The Power of Influence Networks on Career and Company Launches (INFOGRAPHIC)

Brian Wallace, Founder & President, NowSourcing

Networking is paramount in business. For professionals at any stage in their career, who you know matters far more than what. When you network with established professionals, it can lead to informational interviews, access to exclusive job postings, and more. For aspiring entrepreneurs, your network is the first place to look for early stage capital investments. 

At the foundation of many professionals’ networks are their alumni groups. Both colleges and corporations invest in strong influence networks for their former students/employees. For universities, alumni networks are a key source of fundraising. Meanwhile, businesses use their alumni for referrals, business development, and connecting mentees with mentors. 98% of Fortune 500 companies maintain active alumni programs. 

Investing in lifelong relationships leads to measurable benefits. For companies, their relationship with former employees can increase current revenue, product innovation, and employer attractiveness. Businesses that actively engage alumni see up to a 44% increase in their net new business. An engaged alumni delivers a 10% increase in brand sentiment. For certain businesses, using alumni as brand advocates is worth at least 5 times as much as an average customer.

What does this mean for individual alumni members? Alums can use the network their alma mater has developed to find true community, mentors, and even discounted sports tickets. To connect with old classmates and coworkers, keep the alumni network updated about life events. Tell your college’s alumni magazine when you change jobs or launch a startup. Volunteer with your local alumni group for the opportunity to (re)connect face to face. Don’t forget to give as much as you get from your network. Share the wisdom you’ve gained from your career during alumni events such as webinars.

In launching a business, these connections become especially important. In a venture capital study covering 19 years, founders and investors attended the same college ⅓ of the time. This indicates that investors are more likely to invest in startups founded by people from their alma mater. Shared education networks are more important than school quality and shared geography in the early stage. As a result, the size of your alumni network could be the determining factor in getting a business venture off the ground. If you have a small college network, supplement it with former coworkers.

Modern tools like LinkedIn make it easier than ever to connect with alumni. Never let the opportunity to connect with another professional pass.


The Power of Influence Networks
Infographic provided by:

Brian WallaceAbout the Author: Brian Wallace is the Founder and President of NowSourcing, an industry leading infographic design agency in Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH which works with companies ranging from startups to Fortune 500s. Brian runs #LinkedInLocal events, hosts the Next Action Podcast, and has been named a Google Small Business Adviser for 2016-present. Follow Brian Wallace on LinkedIn as well as Twitter.

Executive Women’s Leadership Program: Strategies for Accelerating Impact, Influence and Advancement

Online Event

October 19-21

Hosted by the Center for Public Excellence in Leadership

The George Washington University



Executive Women’s Leadership (EWLP) is designed for experienced executives who have potential for greater leadership responsibilities. Topics covered include executive presence, communication skills, and leadership strategies to propel one’s career forward! During the 3-day experience participants also have the opportunity to network and build community with guest speakers and program alumna.

Dates: October 19-21
Venue: Online
Tuition Price:

  • Executive Women’s Leadership Program: $3,220
  • Mastermind Group: $997
  • Bundle: $3,950


While gender diversity is recognized as a hallmark of the most successful organizations, studies – including “Women Rising: the Unseen Barriers” reported in HBR* – reveal that gender bias continues to exist in most organizations. This program will provide participants with transformational communication skills, executive presence, and powerful leadership strategies while transforming mindset and behaviors that may hold women back from both contributing fully and moving up in the organization.

Propel your career forward with this highly interactive 3-day program presented by The George Washington University Center for Excellence in Public Leadership. Designed for women leaders in the private and public sectors who aspire to positions of greater influence and impact or have been identified as high-potential in their organizations, this breakthrough program will provide new strategies and tactics for you to take the lead and succeed at higher levels.

Whatever the organizational climate, key actions and behaviors learned in this program will create better leaders:

  1. Leading with vision and purpose
  2. Building trusted relationships and influential networks
  3. Language, voice, and leadership presence
  4. Powerful conversations to build trust and ensure accountability and engagement
  5. Negotiate with skill and ease
  6. The mindfulness of confidence
  7. The courage to lead, speak up and be heard

Participants will have the opportunity to network and build community with guest speakers and participating women leaders throughout the three days.

Guest Speakers:

The program is led by Leslie Grossman, Senior Fellow and Executive Coach at GWU Center for Excellence in Public Leadership, and founder of the Women’s Leadership Exchange. She is the author of “LINK OUT: How to Turn Your Network into a Chain of Lasting Connections”.

We offer the option to continue the learnings of the 3-day program with a monthly ‘virtual’ Mastermind Group accessed online for 6 months following completion of the EWLP program.

The Center of Excellence in Public Leadership at George Washington University (GW CEPL) offers programs for women at every level of their leadership journey to help address the early socialized habits, as well as the workplace and life challenges that often hold women back from pursuing increased responsibility, while supporting their growth and development.

Live online programs are known for their interactive discussions and networking among the participants, as well as its critical, career-changing content. Click here to learn more:

Women Leaders on the Rise Program (#WRISE) gives high-potential women leaders at the start of their careers the tools to enable management success, while addressing limiting beliefs that may be holding them back.Executive Women’s Leadership Program (#EWLP) is designed for experienced executives who have potential for greater leadership responsibilities. Topics covered include executive presence, negotiations, resilience, growth mindset and more!

Global Women’s Leadership Program (#GWLP) provides game-changing leadership strategies that will transform your mindset and expand your sphere of influence as a woman leader. Program is designed for global executives.

Find the Right Influencer for Your Campaign

Jill KurtzJill Kurtz, Owner, Kurtz Digital Strategy

When used effectively, influencer marketing can produce incredible results for brands. The idea is to tap into the engaged communities to share your brand message with a wider audience.

It can be hard to find authentic influencers. Research shows up to 24 percent of influencers have falsely manipulated their engagement numbers!

You don’t want to associate yourself with fake influencers or waste your money on them. You need to know how to look properly for real influencers.

Spotting Fake Influencers

The simplest way to spot a fake influencer is to go into their follower list. Look for profiles without a display photo, few to no followers and/or following, and no posts. Another marker is if followers have clearly made up names, particularly if their handles contain lots of numbers. Also look at engagement. How many people are commenting on posts?

A legitimate influencer account should have plenty of followers and a few hundred authentic comments on posts.

