The Power of Influence to Influence Power

By Sheila Roche, Partner and Co-founder, WRTHY

Influencer marketing is not a new idea – and I don’t just mean it’s been around for years. It’s actually been around for thousands of years.

Creator management platform GRIN cites the ‘earliest evidence of influencer marketing as a strategy that dates back to 105 BCE with Roman gladiators as the first iteration of ‘the influencer.’

But I think we can all agree that the age of social media has added rocket fuel to the influencer model. And a generous influencer’s amplification can be invaluable to nonprofits who don’t have big marketing budgets to compete with the firehose of noise that we all experience daily.

In my years managing talent, there were a few simple principles that I learned that have been valuable to my work in the social impact space. And it becomes even more critical in the social impact space where we’re asking influencers, creators and celebrities to give their time for free.


If time were saleable it would be the most priceless commodity. There is no way to manufacture more. It’s absolutely finite. So, when you’re asking a celebrity to give you their time, talent and megaphone, respect their time.

Make their action matter. Deliver impact for them and their fans’ engagement in your call to action. They signed on to help because they cared about your issue; Make their involvement count. The obvious ways to do this are to give them smart scripts and ideas that they feel immediately comfortable with. And it has to be said – Don’t make them schlep to a location that’s not convenient for them. If possible go to them, start and end the shoot on time.


Any actor, musician or artist with a quality career has been careful about what they sign on to.  And they’ve put in enormous work honing their craft.  So they’re not going to throw any of it away on a badly conceived, badly presented idea…even if it is for a good cause.

Act as if you are a production that you’re asking them to star in. Make sure the quality is beautiful. This doesn’t have to mean huge budgets, but it does require care and attention to detail from great scripts to smart creative to thoughtful production. So make them proud that they jumped on board.


When the ONE campaign approached us at the beginning of the COVID pandemic about amplifying the voices of global health experts to communicate the need for rich countries to share vaccines with poorer countries, we scratched our heads for a moment. Most global health experts don’t have big social media followings.

But we had an idea to fix it based on an unusual problem that some celebrities were experiencing. Some of them were getting blowback to their posts about the difficulties of quarantine from their luxurious homes when most people were stuck in small spaces with housemates. We spotted an opportunity to offer talent the chance to redeem their collective reputation by donating their social platforms to the experts…and clawback some respect.

We called it Pass the Mic and it was hugely successful – for the talent, for the experts, for the cause.  Suddenly, the real rock stars – the scientists, front line workers and experts who had combined followings in the thousands were now talking to millions of people around the world. A win-win-win for all and a global media story that was fantastic for the ONE Campaign and an idea that was flatteringly copied by other social impact groups.