Southern PR's blog is a multi-author, multi-purpose playground: you'll find news and thoughts on the latest issues affecting the sectors we work in, feature stories, practical communication and savvy social media tips.


Influencer Engagement: Your Beginners Guide

Influencers… We’ve all heard the term and most likely have some understanding of who or what they are. Perhaps we even hoped (or prayed) they would be a short-lived fad? But it’s time to accept they’re here to stay.

YouTubers, ‘Insta-famous’ celebs, Twitterati and bloggers have muscled their way into the PR and marketing world and it’s time to buckle up and jump on the bandwagon.

Haven’t thought about an influencer strategy yet? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! We understand that not everyone has the expertise and confidence to reach out to influencers, which is why we’ve made life easy with our ‘Step by Step Beginners Guide to Online Influencers’.

Do I Really Need Influencers?

In short, yes!

With trust levels in traditional advertising at an all-time low, communications professionals are looking to build new ties with their audiences through influencer engagement.

According to a recent study by the renowned Pew Research Center in the US, 75% of communications managers allocated money to influencer strategy in 2017, with most allocating $25K – $50K.

And with good reason. In 2017, influencer content delivered 11x higher return on investment than traditional forms of digital marketing. This meant that companies on average made $6.50 for every $1 spent on influencer engagement.

STEP 1 – Planning Your Strategy

Like any business decision, plan it first.  Make sure to include the following in your plan of attack:

Budget – It’s surprising how many companies don’t realise you have to pay influencers for their time. Trust us, good influencers are making the big bucks today and no, gifting isn’t always enough. What’s your budget? Be sure to include costs for sending products, travel, appearances, events, gifting etc.

Demographic – Who do you want to target and where are they active online? You must have a sound understanding of your target market, so you can create a campaign tailored specifically to your audience. You need to go to them rather than expecting them to come to you.

Platform – It’s incredibly important to choose the right platform to target for your industry. Each social media platform has different specialities and audiences so make sure you’re engaging influencers who are popular on your most engaged platform. Hint: it’s not always Facebook!

Timeframe – Do you have a deadline or event you want to include for your strategy? Some of the best campaigns are often timed with holidays or special events.  Build a timeline so you (and your influencers) know exactly what’s expected and when.

Crisis Plan – Conduct a crisis analysis and look for any areas of your campaign that could lead to negative feedback or conflict. Identify them and work on a crisis strategy to effectively manage these situations. This can be anything from negative social media comments, meme’s or influencer image damage (think of Logan Paul – ex YouTube sensation).

Goals and Measuring Success – What are your key objectives and what results do you want the influencer campaign to achieve? Goals can be anything from monetary values, exposure, sales, online engagement etc.

 

STEP 2 – Research, Research, Research

Yes, it can be tedious, but finding your influencer superstars takes time and patience. Remember not all influencers are worth your time or money so be sure to check out their rates and engagement levels before adding them to your shortlist.

Start by searching popular hashtags on your chosen social media platforms. You can also research your industry competitors or use search engines, articles and blogs. If you’re struggling, get in touch with us and we’ll help you with the rest!

 

STEP 3 – Make Contact

Once you’ve finalised a list of target influencers it’s time to start the conversation. Influencers may have contact details on their social media accounts, or you may have to go through an agent (yes influencers now have talent agents).

Email is a casual but polite introduction of yourself and your business. Tell them why you think they will be a great fit for your brand and give them some general ideas of how you’d like to collaborate.

Keep it short and simple, more details can be communicated later if they’re interested.

 

STEP 4 – Collaboration Time

Well done! The hardest part is over. Now it’s time to sit back and watch the responses and offers roll in.

Start a dialogue with your influencers. Outline what’s expected of both parties including fees, timelines, gifting, exposure, engagement etc. Aim to come to an understanding about how working together will mutually benefit everyone involved.

While a written contract isn’t always necessary, it is always a good idea to have something in writing that states each party’s responsibilities and expectations.

Remember, like any business deal it’s vital to establish a strong working relationship. Always be polite and professional, so hopefully you can work together again in the future.

 

STEP 5 – Execution and Monitoring

Once your campaign goes live it’s important to monitor its success.

At this point you can introduce some sponsored (paid) content to help boost the post’s reach and drive organic traffic to your pages or website.

Always monitor the posts for any negative comments or feedback and use your crisis plan to respond or react accordingly.

 

STEP 6 – Finishing it Up!

Well done, hopefully your campaign was a raging success.

