Watch my influencer marketing chat with CIPR's tourism & hospitality group
Updated: Aug 30, 2021
I was excited to recently talk about how to work with influencers with the Chartered Institute of Public Relation's tourism and hospitality group. Thanks so much to Kirstie from Sidekick PR for inviting me to speak on this topic.
Here are some highlights from the chat:
1) What is the value of working with influencers? Particularly for PR and communication professionals working within the tourism and hospitality sectors?
People love dreaming of and finding inspiration for trips, hotels and experiences on social media, particularly on Instagram and TikTok. And the travel and hospitality industry translates especially well on social media because it’s so visually-appealing.
If you work with the right type of influencer - one that has a strong community of followers and great engagement, in my opinion - they can create amazing attention-grabbing promotional content about your offering that will generate more buzz and hopefully sales for you!
2) Working with influencers is still an area that many PR practitioners feel unsure of. Why do you think this is?
I understand the uncertainty as it’s a step away from a traditional press trip model, for example, where a journalist goes on a trip or a reviews a restaurant, and then writes about it. There’s also cynicism around influencers simply wanting a ‘freebie’, too. But I truly believe that these days, more value can be found in hosting and possibly paying for the right type of influencer to experience and promote your product on their and your social channels.
3) There’s sometimes a perception that influencers are merely out for freebies, we’ve seen numerous instances of hotels, for example, calling out bloggers and influencers in the past for asking for free stays in return for coverage – what are your thoughts on this?
This is definitely something that happens and my advice is for brands to be selective in who they collaborate with. I would focus on working with influencers who are incredible content creators - not just a lazy tag in a #ad by a big named celebrity, although that may generate ROI if they have a huge audience and engagement - and agree with them exactly how much content they will share and the type of content.
I highly recommend drafting a simple contract that highlights exactly what both sides are getting from the arrangement, including payment if there is one.
Also, I recommend asking to have access to the original content files to share on your (the brand’s) own channels too and including this in the agreement.
4) What kind of budget do organisations need when it comes to working with influencers?
It’s massively varies and your offering – travel and hospitality - can often be sufficient ‘payment’ but if you’re working with a content creator who you’re expecting to create lots of different videos, images, etc, then you should expect to pay (usually a day rate £300 to £500). They’re like a photographer basically. Or big influencers/celebrities will charge thousands of pounds. I’ve opt for content creators or micro-influencers over big celebs if budget is limited.
5) Where do you start when it comes to working with influencers?
Familiarise yourself with potential influencers/content creators that you could work with by following possible people and looking at who follows you and approaches you. Also, look at influencers your competitors might be working with for inspiration.
You could then send an email (or direct message them to ask for their email address) and ask if they’d be interested in experiencing your product and sharing it on their platform. Personalise the email if it feels natural to show you follow them and are familiar!
If the influencer says ‘yes,’ you can then go into the type and amount of content they can offer - and whether that suits you - and that you’d like access to the files to share on your own channels too. And you may need to discuss budget if the influencer charges. Never assume they’ll work for free if you’re asking for lots of content.
6) How can PR measure return on investment when working with influencers?
Ask the influencer to provide screenshots of Instagram insights for all content (which will show impressions, reach, etc). Look at your own insights and Google analytics to see if activity changes when influencer shares content – can you see increased profile visits, web traffic, followers, new customer leads/sales?
7) Can you share any success/horror stories with us from your experience of working with influencers?
I organised a group blogger trip years ago for a tourist board and a few of them behaved terribly in terms of clearly seeing the trip as an opportunity to get as many freebies as possible (side note: the trip was really cool and the tourist board was very generous already). They charged an expensive bar tab to their hotel room (after an incredible paid-for dinner and drinks) and refused to pay it, so the tourist board had to foot the bill.
But, aside from that, I’ve generally only had positive experiences working with influencers. There have been so many examples of influencers generating such fabulous results for my clients with their content and many of them deliver what they promised, alongside the client/brand doing what they promised too. It’s important to see influencer collaborations as a respectful partnership between influencer and brand.
8) Finally, if you could summarise your top tips for PR professionals looking to work with influencers, what would they be?
It’s not that different from the traditional PR approach to setting up press reviews. Take your time to follow and get to know influencers to potentially work with, take the communication to email as it’s easier to track things in my opinion, never assume they’ll work for free and have them sign a simple agreement to agree what both sides will provide.
If you’re interested in my support to set up influencer partnerships on behalf of your business – or to provide some training in this area - please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch via my online form.