their target audiences and build loyalty. Influencer marketing is a great way to do this. Brands should also publish content regularly to earn attention and impart a specific message that consumers will connect with. 

2. PR Agencies Need to Understand Social Media Analytics

Challenge: Every social media platform provides businesses with a mountain of data. This data highlights social media engagement, in other words, how well the specific ad or post connects with the target audience. Are they liking the post? Sharing it? Clicking through to the client’s profile or website?

Almost 70% of consumers say authentic and relevant content is more important than polished content. Meaning your efforts must be tailored and targeted to the right people.

Solution: Targeting the right audience is made easier with influencers with an established following. Finding an influencer or content creator within your niche increases the relevancy of your product to a specific audience, but this doesn’t mean you’re free from decoding analytics. 

The data from past and current posts and recent influencer marketing campaigns sheds light on how your target audience is responding. Understanding this data helps PR agencies refine their approach, including the people they’re trying to reach. 

3. Audiences Value Authenticity More Than Ever

Challenge: Audiences are tired of being sold to. They follow influencers that fit within their interests—ones they trust with opinions they value. Not every influencer fits into a niche, and collaborating with someone who doesn’t means your promotion may not find the right audience.

Solution: Your influencer PR strategy can leverage micro-influencers to develop a personalized message directed at their niche audiences. 

Micro-influencers on Instagram are accounts with 5,000 to 20,000 followers actively engaged with their content. They may be very local to a person's community providing up-to-date info on what to do and where to go. 

Micro-influencers are preferred by 77% of marketers over macro-influencers. Agencies that leverage the power of social media influencers can better serve their clients by tactfully selecting the right micro-influencers to relate to the client’s brand, niche, and messaging.

Note: This engagement with micro-influencers cannot be compared with earned media opportunities. Supporting these creators and paying content fees is becoming commonplace, often throwing clients off. There has to be a budget set aside to create meaningful relationships with these influencers who work hard to create content for their audiences. 

4. Consumers Can Now Talk Back

Challenge: Consumers can and will respond to your actions, whether positive or negative. Working with a team specializing in messaging and engagement tactics can help you create a productive conversation with consumers. 

However, this isn’t always how it works out. An otherwise well-meaning post can backfire if it correlates with controversy or is simply posted at the wrong time concerning world events. 

Solution: Ensure the team responding to your social media posts has a good grasp of the topics that matter to your audience and show sincerity and empathy rather than replying with a defensive tone. 

Influencers play a crucial role in this, as their direct engagement and crisis management can significantly influence brand perception, especially when handling feedback or controversies. 

PR agencies are responsible for staying current on the world around them, specifically keeping a close eye on their clients’ industries. This readiness ensures that influencers or designated team members can respond appropriately and timely, preserving or enhancing the brand’s reputation.

5. PR Professionals Must Develop a New Skillset

Challenge: The above points contribute to one key takeaway: PR professionals and their teams need to adapt. Brilliantly written press releases don’t mean as much as they used to.

Solution: Hire a successful public relations firm that provides eye-catching visuals, writes compelling narratives, and leverages ongoing digital media trends, including influencer marketing. 

Images have the second-highest ROI compared to other media formats. In terms of brand perception, ensuring your brand has eye-catching and up-to-date imagery is as important as having a newsworthy image.

Agencies that want to keep their clients happy need new skill sets, either by providing professional development to existing employees, bringing on new expertise, or partnering with contractors who can support their growing needs. 

Public Relations, Social Media & Brand Perception

When it comes to PR, relationships are key. They’re fundamental for trust-building, effective communication, insight, crisis management, and more.

What Is Traditional PR?

Traditional PR relies on engaging with media and journalists to interact with the general public. The most common technique is sending press releases and targeted pitches to select journalists.

The goal of traditional PR is to influence public opinion about their clients in a positive way. However, the effectiveness of their efforts is difficult to objectively measure. Additionally, the consumers couldn’t talk back.

How Has Social Media Changed PR?

‍Enter social media and influencers. Brands can now directly interact with their target audience. Consumers can engage through live messaging, online discussions, or highlight problems with the company’s image. 

Social media has enabled brands to have real-time conversations with the public to shape how they are perceived, as opposed to carefully crafted messages aired during news coverage. 

This has become increasingly more important with Bill C-18, known as the Online News Act in Canada, which requires social media platforms to compensate media outlets for the use of their content. This has led to a block of this content on Meta platforms such as Instagram and Facebook.

The impact of social media on public relations cannot be understated, and it’s not slowing down. The key to public relations is to reach your target audience. If that audience is not consuming traditional media, you need to shift tactics to reach them where they are. In many cases, that is social media platforms. 

Why Is Brand Perception Important?

Brand perception is everything in our hyper-connected world. Even the smallest actions can impact the way customers perceive your brand for years to come.

This is exactly why public relations agencies exist. They work to cultivate a positive public image for their clients across all channels in an authentic and transparent way.

How Do PR Agencies Achieve This Goal? 

In today’s digital world, digital PR, namely social media, has quickly become a cornerstone when building a positive public perception of a brand. This is largely due to its ability to reach vast amounts of people and a specific demographics. 

Any PR agency that wants to properly serve its clients must learn to embrace the current and future influence of social media on the industry. The impact of digital marketing and social media is rippling through the PR world and gaining momentum, blurring the lines between PR and digital marketing.

In fact, 56% of PR professionals prove the value of their work to clients through social media metrics. In the same study, 70% considered social media campaigns the most effective PR tactic to earn coverage.

Embrace the Future of PR with MODERNSPEAK

Here’s the deal: Traditional press releases aim to gain the attention of traditional media outlets, but the reality is that most journalists don’t read them today. They may get picked up on a news site through a feed that can support a business's SEO, but that doesn’t mean the news is reaching your target audience. 

Influencer marketing has quickly replaced the traditional press release because of its reach and exposure. It allows brands to grab the attention of potential consumers where they are. Influencers are also fitting for many industries, not just travel, beauty, and clothing brands. 

It’s safe to say today’s businesses (and consumers) have higher expectations, and it’s important to be ready to meet them. 

MODERNSPEAK is your one-stop shop for all things PR and your go-to partner when it comes to navigating the ever-changing future of public relations. By transitioning from traditional PR to the new landscape, we can help you become agile, creative, and data-driven

Leverage our extensive experience in public relations, social media content marketing, and influencer marketing to achieve improved results and reach your unique goals. 

Book a meeting today to speak to our creative PR experts and discover how we can help.

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