How to Be an Ethical Travel Influencer
by Insha Khan
Scrolling through Instagram, one brightly filtered picture after another, it’s common to come across someone traveling to a fun destination on a #sponsored trip. Influencers often take up travel industry companies on the exciting offer to jet off to another country for the price of posting strategic social media content. However, there may be a greater price attached: ethical responsibility.
In 2019, many influencers were criticized for partnering with @visitsaudi, the official website for Saudi Arabia’s tourism office, and @MDLbeast, a major Riyadh music festival. Just a year earlier, Saudi Arabia had been in the news for the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The country is also notorious for its oppression of women’s rights and LGTBQ rights. These strategic Instagram sponsorships would help rebuild the image of Saudi Arabia as a destination for tourism and entertainment while covering up its human rights violations and social inequities.
In spite of the country’s track record, many influencers and celebrities such as Armie Hammer, Halima Aden, Sofia Richie, Alessandra Ambrosio, and others attended the MDL Beast music festival and posted sponsored content from there. Actress and model Emily Ratajkowski declined the invitation, stating, “It’s very important to me to make clear my support for the rights of women, the LGBTQ community, freedom of expression and the right to a free press.”
So how can you be a more ethical influencer and avoid this controversy? Here are some tips:
1. Do a quick Google search before you sign that contract.
Often times, one search is all it takes to find out what the headlines are saying about this place or company. If you haven’t been to the country before, it would be worth it to find out if they’re known for kidnapping foreigners or even just overcharging tourists.
2. Consider your values as an influencer brand.
As part of your overall branding, you need to decide what your values and tenets are. Do you post frequently about women’s rights? Would supporting tourism to this country contradict your core values or the image you have built for yourself? It might be in your own best interest to say no to the paycheck this time.
3. Look at the psychographics of your audience.
In order to build content for your target audience, you need to know how they make their decisions. Why do they follow you and would this trip cause them to unfollow? If this trip is supposed to grow your business as an influencer, you should be sure that it’s not costing you a large chunk of your audience.
These tips should help you steer clear of ethical dilemmas in sponsored travel and allow your content to build your brand, not break it down.
Creating exceptional, professional content on a budget
by Sophia Soliman
The old adage, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” still holds true. However, the truly exceptional content creator understands that offering their audience valuable content is the key to credibility, higher engagement and a stronger brand image. While CSULB students, particularly those in the public relations program, are exceptional, it’s essential to stay ahead of the curve. Here are some of the best free online programs to save to your public relations digital toolbox. If you want to elevate your content creation to the next level, keep reading.
By now, Canva is a staple in the PR toolbox. However, if you’re new to Canva, it’s an online graphic design tool with ready-made templates optimized for social media, infographics, brochures, and more. Piktochart and Easel.ly are excellent tools for creating infographics as well.
If you’re familiar with Canva, consider trying Canva Design School. They have numerous educational series, but my favorite is the “graphic design basics.” This short and sweet mini-series covers the basics of good design, such as complimentary fonts, white space, coordinated colors and more.
Sharethrough Headline Analyzer
My least favorite part of content creation is writing headlines. However, the Sharethrough Headline Analyzer is a great tool for analyzing the effectiveness of your headline. For example, the headline for this post received a 73, or an above-average score. Their algorithm is effective, and they offer explanations on how to make your headline even better.
Open Calais Demo
Part of effective search engine optimization (SEO) is understanding what keywords best highlight your written content. This program is merely a demo of the site’s capabilities but is nonetheless sufficient to identify tags. Simply copy and paste your text and it will analyze your text and identify the best keywords to tag your content with. For instance, their system has identified “public relations program,” “Canva” and “social media mastery” as a few of the keywords of this post.
Grammarly and Hemingway App
Concise and effective writing is an essential skill in PR. That said, if your skills aren’t up to par, resources like Grammarly and Hemingway App can help. The Grammarly add-on for Google Chrome works on Google Drive, Gmail and most social media platforms. It helps catch spelling, punctuation and grammar errors. Hemingway App is great for understanding the readability and flow of your writing. It’s important to note that neither program is perfect, nor do they take AP style into account.
Did you know that as a CSULB student, Adobe Creative Suite is available for $20 a year? While this isn’t a free program, like the others on this list, I would be remiss if I neglected to mention a deal this good. Take advantage of this incredible price, and in particular, Adobe Spark. It’s similar to Canva, but Adobe Spark offers website and short video templates. The website templates, in particular, are a unique offering I have yet to see on any other site.
In sum, there are a lot of free resources available for the aspiring PR practitioner. These are just a few of them, so it’s worth doing a bit more research to bolster your digital toolbox even more.
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