By Nifer Honeycutt
On Monday, May 4th, PRSSA welcomed influencer consultant and DePaul faculty member Jenny Heinrich as a guest speaker. Jenny has worked in PR for 11 years and teaches Influencer Relations at DePaul. She spoke with us specifically about the changing landscape of influencer relations and navigating the PR world during and after the Covid-19 crisis.
The presentation started with an explanation of why influencers matter; it comes down to people trusting people who are similar to themselves. This is true when we take purchase advice from friends and family, but it’s also true when we find influencers we feel like we know. Additionally, according to Jenny, 32% of online consumers believe a stranger over a brand. Using influencers gives a brand a kind of relatability that can be difficult to achieve through traditional advertising.
How is the virus going to affect influencers?
The question on everyone’s mind right now, no matter the business they are in is, “How is the coronavirus pandemic going to affect my field?” The good news, we learned, is that the influencer market is still growing, especially in industries that produce essential goods and services. Businesses must move forward cautiously to prevent offense or missteps, and they must create new messaging that reflects the time we live in, but influencer culture isn’t going anywhere.
For people who might be interested in becoming an influencer, Jenny offered some advice: connect with other influencers. Essentially, they’re just regular people, so don’t be afraid to email them and build a network. Play it cool, but treat them like people! Also, aspiring influencers can post branded content and tag the company they wish to work with, as long as they don’t use the #ad disclaimer.
There is a ton of uncertainty in the world right now. But getting a glimpse into what the field of both PR and influencers will look like after the world opens up was a nice reminder that the work is still there, we just have to be smart about how we pursue it.