Screening Influencers

One of the best ways to determine if an influencer is right for your marketing is by asking for screenshots of their audience insights. Ask for their latest engagement statistics for both their account and their latest posts. This information can help determine if they influence demographics that align with your marketing.

Ask for references from brands, companies and businesses that have worked with. You can also ask for specific information about the collaboration and the results.

Spend some time monitoring any potential influencer partner. Connect with their account. See what gets posted and who reacts. A little time spent lurking can tell you a lot about the authenticity of a community.

Proceed with Caution

Like all business decisions, approach your influencer strategy with care and caution. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Be careful before you commit to anything.

Internal Communicators are the New Influencers

Internal communicators are the new influencers


A new age of employee communications brings influential reach to workforces and true business impact

Frank Wolf, Co-Founder & CSO, Staffbase

Did you know internal communicators have a super power? It’s that people trust them and the information they share. It’s true, and this fact puts the role of internal communicators as the new influencers in the spotlight. And just like Thor’s hammer has the power of lightning, IC professionals now have power and influence as trusted advisors to leadership. 

According to the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer, communication from employers is considered the most trusted source of information. This is a very important role to play as events around the world impact companies and the humans that show up for work every day. Employees are looking to their organization’s to hear the truth about what is going on in the world. They are increasingly concerned with an array of issues, including the overturning of Roe v. Wade, recession, DE&I, energy costs, job security, an ongoing pandemic, crime, war and supply chain issues — to name just a few. 

These and so many other events over the last couple of years resulted in IC professionals finally receiving the recognition and visibility they deserve within their organizations. They’ve also been given the opportunity to show their worth, becoming trusted advisors to senior leaders and trusted sources of information for employees. In fact, results from a recent Staffbase Internal Communications Maturity Assessment survey shows that 69% of the 1,600 participating IC professionals say their work in internal communications is taken seriously and respected by senior managers in their organization. This means a majority of business leaders know they have a partner in employee communication, a partner with the skills, knowledge, tools and strategy to help them inspire and lead people with their vision. 

In this heightened role, internal communicators also serve to amplify the voices of employees, providing a direct line of communications that let senior leaders know what their employees are thinking about, worrying about, and talking about. 

Lindsay Theile, senior director, Global Internal Communications at Walgreens Boots Alliance, spoke recently at the 2022 VOICES Conference about the importance of being “one source of truth” for all within an organization. “With COVID, and more recently our full office reopening, having one source of truth on the intranet where people can go for everything” was paramount. Theile also mentioned that it’s important for comms professionals to have more transparent direct communication with all levels within an organization. 

Continue reading here…

How To Leverage Micro-Influencers to Boast Your Digital Footprint & Social Media Campaigns

Austin Rotter, PR and Media Relations Strategist

If there is one thing that is consistent when it comes to social media and digital marketing overall, it is change itself will always be inevitable.

The rapid change of interest surrounding influencer marketing  is the perfect example to highlight just that.

Just a few years ago, almost six times as many people searched for “social media marketing” compared to those who were looking for “influencer marketing.” Now however, those stats have totally flipped (again, change), with searches for “influencer marketing” close to doubling that of “social media marketing.”

What is causing this dramatic change in overall interest and shift of marketing strategy? There is a billion-dollar answer to all of this.

When done really well, influencers have the unique ability, unlike any other medium  to win the hearts and minds, and ultimately, pockets of consumers.

Consumer’s favorite household and beloved brands around the world are using influencer marketing  to increase share of voice, drive awareness and engagement for their various services, product lines, call to actions, events, etc. There’s no doubt influencer marketing is extremely effective, but it does come with a hefty tag, especially for A-list celebrities or influencers.

Fortunately, for budget-conscious digital marketers, there are micro-influencers to rely on  that are a fraction of the price and most of time, even more impactful than traditional influencers in hitting key KPIs.

So what is actually considered a micro-influencer?

Mega celebrities such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, and Selena Gomez are just some of the most well-known and sought-after influencers that have hundreds of millions of social followers.  However, with millions of followers, comes just as high of a price tag to work with them.

A micro-influencer on the other hand have anywhere between 1,000 and 100,000 followers and are social media personalities that are usually just normal, everyday people who have gained followers through their various online platforms like YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook or Twitch. They are always experts or have a passion for a very specific topic or niche. Micro-influencers range in areas of expertise from travel and beauty bloggers to YouTube gamers and everything in between.

While maybe not as exciting or sexy as working with a global movie star or world-renowned athlete, micro-influencers often do have an extremely engaged audience, one that makes buying decisions based on the types of products or services that the influencer is using.

Micro-influencers becoming the king of digital content creation

Content is king – everyone has heard that phrase countless times. It is especially true with social media campaigns. The more engaging content a marketer can produce, the more interactions, follows and engagement they can expect from consumers. The two go hand-in-hand – there is just no other way.

A very important trend that has impacted the influencer marketing ecosystem on several levels is that of companies outsourcing their entire content creation efforts to an army of micro-influencers. This is for several reasons.

Bringing together a few carefully vetted content creators will ultimately produce more assets, which in turn gives marketers more opportunities to reach new and diverse audiences over a longer timeframe, compared to a limited, one-and-done #sponsored partnership from a traditional influencer.

It is interesting to note a major shift that brands are starting to make in their overall influencer marketing programs as it relates to the content and who is actually responsible for producing it. 

Today, many marketers are looking for micro-influencers not just as a platform to amplify the brand’s digital content, but actually become true content creators and mini production hubs in their own rights.

As budgets get tighter and tighter, several companies are tasking influencers to create content that could that be distributed on social, as well as throughout all organic and paid digital properties a company might have access to which creates a more holistic, 360 campaign approach.

Micro-influencers taking over emerging industries 

If a marketer is looking for a very specific and hard to reach demographic or fragmented niche audience online – say Gen-Z foodies who live in downtown Austin, Texas for example, micro-influencers become the perfect vehicle for deployment.

There are two ways for digital marketers to look at this. The first being that there are more micro-influencers today than ever before, with this number expected to continue its rise. The second being that micro-influencers are moving beyond “traditional” verticals and into emerging industries.

Micro-influencers are moving beyond traditional verticals such as fashion and beauty, health, fitness, and travel — to become more involved across the board. For example, you don’t have to look far to find influencers in verticals such as blockchain and sports betting. Go back in time just one year and the number of influencers in these verticals is nothing close to what you see today.

