Six Steps for Safeguarding Brands & Clients in Influencer Collaborations

Influencer marketing has become a pervasive element of a successful comms strategy, with marcomms professionals playing a crucial role in ensuring mutually beneficial collaborations for all stakeholders. Priscila Martinez, founder and CEO of The Brand Agency, shares six key steps for publicists to protect their clients in influencer contracts. From thorough research to clear communication, these proactive measures serve as a strategic playbook to secure brand integrity and deliver successful influencer partnerships. 

Since the beginning of time, publicists have been asked to wear many hats. Our profession isn’t easy: it's fast-paced and constantly evolving. In today's digital-first world, where social media influencers play a crucial role in the promotion of our clients, publicists must navigate the complex landscape of brand deals with precision and best practices. Protecting your client in the lead-up to these engagements is crucial. Doing this involves several important steps that will guarantee a homerun for all involved. Good results equal happy clients, and at the end of the day, that is all a publicist can ask for. 

Step 1: Internet Sleuthing

Even before the engagement begins, publicists have a very important job: they need to become internet detectives. You never want to be in a position where you grant talent a contract and the new attention to their profile digs up old posts that don’t align with your client’s values. Begin with a comprehensive background check on potential influencers. You should review their past content and any history of controversies. Be on the lookout for consistency in values and messaging that aligns with your client’s identity.

Step 2: Clear & Managed Expectations 

Establishing a clear set of guidelines and expectations from the outset is crucial. This includes content deliverables, messaging focus, and any off-limits topics or behaviors. Your contract should be as granular as possible; don’t shy away from including things that seem like they are so logical that they can be left unsaid. The more detailed the contract, the more you will avoid misunderstandings later on.

Step 3: Over Communicating Messaging

An essential part of success is overcommunicating messaging to influencers. Despite diligent seeding of guidelines by publicists, influencers are often busy and working from their phones. Formal messaging documents and decks can be breezed through or overlooked altogether.  A tried and true tactic is requesting that influencers sign a document that details campaign messaging and brand guidelines. This same document should also include correct hashtags, handles, and brand dos and don'ts. To note, handles and hashtags should also be included in the contract, but reiterating them here is always helpful. 

Step 4: Include Pre-Posting Approvals in the Contract 

Including a contract clause for pre-approval of content before it goes live is crucial. This step prevents potential misalignments from becoming public, safeguarding the brand from wasting a contracted post that they paid good money for. 

Step 5: Ongoing Monitoring 

Once the partnership is kicked-off, continuous monitoring of the contracted influencer’s content and community interaction is essential. Publicists should be prepared to answer last minute questions and offer support and best practices. This will ensure the partnership’s content remains on-brand and meets the agreed-upon contract points. 

Step 6: Don’t Be Afraid of Data

Utilize data analytics to monitor the performance of influencer partnerships. If the reported data doesn’t match your research and expectations (for example, engagement rates are much lower), get ahead of it by having candid conversations with the influencer and/or their management. You’ll be surprised at how willing most of them will be to provide creative solutions for bumping results. Ultimately, their success lies in the campaign being a homerun for everyone involved. More often than not they will agree to make goods or additional deliverables to hit KPI goals.

A publicist is the bridge between brands and influencers. Without their network and know-how, clients would be left vulnerable. Your role as a publicist is crucial in ensuring clients experience ROI. By taking proactive steps with monitoring, vetting, and setting clear expectations, publicists can effectively create value in the influencer landscape.

Beauty Comms Power Players

Meet the minds behind the scenes: the beauty comms pros who orchestrate and shape the narratives of your favorite brands. Keep an eye on these power players, with their unique backgrounds and reputation for strategic excellence, as they continue to build leading brands across skincare, make-up, fragrance and more. 

Christine Pierson | Vice President of Communications and Special Events, North and South America, CAUDALIE

With over a decade of expertise in the cosmetics industry, Christine Pierson commands her role as the North and South America Vice President of Communications and Special Events for Caudalie, renowned for their highly effective, clean and sustainable skincare powered by the grape. Having dedicated the past seven years to Caudalie, Christine's influence permeates the brand's trajectory. Her forte lies in the art of elevating the brand's presence in North and South America through immersive VIP events, all meticulously curated with a blend of hospitality and compelling brand storytelling. From traditional communications to influencer strategy, and events, Christine is shaping the narrative and legacy of Caudalie with unparalleled expertise.

