Talking influencer marketing best practice with Vitreous World and the PRCA

I had a stimulating and really enjoyable evening out last week, as a guest of the Research Best Practice Committee of the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA). In fact, I wasn’t just a guest but the guest speaker, having been invited by Matt Reynolds, MD of Vitreous World, the research consultancy which carried out a project for Prizeology earlier in the year.

The audience of more than 50 was pretty high-powered and included representatives of some of the UK’s biggest brands and agencies, but as I was there to discuss social media influencer marketing, regulation and prize promotions – all subjects I can talk about at the drop of a hashtag.

Of course, influencer marketing is as old as the hills and it’s always good to warm up with some nice retro examples of celebrity endorsements from days gone by (in his write-up of the event Matt picked out glamorous mid-century actress Doris Day endorsing a steamroller as particularly memorable). I then chatted about the Kardashian clan and their extraordinary power as influencers (I don’t think the Kardashians get enough exposure, so I try to mention them in every talk I give…).

Of course, the results of the recent Prizeology research into how influencer marketing affects the public’s perception of brands formed the centrepiece of my presentation. These findings were genuinely fascinating and received widespread coverage in the press (if you haven’t got a copy of our white paper yet, you can download it here), but in essence they indicated that consumers want more transparency and brands need more guidance to ensure campaigns not only comply with best practice, but are ethical, too. Yes, there is a cost involved in engaging a compliance expert, but in terms of potential reputational damage and loss of revenue, there can be a cost for non-compliance, too.

I do love a quiz, so next up was a short interactive poll consisting of questions from the Prizeology research project. The aim was to test the audience’s knowledge of influencer marketing regulation and I’m glad to say that – and as one would hope – the audience was well informed. In the Prizeology research only 29% of the UK public knew that influencer marketing is regulated, compared with 41% of my audience at the PRCA (OK, perhaps not massively well informed, which only goes to prove my point, but it was certainly a creditable response!).

Finally, I showed some real examples of paid for and unpaid for social media posts, which again highlighted how confusing influencer marketing can be for consumers. This prompted a lot of excellent questions from the lovely audience of engaged professionals and some insightful discussion. And then it was into my carriage and home.

Thanks very much to Matt for inviting me to speak and, as I have decided I must get out more often, if these topics and this type of presentation sound interesting, the Vitreous World team and I would be happy to provide a similar session for you at your location. You know how to get in touch.

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