Brands & Influencers: Building win-win relationships

Today I had the amazing opportunity of being part of the Content and New Media panel discussing How to Find, Engage and Collaborate with Influential Bloggers, as part of The Public Relations Society of America 2016 Sunshine District Conference.

As a former PR, I felt so comfortable talking to and with the best PR people of Florida. For those of you who don’t know what is a “PR job”, I must say: PRs are professionals who make things happen. Period.

From community relations to internal communications, from public affairs to reputation and brand management, from special events to press releases, speeches, brochures, quarterly and annual reports, audiovisual products and blogs, from websites to social media, to damage control and crisis management, to send you a little chocolate box to thank you, you name it and PRs will rock it.

As a former journalist and now as a digital content strategist and creator, I have to say this: 75% of my work couldn’t be delivered without the job of the PR people, because PRs are the bridge that communicates brands, corporations and organizations with consumers and audiences through all the mentioned products and services.

It was an honor to share the panel with experienced PR person and Co-CEO of DiMe Media, Christy Clavijo-Kish, and fellow journalist, Alicia Civita, from Life a la Latina. The panel was moderated by one of my favorite PR persons in Miami: Lourdes Mateo Da Costa, Senior Vice President of Communications at Republica.

We addressed the fact that companies, brands and organizations are aligning with influential content creators to reach consumers. We share our experience in how to find those influencers and establish mutually collaborative relationships. And I must confess: I’m more than delighted that 18 months after I decided to make this blog profitable, I’m speaking on a PR conference sharing my experience on how to create win-win relationships with brands through PR agencies and influencer networks.

In my case, most of the time PR agencies and brands offer me to work with them but even if they select me, I have the final word: I need to trust and like those brands. Otherwise, it won’t work. As an “influencer” my main asset is my credibility (the same credibility I built as a journalist and treasured as a PR.) So, for me to endorse a brand, whether they pay me or not, I must really like that brand. For me, this business is about trustworthiness.

How do I address requests that I know won’t work for me? The only answer is with candid honesty: having an honest talk. Sometimes a PR person approaches me to give me an idea or suggest me possible angles and asks me to think about that, then, I realize it might work. Sometimes is a no and period, the end. So, in this communication business, communication is key.

Asked about the new trends in this “influencer” business, my answer, without hesitation, is videos, live streaming that you can save and make videos. I’m a writer and I will die writing. But three months ago I heard by 2018 80% to 85% of the content consumed online will come in the form of videos. So, now I write and I’m producing videos too, and not only per brands requests or for the media outlets that I work with, but for my own YouTube channel, Facebook and Instagram.

From an influencer perspective I have to say that the ability to adjust and adapt to new trends and demands from brands (real or potential clients), and to face challenges and be able to deliver with a smile as if nothing take us out of our comfort zone (as if we were PR people), is a super plus when building win-win relationships with brands and their PR agencies.

Regarding the benefits of working with an influencer network, from an influencer perspective, I think it is: networking, gaining access to brands and people and organizations and more networking. Even if as an influencer I can get better deals working directly with PR agencies (or brands), it’s always good to be part of a network.

From a PR perspective: networks will save PR agencies time and dealing with people they don’t know. In other words: networks will do their job, and PR agencies will get a nice return on their investment and save a lot dealing with the tons of entitlement that we see these days with some so “celebrity” influencers.

If you ask me what is more important between the number of followers or the engagement, my answer is: quality content. With quality content, eventually you’ll have the numbers and the engagement. Sometimes I feel brands and PR agencies care more about numbers, so I’m constantly growing them and they know it. My strategy has been to create more quality content not only for my blog, but also for all my social media channels. That brings me more engagement and leads to better numbers, so I can give brands a bigger reach.

Finally, if you ask me how was the process of moving from journalist to PR person to digital strategist and content creator, I have to say: I’m the queen of reinvention: I loved being a journalist as I loved being a PR and I have so much respect for both professions. I’m a storyteller and a content creator. To give you an idea about how much I love this business, I would say this: If I weren’t paid to do what I do, I would pay to do it.

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