Best Practices for Engaging Digital Influencers

By: Crisel Mills, Account Manager 

In a previous blog, I listed six reasons to consider an influencer program as part of your overall PR strategy. Now that you’re ready, what happens next? Before you hit the ground running, here are a few steps to take to ensure a successful campaign:

  1. Determine your goals.

Like any program, you have to prioritize your goals. Are you looking to drive awareness or conversions? We all want the best of both worlds, but to be successful, you must choose one. If you’re looking for an awareness campaign, you want influencers with an impressive social reach. Influencers that participate in this type of program leverage visuals and know how to craft concise posts that are appealing to a mass audience, therefore, driving overall impressions. However, if you’re looking to drive conversions, it’s best to tap influencers that are considered “experts” via industry or experience. This type of influencer has built a following around their knowledge, so while their social reach might not be as impressive, they reach your target audience directly. An endorsement coming from them is more likely to drive engagement including leads. Let’s say you’re promoting a new fitness program and want to reach as many people as possible, you would go with an awareness campaign. If you want to reach vetted leads, consider a conversion program.

  1. Decide on full-service vs. DIY.

Along with your goal, this is another key decision – and one that will determine your overall budget. The minimum for most full-service agencies is $25,000. This sounds like a lot for a single flight, but they are designed to move the needle. Another alternative is to take a DIY approach. You may not be able to scale as quickly, but if you are looking to test the waters or work with a handful of influencers throughout the year, this may be the way to go. Pricing with DIY is dependent on the individual and the platform used to manage the program.

  1. Construct a guardrail document.

Since influencers don’t know the ins and outs of your business, create a guardrail document to guide content creation. In this document, you should share the company mission and values. Include a product description, keywords and anything else that will inspire compelling posts. Remember, influencers have their unique style and voice – and you want them to use it. After all, that’s what their followers are looking for. Offering guidance is beneficial for both parties, since the last thing you want to do is find yourself editing a handful of posts or blogs.

  1. Create incentives.

Another thing to consider is influencing the path to purchase. Don’t forget; many brands are now discovering the real potential behind influencers, so you want a desirable incentive that your influencers can offer. It can be as simple as a trackable coupon code, or if you have a high-value item, a giveaway is a great alternative for building excitement around the product or service.

  1. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Finally, whether you decide to execute an awareness campaign or drive conversions, don’t take a ‘one and done’ approach. It will take a minimum of three flights to optimize the program fully. The first flight provides a benchmark, while the third reaps the benefits of the key learnings from the first two. It may seem like a large investment, but the reward is equally high.

Interested in the next step? We’d love to help! Contact us at for more information on a full service program or DIY.


[Infographic] What Big Data & Your Kids Have in Common

[Infographic] What Big Data & Your Kids Have in Common

Big Data is changing the game for strategic marketing programs. More data is available to marketers than ever before, and intelligently using this data is driving huge increases to the bottom line.

As a marketer, I’m always looking to improve campaign conversions. Show me the data, and I’ll start asking questions with the curiosity of a child. Check out some of the top questions our customers are asking of Big Data, and some of the corresponding questions that might be asked by a curious child.

Props to the curious, to the driven and to the ones asking the questions. The answers will drive your company forward.

A Tribute to Steve Jobs: Great work = Loving what you do

Today, I am both saddened and inspired by the death of Steve Jobs. While growing up in the ‘70s and ‘80s in Northern California, three words continually characterized the lexicon of the South Bay: “silicon;” the growing “Valley;” and this little company that conjured images of the season’s most delicious fruit: “Apple.”

Back then, I was certainly unable to foreshadow and “connect the dots” about the impact of my favorite Apple, the Macintosh, on my career. For as Jobs himself once said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect the dots looking back…”  So, today, in looking back, it’s plain to see the connection between my field of choice—technology public relations—and the influence his innovation had on me and countless millions around the globe.

With Apple, and, I believe especially due to Steve Jobs’ passion for technology, and fearless, unequivocal ability to change the game and our world, technology became pop culture—synonymous with cool, hip and fashion forward.  And it intrigued me immensely. It was with this innate curiosity that I pursued my first positions in technology marketing—and ultimately—accidentally fell into a public relations role for one of Apple’s original hardware developers. Apple was one of the first companies to help define tech PR, and not only did I love partnering to introduce complementary product offerings, I found my true calling! I had fallen in love with PR and soon began to realize that the steps leading forward would ensure a career of lasting satisfaction and exciting work!

