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Who Are Digital Influencers?

7 Aug

Who are digital influencers? What do they do? How do you identify them? If you work in the marketing and communications business, I’m sure you’ve either asked (or have been asked) these questions. The topic of digital influencers has been a pretty trendy one in a few brainstorms I’ve participated in over the past few months. Marketing and PR teams are constantly trying to find ways to innovate and this is a sexy new way of doing it.

In my opinion, there should be a loose definition for “digital influencers” because brands will work with them in their own unique ways. If I had to give a very generalized definition, I’d say digital influencers are online personalities who’ve built a following around an area (or areas) they’re most passionate about. Some of my favorite digital influencers I’ve had a pleasure of working with are JessiMae Peluso, @NYDoorman and Rae Holliday. JessiMae’s a popular stand-up comic who got her big break on MTV’s “Girl Code.” @NYDoorman started his parody account a few years ago and built a following around NYC nightlife and events. Rae Holliday is one of hip hop’s premiere socialites.

 

Once you’ve discovered a digital influencer who shares the same passion points as your brand, then it’s time to think about how you can collaborate. It’s important that you look at it as a partnership and not a build on to something existing. Digital Influencers will only work with brands that their followers love. Once the partnership is formed, there are tons of ways to create content. Below is a list of a few different ways:

  • Exclusive Content Series
  • Press Events (don’t just invite media, invite digital influencers for real-time promotion)
  • Product reviews
  • Twitter Parties
  • Facebook Takeovers

Now you’re probably wondering how to connect with these individuals. There are professional “connectors” who help brands and influencers work together. In fact, I’m one of them. Before I started working professionally as a connector, I had the privilege of meeting a ton of digital influencers at events or through social media. Initially I participated in conversations with digital influencers for the same reason you’ll want to work with them – I thought they were cool. I didn’t realize I was building a powerful network. I then was able to help my clients create major campaign partnerships with these guys. If your brand is looking to build out a digital influencer program, I highly recommend meeting with a connector who has experience working with these individuals. They can help your team build relationships for ongoing partnerships.

What are some of your favorite brand/digital influencer partnerships?

Beyonce & Jay-Z: How A Divorce Could Affect Their Brands

30 Jul

Just to be clear, before we dive into this conversation, I’m a hardcore fan of The Carters. All of these rumors about a potential divorce frightens all of their fans. However, at this time, they’re nothing more than rumors. Let’s remain positive.

The Carters have been together for 10 years and are perceived to be pop-culture’s favorite couple. They’re worth more than $900 million and have been changing the definition of “music marketing” for some time. Jay-Z’s partnership with Samsung helped him to sell 1M albums in one day. As a part of her $50-million Pepsi deal, Beyonce released exclusive tracks with them and dominated the Super Bowl Halftime show.

So if divorce were to happen – which I hope it doesn’t –  what would it mean for their individual brands? Here are my thoughts …

Jay-Z’s Brand

Hip hop is one of the largest music genres of all time. “Do you listen to hip hop?” is a common question that comes up in social conversations. Jay-Z’s the rapper that gives street credibility to everyone, even the guy who doesn’t listen to any other hip hop artist. He’s the one rapper no one has anything negative to say about. We currently see HOV in the press quite often – at award shows, touring and releasing new music. In the event he and Mrs. Carter go their separate ways, I think Jay will go “Dr. Dre” on us. What that means is he’ll continue to work just as hard but he’ll do it behind the scenes. RocNation Sports, RocaWear and all of his music initiatives will become first priority. I don’t see him focusing a lot more on his solo career. Instead, I think he’ll continue to partner with younger musicians (Kanye West, Justin Timberlake, J. Cole) to maintain his street credibility.

