2016 posted by Corey Martin
“Influence” is a term that is often overused. Across the communications industry, marketers regularly confuse paid blogger engagement, social media marketing, celebrity endorsements, content creation and more under the umbrella of “influencer marketing,” “influencer relations” or “influencer engagement.” While these are all tactics that might aid in the creation of influence, they don’t deliver on an implicit promise of influencer relations as a channel to deliver content or carry a narrative to generate advocacy. In fact, the notion of advocacy as the intended product of influence is often lost today as marketers suggest programming where “influence” is positioned as the end point. In truth, influence is not the end goal, it is a means to cultivate brand affinity and, ultimately, advocacy.
In our inaugural report on this topic, “Navigating the Flow of Influence,” we studied the dynamic ecosystem of influence to track consumer behavior throughout the purchase journey. We learned that influence begins with the consumer and is a pull, not push. In other words, an individual must be already actively seeking information and open to being influenced for the message to land. This makes understanding “impact” essential as a measure of effectiveness for influencer relations efforts.
To that end, we created a proprietary scoring system to evaluate and measure the potential influencers have to make an impact. This allows us to more effectively target and reach those who activate and inspire others throughout the process of consideration, purchase or advocacy. The new measure is expressed with the equation (Reach + Authenticity) x Power.
Impact Score in Action: America’s Most Influential Athletes
We recently applied this approach to identify which top-of-the-podium athletes from the Summer games hold the greatest potential for influence. The findings in our latest report, “The Golden Influencers: A Ranking of the Summer Games Most Influential American Athletes,” can be used by brands seeking to understand the potential effectiveness of America’s top athletes.
A number of striking trends emerged from the report:
- Swimming, gymnastics, basketball and track and field athletes generally carry the most influence. All of the top 25 athletes came from these sports, and four of the five U.S. gymnasts were included in the top 25.
- Carmelo Anthony and Michael Phelps are the most influential athletes, and both received the highest score possible (100).
- Simone Biles (96.3) rounded out the top three. Her teammates, Aly Raisman (92.5) and Gabby Douglas (92.5), also ranked in the top 10, beating out a number of players who enjoy promotional support and media attention from the NBA, making their ascent and success even more astounding.
- More women are influential, overall. Of the top 25 athletes, 52 percent are women. Allyson Felix, the most decorated female track and field athlete, scored an impressive 92.5.
- Outspoken swimmer Lilly King (1551.49 percent) and Simone Manuel (1537.66 percent), the first African-American woman to win an individual gold medal in swimming, are the only two athletes who experienced more than 1000 percent growth on Twitter over the course of the summer games.
- Michael Phelps, Simone Biles and Katie Ledecky were the most prominent names in online media coverage, showcasing an undeniable ability to dominate the summer games news cycle.
- A number of first time medal winners, including shot putter Michelle Carter (87.5), triathlete Gwen Jorgensen (80), and wrestler Helen Maroulis (77.5), posted impressive scores. Carter was in the top 25 of all athletes.
The Implications for Brands
Based on these findings, brands who seek to leverage these athletes should keep the following in mind:
- Consider mid-tier influencers – those scoring in 65 to 78. These are incredibly strong scores that suggest powerful reach, effectiveness through credibility and authority, and showcase a proven ability to influence others.
- Look at niche athletes that could provide great value for specialized campaigns. An athlete’s authenticity can’t be understated. A high authenticity score and an athlete with relevance to a brand that is intrinsic to his or her achievements at the games, life story, obstacles overcome or personal passions may mean greater relevance and ability to impact your target consumer.
- Someone can have high influence, but not necessarily the right influence for your brand. Look beyond the score to the context of their actions, statements or public perception.
- When engaging an athlete, examine the channels they are most active on and how that relates to your core audience. For example, nearly 10 percent of these athletes did not have a Twitter channel, while many used Instagram in a limited manner. Ensuring that athletes are leveraging their full potential to impact consumers by maximizing their reach across all online and offline influence channels will translate to brand success.
To view the full results and see who the top 25 most influential U.S. gold medal athletes are, visit www.allisonpr.com/influence.
Corey Martin is the managing director of Allison+Partners’ Consumer Marketing practice.
2016 posted by Carline Jorgensen
BlogHer, a media property for women inspiring women, was in full force last week and oh-so-LA, featuring celebrity appearances by Sarah Michelle Geller, Kim Kardashian and Sheryl Crow.
While it was fun to see Kim strut across the stage and hear that she shares about 85 percent of her life on social media, it was actually much cooler to gain perspective on the world of “Bloggers vs Podcasters” in the tiny breakout session that followed Kim’s overflowing keynote.
Podcasters poked fun that the internet is “full of mean girls,” and posed the question “who wants to always have to be camera-ready?” But in the end, it was simply indisputable that video is king and nothing connects with people and grows brands like creative, targeted and entertaining visual content. In fact, some surprising new stats were shared:
- Every minute, 48 hours of video are being uploaded on YouTube
- 50 percent of video views happen on mobile devices
- 69 percent of total Internet traffic is video
If the Blogger Vs Podcaster debate was being duked out in a boxing ring, the bloggers would have won by a knock-out.
And sorry, Kim. Truth be told, I really didn’t learn anything about you that I didn’t already know. I guess that’s what happens when you share your life on social media.
Carline Jorgensen is general manager of Allison+Partners’ Los Angeles office and an expert brand strategist with more than two decades of consumer and corporate communications experience.
