The value of opinion leaders

The following guest post is written by IMC 2015 Candidate Ashley Vandermaarl from her blog http://

“A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front page ad.” – Richard Branson

An important part of PR is identifying opinion leaders in your sphere of business. You see, people don’t form opinions in a vacuum. They look to certain people to help form their opinions. These people are referred to as opinion leaders.

The Limited Effect Model was developed in the 1940s and 50s, based on a study that looked at how people make decisions and form opinions. This study showed that the media’s influence on people is actually very limited, because people tend to watch and read things that they already agree with. Rather than having people’s opinions changed by media and advertising, the study found that a more important source of influence on them was the people in the networks of their lives. What developed was the two-step flow of information, which says that most people form their opinions based on opinion leaders, who form their opinions based on mass media, thereby creating a two-step form of communication.

What’s the bottom line? Opinion leaders matter. Only 10-12% of people are considered opinion leaders, and they have several characteristics in common. They are active in their community, they tend to have a college degree, and they read the news/ magazines. Mass media campaigns may not always be the best way to reach people- getting at them through opinion leaders is the smarter and more effective route.

Click on this link to learn more about identifying opinion leaders:

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