As brands opt for influencer marketing in festivals, what do they want from PR agencies?
Experts opine that brands are increasingly understanding the value of PR and are open to exploring new methodologies like influential marketing to reach their target audience
How many times have you been prompted to buy a particular product after seeing it being promoted by one of your favourite bloggers or influencers? Or how often have you felt the urge to own a designer bag or a cosmetic range just because you saw it on your Instagram profile, especially during the festive season? Well, these are not mere sudden desires but a result of a proper marketing machinery at work. Amongst the various facets of marketing, influencer marketing has attained a bigger role today with influencers adorning the hat of brand custodians.
With the air gusted with festivities and celebrations, the market is abuzz with sales and collaborations. Brands have left no stone unturned to make the best out of the influencer marketing culture. Owing to the rampant rise in digital outreach and technological innovations, brands visualize influencers as a bridge to their target groups. Oblivious to their socio-cultural and economic capital, influencers have become gateways for better ROI and engagements for brands today. With such scale comes the need to organize one’s reach and image which makes it necessary to have professionally managed PR in the industry.
Influencer marketing is all set to become the next big thing, according to Udit Pathak, Director, Media Mantra and Influsurf (Market Place for Influencers). “Brands looking for consumers to trust them can create and run a lot of innovative and creative campaigns in collaboration with influencers which will build positive sentiments for the brand in minds of its stakeholders.”
“In the current scenario, it is consumer-to-consumer marketing that drives trust and can create wonders for a brand by attracting right audience,” added Pathak.
Adding to the same context, Diana Fernandes, Founder | Director, Bloomingdale Public Relations, said, “Fewer means of available traditional advertising during the last few months of Covid-induced lockdown has led marketers to take the road of influencer marketing. The invariably increased digital content consumption vis-à-vis any other mediums has amplified the influencer approach by brands for better engagement and ROI.”
On being asked if associating with influencers guarantee better ROI, especially during festive season, Hitarth Dadia, Head of Monetization, NOFILTR. Group, responded, “The festive season is the time when brands look to ramp up their sales and promote their products and services among their targeted audience. In this regard, influencer marketing works successfully as it comes across as more genuine and authentic. People identify more closely with a product that is endorsed by an influencer rather than paid advertisements. And since influencers are so highly trusted by their followers, this form of marketing can boost ROI if done consistently over time.”
Considering the fact that the influencer marketing industry is valued at USD 9 billion and is expected to reach USD 25 billion by 2025, what are the expectations of brands from their PR agencies?
Brands expect a lot of trust building initiatives and support from their partner PR agencies in helping them communicate their brand story effectively, says Pathak. “As we know, the pandemic has not been good for any particular industry at large. However, it has given space and chance to the brands across different sectors to be creative, experimental and innovative. PR agencies are helping such brands communicate these innovations, ideas and developments to their target audience through varied positioning routes. PR agencies also help in driving consumer awareness and sales at times through their awareness programmes and create more visibility for a brand's spokesperson, its products at large and the company as a whole. Further, PR helps in maintaining consistency in communication, helping brands stay on top of the consumers' mind.”
Giving another perspective, Fernandes added, “Today, PR is all inclusive - any form of brand visibility garnered for a client is PR. Hence identifying the right kind of micro and macro influencers, strategizing the campaign, calculating impressions, reach and ROI - all are a part of the PR scope of work in today’s times. Clients expect agencies to negotiate and get the right rates from paid-influencers while also looking for key influencers to collaborate on barter.” Emphasising on quality check, she added, “Quality check is an important role in influencer marketing and as a PR agency we need to have complete control over the content, images as well as the hashtags used by the influencer. Post the campaign, a detailed report on the reach, and increase in the number of followers, etc needs to be calculated and presented.”
Putting the spotlight on the stature of influencer paradigm today, Dadia said, “The influencer paradigm has become pretty huge and its importance continues to grow. Influencers are becoming the new ambassadors for brands online as they have the ability to attract a larger following. Brands can leverage the audience of the influencers and gain more traction as well as visibility for themselves. Every customer wants to be fully satisfied before making a purchase and influencers, as they strive to be more real and genuine, are easily trusted for the purpose,. So, if a brand is being promoted by an influencer, then their followers will trust that brand as well, helping it earn more customers and this is mostly pays during the festive season”.
While influencers continue to thrive, does media also play a significant role in helping brands reach their target audience? Or does media also play an equally important role like influencers?
Pathak feels both influencers and media play an important role in increasing audience engagement and enhancing the brand's reputation. “While influencers help in creating awareness and hype about the brand in addition to driving sales, media will always continue to play an important role in building the credibility of the brand as a whole, communicating the brand story most effectively and creating an effective thought leadership strategy.”
“Additionally, PR plays a great role here as it helps brands prioritize target audiences, identify the key messages that will resonate with them, select the right communication channels and convey innovative & forward-thinking ideas. Whereas influencers can help drive certain market related initiatives for any specific product or service of a brand. Therefore, both media and influencers shall move hand in hand and will continue to play an important role as we move ahead,” explained Pathak.
With the festive season being the time for pushed sales and brand awareness through discounts and innovations, brands would want to utilise the opportunity to win their customers back which might have been lost due to previous months of lockdown. Influencers bringing personalization to brands campaigns becomes the first choice of brands which eventually gives an edge to influencer marketing over other forms of marketing.
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