Beyonce’s Brand

Mrs. Carter. Mrs. Carter. Mrs. Carter. A friend recently posted a Facebook status that pretty much summarizes my thoughts on how a divorce could affect Bey’s brand: “Sorry to hear about the divorce rumors but I’m prepared to purchase my ‘Mrs. Knowles Tour’ tickets.” Beyonce’s probably the best music entertainer we’ve seen since Michael Jackson. She is the face of female empowerment and surprisingly, in the era of social media, still maintains her “celebrity” status. Emotionally, I can only imagine how difficult a divorce is but professionally, it wouldn’t even be a bump in the road for Bey. She would continue to sell out world tours, surprise us with new albums and be a great role model. When celebrities are single, they’re perceived to be more desirable. There are plenty of brands that base campaigns on desirability and attractiveness. As a single woman, Beyonce would become a major spokeswoman target.

When it comes to Jay and Bey rumors, I never believe them (unless there’s video footage). So just to reiterate what I said earlier, I don’t wish divorce on anyone. If The Carters ever decide to separate, they’ll both continue to do well, professionally. How do you think a divorce would affect Beyonce and Jay-Z’s individual brands?

New Blog Name: They Call Me Social K

3 Jan
A lot has changed for me over the last year — professionally and personally. I’m living in my favorite city, working for one of my favorite brands and meeting someone great everyday. My former title of this blog — The PR Nerd — no longer

 represented me anymore so I decided to change it to ‘They Call Me Social K.’
I’ll still be posting my nerdy social media, marketing and PR-focused posts but I’ll also be giving you guys a look into my personal life. 2012 should be a great year and I’m looking forward to investing more time into my blog.

Is Kelly Rowland’s New Image Good For Her Brand?

16 Jun

Can we talk about Kelly Rowland‘s new image? For years, Kelly was branded as a classy woman. While I am happy she is having success with her

latest single “Motivation,” I’m concerned with what it will do to her brand. She is getting very “Keri Hilson” on us, right? I don’t want to think about Kelly as a freak in the bed, I want think of her as a classy woman who can be brought home to meet someone’s mother. I have been (and always will be) a Kelly fan. I had this conversation on Facebook a few days ago with friends who had very interesting opinions.

I would love to hear thoughts from you all. What do you think about her new image? Is it negative? Is it something that can hurt her in the long-run?

HOW TO: Turn Twitter Relationships Into Real Relationships

12 Jun

In the marketing/PR field, real relationships (not pointless “connections”) are a high priority for those who aspire to go far in the industry. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been obsessed with meeting new people and listening to their life’s story. Naturally, this has helped me to meet amazing people in my industry.

Meet In Person

Kanye West and Jay-Z chatting over drinks

It’s easy to email back-and-forth with someone but what’s more memorable … an email conversation or a Happy Hour conversation? I’ve tried to build relationships with Tweeps via email, especially with those who have active schedules. Those have not worked in my favor, plus I digg face-to-face interaction. A few weeks ago, I came across Weber Shandwick professional, Ronn Richardson on Twitter. After tweeting with him a few times, I asked him to meet me for drinks. We met, conversed for hours and discovered we had a lot in common. Now, I talk to him like every day, attend various industry events with him and he will be redesigning my blog. What if I didn’t ask him out for drinks and just tried to “connect” via email?

Don’t Be Afraid To Outreach

Justin Bieber With His Mentor, Usher

Whenever I find someone on Twitter who I think is cool, I make sure to meet them in person. This isn’t always an easy task because I tend to digg a lot of people who others digg as well. Due to this, I have to be innovative (in a sense) to get them to pay attention to what I’m saying. While trying to convince them to pay me attention, the first thing I think of is: how can I help this person. Before asking someone to meet in person, it’s important you know that they know how you can help them. Being a junior-level employee, this has not been a hard task because a lot of the senior folks I outreach to love giving back. Chatting with a junior-level guy and sharing tips/giving advice helps senior folks (who do not have a lot of time) pay it forward.

Twitter is a great place to meet wonderful people, especially if you work in marketing/PR. So many great professionals from our industry maintain an active presence on Twitter. Until the day I get bored with the tool, it will always be one of my main sources of meeting amazing professionals in my industry.

