Written by Cher Hale
My client, Jamie Lieberman, doesn’t look like your traditional lawyer. She has pink ombre hair, a nose ring, and several tattoos on her arms. But that makes sense considering she doesn’t operate like a traditional lawyer.
After working for an international law firm as a commercial litigator, for a Federal District Judge on both civil and criminal federal cases, and as the Director of Operations and Chief Counsel of an influencer network, Jamie turned her attention to a growing market that many lawyers didn’t understand: bloggers and content creators.
Now, she runs a first-of-its-kind virtual law firm called Hashtag Legal that specializes in protecting established influencers, brands, agencies, and content, course, and conference creators.
As influencer relations becomes a standard element in our clients’ campaigns, I wanted to hear from a seasoned professional like Jamie who routinely works with mega influencers about how we, as publicists, can craft standout pitches and make the most of this growing market.
What has changed in the marketing landscape since you began working with influencers?
The nature of the relationship between the influencer and the brand has shifted. Back in 2014, influencers were paid much less than they are now, with average payments ranging from free product to $50 for a post. The brand would hire a much larger number of influencers for each campaign with very little vetting. The brands were much more focused on blog posts, with social media shares on Twitter and Facebook being secondary.
Now, long-term lucrative relationships are much more the norm and campaigns are frequently based on social media channels like Youtube and Instagram. There are agents for bloggers and managers for influencers, and they have more negotiating power than they had in years past. Influencers have also become savvier at negotiating, and many of them treat their brands like businesses by hiring lawyers and building teams.
Brands, on the other hand, are setting stricter guidelines. They won’t work with influencers who are a part of pods, follow loops, or in the practice of buying followers.
Finally, we’re now starting to see more regulations being put in place. For example, I’ve just joined the Board of Directors, of the Influencer Marketing Association, a new non-profit focused on the ethics of influencer marketing.
What should publicists and brand teams consider before approaching an influencer?
I recommend that you think about your budget first. Be honest about what it is that you’re looking for and how you are able to work with the influencer.
You also need to see your offer from their perspective. Exposure is no longer a currency that resonates with influencers as much as it used to. In every group that I’m in with influencers, it’s obvious that they’re frustrated with being offered so many non-paid opportunities.
The last piece of advice I would give to really get to know the influencer’s brand and to be sure to incorporate your knowledge of it into your pitch.
Just like publicists, influencers all talk to each other, so make sure you do your due diligence each time you reach out.
What is the range of pricing for promotional content nowadays?
It still varies wildly and is often a result of the negotiation skills of the influencer or the influencer’s team. While guidelines like CPM (cost per thousand impressions) exist, there are no set guidelines and deals can range from a few hundred dollars to six figures.
Exposure is no longer a currency that resonates with influencers as much as it used to. In every group that I’m in with influencers, it’s obvious that they’re frustrated with being offered so many non-paid opportunities.
Beyond just being about how many people see the content or how many followers someone has, it’s become even more important that the influencer has an engaged audience that they deeply understand and is able to create something valuable to the brand. The savviest influencers have a deep understanding of their metrics and the make-up of their audience.
If the influencer can show that their audience listens to the influencer’s recommendation and has the unique ability to create branded images that aligned with the brand’s aesthetic, then they stand to charge even more.
Cher Hale is the founder and director of a national boutique agency that believes in using storytelling and public relations as a force for good. They specialize in boosting visibility for underrepresented or marginalized authors, experts, and entrepreneurs through comprehensive communication and media relations efforts. As a first-generation Taiwanese-American, she is passionate about leveraging the power of media to tell diverse stories through online, print, TV, radio, and podcast mediums so she can play a role in reshaping how our society views social justice, give-back initiatives, feminism, and multiculturalism.