This blog was written for the PRCA MENA - read the article here.
It’s wake-up time for PR in the Middle East, and 2018 should be the year when agencies take more control over issues impacting their business.
Top of the agenda is the prickly question of social media influencers, whose growing presence continues to split opinions.
In the rush by PR to embrace new media in the digital age, agencies have often stood by – or been ignored – as clients gleefully ticked the influencer box, signing off big chunks of their marketing budget.
At times, the lack of due diligence used to justify the influencer spend has left us gasping.
When one event organiser happily handed over a six-figure sum to a young female influencer with an admittedly big Instagram following, the result was predictable.
Not consulted and given no opportunity to advise over the choice, or management, of the influencer, it was no surprise to us when the client was left lamenting woeful results and ROI.
But rather than wait for their clients to ask for influencer advice, agencies must take a lead role in identifying those with the ability to not only reach the desired audience, but affect their choice of brands and their buying decisions.
While the media landscape has changed dramatically in recent years, influencers are nothing new.
Bowie’s 1969 classic ‘Space Oddity’ had a fictional Major Tom reaching space to find that “the papers want to know whose shirts you wear.”
In reality, people become influencers, making headlines, grabbing attention, attracting followers and inspiring consumer spend by having something different or interesting to say, communicating effectively and standing out from the crowd.
With struggling Middle East economies undermining PR spend, agencies must increase their value to clients by taking the lead in identifying influencers who produce bottom line results, rather than managing those who don’t.
Time also for a new response to RFPs copied and pasted from previous years, delivering recommendations for strategies and PR tools that work today, avoiding those that don’t and having the honesty and commitment to explain why.