Why PR pros shouldn’t confuse influencers with journalists

PR pros are looking to adapt to a new media landscape but with change always comes unscrupulous opportunists. Here’s how PR pros can help preserve an independent press.

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The social media influencer era has become a Wild West free-for-all while lawmakers and key players struggle to catch up.

What standards and responsibilities fall to an influencer with a large Instagram following when he or she shares a picture of thier favorite beer brand? They may have been paid by the brand or may just be sharing their happy hour beverage of choice.

Is it common practice for PR and social media representatives to pay an influencer to post about a brand? Yes. Does the lady responsible for Doug the Pug get paid by Netflix to produce videos promoting its original series “Stranger Things“? Probably, and that’s fine.

What’s troubling is when the lines become blurred between influencers and traditional journalists.

One example of this came up this past holiday season when my team responded to a HARO query from a Buzzfeed contributor. The contributor was looking for “best in show” products for his 2017 holiday gift guide roundup. One of my PR coordinators responded to his query and was excited when she received the news that yes, Buzzfeed would feature our client in the gift guide pending a product sample. Done and done.

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