3 guidelines for PR pros considering unpaid influencer marketing

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As traditional news media declines and public relations strategies shift,
influencer marketing has emerged as a smart way to tell brand stories.
However, that doesn’t mean brands always have to pay for these services.

Brand managers can reach a large (and loyal) audience while protecting
brand messaging with a carefully crafted approach to unpaid or earned
influencer marketing.

While paid blogger partnerships offer more control of timing and messaging,
unpaid influencer marketing based on a product trade collaboration provides
its fair share of benefits.

Ragan Consulting Group can help you find, tell and share yourorganization’s compelling stories in any format]

If you’re considering an unpaid influencer marketing program, here are
some things to remember.

1. Capture influencers’ interest with creative messaging.

Similar to traditional media relations and pitching, prepare to put in the
time to cultivate relationships and present enticing opportunities.

Avoid devaluing bloggers just because you aren’t paying them for their
services. Because you aren’t offering a monetary incentive, you’ll want to
gain authentic interest, and that means putting your best foot forward.

How will this benefit the blogger and their readers? Make sure to capture
genuine interest with creative messaging, free product and more.

2. Accept that you’ll have less control over content.

When you don’t offer a fee for content, you’ll ultimately have less control
over what a blogger shares.

You should expect them to stick to provided message points as well as have
a positive brand experience thanks to your careful planning—but the
relationship between unpaid influencers and brand managers works like an
editorial placement, and you won’t always have full control over the
content. You may ask, as many brands do, to review posts before
publishing—though they’re not obligated to honor your request.

3. Cover your bases and set expectations.

Whether or not your influencer marketing strategy is paid, make sure to
have contracts in place for each influencer attached to your brand name.
“No fee� should not equal “no contract.�

When it comes to imagery and messaging related to your product, put those
guidelines in place within the contract. You may not be sending a check,
but you’re providing free product, which is technically a form of payment —
and brands should do their part to uphold FTC guidelines.

For example, LEVOLOR pitched micro-influencers who blog about home décor
including room makeovers in their homes. Contract agreements stipulated
that each of these bloggers would receive LEVOLOR product to update a room
or rooms in their home, and the influencer agreed to write a blog post and
share it at least once via one of their social media accounts.

In just six months, LEVOLOR earned more than 700K impressions through four
unpaid partnerships. The bloggers, excited about their new shades, posted
more than 35 times to social media. In addition to gaining exposure among
the influencers’
highly engaged audiences
(check out the comments), LEVOLOR was then able to capture new, unique
content that it
repurposed on its social channels.

While paid partnerships usually garner immediate high reach, unpaid
influencer marketing efforts, when carefully designed and implemented, are
an authentic and sincere way to garner increased engagement and drive
long-term success.

Heather Tamol is the director of Public Relations and Content for Wray
Ward, a full service PR agency. A version of this article originally
appeared on the

Wray Ward blog

(Image via)

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