The number of individuals who can have an impact on corporate reputation is expanding rapidly. As well as traditional positions like journalists, the avenues for publishing through the internet have seen the rise of a whole category of 'influencers' who are changing the landscape for reputational risk management.
In turn, this is causing companies to invest in influencer management programs that reach out and engage with these individuals as part of a broader PR strategy.
According to a recent study from the Lewis PR, many companies are now investing in this strategy, with 55 per cent having an influencer relationship program in place. The majority of these (52 per cent) are regionally focused, while a further 42 per cent are global.
While these programs are clearly growing in number, the study emphasised that company spending is still out of step with the sources that have the most influence with the general public. The study compared figures from Gartner and Nielsen, which respectively showed that 61 per cent of marketing budgets are spent on paid media – which only account for 22 per cent of customer trust.
The real areas where trust is coming from, according to these figures, are authoritative content from a journalist or influencer (51 per cent) and company-generated content (27 per cent).
Among the different groups that Lewis PR suggested engaging with after journalists are:
- Industry bodies
- Think tanks
Reaching out to a broader range of influencers beyond journalists alone is going to become an increasingly important source for an effective corporate affairs strategy. As the amount of content generated by these groups increases, the challenge is to incorporate them into an effective influencer program.