Is there anything more satisfying as an influencer than being hired for a paid campaign? Getting that contract. Seeing that SOW with the rate and payment terms attached. Man, that’s the good stuff.
What happens, though, when you accept a campaign and later you learn that the company you’ve agreed to promote has beliefs that don’t align with yours? How do you move forward and stay true to your work and your audience? If you back out, does that mean you’re not honoring your commitment?
As influencers become more aware and learn how to be activists for issues that are important to them, this question will come up more often. How do you back out of a campaign that no longer aligns?
Nadia Policard is the founder of The Network Niche Influencer Agency where she assists brands and agencies with executing blogger outreach campaigns for brands like McDonald’s, HoneyBaked Ham, Lexus, HBO, The Home Depot, and more. She says, “As soon as an influencer begins to have concerns that a campaign or project they are working on does not align with their core values, they should reach out to their point of contact and be fully transparent with their concerns.”
Give brands the benefit of the doubt
Consider that you might need to give brands the benefit of the doubt. Nadia goes on to say, “It’s possible the client/brand is not even aware of the issue. See if there is an opportunity to pivot or adjust, and make things right. A brand committed to really leveraging influencers through authentic story telling will want an influencer’s honest feedback and input.”
Tiffany Romero, president of influencer management at Sway Group says, “Influencers should back out of a campaign that no longer aligns with their values. Clients want authentic stories!”
She advises, “I would recommend asking questions and doing some research upfront, so you go into the relationship feeling excited and confident. I also know things change during campaigns that can’t be foreseen. Depending on the circumstances, ask yourself if there are any changes that could be made that would allow you to move forward comfortably. If the answer is no, or those requests can’t be met, you should drop out.”
Make sure you communicate
Whatever you do, make sure you communicate. Tiffany says, “Clear communication and working with the network/agency/brand to end your participation is always best- don’t just ghost us! Ultimately, your integrity and your community’s trust is not worth jeopardizing for a sponsored post.”
Nadia agrees. If your client / brand isn’t open to making adjustments or you decide the opportunity really just isn’t a good fit, she suggests letting the client know right away. “Don’t be afraid to take a stand for what’s right,” Nadia says. “If something does not align with you, your brand, your core values, it’s not meant for you. Don’t be afraid to move on and make room to align yourself with something else that is the right fit.”
Stefania Pomponi is the founder of the influencer marketing agency CLEVER. When asked about influencers backing out of campaigns that no longer align, she assured me that her agency doesn’t hold it against influencers.
They understand we’re in a season of change in our country. She says simply, “It’s fine and we’d rather know sooner than later.” She goes on to say, “At CLEVER, our goal is to match brands with influencers who are not only fans of the brand (or have the potential to be based on their interests), but who also align with a brand’s mission and values.
If for any reason an influencer decides she cannot fulfill her contractual obligation, we want to know as soon as possible. It’s professional courtesy. We want our influencers to feel proud of their work and we respect their integrity. It’s usually no problem for us to find a replacement if necessary, but more importantly, it gives us an opportunity to speak directly to the brand about what the influencer’s issues might be—and we do.
If any influencer has a concern, it’s our job to communicate them to the brand. That builds trust all around, and that transparency makes our future programs stronger and better for everyone.”
Ultimately, you have to be proud of your work. You have to stick by your morals and follow your heart. A paycheck is never worth selling your soul.