Small Girls PR on Relationships over Transactions in Influencer Marketing

NOTE: This audio was recorded before social distancing regulations were implemented, and since the spread of COVID-19, your influencer marketing is probably looking a little different these days. We think you’ll still find Small Girl PR’s information valuable, and we look forward to seeing how you support your audience and your influencers and adjust your influencer marketing to stay safe during this crisis.

From micro influencers to celebrities, the question on every brand and agency’s mind is how to navigate paying your influencers. Check out this mini-episode of the Perlu podcast to learn more about why it isn’t an exact science, and how a strong relationship with an influencer can save you money.

Key Takeaways:

  • It’s important to work with a mix of influencers to get both consumer and media attention.
  • Micro influencers are great for creating buzz at scale for events.
  • The industry often becomes transactional, but it’s important to remember that in reality it’s relationship driven.
  • Paying your influencers is heavily dependent on negotiations and relationships rather than a standard formula.

Interview with Small Girls PR

Perlu: Hello, and welcome to the Perlu Podcast: Influencer Marketing Reimagined. Today we have the pleasure of hearing from Lauren Ludlow, the director of digital and influencer marketing at Small Girls PR. Small Girls works with Olay, and they’ve handled mergers for GE, landed Outdoor Voice’s first magazine covers, scaled brands like Hinge and Billie since launch, and they’ve even come up with campaigns that have become answers in the New York Times crossword puzzle.

I’m your host, Alexis Trammell. If you enjoy today’s episode, we hope you sign up for Perlu to to learn more about how you can grow your influencer marketing career.

Thank you so much for joining me today, Lauren.

Small Girls PR: Thank you so much for having me. It’s great to be here.

Perlu: Awesome. You currently have celebrity and mid-tier focus in your campaigns right now.

Small Girls PR: I do.

Perlu: You’ve mentioned that you sprinkle programs or fill a room at an event with micro influencer voices as well.

Small Girls PR

Could you tell us how you choose to work with these different sizes of influencers?

Small Girls PR: How we select different influencers is a bit of an art and science and depends on what campaign we have going on.

For example, with Olay, we’ll often get tasked with developing a larger campaign that often includes sending a mailer to influencers across the United States as well as hosting big events in New York. Sometimes I need events that have a spokesperson, and I need talent that really has some name recognition to them like a celebrity partner like Keke Palmer. Or it could be filling the room with micro influencers who are just eager to be able to say that they’re working with Olay either on an earned or paid level, sharing with their fans that they’re a part of this big cultural moment.

For myself as a marketer, I think it’s so important to make sure we’re casting a wide mix of influencers to get both consumer and media attention. As you know, every tier of influencer has such a specific purpose and goal. That’s something I’m constantly thinking through in the back of my mind: who am I trying to reach? What does the brand want to do? Are we trying to shift perception and create a larger brand narrative about a new product launch? Then I might need a celebrity to be the center of that story and tell their journey with it and get mass reach.

Other times I could pick mid tiers because I want long-term partnerships and somebody who can rally behind my brand not only when we have a big launch with an event, but they can create conversation in the off moments. It really depends.

Of course I look at engagement and reach, and I look at the relationship, but I find that every single time I do it, it’s a little bit different. There’s almost like a secret sauce that goes into every campaign.

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Perlu: Of course. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Where do micro influencers typically fit?

Whenever you want to fill a room with micro influencers, what is their job to you?

Small Girls PR: I love working with micro influencers because they’re great at creating buzz at scale. Typically our events are anywhere from 50 to 100 people in a room, and at one moment I need everyone posting about our brand. We’ll often work with different micro influencers who might have a lower reach, but they’re really close with their audience, and they’re also very likely to post about our brand in lieu of compensation.

Getting to say you’re at an event with Olay or a larger household name has a cool factor. There’s something about that that I think goes a long way, so it’s a mutually beneficial relationship.

With micro influencers, I’m also thinking about content creation. Is there some sort of creative way that I can utilize their channel, what they’re creating and then offer them a chance to take over our brand Instagrams? Finding other ways to expand their reach seems to have worked really well. Ultimately, it’s about creating relationships, knowing your brand’s goal and how to marry it with the creator.

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How do you suggest that people who are new to the influencer space find the right tool to find influencers and manage their campaigns?

Small Girls PR: Such a great question. My number one tip is to first start off by consuming content from influencers and becoming entrenched in their channel for a couple weeks so that you’re looking from the experts themselves.

