Advancements in the Internet age and the growing popularity of social media have introduced a new tool being utilized by marketers— the influencer. But, where do influencer partnerships rank in relation to the traditional celebrity endorsement? S+L PR’s Liza Turkheimer explains.

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PR Matchup: Celebrity vs. Influencer

After working in the world of entertainment PR, sadly I have to admit I no longer enjoy reading the Us Magazines and People Magazines of the world – because I know their secrets.

When reading the “weeklies” as a teenager, I used to flip the pages with oohs and ahhs at the products and different brands that some of my favorite celebrities would use and/or wear. Now, after having worked with celebrities on various promotional opportunities and placing those paid endorsements in different media outlets, my favorite magazines and TV programs have lost their luster. But, I’m just one person (out of a couple thousand other publicists) who knows this little secret compared to the billions of unassuming people out there.

Celebrity Endorsement 101

Let’s talk about celebrity branding/endorsements that affect the mind of those unsuspecting individuals. Just to ensure we are all on the same page with what we’re covering, celebrity branding or celebrity endorsement is a form of advertising or marketing/PR strategy used by brands or companies, which involves celebrities or a well-known person leveraging their high profile status to promote a product.

Why is this approach such a commonly used marketing/PR tool you may ask? Well, marketers use celebrity endorsers in hopes that the celebrity’s reputation will be associated with the products or the brand they’re being paid to endorse. In today’s PR world there are various types of ways to utilize a celebrity to promote a product; a staged paparazzi shot with the product (later to be placed into various print and online media outlets), plugging this product during an interview, and even posting a photo of the product to his/her social media channels, among others.

The Influencer Is The New Sheriff In Town

You will notice there is a new kid on the playground being utilized by brands, the INFLUENCER. The traditional celebrities are still here promoting products and brands, but the social influencer is also stirring things up with their popularity and high social following. Influencers are quickly surpassing some celebrities with regards to their following and the impact they have on their fans. How is this possible? Influencers have maintained a level of trust with their audience. They are seen as everyday people providing trusted opinions to fans for their knowledge on a product, rather than a celebrity who is looked at for their success in the entertainment world.

So, What’s A Brand To Do?

If your next question is, “Do I choose an influencer or a celebrity for an endorsement and which is more successful?” My response is, everything is situational. There are two very important questions you should ask yourself: What kind of brand are you? And, What are you trying to accomplish: sales or brand/product awareness?

My take on it is simple- For awareness go with the celebrity. Celebrities are everywhere; they are constantly photographed and always referred to as the original tastemakers. For sales, I would suggest influencers; as they are the ones people trust for their expertise on products.

- Written by Liza Turkheimer

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