When casting influencers for her campaigns, Elizabeth Walker is passionate about ensuring the talent reflects the diversity of the world. In this episode of the Perlu Podcast, she shares why she doesn’t consider it a difficult task at all…and why if you feel it’s difficult, you are probably doing something wrong.
Elizabeth Walker is the celebrity and influencer talent manager for Blavity, (a blend of “black” and “gravity”) which is home to the largest network of platforms and lifestyle brands serving the multifaceted lives of black millennials. Through Blavity, Elizabeth has worked with brands such as AT&T, HBO and Coca-Cola on powerful and inspiring influencer campaigns.
On every influencer marketing campaign she works on, Elizabeth applies her acute project management, organizational prowess and communication skills along with a dedication to the success of all parties involved.
In this episode of the Perlu influencer marketing podcast, Elizabeth guides us on how to simultaneously wow clients, form lasting relationships with influencers and create campaigns featuring every kind of person out there.
- You don’t have to search for diversity. You just need to welcome it in the door. It’s everywhere. It’s always there. It’s always accessible. And there are people of all different races, degrees, levels of experience and avenues of experience that are looking for opportunity.
- You have to be on everybody’s side. When working with influencers, you genuinely want them to look good, for this to be great for their platform. When talking to the client, you want to sell their products and tell their story. And then on the company side, you want to do the best work that you can do.
- Good organizational and project management skills are essential. A campaign with 50 influencer partners doesn’t sound like a lot…until you have to manage 50 email strings, review 50 pieces of content, etc
- Each campaign and client’s needs are different and can change on the daily. Be prepared to work with celebrities, micro influencers, macro influencers or nano influencers.
Interview with Blavity
Perlu: Hello and welcome to the Perlu podcast: Influencer Marketing Reimagined. Today we’re speaking with an influencer marketer with real hustle in the space, Elizabeth Walker.
Elizabeth has experience in the music and entertainment industries, and she works to ensure the influencer marketing space shows diversity in its talent. Elizabeth works as a celebrity and influencer talent manager for Blavity, which is home to the largest network of platforms and lifestyle brands serving the multifaceted lives of black millennials. Through Blavity, Elizabeth has worked with brands such as AT&T, HBO and Coca-Cola.
Elizabeth is also the manager of social media and influencer marketing at Citizen Relations where she’s managed influencer campaigns for Old Spice and Naturel. I’m your host, Alexis Trammell. If you enjoy today’s episode, we hope you sign up for Perlu to learn more about how you can grow your influencer marketing career.
Thank you so much for joining us, Elizabeth.
Elizabeth Walker: Thank you for having me.
Perlu: Awesome. We’re so excited to speak with you. You’re the first person on our show to speak specifically to diversity.
I’d love for you to share more with us about Blavity and Citizen Relations and your roles at each of these companies.
Elizabeth Walker: For sure! So, to start with Citizen, I do more social media management and strategy and influencer marketing campaign management as well.
At Blavity, it’s all about talent management and talent relations and actually building the talent department there.
Perlu: Very cool.
What kinds of influencers do you typically work with on a day to day basis?
Elizabeth Walker: Oh, it depends on the day. You run the gamut throughout the year. It’s all about client needs. There are some who only want to work with nanos and micros, and then there are some that only want to work with celebs and your top tier influencers. So throughout the whole year you’re constantly working with the whole spectrum of influencers.
Perlu: Elizabeth, how do influencers fit into Blavity’s marketing strategy?
Elizabeth Walker: Most of my work right now has to do with branded content. Like on any website that’s similar, a brand will want to sponsor either a story or a campaign that will go on Blavity’s various brand websites, whether it’s 21Ninety or the Blavity channel or our various social media channels. From there we create the campaign of what that story or advertisement will look like. And that’s when the talent comes in — we choose the best talent to convey whatever message or story that campaign is going to give.
Perlu: Very cool.
Influencers of Every Size in Every Niche Under the Sun
Does that differ from what you’re doing at Citizen Relations?
Elizabeth Walker: It differs a little in the sense that on the Citizen side, it’s more traditional influencer marketing. There’s a campaign that’s selling a product or a service or whatever, and we find whoever best suits that brand, come up with the campaign… It’s a little more cut and dry.
On the Blavity side, it’s more creative in the sense of trying to figure out cool ways to not always sell a product but build brand awareness or, like I said, selling a story.
You kind of have to run your creative juices a little more to figure out how to do that in a cool way that’s still very on-brand with Blavity but also meets the client’s needs. At Blavity, you’re almost serving two clients. You still have to stay true to the Blavity brand as you are creating the campaigns, whereas with a typical agency it’s all about serving the direct client who comes to the agency.
Perlu: How do you make sure that your brands are showing diversity in talent?
Elizabeth Walker: Diversity and inclusion is always such an interesting topic to me because people have been so excluded, and when you start having a conversation about how to include them, it seems like this grandiose idea of like, “Okay, well what are we going to do? How are we going to do this?”
Obviously I have a different perspective because I am a black woman, so I’m already a double minority. But for me it’s like “Walk outside. Walk down the street. Your diversity is right there!”
You don’t have to search for diversity. You just need to welcome it in the door. It’s everywhere. It’s always there. It’s always accessible. And there are people of all different races, degrees, levels of experience and avenues of experience. They’re looking for opportunity.
If you find that it is hard to diversify, then you need to get out of the room that you are in and literally open the door because there’s 7 billion people in this world.
There’s 300 million in this country. And that is a lot of people. That’s a lot of different makeup of a lot of different personalities and races and ages and genders. So if you need a strategy to diversify, then I think that you should get out of your house.
Perlu: Right. It shouldn’t be that hard.
