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Knowledgeable brand influence

Public relations in the hands of consumers

Few are the sectors as dynamic and ever-changing as the public relations one. Most fields may be cookie-cutter, with experience in them compounding on a timely basis, yet with PR, if an agency is not on top of its game or aware of the changing trends, it will be doomed to irrelevance. In today’s landscape, the power of information is no longer in the hands of corporations, and the narrative is no longer being defined behind closed doors. Vox populi, the voice of the people, is what is resonating, bringing forth a generation of vocal, opinionated, and influential people.

No longer are traditional PR strategies causing the impact they once did, and as C&B’s director of client services mentioned in her recent blog entry, inbound PR will be the game-changer of not only PR in Dubai, but of PR in the UAE and beyond.

One of the elements of inbound PR is the utilisation of influencers and key opinion leaders (KOL), and at C&B, we have fully embraced this new approach by being the first PR agency to assign its own influencer/KOL division, See & Be. Through this entry, I will set out to highlight the distinct difference between influencers and KOLs and when each should be utilised in public relations campaigns.

Though both are individuals with influence over an audience, there is an integral difference between influencers and KOLs. Where the former may have a strong online presence on their desired platform(s), basing their impact upon their persona, the latter need not be present online and are rather regarded as experts in their fields.


An influencer is one who builds an online following based on their portrayed personas. They need not be experts in any field as their main intention is to establish an audience base that relates to them or likes them.  In Dubai, there is an abundance of influencers and building strategic PR campaigns within agencies to reach an intended target demographic requires the use of specific individuals. Influencers are also defined by their demographic. If a PR agency in Dubai is looking to launch a fashion-centred campaign, it will have to assign the assistance of an influencer who targets the brands’ respective demographic.

Key Opinion Leaders:

Unlike influencers, this group is comprised of experts in their respective fields, regardless of their online presence or lack thereof. These are individuals who have mastered their crafts and have built a following based on a robust knowledge base. PR agencies can tap into these experts when a campaign requires authentic, expert opinions or when the aim is to educate and not simply promote.  It is interesting to note as well that while influencers follow KOLs for inspiration and ideation, the inverse is not true.

In my next entry, I will break down the relevance of each for PR agencies, and when each should be utilised.


Ahmad Itani is Founder & CEO at Cicero & Bernay Public Relations, an independent PR agency headquartered in Dubai offering new-age public relations consultancy to the UAE and across the MENA region. |