2016 posted by Kate Judge
Each month, Sports Sesh examines the association of sports and PR in current events, while highlighting the good, the bad and the ugly. This month: the Olympic Games.
The Good: LGBT Progress
The Olympic Games are packed with inspirational stories, gut-wrenching heartbreak and triumphant achievements. But this year, LGBT athletes are setting a record of their own. The Rio Olympics is championing LGBT pride, featuring a record-breaking number of LGBT athletes, which is a remarkable feat considering that Brazil is one of the most notorious nations when it comes to LGBT discrimination.
Before the games even began, model Lea T became the first openly transgender woman to participate in the Opening Ceremony. Just months before the games, WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne came out to Vogue magazine, and gold medalist Rafaela Silva shortly followed suit on Brazilian media day. In another historical milestone, Brazilian women’s rugby player Isadora Cerullo received an on-field proposal from her girlfriend Marjorie Enya following the finals, making it the first same-sex marriage proposal at an Olympic game.
While there is still a ways to go, the record number of openly gay, lesbian and bi athletes competing, and their ability to be open under the pressure of the Olympic stage, forces progress and an attitude of acceptance for games to come.
The Bad: Rule 40
When the International Olympic Committee amended the infamous Rule 40 leading into the 2016 Olympics in Rio, brands and athletes across the globe rejoiced at the opportunity to leverage marketing and sponsorship contracts to gain notoriety on the world’s biggest stage.
While the modification of the rule now allows non-official sponsors to compete with the big players in the advertising landscape – such as Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Panasonic, who dish out $200 million each for official Olympic sponsorship – heavy restrictions have left brands and athletes displaced from Olympic discussions. In fact, even though non-official sponsors can run advertisements during the Olympics this year, the ads must be completely generic and are prohibited from using Olympic terms (including the words “effort” and “performance”) or any kind of imagery that would portray an association to the Olympic Games.
Perhaps the harshest stipulation during the blackout period – the designated timeframe in which businesses and athletes must comply by these restrictions – is the prohibition of social media use. Though companies fork out millions to sponsor Olympic athletes, they cannot engage, encourage or congratulate them on social platforms during the games. Athletes are also unable to mention their supporting brands or use Olympic terminologies, further limiting their ability to reward sponsors and attract new ones.
The Ugly: Doping Scandals
Off the tails of the corrupt 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, where Russia was found responsible for state-sponsored doping, the continued rule-breaking leading into the 2016 Rio Olympics has caused immediate friction among athletes.
Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova was among the list of athletes who was allowed to compete in the Olympic Games after testing positive for doping. After beating Lilly King in the 100-meter breaststroke semifinals, her finger-wagging celebration sparked outrage among athletes.
Lilly King of the U.S. confronted the issue head-on, criticizing Efimova during the post-race interview and bringing the issue to the forefront of public discussion. The King vs. Efimova rivalry is one of many public showdowns this year, as frustrated athletes are brashly speaking out to protect the integrity of the Olympic Games and advocate for a fair level of play. In the past, athletes have remained silent on the matter as there has been a culture of quiet acceptance toward athletes who compete after doping offenses. This year, however, athletes are using the massive worldwide platform to instigate change in a corrupt system.
Kate Judge is an assistant account executive in Allison+Partners’ Phoenix office who has worked with brands in numerous industries, from sports, health, and wellness, to consumer electronics.
2016 posted by Laura Beshire
Last week, I attended the Sports PR Summit’s Social Media Workshop at Twitter Headquarters in San Francisco. Nearly 100 PR pros from across the sports industry gathered to hear how to plan and distribute digital content, engage fans online and monetize efforts in the sports digital environment.
A few clear trends emerged from the discussions:
The value of live content
As sports fans demand more authentic and exclusive content from their favorite teams and athletes, live video streaming is becoming more and more popular. Through platforms like Periscope, Meerkat and Facebook Live, fans now have the opportunity to see what’s going on with their favorite teams or players at any given moment. This platform also allows PR pros to give eager fans access to exclusive, behind-the-scenes content they wouldn’t normally be privy to. While live content presents challenges akin to that of live TV (you never know what’s really going to happen), it adds a layer of vulnerability and authenticity to the relationship between fans and their sports, strengthening the bond and increasing fanaticism.
Not all content is created equal
Storytelling through multimedia is essential for any successful social platform. But what makes the video of an NBA prospect being drafted a viral hit? While there are many possible answers to this question, the one that stood out most was the emotional connection. Moments like LeBron James finally bringing a championship home to Cleveland, or Peyton hoisting his latest, and final Lombardi trophy instantly imprint into our brains because we feel the emotion the athlete is experiencing. Of course these major moments may seem obvious, but the opportunity exists for us to source such moments for our clients as well. Did an athlete on his way to a ribbon-cutting stop to talk to a child about their basketball game? Were parents lurking in the background as they watched their child succeed? It’s these moments that fans wouldn’t normally have access to — the moments that pull on our heartstrings– that ultimately create the most valuable content.
Athletes are their own media entities
Perhaps the biggest way the public relations industry has evolved over the past decade is that now everyone has a voice through social media, and athletes are no different. Often, individual athletes have a higher social following than the teams they represent, giving them the opportunity to influence public opinion on their own. Brands can harness this power to engage fans, whether it be through a sponsored social media campaign, an online discussion with the athlete or allowing the athlete to take over their social channels for a day.
Laura Beshire is an account executive in Allison+Partners’ Phoenix office who specializes in consumer and sports marketing.
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