The Op-Ed or editorial opinion piece is the ultimate influencer marketing tactic. The op-ed has the benefits of authority, credibility and reach. A solid overall brand strategy combines op-eds with other media elements based on measurable reach rather than perceived popularity.
The concept of influencer marketing is based on the idea that consumers want to hear from other consumers even if they don’t know them rather than hearing from a brand. Well, a brand is not a person- it’s a concept in the mind of a person and it gets its value from consumers. The people who run the brand have to get it that part of the “mindshare” under control. (Sorry I’m and Ogilvy & Mather alumni. Had to out that in.) In order to be effective, above all, an influencer must be an authentic user of the product. As soon as that consumption of the product is is paid with compensation, I see a conflict- unless it is disclosed upfront in big letters. But there are plenty of people making money from influencer marketing so game on.
Influencer marketing to my mind is hiring a paid spokesperson, a celebrity endorsement. I think influencers are good for bench-marking and getting a read on consumer tastes. But then we should be doing research on that already. I’d really prefer to have word of mouth. The influencer has the ability to message at will to an audience on a platform for a few bucks. Buying influence is a conflict of interest if saying the recommendation is unbiased. Add an influencer to the media plan if it works for the brand, but always work from the top down in terms of reach vehicles. Follow brand or category development media usage research, then speak to someone in PR about getting some op-eds placed and compare it the value of internet influencer.
Speaking of op-eds, a comprehensive view about best practices for agreements with influencer marketers was published as an op-ed in PR Week, entitled: Best Practices For Influencer Marketing Agreements.
Value of Authority, Credibility and Reach
The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe are news publishers going back to the 1800’s and over one hundred and fifty years later their brands still stand. They have survived onslaughts from magazines, radio, TV, cable and the internet. Don’t forget: the news media is considered the Fourth Estate in terms of influence: First Estate – Clergy, Second Estate – Monarchy, Third Estate – the People, Fourth Estate – the Media ( originally the press) and the Fifth Estate – the Bloggers and social media. Have your VP of Sales or Development, or the CEO publish an op-ed establishes them as an authority.
For speed of circulation nothing beats the web. First perspective live and in color. Today’s news is tomorrow’s history. Reporting needs perspective and context to be credible and unbiased. Becasue we get in a lather over what we see inside the frame we miss the big picture. What’s most important is what is outside the frame, what happened before and what happened is important to the story. The accuracy the reporting process is what journalism is about.
Local reach gives locally generated stories priority. For some businesses it is the Community News , and others the local CBS affiliate. The battle for market share is local. Winning locally is winning regionally and nationally. Therefore the brand strategy development is developed along local lines.
The Op-Ed in Practice
We achieve success time and time again with op-eds placed by a professional public relations writer who has contacts within the industry. It only takes phone call and a short scheduled interview.
Here are some examples of some op-eds that were published on behalf of one client.
For more on The Ultimate Influencer Marketing Guide