Influencer Marketing Vs PR

Could Influencer Marketing be on its last legs; Are we seeing a reversal of trends where brand custodians are reassessing the impact of influencer marketing and re-appreciating the importance of traditional PR as the more effective tool for building longer term brand presence and equity?

Influencer Marketing as we know, has been at the driver’s seat in most corporate and brand campaigns in the last few years as clients seek to tap into the power of social media using individuals perceived to have considerable powers to influence huge numbers of people using the social media.

Indeed traditional PR, which mostly focussed on building longer term relations between a corporate or brand with the community seems to have been relegated to a back seat as marketers seek quick and probably short-term results through riding on the “star power” of the influencer.

Influencer marketing is defined as a form of marketing in which focus is placed on influential people rather than the target market as a whole on social media. It identifies the individuals who have influence over potential customers, and orients marketing activities around these influencers.

The rise of the influencer has most certainly had a profound impact on how PR, at least traditional PR as we know it, has been executed in recent times. As more and more influencers are engaged to drive corporate and brand campaigns there’s always the questions of it’s long-term equity in sustaining positivity, credibility and loyalty in a brand.

Brand analysts have pointed out that influencer marketing has brought about unhealthy blurring of money and influence and as one commentator puts it, “it unfortunately rewards checkbooks over the merits of an idea”.

Others have argued that influencer marketing is a terrible way to spend money without any real strategy beyond paying influencers to promote a link and corporate organizations should take a step back and critically analyze whether influencer campaigns are generating them any tangible results.

The tide seems to be changing however and as one Communications expert argues, more and more brands are getting back to the fundamentals of relationship building, trust and transparency in communications.

He further advises, “Brands should look no further than their existing PR professionals who have in essence been doing influencer marketing before influencer marketing was cool and on a shoe-string budget”. The expert warns that influencer marketing is nothing more than paid placement and just like advertising, it’ll often runn the risk of credibility.

By Solomon Kyenze,
Account Director,
Strategic Communications