PR and Influencers: On Transparency, Disclosure and Trust
On September 28, 2016 the Canadian Public Relations Society (Toronto) kicked off its Annual General Meeting with a panel discussion titled, “PR and Influencers: On Transparency, Disclosure and Trust.” The panel included PR professionals and successful social media personalities offering their take on the importance of trust, and what it means to be an influencer.
With the rise of the social media influencer, it’s never been easier to reach an audience. Rather than relying on expensive celebrity endorsements, or extensive traditional media campaigns, brands can promote their products and services through social media-savvy individuals- with incredible results. For the public relations community however, this gives rise to a new challenge: how to build and maintain trust between influencers and their followers to the benefit of your client?
CPRS Toronto welcomed Jennifer Waxman Stallman of the popular Facebook goup, “Entertain Kids on a Dime,” Danielle Finestone of “TO Foodies,” and social media/digital marketing guru Sheldon Levine. The panel was moderated by former CPRS president and celebrated digital marketing expert, Martin Waxman.
During the discussion, the influencers shared their experiences using social media to build business. As a successful mom blogger, Jennifer Waxman Stallman highlighted the importance of trust among her clientele- mothers looking for entertainment, care, and products for their children through Facebook. “One woman posted an advertisement for necklaces she was selling around Christmas, and didn’t get a single response. I re-shared her post and she was fielding messages into the night,” she said. “I explained to her that they don’t think she’s a scam- it’s just I have their trust.”
Danielle Finestone launched TO Foodies through Instagram, and said she grew her following through a very grassroots approach: reposting, asking for tags, and posting and moderating the group herself. “Foodie culture in the city was focused on the high-end. We found a void and filled it, and we’ve maintained that reputation.”
With Advertising Standards Canada changing its disclosure laws next year, Sheldon reinforced the importance of full disclosure on the part of influencers when promoting free product from a brand. He also shared five tips for success for PR professionals working with influencers, which included creating a clear and realistic definition of success, and working together to create content.
Leandra Grant (email@example.com) is an independent blogger, PR writer and communications consultant who regularly works with Milestones Public Relations, Tuni Talks, and various publications.