Scott Guthrie is a Top 10 PR Blogger who bases his eponymous blog on his varied and detailed experience. We caught up with Scott to talk about the power of influencer marketing, the advantages of different social platforms and his advice for PRs.
What makes your blog successful?
I write a lot about influence; specifically influencer marketing. Here, I’ve identified a sustainable niche in which both clients and industry peers are interested and are actively seeking fresh information which helps get their collective heads around the subject.
Consistency is key to a successful blog. I aim to publish two to three times each week. The content is a blend of tactical how-to pieces and longer thought pieces about best practice and where the industry is headed.
What has writing a blog taught you about the way bloggers see the PR/influencer relationship?
I’m surprised by the lazy blogger outreach by some PR practitioners.
What’s the biggest issue facing PR today?
Public relations shouldn’t be compartmentalised. It shouldn’t be about being the publicity arm of the company. Rather it should be about helping firms do and be what they say they do and who they say they are.
Technology has enabled several disciplines to blur. This will continue at pace, further blurring where PR, marketing, SEO, advertising, HR, customer service start and stop. The industry must accelerate its reinvention if it hopes to access marketing spend. I see this as a colossal opportunity rather than an issue.
What are the biggest changes to the PR industry you’ve seen over your career?
The media landscape has fragmented over the last decade or so. The PR industry has matured to embrace that change. Public relations is evolving from media relations to influencer relations, and then from community management to social business. The new model of public relations is no longer obsessed with publicity via Earned media. The PR discipline is blurring into other roles formerly the preserve of marketing and advertising. Today’s PR practitioners must be fully conversant in the skills required to activate communication programmes which utilise Shared media, Owned media and Paid media as well as Earned media.
Will print die out altogether?
I have online subscriptions to the Financial Times and the Australian Financial Review. I also read the Guardian online. Newsprint is both so old fashioned and a sustainability issue waiting to happen. Will print die out altogether, though? No, there will always be a special place reserved for print. Monocle, the high-production international affairs, culture and design magazine is a good example of the power of print. Monocle knows its readers and tailors its product both in terms of content and collateral to that audience, beautifully.
What’s the best social platform?
Ha! The best social platforms are where your customers and your peers hang out. They are places where you can listen to customers and prospects express their pain points and suggest solutions. Where you can further discussions and share ideas about best practice with your peers. For me, that’s predominantly Twitter and LinkedIn – and Facebook for private groups.
What’s better, agency or in-house?
From an influencer marketing perspective it can’t be a binary answer. The role that in-house and agency play is evolving as the discipline matures and brands become more knowledgeable about the subject matter. When you’re trying something out, testing the water, it makes sense to de-risk it as far as possible and outsource the function to an agency. Once proof of concept has been made it’s time to bring facets in-house. But both agency and in-house teams have valuable roles to play.
In-house teams are best placed to nurture relationships. And to maintain these relationships between influencer marketing campaign ‘spikes’. They’re boundary spanners linking networks both internally and externally. Internally to build alignment with other departments – it might be product development, marketing, social, SEO, customer services, however the firm is organised. Linking networks externally – to work better with agencies.
Agencies can add value by:
- Making data-driven recommendations on new and rising influencer talent.
- Looking over the brow of the hill to what’s likely to happen next in the influencer marketing space. Then counselling their clients accordingly to grab opportunity and swerve issues.
- Advising on best practice
- Helping marry communication goals with corporate goals
- Providing an extra pair of hands in campaign execution
What advice would you give someone looking to work in comms?
Read widely. Write often. Start a blog. Have a point of view. Tap into a community. Be useful to that community. Put yourself in the way of every new opportunity. Always say ‘yes’ when asked to contribute.
How do you work with PRs as a blogger?
As a fellow PR practitioner, and member of both the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA), I work with PRs as peers. Through my blog I try to articulate current best practice and look to the future, anticipating how the industry will evolve.
What’s your favourite PR campaign from the last year?
In terms of success rate, you’d have to go a long way to better watch maker, Daniel Wellington’s influencer marketing always-on campaign. While many brands are still testing the water with influencer marketing, DW ascribes to the Australian sporting aphorism: ‘Go hard or go home’.
DW has put influencer marketing front and centre of its communications efforts. The brand pays celebrities for sponsored posts and gifts watches to lesser-known micro-influencers. In exchange, they post photos of themselves wearing the watch, often accompanied by a unique money-off code for followers. The images are high quality and display an attainable luxury lifestyle.
Is their approach innovative? Scale of operation aside; not really. Does it work? You bettcha. Last year, DW grew its social media follower base by a third (31%) to 3.7m. It generated 137k brand mentions in 2017. In 2016 the company posted profits of around £100m. Not bad for a start-up, today entering its seventh year.
What other blogs do you read?
I’m an avid reader of professional and personal blogs. There will be loads that I’ve overlooked in my quick list but the few that instantly come to mind are: Spin Sucks, Ste Davies, Stephen Waddington, PR Place, Influence and Ella Minty.
Scott Guthrie is listed alongside his blog on the Vuelio Influencer Database along with thousands of other leading bloggers, journalists and editors.