By Michelle Strydom

Millennials make up a significant portion of today’s market; they’re the target market that matters; the market that wants more than empty promises. “Millennials have moved away from blindly trusting brand advertising. So, anyone who wants to tap into this market needs to find alternative ways,” says Jeanine Cameron, managing director of Irvine Bartlett.

According to Ingrid Altmann, a partner at Freebees PR and Marketing, influencers bring a new dynamic to PR, as they can spread the word in an organic but quick fashion. There are many benefits to incorporating influencers into a PR strategy, with influencers being just like regular consumers, and offering trustworthy feedback. 

Relationship and trust building

Influencers tie into PR because of the strong connection a person or brand can establish with their audience. “The profession of Public Relations has always revolved around the building of relationships with various audience groups and for influencer communications to be effective and credible, it needs to be based on strong and sincere relationships,” says Ewoudt Cloete, head of digital at Epic MSLGroup.

Because PR’s are connecting directly to people, it’s necessary to build a good relationship with clients and consumers in order to become reputable. Using real people will thus help build onto these relationships. 

Another key element to connecting with the audience is by building trust. Doing so through influencers is easier, as they have already gained their audiences’ trust. “Influencers have built up trust with their audiences already. Because the followers already trust the opinion of the influencers, it makes a real conversation about a brand possible,” says Cameron.

Word of mouth is most trustworthy

Linked with trust is the idea of a personal recommendation. ‘Old fashioned word of mouth’, as Altmann says. 

“Influencers have become so important because consumers like to hear about recommendations of products/services,” says Altmann. “Good old word of mouth has been the slow, yet trusted, way to grow a brand. If my friend recommends a good restaurant, chances are I will try it out because of the recommendation. Now you have influencers on social media who can spread the news to thousands of their followers. Influencers are the megaphone or amplifiers of word of mouth.” 

Adding on to this, the amount of organic reach a brand can receive in the digital space is decreasing, believes Cloete. That’s why influencers, with their invaluable credibility, can speak as leaders; people who are responsible for brand growth in a digital space, and who know how to grow even more.

“Brands need to consider additional avenues for reaching potential clients and other stakeholders. Here, influencers can play an important role, acting as authoritative vehicles for brand content dissemination due to their naturally high degree of credibility,” says Cloete.

Targeting segmented markets

In many cases, advertising for a general audience becomes too broad and loses individuals with specific needs. A PR that can speak to a specific person is much more valuable than targeting the mass audience, as most brands already do.

Cameron concludes; “Influencers are a great way of targeting very specific audiences. Single dads, looking for the best chocolate cake recipe? On the World Wide Web, you will find the expert for just that. He is already talking to the right audience, so why not use him as the influencer? It’s finding the right influencer for the right product.” 

Do you think influencers play an integral role for PRs? Tell us about it in the comments below.