It's About the Work



In my last post, I wrote about how a new ‘creator economy’ has emerged, and with it the financial heft afforded to influential online video creators and the jockeying of not only brands but rival social and distribution networks to tie up prized talent. As relevance and authenticity continue to trump the benefits of traditional marketing tactics in an increasingly cluttered purchasing environment, Influencer Marketing has proven incredibly effective at driving meaningful business results for brands. Campaigns for PacSun, Target and Toyota have harnessed the explosion of social media and the diversity of influencers spread out across networks to increase visibility, credibility and sales among critical audience segments. It might not be long until influencer marketing is seen less as a sub-category in the plans of top tier marketers and more as the future of marketing.

Enter the latest proof point. IZEA, a pioneer in the Sponsored Social industry, and a client of Allison+Partners, just released their 5th Annual “State of Sponsored Social” report, partnering with the research firm Halverson Group on the study. In it you’ll see how Sponsored Social – where brands can connect with creators who blog, tweet, pin and post on their behalf – has outpaced traditional media mix options and further boosted the legitimacy of the ‘creator economy.’ The report also touches on the critical nature of understanding and enforcing FTC guidelines. IZEA consulted with the FTC regarding the original disclosure guidelines and continues to emphasize its importance in nurturing trust among brand, creator and consumer.

You can download the full report for free here.

Some highlights:

  • 52% of marketers have a stand-alone Sponsored Social budget
  • Sponsored Social, experiential marketing and online display ads have the most positive momentum, while radio, magazine and newspaper ads have the most negative
  • Creators often form an attachment to sponsoring brands — 88% say they verbally tell friends/family about the brands that sponsor them, 77% are more likely to purchase products/brands from companies that sponsor them, and 72% share additional posts about sponsors, for free, outside of their contractual obligations
  • Creators say that Sponsored Social accounts for 63% of their income



Alex Gardell Kreuter is the calm amid the storm on every account and is known for her collaborative spirit. We believe she has earned this quarter’s rising star award for a number of reasons.

Even from far away, Alex works side-by-side with her cross-office teammates. She is always available to talk, always eager to help and always has thought-starting ideas and questions. Alex sets a great example in both her work ethic and commitment to her clients and teammates.

Alex is also mindful. She pays attention to her colleagues and reaches out when she feels they are stressed or having a difficult time on an assignment.

Alex constantly encourages her colleagues to push their boundaries and think outside the box, providing guidance while allowing them to come up with ideas on their own. To me, she embodies Allison+Partners’ culture and I am grateful to work with her.

With her creative FunCo ideas to spice up the office and her ever-positive attitude, Alex has taken a lead role in boosting morale and giving team members the tools they need to succeed.

Alex encourages the team to work together regardless of their client accounts. Got issues pitching small business? Go to Alex. Need to find that case study for a new biz prospect? Alex has it. Pitching the impossible? That’s what Alex does best!

She is the first one to jump in to help brainstorm a story angle and encourages the team to do the same.

Alex makes the pitching process collaborative by involving everyone for input and determining the right angles and strategies. Her ability to collaborate across offices always results in great work for clients.

Congratulations Alex!



The Battleground over the Creator Ecosystem

The egalitarian charm of the Internet has always been that everyone has a voice and anyone can be a star.  Starting blogs, YouTube channels, Pinterest boards, Instagram accounts and Tumblr profiles were options for all, and success was only limited by your own dedication to the craft, and the matchless way you position yourself from the herd. Quickly, we saw people become brands (with some getting a great deal of flack for it), complete with a marketer’s savvy for producing product their consumers want. Companies followed suit, attaching themselves to a new generation of spokespeople, giddily leveraging new audiences and troves of data.

What we saw being ushered in was an entirely new star-making system and ‘creator economy’: the postmodern practice where an 18-year-old video blogger making fashion videos at home could suddenly and simultaneously command the attention of legions of online followers and deep-pocketed brands. Incomes were born through product placement and native advertising, and digital ad revenue poured in from the largest and most influential companies.

Soon brands weren’t the only ones jostling for room. A recent New York Times article reported yet another digression. The Old Hollywood machinery of agents, managers and lawyers, in recognition of a resource for fresh clientele, shifted their gaze to this new breed of clients and promised brand extensions like licensing, endorsement and acting deals ­–– all for a 10% cut. Perhaps they read the Variety survey that reported YouTube stars are more popular than mainstream celebrities among U.S. teens.

