Driving home last night I heard a news segment on the radio about this astonishing influencer story. “What’s in Cyanora? Hydrogen cyanide! It’s good for you.” I paraphrase only slightly! Whhaaattt!?! Pleasingly, this was ‘just’ a stunt for a BBC Three show. Sadly, it reflects the current angst that exists around influencers and their seemingly never-ending desire to make money from their craft without adding utilising any common sense or moral compass. It’s frustrating, particularly for those of us who are in the influencer game – as I outlined here back in July.
Last month, I completed my CIPR Chartered assessment (go me..) which was focussed around three things – leadership, strategy and ethics. Yes. Ethics. It’s a core part of any PR practitioner (chartered of not!) that we uphold the ethical code in which we live – moral or legal. (More on CIPR ethics here)
Linking the two together, it strikes me about how brazen some of these influencers have become. And they seem to be missing that moral and ethical compass most readers, I hope, will claim they possess! One ‘star’ in this story claimed she was just a people pleaser, after saying she’d never actually drunk a particular type of weightloss coffee. OK, but she probably shouldn’t have taken the shilling from the company she had done a partnership with and which she said had helped helped her lose two stone! (Note – I drink a lot of coffee. I’m not slim… The two may be connected!)
This whole thing really reinforces the point I made before about ownership of the whole thing. As Comms/PR peeps, we have to get some skin in the game to protect ourselves, and our organisations, from some of the ethical issues we’re seeing. They’re avoidable.
But it’s also a big call out to the regulators here. Who’s watching, monitoring and dealing with these things? The guest on the radio show suggested that even if they were, the UK regulators don’t really understand enough about what they’re regulating, nor have the power to deal with it when it happens. So there’s no impact (reputation damage aside) when these influencers act in this way.
Time for us to step in and make sure that someone keeps the whole common sense thing alive!
Now, off to pop the kettle on. Anyone for a nice mug of cyanide…?