Elizabeth Walker: For me, when I’m going to a campaign, I don’t even have to think about it. When I get a campaign and I’m thinking about how to best serve the client and tell the story of that campaign, it is never one type of person or one type of influencer that comes to my mind when we’re figuring out how to sell that product or service or story because all things relate to many different people.
Diversity is everywhere and I think that a lot of people are just, they have their eyes closed and that’s why it feels so hard.
Perlu: Yeah, and it shouldn’t be that hard.
Love what you’re sharing about diversity, Elizabeth, and how it shouldn’t be that hard. You just need to walk down the street and look around you and open your eyes.
You’ve been working long hours the last several months and just launched a big handful of campaigns recently.
Would you like to share any of the success you’ve seen from them so far?
Elizabeth Walker: Yeah. I have been working a lot of hours. You got that part down. At this point, it’s kind of a habit working that many hours. But I think the biggest campaign that I am very proud of was on the Blavity side, we just did a campaign with AT&T, which was an extension of their Codes Campaign. So if you’re in any major city and you look up at the billboards, you’ll see your area code and that whole campaign. So I was a part of that.
And then we did a campaign which was close to my heart, which was a Coca-Cola campaign, “Refresh Your Voice”. It was about the newest generation of teens and how they’re so active and really changing the world in a way that previous generations didn’t.
The campaign is about how they’re changing the world and making a place in the world before they’re even to college yet. That was a really awesome campaign as well.
Perlu: Oh my gosh. That’s beautiful.
What are some of the pain points you experience when you’re launching some of these huge influencer marketing campaigns?
Elizabeth Walker: Well, first is always size. When you’re talking about launching a campaign with 50 influencers, the biggest pain point is administration. How do you manage emails with 50 different people when that’s only one campaign you’re working on? So that’s a big thing.
You have to make sure that you’re very organized and that you have kind of a strict schedule of how you are managing that campaign and staying on top of it. How are you efficiently communicating with 50 people and their managers and agents and their moms? Cause when you’re dealing with micros, you’re dealing with some people who have never done campaigns before or some who are really young and they’re in college. So they do have family members who are helping them out.
So the pain point is managing all that communication, managing all of the stages they’re in, all of the administration of all 50 of them, especially when you have several campaigns at the same time. You have to have A+ project management skills and a really good schedule and time management to make sure that you’re sticking to your timeline and all of those things to make a successful campaign.
And then on the other side of that, with AT&T and Coca-Cola we’re talking to three to five influencers or talent in that case, because some of them were celebrities. It’s more so about the time that they want to produce those campaigns. So for one campaign, we had two weeks to do this campaign, and we’re filming in four different cities: Atlanta, LA, New York, and I believe Chicago.
Keep All Your Ducks – or Campaigns – in a Row
You have to make sure that, again, you have all of your I’s dotted and all your T’s crossed so that you can make the little time you have as efficient as possible and still get out a great campaign as if you had three to four months, which is typical for something that big. And I don’t necessarily think that they are pain points, but more things to be more aware of as you’re getting those more difficult campaigns on your plate.
Perlu: Absolutely. And I know that with the 50 different people you have to handle, those emails can get excessive, very confusing, hard to keep track. So yeah, project management and administration — I can definitely see how that would be something you need to be very good at. Shameless plug here: I love how Perlu will help manage all of those messages in one place per campaign. Beautiful, beautiful platform for managing things from beginning to end. That’s a huge pain point that we hear a lot of our influencer marketing professionals speak to.
Do you have any advice or lessons learned that you’d like to share with those who are breaking into influencer marketing for the first time?
Elizabeth Walker: Yeah, for sure. So when I first got into influencer marketing, a lot of people were all about relationships and who they knew. And that is very important — knowing who you can get in contact with today for this campaign that just dropped on your desk five minutes ago.
But as I mentioned earlier, it’s also about having great project management and being super organized. You also need all those other personality skills like being able to meet people and maintain relationships. You have to be a well rounded human being to be successful in the space.
I always say you kind of have to be on everybody’s side, depending on who you’re talking to. So when I’m working with my influencers, I genuinely want what’s in their best interest. I want them to look good. I want this to be great for their platform and I want it to be a success for them.
But then also when I’m talking to the client, I want to sell their products. I want to tell their story. And then on the company side I want to do the best work that we can do. So it’s always thinking about all of those three things and never letting them overcome each other.
So it’s never like, “Well, I’m just on the influencer side,” “I’m just on the client side” because one can just fall to the wayside. You kind of have to have this equilibrium of all three to really be level headed and give everyone the best outcome you can.
Perlu: No, that makes so much sense. They’re business transactions, but it’s people you’re working with, and everyone deserves that sort of respect. So, that’s wonderful to hear that. That’s some great advice that you’re sharing here that we don’t hear very often.
Well, Elizabeth, thank you so much for joining us today. It’s been such a pleasure speaking with you. You’ve had some great advice.
Elizabeth Walker: Awesome. Thank you so much for having me. Perlu is an awesome platform. I think more people should use it. And I definitely have been presenting it to the companies I’m at and some other industry execs. So I hope that the platform sails.
Perlu: Oh, awesome. That’s so great to hear. I’m really, really glad that you enjoyed it. And thank you so much to everyone listening. We really hope you enjoyed hearing from Elizabeth Walker and that you connect with her on Perlu.
If you like our show and if you’re interested in what it takes to succeed in influencer marketing, check out our blog at blog.perlu.com for more podcasts and blog posts and sign up for Perlu at perlu.com to meet mingle, connect, collaborate, and grow your career. We hope you join us for our next installation of the Perlu’s influencer marketing podcast: Influencer Marketing Reimagined.