As we immerse ourselves in 2018 and new marketing goals and trends, every marketing department is trying to figure out how to be smarter with their budget. It’s a tough call; knowing what works now in the ever-changing and dynamic digital marketing world can be daunting and even trickier if you’re launching a new brand. Two of the best choices we’ll examine here are Public Relations (PR), and Influencer Marketing (IM). PR is a time-tested and traditional way to get the word out about what’s new, and IM is the cutting edge and technology-savvy method of telling your story. Which one works best? Can they work together? Let’s do some digging and find out.

How Influencer Marketing and PR are Similar

First off, there are many ways the two styles are similar. The most important thing they have in common? They both use someone else to talk about your brand, and this is crucial. Studies show that consumers are becoming more and more wary of and indifferent to direct outbound marketing (i.e. banner ads, print ads, website copy, billboards, etc.), and for good reason. Both PR and IM require careful outreach and the ability to connect with your storyteller. Establishing this relationship can set the tone for an entire campaign; a thoughtful, genuine email or press release can get people excited about promoting your brand, while a hasty or uninformed request can stop things before they ever start. This may be the part of the process where you might consider hiring a professional to manage the outreach and design your campaign, saving you time and worry down the road. Think about it as you would dating: would you be more inclined to date someone who is bragging and telling you how great he/she is…or would you choose someone that a trusted friend knows well and highly recommends? Apply this way of looking at how humans operate to marketing. Simply put, a good (or bad) word from family, friends or trusted voices online will almost always sway a potential buyer one way or the other.

Let’s Understand PR a Little Better

Traditional PR has been around for decades, and for good reason. Before the internet, the absolute best way to launch a brand or a new product was to send an exciting and informative press release to a variety of media producers. Hopefully, the PR professional in charge of the campaign had great connections in these outlets, and would use these relationships to push for enthusiastic promotion and timely placement. It’s much the same today, and the proliferation of internet media outlets means stories can go viral overnight. The coverage could conceivably go on for a long time, as different producers pick up the story. This, of course, is the ideal situation. What’s the downside? Well, it’s basically a loss of control. It’s entirely possible that no one will pick up the story, especially if the press release or contacts weren’t professionally arranged. It may take a long time, maybe months after your brand or product launch. Simply put, there’s no guarantee any part of this will go as planned.

Let’s Understand Influencer Marketing a Little Better

Influencer marketing, on the other hand, gives you a lot of control. You can identify, vet and engage the perfect blogger or social media star in the exact niche you want to represent your brand. You can give them specific messaging and high-quality images for their post as well as an exact timeline for when you want the story to go live. If you’re thinking long-term, you can even arrange staggered posts, keeping brand awareness and buzz going for months. Influencers have loyal and devoted fans, giving you a rapt audience who now takes your brand very seriously. And, as we well know with the internet, each post gets shared and reposted extending and amplifying your message exponentially. Not to mention about 86% of brands are implementing influencer marketing and reporting great results. There are challenges, however. The first part of the campaign, the identify/vet/contact part, can be very difficult for the average marketing associate to attempt. Professional agencies who specialize in IM use powerful software and long-standing and carefully nurtured relationships to accomplish this…it might be hard to see results otherwise. What marketing and PR tactics do you have planned for your upcoming goals? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!