How to succeed with influencer marketing

About the author

Richard Bailey Hon FCIPR is editor of PR Academy's PR Place Insights. He teaches and assesses undergraduate, postgraduate and professional students.

The PR Place Guide to Influencer Marketing, published today, is free to download.

Influencer marketing sounds new – but influence is eternal

It’s widely assumed that influencer marketing is a new discipline. It must be, surely, since its main tools and channels have only emerged in recent decades.

Yet influence itself clearly has a much longer history and Robert Cialdini’s popular academic book Influence: The Power of Persuasion was first published in 1984 – predating the Web. Over a decade ago Philip Sheldrake, then working in public relations, attempted to rename this discipline The Business of Influence.

The principles behind influence do not rely on digital channels. We’ve long had ‘By royal appointment’ on products; we’ve had celebrity endorsement for as long as we’ve had celebrities and the means to make them famous.

And what’s media relations but a form of influencer relations? We don’t seek relationships with the media for their own sake so much as for the audiences they can reach and influence through the power of editorial endorsement.


So influencer marketing is conceptually not a big departure from public relations. The same relationship-building principles apply.

Yet in practice the new discipline called influencer marketing relies on new digital channels (YouTube and Instagram are venerable when compared to TikTok); it relies on fast changing trends and a wide cast of mostly young influencers reaching even younger audiences who are the least likely to be reached by traditional media channels. It’s practised by new teams and specialists using new tools and marketplaces.

Media regulation has struggled to keep pace with this new industry and there have been many abuses of the Advertising Standards Authority codes. Some of the worst abuses may have been overstated: was the celebrity hype the worst thing about the Fyre Festival? Or was it a criminal failure of logistics and planning?

But as this negative example shows, and as the new PR Place Guide to Influencer Marketing argues, brands use influencer marketing because it works.

Our guide, written by influencer marketing specialist Orlagh Shanks, covers categories of influencers; the benefits and drawbacks of using influencer marketing; the importance of codes of conduct and ethics; finding the right influencers for your campaign; briefing, contracting and paying influencers; and how to measure results.



Listen to our podcast with Orlagh Shanks and Richard Bailey

To complement the guide, listen to my 30-minute podcast with Orlagh Shanks, influencer marketing specialist and author of our new Guide to influencer marketing.



Podcast transcript

Guide to influencer marketing

You’ll learn:

  • Who are influencers?
  • Pros and cons of influencer marketing.
  • How to develop an influencer marketing strategy.
Guide to influencer marketing - thumbnail

We respect your privacy and handle your data with care. Please see our privacy policy.