Without integrity, influencers are downgrading themselves to mere sandwich boards

Written by Maeve Governey - July 2020

Deputy MD, Maeve Governey takes a look at the new programme for government’s recommendation to grant increased powers to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) to police the influencer marketing.

 

I was recently asked to contribute to an article in the Irish Independent in relation to the policing of influencer marketing in Ireland.  On the very last page of the very last section in the new programme for government 2020, there is a recommendation to grant increased powers to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) to police the influencer marketing sector more stringently.

As a PR agency we welcome full transparency when it comes to paid for/controlled content and therefore we encourage clear signposting for paid influencer coverage. We feel the same about the equivalent paid for advertorial coverage in traditional media. Perhaps it’s because we come from an industry where we traditionally, and still do, endure blood, sweat and tears to deliver positive earned media coverage for our clients – we certainly don’t want the lines to blur. However, we agree there’s a place for both paid and earned content in the media.  Where it becomes misleading is in the influencer space, because now you’re layering in a “personality”.

I recall a recent conversation with a representative from an influencer agency. I requested that the influencer we were looking to work with refrain from entering into a comparable contract with a competitor immediately after our campaign, which I felt was a reasonable request. However, I was advised there would be an additional charge.  It occurred to me that this response was a little short sighted. In fact this “gardening leave” of sorts isn’t just beneficial to the brand but to the influencer as well.  Influencers are underselling themselves if they merely consider themselves to be sandwich boards on which to promote a product or service. Their influence, done right, is so much more powerful than that.  When carried out with integrity and a reasonable level of brand loyalty, an influencer’s role will continue to have a real and valuable place in the marketing mix.

Introduction of increased powers of policing by the CCPC, along with clear guidelines for the industry from representative bodies such as ASAI and the PRII, ensure a level playing field for all concerned and less ambiguity across the board, which can only be a good thing. How influencers behave and how they are advised is much more pertinent to their success or failure.

 

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