If you’re new to influencer marketing, you really need to think like a consumer and look at who’s influencing the space, how they are creating content, and then start building a relationship with them. Anything like following their channel, commenting on their posts and seeing if they’re engaging back, or taking them out for coffee.

Our industry gets stuck in this extremely transactional space. A lot of people just think it’s pay for play, but in reality it’s relationship driven.

You need to understand how somebody is creating content and what they’re looking for so that you can bring the two forces together with your brand.
If somebody is a fit for a campaign and you’re starting to consider a larger campaign that’s going to work with a couple different influencers, you need the right tools in place to then understand their audience profile. I love what Perlu does, where you can actually tap into their audience profile and see who they are reaching from a demographic perspective, what does their audience look like and what’s the age range, so that you’re going beyond just a follower count.

Then of course you’re going to have those influencers that go beyond Instagram, so don’t just click on the Instagram function. Try to go beyond that. So many great influencers right now from Grace Atwood to Megan Batoon to Ingrid Nilsen have new emerging platforms like podcasts and Facebook groups and there are other ways for your brand to become part of those stories. Look at the new mediums that are capturing their fans’ attention.

Perlu: That is a lot of really good advice. I love when you say that it’s not transactional, and I feel like a lot of professionals need to recognize that because when you come from a paid media background you kind of just tend to look at influencers for their reach and treat them like Ad Words, right? But they’re not tools — they are humans. They need to be treated more like journalists who do create that content. I love where you’re coming from. Love your advice. Big question though,

Small Girls PR Group

How do you decide how much to pay an influencer?

Small Girls PR: I think that’s the question on every marketer’s mind right now. There are so many factors, and to your point, a lot of people that are coming into this space right now as marketers come from ad backgrounds, so it has created a bit of a challenge and can easily inflate our industry.

Some of the things that I take into consideration depend on, first and foremost, my brand’s expectations and the goals that they have. So that I’m setting up KPIs with my client and then figuring out how much I need to pay an influencer and how many influencers need to work with. I look at their reach and their engagement rate and the types of content. Obviously there’s a price difference between a 12-minute YouTube video and an Instagram Story, so it’s really important to think about the platform. Ultimately there’s no formula, as much as I wish there was, for paying somebody, and that’s what makes consistency so difficult in our industry.

I would suggest leaning on those relationships that you’ve built. I really appreciate having such strong connections with influencers over the past seven years because I’m able to take them out for coffee now.

And because I have such a strong pulse on the industry … we can have an open conversation and be very transparent and say, “Well what’s my budget and what are their rate cards looking for?”

I think it’s also helpful to look at what your brand represents for them. For Procter & Gamble brands — Head & Shoulders or Gillette Venus and CoverGirl — those brands can usually trigger a bit of a price tag in an influencer’s mind where they think, “oh, they must have such a huge budget, these are huge brands.” But ultimately that might not always be the case, so we really have to think honestly and talk about what the rates look like and how we can negotiate something that’s going to be mutually beneficial for both parties and not be a one-off partnership.

Small Girls PR Interviewee

Perlu: Absolutely. That’s one of the great things about the Perlu platform: whenever you post a collaboration, you can set your budget right off the bat and then nobody’s going to be necessarily offended by how much you’re putting on your campaign because if they don’t want to pay it, they don’t have to apply for that collaboration at all.

Well thank you so much for sharing all of this advice and these insights, Lauren. It’s been such a pleasure speaking with you.

Small Girls PR: Thank you so much. This has been such a pleasure and any time I can talk about influencer marketing, sign me up.

Perlu: Awesome. Thank you to everyone listening. We hope you really enjoyed hearing from Lauren Ludlow at Small Girls PR. If you like our show and are interested in what it takes to succeed in influencer marketing, check out our blog at for more podcasts and blog posts, and sign up for Perlu at to meet, mingle, connect, collaborate and grow your career. We hope you join us for the next installation of the Perlu influencer marketing podcast: Influencer Marketing Reimagined. is a community of brands and influencers collaborating for growth. The Perlu influencer marketing podcast takes this to the next level, helping brands achieve more with influencer marketing, and helping influencers understand how to effectively connect and engage with brands and other influencers.

We’ve interviewed the best of the best in the influencer marketing world to see how they create campaigns and experiences with a lasting impact, so you can do the same. Our influencer marketing podcast is here to help both brands and influencers grow. Happy Listening!

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