Now it’s time to generate some data and measure your return on investment. You’ll need to measure your engagement, reach, Google Analytics, website traffic, social media growth, unique new users etc.

Finally, get in touch with your influencers to say thank you and let them know how the campaign went. If you were happy with your collaboration, be sure to let them know and express your desire to work together again in the future.

 

Meaningful relationships, relevant influencers and targeted campaigns are crucial to any influencer strategy. Know the importance, but don’t know where to start? Let us help.

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Fiona’s top tips: brand storytelling

So you’ve developed a successful business and got yourself a brand.

But as that business has evolved and grown, whether you’ve been going for two years or twenty, are you effectively communicating your brand story to your audience?

You might be thinking “why do I need to do that?”.

Because brand storytelling is pretty much the most important tool in your toolbox when it comes to telling the full story about your business – who you are, what you do and why people should care.

If you’re a start-up it can help shape your culture, and if you’ve been in business a while, your marketing team should use it to help attract long-term consumer engagement and drive buying behaviour.

3 brand storytelling top tips:
1. Know who you are

For starters you need to understand some branding basics, like the difference between a logo, a brand identity and a brand — all very different things, but equally important when maintaining a successful business.

Think about it in terms of YOU.

Your logo is your name, or nickname.

Your clothes, how you walk and talk – that’s your identity.

Your personality (how people talk about you) is your brand.

Once you’re sure you have your ‘brand-self’ down pat, think about how you’re going to convey your personality in such a way that your target market (your customers) buy into you and your brand.

 

2. Find your stories

If you want to share your brand story on the local, national or world stage, you need to:

  • Be unique
  • Be authentic
  • Know and represent your values consistently
  • Drive demand (in a subtle way)

Ask yourself what’s special and unique about your business. How do you craft your story and tailor it to different customers and target markets? Think about ways to tell a story around how your customers will benefit by using your product or having your experience.

That’s why Coke makes ads about family bonding and happiness rather than the taste of their drinks because they’re emotionally engaging their viewers.

Find your own ‘clean air’, a niche topic or line of conversation or advice no-one else owns, or a new angle on something no-one else has said.

In a nutshell, be more interesting. And more appealing.

 

3. Have a strategy

It’s all very well to have a business strategy that’s all about the dollars and cents, but what does your ‘creative’ plan look like?

When planning your strategy ask yourself what makes you authentic, unique and in demand?

Start by defining your story, core values and point of difference and use them as a foundation to build your strategy and key messages from the ground up.

Think about creating or finding your brand ambassadors — it may take time, but reaps huge rewards, simply because it’s someone else telling your story and advocating for your business rather than you giving your audience the hard sell.

Your creative strategy should work in tandem with any marketing or business development plans in terms of language, tone and timing.

 

Case Study: The Southern PR re-brand

Last year we ‘took stock’ of our own company and decided we needed a brand re-fresh that came with an injection of colour and creativity.

We’re a well-established, 24-year-old brand known throughout New Zealand, so we weren’t about to throw the baby out with the bath water.

After starting out with a brand that was strongly connected to the first two directors, a few years ago we stepped away from the ‘names on the door’ approach and re-branded as Southern PR.

Southern PR’s brand proudly reflects our place in the South Island, and in the Southern Hemisphere.

In 2017 we decided our brand needed a younger, fresher approach to talk to our target audience. We asked ourselves a range of questions to determine what we wanted, our target market, the purpose of our website, our social channels and our priorities and how our storytelling was going to change accordingly.

We love our new brand and so do our clients. We like nothing better than to ‘tell the stories’ of our people, our clients and our business success through a wider range of channels.

We do that in a much more visual way – through Instagram Stories, Pinterest, videos and the like, because that’s how people absorb content these days.

So if you’d like a download on how brand storytelling might help your business, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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5 social media trends for 2018

With over 250 billion social media users, 2018 is already another busy year for online trends and updates. We’ve summarised five social media trends that your business MUST be paying attention to in 2018.

Think experiential, think bots, think interaction…

Instagram Stories

With over 250 million monthly users, Instagram Stories were the fastest-growing social platform of 2017 and they’re our number one social media trend to implement in your strategy for 2018.

According to KPCB’s 2018 Internet Trends Report the average daily time spent on Instagram is 28 minutes, compared to 15 minutes in the pre-stories era.

KPCB also found that one in five stories from a brand will result in a direct message.

With these statistics it’s easy to see why Instagram Stories should be at the top of your priority list.

 

User-Generated Content

Thanks to social media’s (particularly Facebook’s) constantly changing algorithms, organic reach from branded material is consistently decreasing across all platforms.

