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OPINION: "Influencer" Course was just a PR stunt & Influencing as a job needs to be taken seriously

The announcement of a new “influencer” course was a PR stunt but influencing a job needs to be taken more seriously Writes Tara Maher.

The Marketing Department in SETU, Carlow need a pay rise.

News broke recently that South East Technological University (SETU) in Carlow will offer the world's first ‘influencing degree’ and will begin taking CAO applications next month. The course attracted backlash and heavy criticism from the public. People have taken to Facebook and X, formerly Twitter to criticise the course. News of the “first influencer course” travelled to the four corners of the globe. People Magazine, the BBC, The Washington Post were just some of the big name organisations who published articles about the new “influencer”course. Everyone was talking about it. Everyone was talking about a course in SETU in Carlow. And it's guaranteed that the course will draw in students from Ireland, the UK and America.

The course is officially titled Bachelor of Arts in Content Creation and Social Media and contains modules such as digital marketing, journalism, broadcasting and crisis management. Truth be told, it sounds very similar to my Masters in Journalism which I obtained from MTU and a lot of other courses around the country. The course is essentially a mixture of Marketing, PR, Journalism and Communications.

Molly Mae Hague is one of the worlds biggest Influencers

No degree will guarantee you followers and a brand deal. Consistency, relatability and more often than not, potluck also plays a role.

Dr Elenor O’Leary, a lecturer in media and communications at the university defended the course saying “It is kind of worth an estimate of between 14 and 16 billion worldwide and so it is an area that has a specific set of skills, “Lots of people end up working and collaborating with brands. They could be self-employed as an influencer, or they could go in with a company and organisation as a content creator. It draws on existing media, PR and marketing skills but it’s a new area in and of itself.”

SETU already has a number of degrees in the digital media field, so this is simply an expansion of that offering. The idea came about after there was phenomenal demand for an online influencer course run by lecturer Irene McCormick, at the former IT Carlow. “There was crazy interest,” she recalls.

Last year Census worldwide carried out a survey of 1,000 Irish adults, and their findings showed that a third of those surveyed would like to work as an influencer in addition to holding down their regular job – a further 13% said they would like it to be their main source of income.

The potential career path was most popular amongst Gen Z, with more than 75% of that cohort saying that they had ambitions of working as an influencer… and that demand has translated to the job market with many companies now looking to hire influencers and content creators to work with their brands.

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