Many brands that didn’t previously have access to a large selection of micro-influencers have suddenly found that this is a viable way to reach their audience.

Connecting Online Campaigns to Offline

Expect to see another shift with a growing number of brands taking advantage of both online and offline influencer marketing campaigns. Traditional social media campaigns such as giveaways and reviews will always be popular, but many brands will look to move things to the next level through in-person collaboration.

For example, a fashion and beauty brand could hire micro-influencers to visit their local brick-and-mortar store(s) to engage visitors and share information on the company’s products. Micro-influencers with a dedicated following can bring attention to the brand online, along with foot traffic to their local store.                               

If the ongoing pandemic has taught digital marketers anything, it is that consumers are increasingly looking for genuine, human connections and authentic messaging that is tied to their own personal beliefs and values.

With consumers being more connected than ever, their online and offline worlds have truly become one, so a brand’s strategy and approach needs to reflect that mindset instead of looking at each as a single view.

Austin Rotter on Media RelationsAbout the Author: Austin Rotter is a strategic PR and media relations strategist with over a decade of experience working with a number of clients ranging from Fortune 100 brands to hyper growth companies. To reach Austin, please visit: 

How Communicators Can Influence the Conversation on Equity

Paul Merchan, Senior Vice President, Client Relationships, Peppercomm

While the world is still a long way from being at peace, today, September 21, we recognize United Nations International Day of Peace. This carries even deeper significance after what we’ve been through with the COVID-19 pandemic; and true to this, the theme this year is Recovering better for an equitable and sustainable world.”

“Recovery” means different things for different people. For millions, it literally means recovering from COVID. For others, it’s recovering from the mental and financial strains the pandemic has inflicted. But “recovery” can also be a misnomer for marginalized communities – those that were hit disproportionately hard during this time. For those groups, there will only be recovery and peace if we level the playing field. 

Often, we may overlook or downplay the role that strategic communications can have in helping to drive greater equity in this world. However, we should all remember that communications is at the heart of true empathy and compassion and is what galvanizes change. Professionals in this area have the ear of business leaders who are making critical decisions to not only ensure their public-facing messages demonstrate inclusivity, but also to take action to expand their diversity efforts. Keep in mind our influence doesn’t have to come in the form of a groundbreaking, multimillion-dollar campaign. It can start with little steps, such as these below:

  • Eliminate the idea of color blindness. People used to think that being color blind was a good thing – it meant that we didn’t “see race or color.” But we’ve learned that this has the opposite effect, often alienating and marginalizing individuals. People in my industry have been talking about this for years. We’re at the forefront of the news cycle and have seen various articles over the years (like this one from The Atlantic) discussing how damaging it is to ignore a person’s visibly distinguishing characteristics. We should celebrate people’s differences, rather than sweep them under a rug.
  • Accept that white privilege is real. This might be difficult to admit, but our racial reckoning as a society needs to be uncomfortable. As a Latino professional in the business world, I’ve had experiences in my career where colleagues or clients who don’t know me well have tried to talk “at my level” but really sounded like they were talking down to me – especially because they don’t speak to others in that way. Example can include, “Thanks, man,” or “I hear you, bro” when you clearly haven’t reached that level of familiarity. This may not be done on purpose, but it is an example of white privilege and how it can be unwittingly yielded in a way that can make a person of color feel small. 
  • Speak to a broader audience. Idiomatic expressions abound in today’s workplace, and while they’re usually witty and well-received, it’s possible that not everyone is going to understand them. Although I was born in this country, I grew up in a Spanish-speaking household; many of the only idioms I heard at home don’t translate well into English. Not every person grows up hearing, “That’s par for the course” or “Let’s hit this one out of the park.” This point is especially critical for organizations with a global footprint. When you get used to the fact that not everyone is familiar with the same phrases you use in casual settings, it becomes much easier to speak to your audience. 

These steps may not solve for “world peace,” but making these small changes in our approach can lead us to developing greater understanding for each other and slowly help us reach true equity in both business and society as a whole. 

Paul MerchanAbout the Author: I’m a Senior Vice President, Client Relationships at Peppercomm, which I’ve called home for a little over a decade. In this role, I act as a trusted counselor for clients in financial services, tech and B2B, working closely with marketing leads to coordinate brand messaging and media strategy. My current clients include: Advent Capital Management, AXA Investment Managers, Arconic, Sharp B2B and Weiss Multi-Strategy Advisers. I also assist our Chief Marketing Officer in our own agency marketing efforts.

Having started at Peppercomm as an intern, I gradually worked my way up through media and client relations job roles. Notable clients I’ve worked with along the way include: Whirlpool, EY, Valspar, Nikon, Pershing and Wilmington Trust. For EY, I helped expand their efforts to use social media and digital marketing, successfully promoting their annual hedge fund survey for many years.

I’m proud to be a part of our burgeoning digital marketing team, working on ad campaigns via Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Google Ads. In addition, my work involves developing employee engagement strategies for clients.

I was born and raised in Brooklyn by Ecuadorian parents. As a result, I’ve used my fluency in Spanish for professional translation and interpretation, while also bringing a global perspective to my clients. I went to school at the City College of New York and Hunter College, both here in Manhattan, where I obtained my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. I now live in North Carolina with my wife and four children, two of whom are twins!


The Latino Influence and Impact on the Public Relations Profession (CELEBRATING LATINO PR HISTORY)

Free Webcast

Presented by The Museum of Public Relations



Join some of the PR profession’s leading Latino CCOs and agency leaders as they discuss how we are changing the landscape of our profession and how you can positively impact our the Museum’s 5th Annual Latinos in PR History event.

Some of the hot topics we’ll be covering:

  • What can we as communicators do to bring healthcare equality to the top of the national agenda? Surely, we’ve witnessed much disparity in treatment over the past 20 months.

  • We have 47 Latino members in Congress today—the most we ever had. Do we feel well represented? What is the role of communications in political advocacy today?

  • Latinos in PR, media, and related professions are moving up the ranks, but surely not as quickly as we ought to be progressing. What can we do to improve our stature in these professions?

  • How has the media been portraying the Latino communities around the country? What has been the impact of figures like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Pete Aguilar, and Joaquin Castro on the way the rest of Americans view the rising prominence of Latinos in society?

Featured Speakers




Should Social Media Influence Have an Age Limit?


