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  • Writer's pictureGenevieve


New guidelines have thrown the PR world into a frenzy. If it wasn’t bad enough that the lines between PR, Social Media, advertising are becoming so blurred, the whole process of genuine seeding is now coming into question. �

It’s all about protecting the consumer which I’m sure we all agree with. However, I do feel quite strongly that those who put these new ‘rules’ into place do not really understand the true process of brand and influencer relations. I think it’s also interesting to look at the ‘actual’ guidelines as published on the HMRC website and understand how perhaps we can work with them.

The conversations on social media platforms have been fascinating. Listening to some of the influencers with true integrity, who are now being made to add #AD to a post that is an honest review about a product they rate, you can see where the problems arise. If the PR had not ‘introduced’ them to this new product - yes by gifting it – they may not have come across it. They did not ask for this ‘gift’ and they are also not being paid to review it. The PR/influencer relationship is such that clients are paying for the PR to put these products in front of the influencer. If this now has to be accompanied by the word #AD – it makes a mockery of PR. The whole ethos of PR v Advertising is that PR is deemed an ‘editor/influencer’ recommendation rather than it being paid to be featured. As a consumer, also we are looking to these people for their views and expert advice.

I agree that the paying of influencers has been abused over the years, and particularly the ones that probably don’t even try products before promoting them – and just take the cash. But authentic seeding and trial are vital to brands who want to generate genuine and effective word of mouth.

To be clear, and Broken down the new guidelines as stated on the HMRC website are as follows:

Ok, so this has clearly been put into place for those celebrities or mega level influencers who are being gifted all the time because of who they are. It doesn’t mean they won’t have a genuine opinion on those products that they may want to share but realistically its helpful to the consumer to know – particularly when it’s a high price item. Within the beauty industry, the relevant influencers are not receiving products just because of their high public profile but more as they are seen as experts, and therefore they are seen to have a valid opinion and also influencer to the consumer to buy. The theory is that if they like it, rate it, find it effective, they will ‘talk about it’ and can generate huge word of mouth and ultimately sales. For this purpose, surely adding #presssample will make this clear. It is not advertising and no actual exchange of money has taken place.

Ok this is an interesting one as I had read on one influencer’s ‘post discussion’ that they would need to declare a past ‘relationship’ with a brand even if it was over 5 years ago. So actually, it is saying be realistic; f you have worked with a brand within a year it should be declared. I get this, as this is how influencers make their money. They are more likely to be supportive to a brand if they have been previously been paid for a sponsored post. But the consumer should be made aware. Not sure of a hashtag for this one #previouslysponsored?

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