PR gifts have always been an important part of any brand relationships. Historically these gifts have been given to celebrities and, more importantly, magazine editors. Thanks to the rise of influencer marketing, there has been a huge shift to PR gifts being sent to influential content creators across a multitude of platforms. Quickly becoming an integral part of influencer marketing.
Why are we now talking about something that has been present for years? PR gifting is more visible across social channels to the consumer than it ever has been within the magazine world. The Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) has released new guidelines ensuring content creators are more transparent about any PR gifting they have received. This article by the CMA should be a must-read for anyone working or thinking about working within the space.
I wanted to look at why PR gifts are still so important for e-commerce brands and how they work.
In recent weeks there has been a lot of social buzz around whether the term PR gift is the correct way of declaring a PR exchange. A PR gift is a product and or service given to a person in the hope they may share the experience with their audience/followers. There has been no payment exchanged and there is no contract to ensure the influencer talks/posts about the product and/or service.
PR gifting is often done blindly in the hope of gaining free promotion, but can this strategy ever be described as blind? Brands have become savvy at utilising their relationships with content creators and collaborators and when done correctly, this can be mutually beneficial. The updated CMA guidelines have helped shed light on a grey area of influencer marketing providing clarity for both creators and brands.
Who do PR gifts really benefit?
Although PR gifts do not guarantee exposure, the benefits to brands (especially e-commerce brands) can still be huge. Brands need to be confident that the influencer or content creator they have selected will enjoy or utilise the product or service enough to provide free publicity.
There is not a large cost involved with sending out PR gifts, this is a far cheaper option than paying for general advertising or promotion. By generating more ‘organic’ content and promotion (remember the content creator is under no agreement to share) the brand is likely to be exposed to the eyes of a large audience they may not otherwise reach, generating new customers and sales.
If the research is done correctly, PR gifting ensures e-commerce brands are being placed in front of a targeted audience, which is harder to achieve with traditional marketing.
• Increases awareness of products and services
• Valuable backlinks from influencers/bloggers
• Various SEO benefits (including improved search rankings from brand mentions and backlinks)
• Increased social presence on the brand’s behalf
The content creator
PR gifting is normally labelled as a perk of the job, but it does help content creators create better and therefore more exciting content. Influencers tend to only accept PR gifts from brands they already have a working relationship with, or brands they know fit with their personal style and messaging. Gifting in this capacity helps content creators keep up to date with current trends, test out products, travel to destinations they might never have had the luxury of visiting before and therefore expand their content offering.
Content creators aim to inspire their audience and PR gifting helps them to achieve this.
People follow influencers and content creators in order to feel inspired, to discover a new brand they hadn’t necessarily been introduced to otherwise and to escape to the latest must-visit travel destination. As mentioned above, PR gifts play a huge role in this, in the same way they used to when sent to magazine editors.
Even with all the publicity around gifting, PR gifting will continue to have a place within the industry and brands should really start to utilise this. E-commerce brands should ensure gifting is part of their wider PR strategy. When announcing a new product or launch, gifting will help to get you in front of new audiences and getting your message heard by the right audiences is key to success.