Arik Hanson, contributor for Business 2 Community, recently indicated that PR professionals who are Boomers might not actually trust the influencer culture. If this theory does check out, it is definitely worth noting — especially if you are:

a) a Boomer (the broad term for people aged between 57 and 75) and
b) someone working in public relations who is overlooking influencer marketing.

Back in November 2020, Cision released a report after interviewing PR professionals on trends to watch. It found that:
  • 74% of PR professionals who responded are focusing their engagement efforts on mainstream media while only 26% said influencers.
  • 26% of PR professionals say mainstream media has the biggest impact on consumer behaviour, while just 6% said bloggers and 6% said micro-influencers.
In a previous media update article, a reader commented that “the PR industry is going through a Renaissance as the 'traditional' approach to media or media relations is in demand”.
So this leaves us with the question: Are Boomers right for pushing influencers aside and just focusing on traditional media tactics?

According to Insider Intelligence, print media took a big dip between 2013 and 2018 but it is still far more dominant than digital media. And yet, “South Africans share a poor global perception of the news providers with only 40% trusting the media,” according to Edelman’s Trust Barometer.

*Image sourced from Insider Intelligence

This is where the waters become murky. If 40% of South Africans lack the trust in mainstream media, why is it then that 65% of South Africans still make use of traditional media? And why do PR pros still focus more on mainstream media? Something’s not adding up, which is why we’re jumping down the influencer and Boomer rabbit hole.

Here’s why Boomers don’t trust influencers:

Boomers head up PR

Making a name for yourself in the PR industry is not something that happens overnight. These professionals have built their agencies from the ground up and know that it takes time, patience and perseverance to succeed. This could mean, in theory, that most big PR agencies are run and owned by Boomers.

These types of PR professionals are often more focused on traditional PR, which includes making use of mainstream media to get their clients noticed. This is opposed to enlisting the aid of influencers, who they don’t trust half as much as they do news corporations.

Not all influencers are authentic

Fear of change hounds the industry. When there is change, it is likely that people will notice the negative aspects first; this is because humans are hardwired for negativity. Therefore, it is no surprise that Boomer PR professionals picked up way ahead of time that influencers can be viewed as being inauthentic.

These practitioners also know that, once they get a press release published, regardless if it is in print or online, what you see is what you get. But with influencers, there have been clear indications of the pitfalls that can follow influencer marketing. This could steer Boomers away from looking at how these individuals can help their agency or their clients to get their name out there.

So, should Boomer PR pros be making use of influencers?

Well, that depends on your agency and client’s needs. If you are a Boomer and have concerns about influencers not having the desired effect or bringing the results you want to the table, then there is no need for you to make use of influencers.

Ideally, you need to look at what your client’s brand is looking to achieve. If your client would benefit from partnering with these individuals, then influencers would obviously be an avenue to consider. However, if you think traditional means would work best for your client, then obviously you could do without them.

In an article for PR Week, founder and director Renae Smith said that “social media campaigns and working with influencers [were] not effective for what [their] clients wanted to achieve”. This is why Smith decided to ditch social media and focus on traditional media.

The answer is solely dependent on your strategy and what works best for your agency. However, we do think it’s worth the research, as there are benefits to both.
Do you think Boomer PR professionals are on to something? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below.

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If you want to learn more about why ditching social media might be beneficial, then be sure to read Goodbye influencers — hello traditional PR!
*Image courtesy of Pexels