Twenty-three years later, I am pleased to say that Steve Jobs was right: “The only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” I am very proud of the great work my team and I do and the passion with which we do it every day for our clients.

Thank you, Steve, for inspiring and touching so many people in ways formerly unimaginable. And for the continuous innovations you’ve brought to our industry and the world. The impact of your digital footprint will be felt forever…

The Power of Community Service

For over five years, MSR Communications has partnered with The San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center, (SFCAPC), to help take a stand against child abuse and neglect by promoting healthier families through education and prevention. The MSR team actively donates our time and resources on a pro-bono basis to help raise awareness about the SFCAPC—its free programs and services—because we understand the profound impact it has on such critical issues that affect our entire community—no matter the economic strata.

Every spring, the Center holds its Blue Ribbon Luncheon, and this year’s took place last week at the Fairmont Hotel. With over 500 community members in attendance, patrons were treated to an interactive presentation by Dr. Harvey Karp, author of The Happiest Baby on the Block. Known for his coveted techniques that help parents and care takers successfully calm and support crying infants and toddlers, Karp showcased his fierce passion and expert knowledge about the well-being of children. In addition, Dr. Moses Grossman was honored for founding the Center and his influential role in improving the lives of children and families as well as inspiring generations of people to take action against child abuse.

Each year in San Francisco, over 6,000 cases of child abuse are reported. Such abuse not only endangers a child’s physical and emotional health, but also affects their development. That is why providing emotional, social and financial support for children and families is so important. MSR’s role is to ensure these issues are continually raised on behalf of the Center throughout the community and beyond. With awareness and education, each of us can help make a difference in the lives of others.

The MSR Team is extremely honored to represent an organization that is held in such high esteem and whose dedicated staff and tireless efforts play such a vital role in the city in which we live and work. We congratulate the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center for improving the lives of community members and hope you’ll help join us in the fight to continue this important dialogue.

The Iterative PR plan

Through our work in the IT space, I’ve become familiar with a new spin on a traditional term – “iterative.” While the classical definition of this term indicates repetitiveness, in IT, the word connotes making small changes to your processes and technology so that you can stay focused and adapt to an ever accelerating business cycle.

This is a cornerstone of the increasingly popular concept of “agile” business transformation. It essentially says that instead of following the traditional model of coming in, identifying everything that is wrong, and attempting to completely reshape it according to your vision, you strategically identify business processes that are feeling pain points and begin aligning, one step at a time, those processes to your overall strategy. In this way, you maintain your foothold so that you can more quickly adapt to changes in the business environment. You incrementally bring the organization in line with your overall vision in a non-disruptive way that doesn’t leave you out of the game when the unexpected occurs.

It’s no major imaginative feat to begin to see how this philosophy applies to the cornerstone of our work – the PR plan. Too often PR plans are formulaic and rigid, offering an approach created without regard to the needs of those whom it serves, or the ability of those involved to carry out its various tactics.

It was only a few years ago that Jeff Wofford asserted that “The Business Plan is Dead.” Of course planning will never be “dead,” but our approach should change with the times. Am I offering a new model upon which to base the new PR plan? No. In a way, that’s the point. There’s no formula that holds up universally in 2011 – the hyper-evolutionary communication landscape has seen to this.

I do suggest, however, that we keep a few things in mind when creating our plans:

  • The plan serves the organization, not vice versa
  • It’s better to have something workable with realistic goals, than a dazzling vision that will ultimately leave you and your client unsatisfied
  • Like on-demand content, you need to be able to leave the plan as new opportunities (or crises) arise, and then come back to it when you’re ready to resume

I know this doesn’t lend much in the way of specific action items, but I’d hesitate to get more detailed without knowing your business. But, if you want a takeaway, try this: make your plan a living breathing document by physically placing it in a location where everyone can tweak it simultaneously, in real-time, such as Google docs. This serves not only the purpose of allowing it to grow with the reality on the ground, but also keeps it from becoming what most PR plans seem to become: irrelevant.

–Michael Burke, MSR Communications