Dr. David Hagenbuch, Ethicist and Professor of Marketing, Messiah University, Author of Honorable Influence, Founder of  

“Act your age”—It’s a demand that flustered parents make of tantrum-throwing teens and that embarrassed teens make of youth-seeking parents.  Obeying social norms like ones for age-appropriate behavior can be helpful for everyone, so why are some older people acting like social media influencers?

Influencer marketing has become “the fastest-growing online marketing channel” as countless companies have realized that ordinary people with sizable social media followings can be extremely effective at building their brands.

From 2016 to 2020, revenue from influencer marketing leapt from $1.7 billion to $9.7 billion, and it’s expected to rise even more, to $13.8 billion in 2021.  Helping to drive this growth was the 2019 addition of over 240 new influencer marketing platforms and agencies, which enjoyed a whopping $6.50 in sales for every $1 spent.

Who exactly are these influencers?  The top three in terms of social media followers are Ariana Grande (429 million), Justin Bieber (455 million), and soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo (517 million), whose recent removal of two bottles of Coca-Cola from a table at a European Championship press conference allegedly caused the beverage brand’s share price to plunge 1.6%.

However, the vast majority of influencers aren’t A-list celebrities whose actions affect stock prices; rather, they’re people who are persuasive in their areas of expertise and are regarded highly by their admirers.  A few of these influencers who have the highest numbers of followers are:

Highly successful influencers undoubtedly share many traits such as strong communication skills and great credibility.  Another is age:  Most of the top influencers listed above, as well as others on HubSpot’s list, appear to be Gen Ys or Gen Zs.  Very few if any have grey hair or wrinkles.

Supporting this observation, a Google search for “old influencers” produces a telling People also ask question: “Are there any influencers over 40?”  The fact that this question is so common suggests that many doubt anyone past age 39 can have meaningful social media impact.

The widespread preference for youthful promoters makes a recent headline in The Drum seem almost ridiculous: “The rise of the 50+ influencer.”  Really?  Encountering a community of half-century and up social media spokespeople seems about as likely as seeing senior citizen sprinters at the upcoming Olympics.

We all know that as we age, our physical and mental capabilities decline, as does our pop culture relevance.  Who wants to hear music suggestions or take fashion tips from a 75-year-old?  Apparently, some people do, and increasingly those “some” number in the hundreds of thousands and even millions.

MediaKix has identified the “Top 10 Elderly Influencers Dominating Instagram,” a list that includes these well-seasoned spokespeople :

  • Baddliewinkle – 3.5 million followers:  Helen Winkle’s unique brand attracts sponsors such as Smirnoff, Missguided, and Stash.  Her tagline, “Stealing your man since 1928,” suggests she’s in her 90s.
  • Iris Apfel – 1.6 million followers:  At the age of 97, Apfel is leveraging her extensive background as an interior designer to help build brands that include Vogue, Christie’s, and Hunter Douglas.
  • Accidental Icon – 743,000 followers:  Lyn Slater is a veteran professor who started a fashion blog in 2014 and is now collaborating with brands like Maison Margiela, Perricone MD, and Oribe.

How are people who are old enough to be great grandparents becoming social media stars?  In The Drum article referenced above, author Adam Whyte suggests that pandemic lockdowns kept many people at home and online more often, giving them extra time to be content creators and consumers.

Whyte is probably right that COVID helped speed the trend of older influencers; however, it’s likely one that was evolving anyway.  Although they were not early adopters of social media, it was inevitable that at least some baby boomers and Gen Xers would grow into influencer roles given their sheer numbers (about 70 million and 65 million, respectively), their increasing use of Facebook, Instagram, etc., and their growing comfort with technology.

However, there’s an even more deep-rooted reason why the emergence of older influencers makes sense:  Even though American culture doesn’t always show it, people do still appreciate age and experience.

This point hit home for me earlier this spring as I interviewed prospective college students for a special scholarship program.  One of the questions we asked applicants was, “Who has been the most influential person in your life?”  Virtually every person I interviewed identified someone older than them, e.g., a parent, grandparent, coach, or teacher.

If asked the same question, most of us would likely share similar responses.  We’ve all appreciated learning from people who have done or seen things we haven’t, often because they’d lived longer.

So, does valuing age mean that older influencers will eventually take over social media influence?  Probably not.  Age has a strong positive correlation with meaningful influence, but it’s not the cause.  People of all ages have valuable talents and experiences they can share.

So many people have positively influenced me over my life that it’s difficult for me to identify just one; however, among them have been several individuals who were younger than me.  Ironically, some were my students—one who comes to mind is a young man who despite having a significant physical disability, always exhibited an extremely positive outlook no matter how challenging the circumstances.  The fact that he and others were younger than me didn’t matter.  What did matter was that I could learn from them.

A person’s influence isn’t as much a function of their age as it is of the type of person they are, what they’re good at, and how effective they are at sharing with others.  A potentially helpful way of thinking about these three things is a paradigm I wrote about in an article a few years ago for the American Marketing Association.  I called the model “The three C’s of personal branding,” which are:

  • Competencies: Everyone has unique talents, but people often need to invest time in developing them so that their knowledge and skills can improve to the point that they become useful to others.
  • Character: Theodore Roosevelt said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  This truth aptly supports the notion those who influence us most aren’t just those who are smart or talented; rather, they are people who are kind and genuine.
  • Communication:  Individuals of upstanding character who have valuable competencies won’t be very influential unless they effectively communicate with others.  To reach people beyond those with whom they interact each day, influencers need to use some type of mass media, which usually means becoming proficient communicating via today’s most pervasive form of communication—social media.

That fact that the number of older marketing influencers is increasing shouldn’t be surprising.  They’ve lived longer, which means many have more to share; however, longevity alone is not what makes someone influential.  Individuals of any age who are competent, caring, and good communicators are likely to be successful influencers and practitioners of “Mindful Marketing.”

About the Author: Dr. David Hagenbuch, Ethicist and Professor of Marketing, Messiah University, Author of Honorable Influence, Founder of 

Geben Communication Acquires Content Marketing and Influencer Agency Women Online

CommPRO Editorial Staff

Geben Communication, an award-winning public relations firm, today announced it has acquired Women Online, a content and influencer marketing agency that specializes in national social impact and nonprofit clients.

