Opinion

Working With Covid Rule Breaking Influencers

Influencers can be problematic at the best of times, but the pandemic has really unearthed a lot of issues. Handfuls of high-profile individuals including Fearne McCann, Zara Holland and Molly-Mae Hague have recently been slammed publicity for breaking lockdown rules, which includes flouting isolation, wearing masks incorrectly and travelling to and from restricted countries.

This has caused a lot of understandable anger towards these celebrities as not only are many frustrated by the lack of respect for the rules that we are all following, but also many influencers are revealing just out of touch they are with the most of us. This in turn means their actual influence over followers is probably very little right now. So, does this impact future PR and influencer relations? Absolutely.

Why We Shouldn’t Be Working With Rule Breaking Influencers

Personal opinions aside, professionally speaking from an influencer marketing point of view, working with influencers who have clearly flouted the Covid-19 restrictions for future brand partnerships is a big no-go for me, for several reasons.

Lack Of Follower Trust

One of the biggest reasons why any good influencer marketer will stay clear of rule breaking influencers, is because they’d have lost a great deal of trust (and probably followers) in the wake of their rule breaking. Many of us are feeling the fatigue of a third lockdown, and our tolerance is much lower. Seeing celebrities break the rules is insulting and frustrating. Even the most loyal followers are likely to be at least a little sceptical of content moving forward. The influence of these influencers is probably at an all time low.

Damage To Your Own Brand Ethics

When your brand partners with an influencer, you’re normally either gifting them or paying them for promoted content. Working with individuals who have been outed for breaking rules, will likely result in the wrong kind of attention for your brand; you don’t want to be seen as funding future trips and activities that will further bend the rules. You don’t even want to be seen as endorsing them for their actions. As Nina Sawetz quite rightly put it, don’t let your brand be seen as supporting someone so unsupportive of keeping others safe.

You’re Better Off Selling Shoes To A Snake

As mentioned above, seeing influencers head to tropical beaches and enjoy cocktails by the pool whilst the rest of us are working from home or on the front line, slugging it from day to day, is not only insulting, but it really goes to show how out of touch these influencers are from real life. The attraction of influencers is that they’re relatable, which is why one might be inclined to buy what they promote, the realisation of the stark difference between “us and them” over the last few months when it comes to the rules is crushing and is certainly enough to put you off being influenced. Promoting your brand with the rule breaking influencers of Instagram will be about as effective as a chocolate teapot.

If you’re in consumer PR, there’s no real good reason to work with rule breaking influencers – they risk doing more harm to your brand than good and their influence is probably very low anyway. You’re much better partnering up with those who’ve earned the respect of their followers over the past year, and who can promote your brand in an honest and appropriate way.

If you have any opinions, I’d love to hear them. Let me know in a comment below or on Twitter.

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