The New PR Secret You Need to Know About

Clothing designers and stores, make-up brands, accessories, food companies… What are their public relations secrets in today’s day and age of social media?

Instagram. Several big brand names are paying Instagram models and celebrities big bucks to sport their brand with a tag and shout-out.

These Instagram accounts have anywhere from 100,000 to 50 million followers. What better way to target your audience by having their fave celeb or Insta model endorsing their product? Insta-publicity and Insta-buys.


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But how much are companies REALLY paying to promote their brand?

There’s three different types of models… and they’re getting paid very different amounts:

  1. Essena O’Neill-type Instagram Models: These models usually have 100,000 to 500,000 followers. They’re typically normal people who have a prime selfie game and hot bodies, but usually that’s about it as far as social media goes. It takes hard work to get to this point in an Instagram career: grueling photo shoots with the perfect makeup, hair, outfit, clothing with the perfect caption, location and hashtags — all produced on their own time. So with all this hard work, how much do they get paid and what products are they promoting?Typically they’re getting paid $400-$2,000 to post photos with workout or cleansing products (i.e., Protein World or Teami) or photos of them wearing certain clothing brands.

    (Background Story: Essena O’Neill was the 18-year-old Instagram model who came out and said how fake and posed these paid posts are with a viral YouTube video. She went back and edited all her captions to display how much she got paid for each one and how many attempts it took to capture each photo. She recently deleted her account completely.)

  2. The Actual Models — Miranda Kerr, Karlie Kloss, Candice Swanepoel: These models are usually promoting brands they actually model for… but every so often, they’ll get paid about $25,000 to $50,000 to feature a brand or company on their social channel. The don’t get paid as much because they don’t need the money. Modeling for these brands in magazine ads and on billboards is actually their job. Why would they get caught up in mediocre modeling on Instagram?”
  3. The Social Media Queens (AKA Taylor Swift’s Clique)  — Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, Cara Delevingne: They are the REAL deal. They are real models yes… Just like Miranda, Kloss and Swanepol. But they know how to work their followers and take advantage of every post. They are the queens of social media hierarchy. They have millions of followers. A typical paycheck for a shout out on their social channels? $125,000 to $300,000, maybe more. The trick for these ladies is that the work is being done for them… and they get the big pay check. And in addition, they’re getting 9.6 times the average salary of a millennial woman so they can literally Instagram for a living.

*Fun fact: Kendall, Gigi and Cara can literally purchase each of the following things with ONE paid Instagram post:

  • 462 Pairs of Christian Louboutin Pumps
  • 400 iPhone 6S Pluses with 16 GB
  • 10,344 Kylie Lip Kits
  • 12 Houses in Detroit
  • 22,455 Uber Rides
  • 12 Semesters of Tuition at NYU
  • 127,659 In-N-Out Cheeseburgers

(Thanks Elle Magazine for the fun facts!)

So… what does this have to do with PR again? Well it is PR, essentially.

It’s more like advertising in the fact that you are paying for publicity, but its more like PR in the fact that you’re not actually hiring these models for a professional photoshoot. They’re doing all the work on their own and essentially acting as your brand ambassador.

The first key to success is which models to pitch your brand to. Successfully pitching the models is the second key to success.

The argument is still open, though. Is paying Instagram models really public relations? What’s your opinion?


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