“We’ve always focused on accelerating growth and impact for our clients. Now, we can do more,” said Geben Founder and President, Heather Whaling. “This acquisition expands our expertise, elevates our services, and creates new ways for us to support our clients’ goals. The Women Online team has a rich history of successfully implementing creative, innovative campaigns that shift behaviors, engage stakeholders, and educate audiences, and we’re excited to add their expertise to our team.”

Generalists by intent, Geben’s clients span industries from healthcare and technology to B2B and consumer services. And now, the addition of Women Online catapults Geben to the forefront of the social impact space. After starting as a PR and social media agency in 2009, Geben’s services expanded as clients’ needs evolved over the years — adding paid search, paid social, SEO audits and strategy, and data analytics/insights to its offerings.

Women Online Founder, Morra Aarons-Mele, is joining Geben’s leadership team as EVP and will lead the development of a national social impact practice.

“There’s so much alignment that joining forces feels like a natural next step for both teams,” said Aarons-Mele. “I’m thrilled to deepen our talent bench and supplement our content and influencer services with PR and digital marketing.”

Geben stays at the forefront of ever-evolving client needs. Consumers are demanding brands live their values. By infusing Women Online’s national social impact expertise, Geben is expanding its services to deliver innovative, effective solutions to foundations, nonprofits and mission-driven brands committed to creating a better world.

“Geben means ‘to give’ in German, so it’s only natural that when we decided to invest in our growth, we found a partner who shares our deep commitment to doing well by doing good,” said Whaling.

The transaction was completed as of May 11, 2021. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.


Why Does Bitcoin Have Such A Big Influence On Other Cryptocurrencies

Financial Experts Share Their Opinions on Bitcoin

Julia Beyers

By entering the current bull run, the cryptocurrency market has shown investors all over the globe that it can stand the test of time. People have regained their trust in crypto and are seeking to buy bitcoin with credit card to participate in the financial revolution. 

Investors are often looking at alternate cryptocurrencies to make considerable profits by trading in and out of them. However, aspiring traders and investors should always be aware that the market heavily depends on one cryptocurrency – Bitcoin. 

In this article, we will explain why Bitcoin has so much influence on other cryptos. To achieve this we explore its basics and some major events that helped it reach a value over 1 trillion dollars in just over a decade. 

What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin was launched way back in 2009, by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto. To this day, the identity of its creator remains unknown. 

Nakomoto created Bitcoin with the purpose to provide humanity with a universal digital currency, where users could exchange value without the need of any intermediary. 

He considered our current financial system to be doomed to fail, mainly because of its dependency on governments and central banks. His answer was Bitcoin, a peer-to-peer digital currency with a limited supply, that would provide a hedge against inflation and open the internet economy to anyone on the globe. 

Thanks to this vision, the niche project with just a dozen of miners and users has evolved into a trillion-dollar financial system that spawned an entire industry. Bitcoin revolutionized finances, providing an alternative away from banks and governments. 

Top 4 reasons why Bitcoin can influence the entire crypto market

If you have been following the cryptocurrency market, you might have noticed by now that every time Bitcoin’s price goes down, alternative cryptocurrency prices (commonly called altcoins) follow. The opposite is equally true – when the price of bitcoin rallies, we expect altcoins to go up in price shortly after. 

But why does this happen? What makes Bitcoin so important that an entire industry follows it so closely? If we made the parallel to stock markets, it would be ludicrous to think that all of the Nasdaq would crash just because of Microsoft stocks, for instance. 

Bitcoin was the first

Being the pioneer in this new industry has put a lot of weight on Bitcoin’s shoulders over the years. However, this has also allowed the original cryptocurrency to cement itself as a sure store of value, increasing its popularity to astronomical levels. 

No matter what anyone says, Bitcoin was the coin that put cryptocurrencies into the mainstream. The seemingly simple concept behind Bitcoin caught on with the general public, driving its price to the coveted $50k+ levels we are seeing today. 

It paved the way for an entire industry, and today, almost anyone involved in crypto owns at least some bitcoin. Worth noting is that, to this day, Bitcoin is the only crypto whose creator has remained completely anonymous. 

Many altcoins are just Bitcoin clones

As a direct result of its increasing popularity and value, we saw a proliferation of Bitcoin clones during the years after its release. 

For instance, the first altcoin to see mainstream adoption, Litecoin, uses a copy of the Bitcoin code with the goal to become a lighter and faster version of the original. Many other such clones exist such as Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, Bitcoin Diamond, and dozens more. 

While each one tries to become a better version of Bitcoin, most of the time, they just follow its lead. 

Bitcoin has the most secure network

Bitcoin is based on a proof-of-work mechanism that is ensured by more than 18 million miners participating in Bitcoin’s decentralized network, the blockchain. 

This volume of participants has an effect of a high level of decentralization of the network, ensuring flawless security of the Bitcoin payments system. 

Many investors regard it as a reserve currency for cryptocurrencies 

Because of its pioneering status, investors often consider Bitcoin as the reserve currency of the cryptocurrency market, similar to the USD in the global stock markets. 

Furthermore, many cryptocurrency trading platforms do not propose crypto to fiat trading due to compliance and regulatory measures of their countries. As such, a large number of investors initially invest in Bitcoin to trade it for altcoins and try to make profits thereafter. 

Most pure crypto traders never even compare altcoins’ prices to fiat currencies. Instead, they compare their value to BTC, as it’s the market pair that matters the most to them. 

As such it’s completely understandable to see the entire market prices drop when Bitcoin’s market sentiment plummets. 


Bitcoin is the original cryptocurrency that jumpstarted the entire industry. This pioneering status has enabled it with a multi-billion userbase which in turn helped skyrocket its price and provide the most secure network in the ecosystem. 

It’s important to understand that Bitcoin often has the final word when it comes to market sentiment. Experienced traders and investors always check Bitcoin before bing or selling their altcoin position. Hopefully, our article managed to give some light on the reasons behind this phenomenon. 

About the Author: Being in love with communications and human relations I found myself in Journalism. Another passion of mine is the crypto world and I believe in the crypto future. So I have spent the past 8 years studying as much as I can and sharing my own experiences with people. I am writing now about new trends – how crypto keeps changing the world, businesses and our future.

5 Fast-Moving Trends in Influencer Marketing 2021

Stacy DeBroff, CEO and Founder of Influence Central  

2021 is on track to be a year of explosive growth, continued platform and streaming change, and conversion to sales in Influencer Marketing when brands do it right. Here’s what to look for a huge trends sweeping the influencer space. 

