Summer in the City

Last Friday was the creator’s day of the annual Summer in the City event, held for the YouTube community at the London ExCel. The event offers opportunities to network with creators, viewers and industry professionals whilst also having the chance to attend a range of talks and panels covering a number of topics surrounding the industry.

Attendees have access to sessions such as:

  • YouTube’s business of you
  • Management in online video
  • How influencers can better work with brands
  • What makes an online marketing campaign successful?
  • Are you next? YouTube’s nextup
  • SnapChat
  • All the latest from YouTube

A surprising audience mix

Many YouTube stars rise to fame overnight, through an activity that may not have previously been considered commercial. With this in mind, it was interesting to note that as the session got underway, the idea of vlogging as a profession became more apparent, and the demand for a strong business sense more crucial to success.

An interesting overarching takeaway from the day was the large percentage of attendees who were up-and-coming creators. This meant that the majority of the conversations being had during the panel discussions and presentations were directed at this audience. Attending with a PR perspective, it was interesting to hear these conversations surrounding these topics from a different standpoint.

The role of PR in influencer engagement

It was also interesting to hear what the wider industry considered the role of PR to be when working with influencers. PR was referred to as the middle man but a key role in ensuring that the quality control isn’t lost. This comment followed one of the panellists shedding light on the ways brands and influencers work direct together. The brand can throw money at the influencer which often results in both sides getting excited, especially if the influencer hasn’t worked with a brand before, which doesn’t always ensure the best results are achieved.

As guardians of the brand on a day in day out basis, it was suggested that PR professionals often have better insight than the brand itself when choosing influencers, creative platforms and messaging.

How can influencers and brands work better together?

The conversation was developed during the speaker session called ‘how influencers can better work with brands’, with Ricky Ray Bulter, Senior Vice President of Digital at Branded Entertainment Network. Ricky specialises in placing brands within the YouTube, Instagram, SnapChat, Vine and Twitch communities – and was one of the first to do so.

During the session Ricky commented that “this is the best kind of advertising on the earth” and he’s right. With influencer marketing it’s the viewer who chooses to opt in or out of particular channels based on their own personal interests, and as we know only brands who have a natural and seamless fit with a particular influencer should be approaching them for partnerships. Likewise, influencers generally have such a good understanding of what their viewers enjoy they will only work with brands or products they know their audiences will like, and will present it in a way they know they will react to.

Next step – impact

In theory, only brands who fit with the viewer’s personal preference should be put in front of them, unlike traditional advertising where consumers are exposed to the content whether they choose to view it or not. Furthermore many influencers already have or are starting to have bigger viewerships than prime time TV and they are fully in control of their content.

At the end of Ricky’s presentation one of the questions posed during the Q&A session was: ‘We are a brand, how do we go about searching for these kinds of influencers - is there a tool for that?’  If you are a brand asking these sorts of questions then there is an education process that needs to take place. As a good agency you need to be first off the mark... #RioReference

Alison Metcalfe

Hill & Knowlton Strategies Search