Influencers dive into public relations, advise students to do ‘due diligence’ when promoting products

From left: Nickelus F, Joey Zauzig and Kaitlynns Curnow "Influencer Movement." Photo by Enza Marcy

Sanjana Ravulapalli, Contributing Writer

Three social media influencers discussed working with public relations, the future of social media and advice for current mass communications students at a panel discussion for the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture’s Speaker Series on Tuesday. The discussion was moderated by VCU professor Hailey Spencer.

Kait Curnow is a Robertson School alumna and a beauty and fashion influencer.  Her content is mostly on Instagram, where she has more than 34,200 followers.

On responsibilities toward the audience:

“At the end of the day, if you’re just telling somebody to buy a product or an outfit or anything of the sort, that’s their money. There would be nothing more embarrassing to me than saying that, and having somebody buy it, and it’s horrible. I think just doing your due diligence to companies that you are working for. Always do a little bit of research and actually test out products before you’re just throwing them up on your page, and sharing your actual thoughts on it. I don’t like something, then I probably won’t post it on my page.”

Nickelus F is a Robertson School alumnus, musician and music influencer with more than 12,700 followers on Instagram. Nickelus also works as a copywriter at the King Agency in Richmond.

On being an influencer musician:

“I never really set out with the goal of being an influencer musician. So my goal was always to get as many people to know about my music as possible. Every follower is earned because in order for me to get followers, I gotta do shows. I have to put out music. With me, it’s always just been about this being my authentic self and hoping that people can rock with that. And over time, I amassed a decent following that other brands and other people took notice of and realized that there’s a lot of engagement under this post. It might be only like 1,000 likes but it’d be a couple hundred comments underneath it, so there was a lot of engagement there. I felt like that’s where people saw the value.”

Joey Zauzig is a Robertson School alumnus who formerly worked in public relations but is now a full-time luxury lifestyle influencer with more than 132,000 followers on Instagram.

On advice for public relation students:

“I came from a PR background, and I worked in traditional PR. And now I’m working with all these PR people on the back end, and you have to be fair to everyone. No one wants to be taken advantage of. It’s a business, it’s my full-time job. I see a lot of people don’t know the realm, and so that’s why I think it’s so great that there’s an influencer class here because it’s so important if you’re going into the field of PR. That’s what you’re going to be doing now.”

On the future of social media and influencers: 

Talking to people about educating about what we all do, it’s important because I think that as we go on, it’s going to get smaller and smaller in a good way. And I feel like people are going to start to really understand what it is, and brands are going to start to understand how to work with influencers better. And there’s going to be different platforms that pop up like TikTok and Instagram. And I mean, there’s going to be another one after that, I’m sure. It’s ever-changing.” 

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