Influencer-Hosted Livestream Shopping will hit the U.S. 

Already a $135 billion dollar industry for e-commerce sales in China, we expect to see this grow dramatically this year in the U.S., with influencers leading the way of showcasing products while a live audience tunes in for special deals and behind the scenes product information.  

Livestreaming enables retailers to leverage consumer’s higher propensity to make a purchase when tuning in real time, as it generates for them instant gratification of a cool deal. The biggest draw for consumers comes from livestreaming’s unique mix of entertainment, behind-the-scenes product info, shared commenting with others, and simple click to buy options. Viewers can ask personalized questions about the product or service or how to use it – something not possible with standard video sharing on Instagram or YouTube. 

U.S. influencers are poised to lead bringing Livestreaming to the U.S. social media platforms and have already begun to kick into gear with livestreaming features on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Amazon Live, Twitch, YouTube and Etsy. It is a way to encourage shopping via social media by offering exclusivity and connection. According to an Influence Central consumer survey: The biggest consumer draws to Livestream shopping are the opportunity for live demos (70%) and a special deal, only available for purchases during the event (60%). 

While only 19% of American consumers participated in livestream shopping in 2020, expect to see these numbers surge in 2021. All the major social media platforms have developed offerings for livestream shopping. Instagram Live within Instagram Stories enables users to livestream. It’s currently testing a new checkout feature to allow shopping start to finish without leaving the Instagram app. Facebook in its Marketplace Community has begun testing a new feature that will enable merchants to sell items more efficiently on a livestream. Currently the darling of livestreaming gamers, there’s development of retail centric offerings on Twitch’s fast-rising social platform. Amazon sellers can host livestream sessions on their store pages or product pages. 

From Burberry launching a new fashion collection on TikTok to L’Oreal livestreaming new beauty products, influencers will lead this livestreaming surge as they convert their loyal audiences to e-commerce sales. 

Surge in E-Commerce via Social Platforms 

Expect a surge in direct social media shopping, with Facebook and Instagram leading the way. 54% of consumers in 2020 purchased products directly within the shopping features of a social medium platform. Expect to see these numbers soar in 2021.  In a recent Influence Central consumer survey:

  • 69% of consumers say they purchased directly via Facebook posts, 34% via Instagram shoppable links and 33% via swipe-up links.
  • More than half of consumers have purchased products directly within the shopping features of a social media platform.
  • Brand social posts and influencer content prove most persuasive when shopping via social media.

Facebook and Instagram so far lead the way for direct social media purchasing:

  • Facebook Post                                  
  • Instagram Shoppable Link                            
  • Instagram Story Swipe-Up Link   

 Influencer’s posts prove most persuasive to consumers when shopping via social media. And 78% of consumers expect to increase their online shopping in 2021 for:

  • Apparel                                                              
  • Health and beauty                          
  • Cleaning products                           
  • Groceries                                           
  • Toys and kids’ activities                
  • Home electronics                            
  • Medicine & supplements     

Creators’ Obsessive Focus on Short-Form Video 

Short-form video content continued to experience significant growth in 2020 and is trending toward an upward spike in 2021. To keep up with the popularity of TikTok, Instagram launched Reels providing a very similar in-app experience. Snapchat also launched its own in-app video platform, Spotlight, in late 2020. 

However, unlike 2020 being the year of the viral TikTok dance challenge, brands and creators need to find new and intriguing ways to engage with followers on these video-centric platforms in 2021. 

Emergent platforms such as Twitch have seen huge success, which now offers brands additional avenues and a whole new set of influencers, from gamers to musicians, to reach consumers. Already offering followers unique content via its streaming platform, Twitch was able to reach record viewership during the Pandemic and has positioned itself as a leader in livestream events, a trend that is not going away any time soon. 

The Rise of Micro-Influencers for Engagement 

Looking as far back as Spring 2020 in the early days of the Pandemic, you could see the emergence of new trends in influencer content and follower relatability. These prove lasting changes that truly benefit the micro-influencer. 

  • Four key factors of working with micro-influencers still hold true today: Authenticity, Engagement, Cost and Content. Consumers are engaging with online content more than ever before — from comfort and entertainment to staying connected with loved ones.

Followers want to see relatable versus inspirational. People aren’t dressing up for flashy nights out or serving large dinner parties. They want to engage with their favorite influencers in a real situation and facing the same realities they’re currently facing, as well. It is harder to relate to the celebrity or even macro-influencer’s everyday life than the micro-influencer. In another survey of I-C’s consumer insights panel amid the Pandemic, consumers most valued content related to food, entertainment and escapism. The effects of the shutdowns and stay-home lifestyle on consumer behavior will be felt well into 2021 and beyond.

In addition to relatable content, micro-influencers tend to be less likely to spark major controversy as compared to a celebrity or macro-influencer. A brand can also work with a larger number of creators across multiple platforms under tighter budgets by targeting micro-influencers.

Brands Have to Walk a Fine Line on Social Issues

In 2021, brands will need to continue walking the fine line of using their voice to promote social issues and impact change, while not alienating customer bases or making a misstep in the process. In a post-election survey of Influence Central’s consumer insights panel: 

  • 70% of consumers say that a brand’s stance on social issues impacts their purchasing behavior.
  • 78% of consumers believe that corporations should embrace social leadership right now alongside answering to shareholders.
  • 75% of consumers believe brands wading into explosive social issues carries intense risk after such a fraught election.

Brands in 2021 are expected to stand for something and although consumers recognize the murky waters brands face when entering conversations on social issues, they can be equally as offput by brand silence. 

To be successful in influencer marketing moving forward, brands need to double down on their vetting processes to ensure influencers align with their core values prior to collaborating. While this has always been an important factor in influencer marketing, examples like beauty influencer Jeffree Star’s relationship with Morphe Cosmetics or Amanda Ensign’s partnership with Sephora, show how being on the wrong side of social issues can lead to immediate break-ups for brands and their influencer partners, which can be catastrophic to brand marketing plans and budgets.

About the Author: Stacy DeBroff, founder and CEO of Influence Central ( is a leading social media strategist and influencer marketing expert, working with over 350 national brands each year. She regularly appears on national media for her trendspotting insights on future trends. Headquartered in Boston, her company has been named to the Inc. Magazine list of the nation’s fastest-growing privately held companies 5 years in a row.

