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Prim Pointers: Differentiating Influencers and Creators

As PR professionals, we’re always trying to cultivate and develop our relationships with influencers. We’re (hopefully) all to the point at which we understand the value of a reliable influencer and appreciate what they can accomplish for a brand. But what happens when some of these influencers become more than a quantifiable number of impressions and engagement? Lately, we’re seeing many influencers branch off into a realm of content creation. At Prim, we’re finding that some influencers can now be utilized for so much more than pretty pictures. The word “creator” has entered the PR vocabulary, and we’re rapidly learning how these individuals can benefit our clients and agencies.

Confused? We were too. Let’s start from the beginning.

When public relations and marketing agencies began paying attention to influencers, the digital landscape was a very different place. First, the term “influencer” wasn’t being used in the marketing sense. We were working with bloggers and celebrities to share news and information about products and services. Second, we would have never thought to pay a blogger to communicate a message. Celebrity spokespersons may have received an appearance or endorsement payment, but this was typically only working for national brands with big budgets. Bloggers were strictly paid in trade and services.

Fast forward ten years, and many of these bloggers began to realize that their “side hustle” blog could actually turn into a lucrative career. Some blogs and social media accounts were receiving more views than major publications. This is when we began seeing bloggers pop up all over the place – mommy bloggers, food bloggers, design bloggers, beauty bloggers, fashion bloggers, the list goes on and on. With the need to identify this group of influential people, the term “influencer” was born.

Influencer marketing has taken the marketing industry by storm, and for good reason. It delivers 11x higher ROI than traditional forms of digital marketing and according to Social Media Today, 94% of marketers who’ve used influencer marketing believe the tactic to be effective.

Unfortunately, the influx of these influencers is beginning to muddy the marketing waters for PR professionals. It’s becoming more and more difficult to determine which influencers will truly benefit a brand and show a return on investment.

“I’ve been told by brands that they rarely approach influencers with over 15,000 followers for paid ads because so many people are buying followers,” explained Kayla Jones of 1000 Things to Do in Denver. “Brands are inclined to assume their engagement is fake. They have been burned too many times.”

The influx of influencers and surge of brands interested in working with influencers has resulted in the introduction of an entirely new group, “the creator.”

“A creator can be an influencer, but they can elevate their influence through the way they share their story,” explained Bre Patterson of Basta Media and the Bites with Bre blog. “They work with brands differently than an influencer and usually for a longer term. They offer their tool set of creativity whether it be hand lettering, videography, graphic design or even branding a full marketing campaign.”

Small and big business alike aren’t working with creative agencies the way they used to. They’re utilizing the services of these creators to build their brand strategies, artwork, photography, videos and even calligraphy.

“PR agencies and small businesses can look at partnerships with creators as working with 3+ roles combined into one, such as freelance copywriter, digital creative developer and photographer,” explained Patterson. “They are giving you everything from the caption to the creative work.”

While money is always preferred when requesting work from a creator, there are situations in which a trade package works for both parties.

“I once made an introduction to a brand and a creator and encouraged the brand, who had a small budget, to offer a trade package to this person that would make up for the lack of pay,” said Jones. “In this case, the creator agreed to the package because he needed experience in this type of service category and knew the experience would help him to secure paid opportunities in the future.”

To put it simply, content creators are artists. At Prim, we like to think of them as a one-person creative agency with special niches in photography, videography, graphic design and a variety of other creative services. They’re creating compelling content that can subsequently be shared to make them influential in the social media community.

As the need for content continues to grow, we love the idea of using creators to fill that void. These individuals can help a brand or client bring a campaign to life with a collection of assets. We’ve included a list of some of our favorite Denver-based creators below.

Adam Vicarel

Bre Patterson: Bites with Bre and Basta Media

Kayla Jones: 1000 Things to do in Denver and 1000 Things to Do Creative

Wade Holland: Wade Holland Media