I’ve been working in influencer marketing for around two years now, and writing about influencers for as long as I can remember.
However, something just clicked with me recently that made me ask the question, ‘Am I a marketer now?’.
My Twitter timeline is often filled with people who work in digital PR/SEO/link building and traditional PR. Most of the time I can’t really relate to their discussions or the memes they post and I scroll past wondering where my influencer marketing community is.
But then I realised that those I used to relate to in the PR field don’t exactly reflect the role and industry that I’m currently in, meaning I may have made the switch from PR to marketing.
But I have a degree in public relations…
I studied my Business with Public Relations degree for three years, and you can make that four if you include my placement year working in a PR team in London.
Was my time at university therefore a waste, along with all of those PR internships that I did during that time? I had thought I was destined for a career in public relations, becoming obsessed with the industry and everything around it.
Maybe I’m a fraud and my titles of being the UK’s Best PR Student Blogger should be taken away as I now have little to nothing to do with the public relations world.
Is influencer marketing a form of PR?
Back when I was on my placement year in 2017, my title was PR & Influencer Marketing Assistant, working both with journalists and influencers.
This was my first introduction to influencer marketing after carrying out a lot of PR/comms-style internships and I loved it. It was all so interesting and new and to be frank, I found the whole thing quite fascinating which is why I’ve been able to write about it for so long.
However, fast forward four years and I don’t think we would pair a role of PR and influencer marketing together anymore. Influencer marketing seems to sit more in the marketing department as we pay influencers to advertise our product or brand. However, in one of my previous roles we would often gift items to influencers in the hopes that they would show this off in their stories. So, isn’t that basically PR? Earned media/coverage?
Perhaps gone are the days of gifting influencers for the return of free coverage since they often complain that this won’t pay the bills (understandable) whereas journalists will happily feature your gifted product since they’re getting paid by their publisher to write articles and create content around new launches.
I will admit that I miss the PR side of my job and working with journalists. Seeing an advert on social media that you’ve paid for doesn’t really give the same buzz as seeing a full page spread in Elle Magazine dedicated to your client/brand.
But then I moved to finance
If you’ve been around for a long while and have read my whole life story on here then you’ll know that when deciding on university courses, I almost decided on a future in accounting/finance. Thank God I didn’t.
But then life does work in mysterious ways and I somehow found myself working in the World Trade Center in New York in the Financial District for a well-known financial services company.
But believe it or not, I was an Influencer Marketing Associate.
It was absolutely nothing to do with influencers on social media, more like building the brand and financial experts as influencers in the financial space. It was interesting and I did enjoy it, but I missed working with actual real-life influencers on Instagram and TikTok.
And so I’m back in influencer marketing
I missed knowing what was going on in the influencer world and being a part of campaigns that were happening on social media. I missed the buzz and fast-paced nature of the industry.
Now I work for one of the biggest influencer marketing agencies in the world and work on some incredible brands across every social media platform there is.
All of the work I do includes working with influencers to create content to increase brand awareness/drive clicks/increase followers etc. and so there are no public relations elements involved as such, making me feel like I’ve fully moved into the world of marketing and no longer public relations.
Is there really a difference between marketing and public relations?
For me, I would look at public relations as working with journalists and publications (both print and online) and creating coverage for a client/campaign. Working in PR for me was always about getting the weekly and monthly magazines into the office and scanning for coverage – something I used to love doing.
I was obsessed with magazines growing up and knowing that I was speaking to the journalists in my favourite magazines on a daily basis and then seeing our products appear in those publications used to give me such a buzz.
Now though I only deal with adverts and sponsored posts across social media, which doesn’t quite create the same buzz as a surprise product placement in Vogue would give.
Marketing for me is when money is involved. If money has been exchanged, then I would say the coverage belongs with the marketing team, not the PR team.
But then again I don’t have a degree in marketing and so the definition hasn’t been drilled into me like the definition of PR was – so don’t take my word for it!
Should I remove the PR from my name?
My username on Twitter has been @orlaghshanksPR for quite a long time. I would say I’m most known on Twitter/my blog because of my ties with the PR industry and since I’ve been writing a PR blog for the past five or so years.
So am I a fraud now that I don’t work in public relations or really have anything to do with the industry?
Should my username be @orlaghshanksIM instead? It doesn’t really have the same ring to it though, does it?
Maybe I’m just feeling a bit lost at the minute with my career and where I fit in. Am I still part of the public relations community? Or do I need to find a new community within influencer marketing?
The more I look to my past job roles, the more I tend to miss working in public relations with the publications, the events, the coverage and the products. But maybe I’ve been out of that industry for too long now that I’m destined to work with influencers for the rest of my career.
I say all of this like I’m not 24 and have been graduated from university for two years. Maybe it’s just me but it seems once you’ve made a choice in your career path, there’s no going back on it.
Who knows what the next 40 years of my career have in store? Social media influencers weren’t around 10 years ago, so who knows what’s to come in another 10 years’ time?
Maybe a return to traditional PR could be in store, maybe I might go into the music industry, maybe I’ll become a chef, or maybe I’ll get paid to read books every day – now there’s a career I could get on board with.