Influencer Marketing in 2021: A Look Ahead

Katie Coulter, FrazierHeiby Account Executive 

Across the board, organizations are taking note of the measurable impact of influencer relations. As the industry nears a $10 billion market size, you might be wondering — where’s this money coming from? 

Many brands are making sizable investments in influencer marketing. In fact, nearly two-thirds of marketers increased their influencer budget in 2020. And, with the ongoing pandemic, many in-person engagements are cancelled, leaving extra dollars on the table to be allocated toward safer communications campaigns that limit in-person interaction. 

As you plan your marketing strategy for the upcoming year, here’s what you should keep in mind about the future of influencer marketing. 

Video content is still on the rise.

Mobile video consumption rises by 100 percent annually. Traditional video platforms, such as YouTube and Facebook, along with emerging tools like TikTok and Instagram Reels, suggest that video is here to stay. And as we’ve learned, where there are viewers, there are influential people entertaining them. 

Many big brands began working with TikTok influencers in creative and unexpected ways early on. Take this #TooSickToBeSick campaign from Mucinex, which engaged four influencers to showcase a transformation pre- and post-medicine. Video content gives more time for influencers to explain product details, showcase it in action and share key message points, making it a great alternative to static photos. 

Virtual opportunities trump IRL activations. 

Influencers are people, too. Groundbreaking, right? With the pandemic continuing to impact our daily lives, we need to remember that safety always comes first — and that includes the safety of our beloved brand ambassadors. While in-person influencer activations are usually ideal, it’s not worth putting your organization or its influencers at risk. 

Instead of hosting an in-person event, try bringing people together through Instagram or Facebook Live, or coordinate video calls for more intimate gatherings. Ship any important items to the influencer ahead of time. Plan the virtual experience to be seamless and impactful. Long story short: Until the world opens, virtual alternatives are a must. 

Influencers power the content engine. 

If done correctly, influencer content should be authentic, on-brand and appealing to your target audience. That’s why it’s the perfect content to repurpose on your brand’s owned channels, like its social media, blog or newsletter — just make sure content usage is baked into the contract. 

Plus, influencer content gives you a chance to see what your target audience is saying about your brand and products. What’s the conversation in the comments? Are users tagging their friends? Are they excited about the partnership? This is an opportunity to read, learn, engage and begin to build a community that rallies around your company. 

While the elements of influencer marketing might ebb and flow, it’s a marketing tactic that’s here to stay.

About the Author: Fueled by coffee, big ideas and a good blazer, Katie Coulter roots her communications strategy in storytelling. As an account executive at FrazierHeiby in Columbus, Ohio, she’s passionate about media relations, influencer marketing and social media. Katie is a proud Bobcat and alumna of Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. You can reach her at

How to Find the Right Influencers for Your Campaign

Jill Kurtz, Owner, Kurtz Digital Strategy

Think you need an influencer campaign for your marketing and communication efforts? This seems to be a common tactic lately.

Saying you are going to leverage the influence of one of more people who have a strong audience in your field or among your target audience is easy. Figuring out who is really an influencer may take time.

Here’s some help if your goal is to leverage influencers.

Four Measures to Pick the Right Influencer for Your Marketing Campaign

1. Audience Demographics

You need a deep understanding of your target audience to determine if an influencer is a fit. General demographics like gender and age are too broad to help you find the right influencer.

Layers like location, interests (including interest in your area of effort and your brand), income, language and more can help you to hone in on the best influencer for your needs.

You want to find a good intersection of your target and the influencer’s audience. You want enough people in an influencer’s audience who would also likely be interested in your brand or product.

2. First-Hand Awareness

Speaking of target audience, you ideally want the influencer to be in that audience. Someone who knows your brand first hand will be in the best position to talk about it.

At the least, you want someone who meets the major criteria of your target audience. That person is most likely to have influence over others in the same group.

3. Follower Growth

The degree of influence is measured by social media influencer follower growth. You pick an influencer based on their following. It makes sense to pay attention to how that following grows during your engagement with that person.

You want to see a steady, consistent rise. Dramatic increases could mean the influencer is buying followers or using some other means to artificially boost their following.

4. Social Content

Even if your focus is one particular social platform, look at the content an influencer publishes everywhere online. This will give you a complete view of where they actually wield influence.

Take time to review conversations, noting topics and who is engaging.

Follow the Data

As you consider these four factors, don’t ignore any other insights you gain. There are dozens of data points you can consider. Effective influencer marketing requires both data science and creativity.

3 Tips to Retool Your Influencer Marketing During COVID-19

Adam Rossow, Co-Founder, Group RFZ

With lockdowns driving up social media engagement, and influencers still creating content from home, influencer marketing remains a resilient strategy. However, it’s not business as usual. These tips can guide you through the reformulated world of influencer marketing during the pandemic. 

Social media use among U.S. adults has risen significantly during COVID-19, with Kantar estimating that, in the later stages of the pandemic, social media engagement has increased by 61 percent over normal usage rates. With more time being spent on social, combined with the challenges of creative production, and a growing disdain for brands playing the role of messenger, influencer marketing has catapulted up the marketing food chain. However, we all know it is not just marketing as usual right now. So, what steps can marketers take to augment their influencer efforts and connect with a largely distressed and skeptical audience?

1) Recognize the variance
Part of the beauty of influencer marketing is that, with the right creators and amplification strategy, a brand’s message can reach the masses through trusted couriers. That said, it is not exactly the ideal time for mass marketing and uniform communications. This pandemic is not impacting us all equally and our mindsets are far from homogenous. That’s why our marketing campaigns shouldn’t be either.

A perfect example is right around the corner. This year’s “back to school” campaigns will be vastly different, depending largely on the geographic impact of the virus and local rules. Does it really make sense to launch a blanket influencer campaign when our experiences will differ so greatly? Instead of blindly pushing forward in these situations, consider some alternatives that will help your influencer campaign truly resonate. For instance, rather than defaulting to your usual pool of creators, check out hyper-local influencers with concentrated followings to get your message out to a targeted audience in a more relatable way. Then, pull out the megaphone and amplify this localized content through social advertising in the appropriate geographies. 

2) Move it on up
Every business needs to sell. However, what does it say about your brand if, during a pandemic, all of your influencer marketing is designed to fill up shopping carts? Amid this crisis, there is an opportunity for brands to move at least a portion of their influencer programs up-funnel – to instead use influencer marketing to strengthen connections, build trust and share its values. It seems like a simple move, but evoking emotion and building good will is far from easy.