But the biggest news came last month when Facebook, in a move meant to challenge YouTube, reportedly reached out to some of the video site’s top content producers in hopes of encouraging them to distribute their videos on Facebook’s platform. To protect prized talent, YouTube responded with a post on its corporate blog, signaling additional financial investment and other services for their premier creators.

Homegrown talent is critical to YouTube’s success. Its reach and business model are perfect vehicles for every type of creator. But if Facebook can create a revenue incentive as attractive as the model on YouTube, and position its own enviable network as elevating the exposure and influence of content creators, a real threat can be made to propel these personalities to not just promote their programming on the social media site, but to integrate with the brand more deeply, involving aspects of creation and distribution. The Wall Street Journal reports that a product aimed to do just that will be unveiled by year’s end.

This kind of jockeying is nothing new. The golden age of Hollywood was notorious for signing talent to multi-picture deals and luring stars from rivals. That we’re now seeing this within the context of YouTube video content creators indicates that the economic engine created has not only legitimate global appeal, but also garners significant negotiation power. And the potential to own and distribute a diverse range of valued original content is essential for the new digital powerhouses to continue their approach at overthrowing traditional media and production companies.

Those that succeed here will understand and value this new creator economy, how to develop and reward influence, and how to recognize talent. They’ll also find the most intuitive and seamless ways to integrate sponsored opportunities and brand development, to grow a future base of creators that can continuously feed the engine of this new industry. The competition and innovation one-upmanship we’re seeing between Facebook and YouTube is the beginning of a battle long in the making. And to see where it goes is simply a matter of tuning in.

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Each month, Sports Sesh (a title that pays homage to the HBO series “Eastbound & Down”) will explore how sports and PR have recently intermingled along with the good, bad and ugly of it all. This month: The NFL

The Good: Shedding Light on Sensitive Topics

Let me preface this opening paragraph by stating that in no way do I support violence against women or children, or any sort of violence for that matter. The recent transgressions of some of the NFL’s biggest stars in regard to domestic violence and child abuse are reprehensible in every facet. It’s ridiculous that these issues are just now being condemned by the league, its sponsors and fans. For decades, the violent and criminal offenses committed by not only NFL players, but countless professional athletes, have been swept under the rug in the name of money. It’s unfortunate that it took an elevator recording released by TMZ, showing former Baltimore Ravens Running back, Ray Rice, strike his then-fiancé unconscious; or pictures of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson’s, bruised and battered child to bring the issues to the forefront as it relates to the NFL. The power of the media to persuade public opinion and spur change is a great thing. These are extremely difficult and sensitive topics, but if there is any good to come of any of this, it’s that the issues are being talked about, perhaps in a way never we’ve never seen before. I can only hope the conversation propels change on a massive scale.

The Bad: PR in the NFL

As PR professionals, we constantly drive consistency. When it comes to brand management, we often ask clients how they want their brands to be perceived. The NFL is at a major crossroads and in the hottest water of its existence. Why? Because it’s doesn’t have a consistent communication strategy and the messaging is as unpredictable as the stock market. I equate the NFL to the government: the league serves as the Federal Branch and teams function as states, independently. Each team has handled the same situation differently at one point or another, ultimately amounting to (almost) the same punishment in the end, but the damage has been done. When owners hold a press conference and downplay the severity of the alleged offenses, it looks bad on the NFL as a whole. It’s time for somebody in the C-suite to take a stand and draw a hard line of uniformity.

The Ugly: Roger Goodell

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has arguably been the most hated man in the league when it comes to player opinion. He’s the judge, jury and executioner. Unfortunately, his iron first turned to mush when it came to Ray Rice. Goodell originally slapped Rice’s wrist and handed down a two game suspension. Two games. Seriously. It wasn’t until TMZ released the heinous elevator tape that Goodell felt prompted to ultimately suspend Rice from the NFL, indefinitely. It’s a bad look and a reflection of terrible leadership and communication in the front office. According to reports, Goodell knew exactly what happened inside that elevator, because Ray Rice told him. The fact that it took publicly released video footage for the commissioner of one of the most powerful organizations in the U.S. to bring harsh punishment is absurd. The NFL will always try to sweep things under the rug and protect its interests. Until new leadership comes on board, nothing will change, including the bad PR and continuous blunders.


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