Charlotte Watson | Chief Marketing Officer, OLAPLEX

Charlotte Watson is the Chief Marketing Officer at OLAPLEX, steering the ship across marketing, social media and communications in 100+ markets worldwide. In her time with the brand, she's not only assembled an impressive team but also navigated through various product launches and brand campaigns. Notably, Charlotte orchestrated the brand’s latest splash in the social media realm: OLADUPÉ 160, the ultimate dupe that took TikTok by storm. Little did the intrigued TikTokers know, OLADUPÉ was OLAPLEX's very own brainchild, turning the tables on the dupe game. Charlotte also led the charge in the recent launch of the OLAPLEX LASHBOND Building Serum, marking the brand's first foray outside the hair care arena. Charlotte’s approach is the culmination of experiences in top roles including CMO for Hourglass Cosmetics, as well as pivotal comms roles at brands like Pandora, Michael Kors, Kurt Geiger, Links of London and Louis Vuitton. 

Alison Zimmermann | Head of Marketing & Communications, BYREDO Americas

Alison Zimmermann is the mastermind behind the marcomms game at BYREDO Americas. From their original Williamsburg outpost to their umpteenth opening, Alison's been at the forefront, guiding BYREDO's retail expansion. In addition to growing the brand’s physical footprint, Alison helped get Byredo’s first skincare innovation on the map, handling US press for the brand’s collaboration with Susan Kaufman. Beyond strategy, she is well known for her leadership approach and team attitude. You’ll find her unpacking and merchandising during store openings, and also acting as a driving force behind initiatives like 'The Fragrance Foundation Scent of Success,' bringing DEI advocacy to the forefront of the beauty industry. Prior to Byredo, Alison held roles at Puig, Coty, Sotheby's and the Estée Lauder Companies.

Colleen Leahy | Executive Director, Corporate and Integrated Communications, Travel Retail Worldwide, The Estée Lauder Companies Inc.

In her role, Colleen Leahy strategically shapes the narrative of The Estée Lauder Companies Inc.’s Travel Retail business globally. Numbers don’t lie: Colleen is responsible for leading brand communications for 15 Estée Lauder Companies brands within Travel Retail, overseeing press relations, influencer campaigns, content management, event design and execution, and issues management. She has also successfully implemented an earned media strategy for the Travel Retail division, scaling best practices across regions and brands, and building a network of over 1000 key Travel Beauty voices globally while executing an average of 75+ campaigns annually. Finally, she has built and leads a team of 12 Communications professionals across Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas

Zena Srivatsa Arnold | Chief Marketing Officer, Sephora US

Zena Srivatsa Arnold was recently tapped by Sephora US to serve as the company’s new Chief Marketing Officer. According to the company's announcement, Zena is recognized for her disruptive approach and extensive experience in building and growing brands, along with driving digital initiatives. This tracks with Zena’s impressive career experience: prior to this appointment, she held the position of senior vice president, carbonated soft drinks at PepsiCo. Her notable resume also includes senior-level marketing and management roles at Kimberly-Clark, Google, Kellogg Company and Procter & Gamble. 

Jessica Stacey | Senior Vice President, External Communications, Event + Experiential Marketing, Sephora 

With an impressive 18 years at the company, there’s no one better suited to head up external comms, events and experiential than Jessica Stacey. She and her team are behind some of the company’s most buzzworthy activations, including the annual ‘SEPHORiA: House of Beauty’ consumer event. An award-winning marketer, Jessica’s career experience includes posts as AVP at Behrman Communications, as well as roles at Clarins USA and Aurelia PR in the UK.

Christina Peng | Chief Marketing Officer, COOLA

Christina Peng has held the CMO post at COOLA since 2018. In her role, she's not just leading brand strategy, product innovation, and marketing and creative efforts – she's redefining the game with a distinctive approach that sets her apart. Christina is on a mission to bridge the gap between SPF and skincare, bringing a fresh perspective to the category. With her extensive experience in senior marketing roles for Neutrogena's Suncare business, including the brand’s Face and Suncare categories in North America, Christina is uniquely positioned to pioneer innovation in the sunscreen world.

Annie Kolemainen | Brand President, Eva NYC

As brand president of Eva NYC, Annie Kolemainen not only shapes the narrative of this well-loved hair care company, but is also working to make the beauty industry more sustainable. Beyond talking the talk, the brand’s initiatives include Eva NYC’s PCR packaging, measuring emissions in production and employee transportation, being vegan and cruelty-free, as well as non-GMO certified.​

Laney Crowell | Founder, Saie Beauty 

After spending years in the beauty industry, working for big brands and starting her own clean beauty blog called The Moment, Laney Crowell saw a big gap in the market – clean and cool makeup. Enter: Saie Beauty, Laney’s effort aiming to make clean makeup accessible to everyone. The brand is committed to real sustainability, refusing to use over 2,000 ingredients in their products, and focusing on safe, potent ingredients. The brand also integrates eco-friendly packaging and shipping tech. Saie Beauty empowers the consumer to do their part; their partnership with Pact Collective makes recycling Saie empties easy.

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