Have you had any experiences with turning Twitter relationships into real relationships? Do you think a Twitter relationship, by itself, is a “real” relationship?

Pursuing Your Dreams And Not Settling For Less

23 May

The last day of summer was always the hardest day for me because I knew I would have to leave the place I always wanted to live: NYC. Visiting family in Brooklyn as a child sparked a passion in me for the “NYC-Lifestyle.” The passion grew with me and all through college I told myself I was going to graduate, move to NYC and work in marketing.

A few months before graduation, I noticed my plans changing because I feared not being able to survive in NYC. Why? Because the cost of living is pretty intense and the workforce is beyond competitive. A lot of this persuasion was the result of me listening to others.

Times Square

I still desired to live in a large city so I accepted a post-grad internship in Chicago at a well-respected agency, where I worked on a few teams for nationally-known consumer brands. I gained a valuable experience but towards the end of my internship, I discovered I was not going to receive an offer because there wasn’t anything available on my account teams. A normal person would have accepted this and moved on. Not me … I panicked because I feared embarrassment because I was a former national officer in a prestigious organization and had members expecting me to be one of the ones who “makes it.” I folded to the pressure (that I was placing on myself) and accepted an offer at an agency I didn’t want to work for, in a city I didn’t want to live in, telling myself “I can make this work.”

Some of my initial concerns with the agency proved to be true: the company culture was not one I could thrive in and the management style of the woman leading me conflicted with my working style. The working relationship with the manager got so bad I looked forward to sick days. I was in a situation where I felt trapped by the professional constraint of staying with a company for at least one year.

After receiving advice from two of my good friends — Jasmine Brooks and Evan Roberts — and being motivated by my grandmother’s sickness, I quit the job, packed my things and moved to NYC. I told myself I wanted an NYC story (moving to a large city with a little bit of money, chasing a dream).

Automatically, I outreached to some of my Twitter friends and told them I was looking to transition to New York. Without hesitation, they helped me to set-up interviews. Thanks to Andrew Worob, Justin Goldsborough, Tiffany Winbush, Pegah Rashti, Mark Ragan and Valerie Simon. With the help of these friends (and a few others), I interviewed more than 15 times at agencies and corporations and received a few offers. The only problem was that I realized I did not want to walk back in the same situation I left. I also discovered that I wanted to focus more on social media marketing, instead of traditional public relations.

Sadly, my grandmother (who was my best friend), lost her battle and passed away. An hour after I received the sad news about my grandmother, a certain television network called me to set up an interview. A few weeks before, I applied for a job that I thought was not possible to land, social media coordinator at MTV. While applying, I shot a friend who worked for the company a note, asking for a recommendation. She put in a good word and that combined with my experience led me to the interview.

Only after a few minutes in the interview with the hiring manager, I knew this was the job for me because he was extremely charismatic, passionate about his craft and team and had a vision! They felt I was the best person for the job and hired me to be social media coordinator, a position that requires me to use all of my marketing and PR skills to help our amazing brand remain social.

It’s still surreal to me that I am living in the city I always wanted to be in and working (in Times Square) for a brand I always loved. If I didn’t step out on faith, have friends and loved ones who believed in me and believed in myself, I would not be where I am today. I encourage all of you who have dreams and goals you’ve been pushing off, to stop pushing them off. Pursue your dreams and don’t settle for less.

Entertainment PR Chat (#entprchat) is Back by Popular Demand

13 Apr
Lights, Camera, Action … Entertainment PR Chat – a monthly Twitter chat – will be re-launching on April 20th from 8 – 9 p.m. EST. This chat will be a monthly discussion moderated by Pegah Rashti (@pegahrashti) and myself

Entertainment PR Chat

(@kionsanders). Our goal: to build a community for professionals working in the entertainment industry. We will come together once a month to discuss issues, trends, social media and current events in entertainment & fashion marketing and PR.

Will you be joining us? If you have any questions, tweet us @entprchat or email us at entprchat@gmail.com
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