Editor’s note: This article is a re-run as part of our countdown of top stories from the past year.
For PR pros and brand managers, influencer marketing might be an important way to engage audiences that are flocking to digital platforms amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Courtney Worthman, senior vice president of brand and agency partnerships for Burns Entertainment and her colleague Stacey Gersten, also with brand and agency partnerships, share some of their takeaways from the current crisis.
Here’s how they recommend brand managers pivot with their influencer partners:
PR Daily: How is COVID-19 impacting influencer marketing?
Worthman and Gersten: The reason a platform like Instagram or TikTok is so successful is because it is human-to-human content. What’s more human and necessary than to connect in a time like this?
Influencers are not going to cease making content and they still have actively engaged—and now very captive—audiences. The biggest shift we are seeing is the messaging. The great equalizer is COVID-19 and the need for connection. At the end of the day, the messaging needs to be genuine and community driven, or it just won’t connect.
PR Daily: What are some ways marketers and influencers can adapt?
Worthman and Gersten: Before, a “mommy influencer” might have focused on parenting tips and family meal planning. Now, she is suggesting homeschooling schedules and at-home activities. Other influencers have shifted to things like home beauty, organizing your home and online shopping.
PR Daily: What kind of tone should you strike in your messaging? How can you do that?
Worthman and Gersten: Be mindful. Posting a link to a $1500 dress when millions of people just lost their jobs is not a smart idea. Be aware and genuine, and focus on community and self-wellness (items we are all truly exploring right now).
PR Daily: What lessons have you learned from this current moment?
Worthman and Gersten: It has been a swift reminder to take it one day at a time, to be nimble and innovative. The companies that are innovative during this time will rise to the top. We are already seeing internal company cultures shift with interesting ways to engage their staff with things like virtual happy hours—almost like a “digital water cooler” atmosphere.
PR Daily: Do you think the market will be permanently changed by this or will we get back to business as usual? Why or why not?
Worthman and Gersten: Without a doubt. It is economics 101 and there will be a trickle-down effect, but the silver lining is that innovation comes out of necessity. Eventually the scale will tip and it will, one day, be back to business as usual.
How are you changing your influencer marketing efforts?