Episode 05 of the Julius Profiles podcast covers the #AgencyLife – the colorful and fast-paced world of advertising agencies and influencer marketing. Kelly Ramsawak, Director of Talent and Influencers at United Entertainment Group, and Carol Issa, Vice President of Digital Strategy at MSL Group, joined us to discuss their experiences and perspectives.
Takeaways from this episode include:
- The role of agencies has changed, but expertise remains
- Agencies understand influencers
- Influencers can do their best work with agencies
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About our guests:
Kelly Ramsawak (@kellyramsawak) is the Director of Talent and Influencers at United Entertainment Group (@uegworldwide). After securing hundreds of partnerships and endorsements in the fashion and beauty industries as an agent, Kelly took her social smarts and expertise in influencer relations to UEG. Kelly leads talent and influencer identification and negotiations across a portfolio of CPG brands. Obsessed with pop culture and deal making, she is an advocate for diversity and strives to educate brand partners on the importance of tapping diverse talent and influencers.
Carol Issa, has 7+ years of strategic brand building experience, specializing in campaigns rooted in digital, mobile, search and social. As Vice President, Digital Strategy, at MSL (@msl_global), Carol has played a critical role in setting up the Digital Research & Analytics practice for P&G. Her data-driven approaches and models have been deemed best in class across brands such as Pampers, Always, Vicks, Bounty, and more. Her research using social listening, search analysis, and media landscape assessments has informed brand positioning, product development, strategic content areas, and issues response plans. Her specific work in analytics has brought in new ways of thinking to driving measurable impact.
Carol was named one of PR News’ “Rising PR Stars – 30 & Under” award recipients in 2018.
Key episode insights:
The role of agencies has changed, but expertise remains
Both Kelly and Carol agreed that agencies have changed – but they still have a meaningful role in the advertising landscape. “Agencies used to mean bridging a gap between sellers and buyers; with influencers there’s so many bridges for sellers to get to buyers,” said Kelly.
While they might not be the gatekeepers of Don Draper’s era, agencies still have unrivaled expertise. According to Carol, working with multiple brands across different verticals gives agency marketers unique perspectives and learnings to share and reapply. When an agency hasn’t undertaken a certain type of project before, they can “hold hands with the brand, testing and learning together and being fully transparent about what makes them trust us as a partner.”
Agencies offer both operational knowhow and a network of influencers and partners to bring to the table, giving their brand partners an abundance of options for their campaigns.
Agencies understand influencers
Kelly and Carol consider influencer marketing vital to any digital marketing strategy. As Kelly described it, “Influencers should be at the start of every conversation... if we’re not involving influencers at the forefront of our brainstorming and thinking, we’re missing the whole point.” Carol agreed, adding, “90 to 100 percent of campaigns” for consumer brands use influencers.
There’s a difference between working with influencers and knowing how to make the most of working with them, and that is what makes an agency special. Agencies have the benefit of a large, experienced operation with a lot of resources to help influencers create better campaigns.
Kelly and Carol endeavor to learn as much as possible about their clients’ consumers on social media. They leverage data, analytics, and solutions like Julius to paint a clear picture of an audience, and use that to inform their campaigns. In addition, they ensure that both their brand and influencer partners are on the same page. Carol often has brands and influencers meet to foster a personal relationship, while Kelly goes to bat for influencers’ content when the creative team wants to make changes.
Beyond that, both Kelly and Carol agreed that their agencies go above and beyond to educate one another on influencer marketing. Kelly routinely meets with her colleagues to stay up-to-date, and to keep everyone well-informed:. “Communication is key. We do a lot of internal meetings to be transparent.” According to Carol, “everyone is versed in influencer marketing to some degree.”
Influencers can do their best work with agencies
Though the rise of influencers has democratized digital marketing, agencies still provide proficiency and experience for both brands and influencers. Kelly described this in detail: “Agencies can provide influencers with guidance. We know if things change or brands want to change messaging.”
Agencies, and specifically people like Kelly and Carol, can go to bat for an influencer when need be. Their keen awareness of both sides of the process helps inform their decisions, and they use that knowledge to protect influencer creativity and clarify a brand’s campaign goals.
Carol described agencies as having the ability to “Streamline communication to an influencer. We’ve had influencers tells us there’s too much going on in this brief and we can’t execute this in a way that’s going to work... but at the same time, clients will often have messages they want to have incorporated [into the content].”
Agencies, to Carol and Kelly, can act as middlemen for influencers, negotiating on their behalf to deliver the best possible content for brands, while still maintaining authenticity.Subscribe now!
The Julius Profiles podcast features guests with a variety of touchpoints within the industry, whether they work at agencies like Kelly and Carol, or play another role in this dynamic world. Don’t miss an episode – subscribe on your favorite podcasting platform below!
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