Brands such as BMW, Starbucks and Adobe are using user-generated content to combat this decline. These posts not only increase reach but also drive higher engagement rate between brands and their customers.

The KPCB report said user-generated content re-posted by brands created seven times higher engagement rates than branded content.

The study also showed that social media users are seven times more likely to trust user-generated content, and 56% of them are more likely to buy a product after seeing that content.

So, if you’re not currently using user-generated content in your 2018 social media plan, it’s time to re-think your strategy.

 

Social Media is Mobile

We all know how reliant we are on our smartphones. For many of us, especially in the communications industry, it’s glued to our hands 24/7.

Interestingly, Facebook recently conducted a study that showed 94% of participants had their smart phone in their hand when watching TV. The results also showed that viewers focused on the TV screen just 53% of the time, and one of the top reasons they looked away was to use their phones.

With 94% of Facebook users and 82% of Twitter users primarily using the mobile app, it’s clear that ‘we’re mobile’ and that’s only the beginning!

As such, in 2018 it’s important to ensure our content, websites and links are as mobile friendly as possible.

 

Social messaging has overtaken social media

According to a recent study by Business Insider, more people are now using the top four social messaging apps – WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat and Viber – than the top four social media apps of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

The popularity of ‘dark social’ has been on a steady rise over the past three years and shows no sign of slowing down.

If social media has been a great opportunity for businesses, then social messaging cannot be ignored, especially when our last social media trend of 2018 is chat bots!

 

Chat Bots Are Here to Stay!

With the increase of social messaging, social bots are also on the rise. A study by Business Insider showed a major increase in chat bots, from 33,000 to 100,000 on Facebook’s Messenger alone.

The same study also showed that 80% of marketing managers are already using or plan to use chat bots by 2020, and with chat bots increasing workplace productivity by up to three times, it’s easy to see why bots are becoming the communicator of choice for businesses.

With voice and bots here to stay, define what ‘experience’ you should be creating for your audience.

Don’t have time to keep up with all the latest online trends? Well, its’s our job to identify social media trends and keep our clients at the top of their social media game. Get in touch.

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Our newest creative – Carlie Welsh

We’re thrilled to introduce our newest creative to Southern PR HQ! Carlie Welsh has come to us from across the Tasman and is delighted to call Queenstown her new home.

After completing her degree in Professional Communications at one of Australia’s leading universities, Carlie was determined to combine her love of the mountains with her passion for the communications industry.

She’s worked with some of the top PR firms in Melbourne and brings fresh ideas, new online strategies and her contagious smile to the Southern PR team.

We’ve asked her all the hard questions so you don’t have to…

Who are you and what’s your role at SPR?

Carlie Welsh, Account Executive at Southern PR with a focus on digital communications and social media strategy.

What excites you about a career in PR and communications?

Every day is a new adventure. There’s always a new story, opportunity or event happening – no day is a boring day in PR! I love keeping on top of economic, political and social updates, crafting stories and keeping my clients in the news (for all the right reasons of course).

It’s such an exciting time to be in communications, when there’s new technologies and new opportunities for development every day. I’m truly lucky to work with a broad range of clients that I’m genuinely passionate about, helping them shape their stories and personality from within.

One lesson you learnt from your time working in PR in Melbourne?

We are always ‘on’ in PR! There’s no ‘downtime’ for a PR professional, so you’d better love your job if you want to succeed.  PR is a 24/7 job and our clients’ needs are always our first priority. Luckily, I absolutely love the industry and it has always been my goal to find a job that becomes an integral part of my lifestyle.

Finish this sentence: on Sunday mornings you can usually find me…

Out and about (with a good coffee in hand)! I’m an active person and love nothing more than hiking, biking, eating and drinking my way through Queenstown. In the winter I’m a snowboarder (sorry mum and dad, I’ve gone to the dark side), so you’ll most likely find me up The Remarkables hanging out in Outward or Homeward with my fellow boarders. In summer I’ll be out brunching before embarking on a half-day hike or a tikki-tour tour through our stunning wine country.

What would be your personal motto?

“A ship is safe in the harbour, but that’s not what ships are made for.”

This is such a great quote that my Grandpa once told me and it’s stuck ever since. We as humans often don’t like new things and pushing our boundaries, but we don’t grow and learn if all we do is stay in the safety of our comfort zone. Never become complacent and always push your limits – you’ll be surprised how exciting life can be!

Want to know more? Get in touch with Carlie.

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