Where I see clients fall down as they shift to upper-funnel objectives is misunderstanding their audience. Consumer mindsets, fears and motivations are changing weekly, and marketers need to guide influencers appropriately. Clients I’ve seen succeed with upper-funnel influencer programs are scouring their organization for new primary research on their consumers or have taken steps to create their own ongoing insight mechanism. Everything from a couple of poll questions in an email newsletter to quick consumer pulse surveys should inform more fluid programs that truly resonate. Just as important, they implement new measurement solutions to understand how these efforts are impacting consumer perceptions and their brand, and measure frequently to ensure they are on the right path. 

3) Stay rooted in reality
We hear repeatedly about the importance of authenticity, but what does this really mean in terms of influencer marketing? As influencer marketing has matured, there’s been a shift from celebrities to everyday people – messengers that individuals actually relate to. This is a time where many of us live in sweatpants, post up in our living rooms and have a less-than-rigid shower schedule. In the light of current events, do you really want your yogurt brand influencer with a face full of makeup and a carefully curated outfit dining on a parfait in her immaculate kitchen?

If they fall into the majority of brands focused on everyday items, marketers should be encouraging their influencers to keep it real. The isolation of the pandemic heightens our need to connect, and embracing the shared experiences of the moment amplifies the impact of influencer marketing. Let influencers know that perfection is actually the antithesis of what you are looking for. In doing so, brands can engender kinship that stems from the realities of everyday living in these abnormal times.

About the Author: Adam Rossow is a co-founder of Group RFZ, an influencer and content measurement firm based in Denver. He helps brand and agencies get past vanity metrics and understand exactly how their marketing programs are impacting the way consumers think, feel and act.



Top Influencers and Innovators Disrupting 2020

Shazir Mucklai, Founder, Imperium Group

Hollywood is a neighborhood located in Los Angeles, California, that’s also synonymous with the glamour, money and power of the entertainment industry. As the show-business capital of the world, Hollywood is home to many famous television and movie studios and record companies. Yet despite its glitzy status, Hollywood has humble roots: It began as a small agricultural community and evolved into a diverse, thriving metropolis where stars are born and dreams come true—for a lucky few. We had the chance to interview some of America’s leading pioneers, check it out below:

Gary Vaynerchuk – @garyvee

Gary Vaynerchuk is the chairman of VaynerX, a modern-day media and communications holding company and the active CEO of VaynerMedia, a full-service advertising agency servicing Fortune 100 clients across the company’s 4 locations.

In addition to VaynerMedia, VaynerX also includes Gallery Media Group, which houses women’s lifestyle brand PureWow and men’s lifestyle brand ONE37pm. In addition to running VaynerMedia, Gary also serves as a partner in the athlete representation agency VaynerSports, cannabis-focused branding and marketing agency Green Street and restaurant reservations app Resy.

Arcade Jackson – @ArcadeJackson

Arcade Jackson is a rising singer song writer from CA. He’s worked with DJs from Morgan page to artists such as 50 cent. A very versatile list to be sure. But his passion has always been in performing. Originally getting his start as a talented up and coming writer working in the background in writing camps and working with various production groups, he soon found his passion for the stage.Opting to travel the world and work in a band, he fell in love with the life of a performer and took to it like a fish in water.

After a few years touring and working within a group he stepped away. Spending the next few year learning and working with his producer (Grammy nominated Klypso) on his craft. Arcade has created a sound bringing together all aspects of his love for music.


Jorge Pelayo – @iiamjorgepelayo

Jorge Pelayo is a half Cuban and Puerto Rican American who went from serving breadsticks to building a successful business. After seeing challenges growing up he made a commitment to become a young millionaire. He has built a team of over 3,500 licensed Agents across the United States that does 8 figures in sales annually. He is a Chairman Council with PHP Agency Inc. His agency has helped over 50,000 clients protect themselves and plan for their futures. He focuses on teaching aspiring entrepreneurs on how to build their own businesses. As a business coach, he’s helped several people cross six figures and more.

Aside from helping clients and agents, he loves helping people. His first mission was to Haiti with an organization called, Hearts for Haiti. He saw first hand the need that exists in the world and decided he wanted to dedicate his life to serving people. His passions are family, salsa dancing, whiskey, wine, food, chess, movies, and traveling. He is in the process of writing his first book so stay tuned. His hobby is real estate development and has recently built his first few properties from the ground up. He speaks on leadership, sales, organizational management, and personal transformation and recently shared the stage with Kobe Bryant, George Bush, Billy Bean, Jordan Peterson, and Patrick Bet-David at the 2019 PHP Convention. 


Madi And Ana Bella Heichel – @madiandanaheichel

With well over 100 million views on their social media and featured trending broadcasts, the Heichel sisters are sure to be the next big thing! Madi, Ana, and Bella Heichel Are singing sisters from a small town in Ohio. From a very young age, the moment they’re tiny toes touched the floor in the morning there synchronized voices could be heard throughout their home. Pure, spontaneous, and in perfect harmony, the girls feed off each other’s energy in a positive, infectious way. At ages 12, 17 and 19, the girls are inseparable and truly better when they are together. Madi is the perfectionist, Ana is the comedian, and Bella is the adorable diva baby sister. The proof that together the girls are a powerhouse is in their TikToks, Instagram clips, YouTube and appearance on Nickelodeon’s America’s most musical family. The world is responding to them in a big way!


Gina Rodriguez – @ginarodriguez

Gina has been a staple in the entertainment industry since 1992, working in front of the camera as well as behind the camera. She has worn many hats in her 26 years in the business. Working as a mainstream actress, published model, former pornstar, art director, writer, entertainment manager, publicist, wardrobe stylist, reality star, influencer and Executive Producer. She has worked in every facet of the business, which makes her the perfect cocktail for anyone who wants to pop in the entertainment industry.

Gina runs one of Hollywood’s most successful management companies for reality stars, artists and influencers, Gitoni Productions for the past 11 years. Currently, Gina is producing and appearing in, “Mama June: From Not To Hot-Family Crisis”  which is currently airing its 4th season every Friday night 9/8c on WEtv with phenomenal viewership.

Gina has become the go-to for her celebrity transformations and was named “Best Celebrity Makeover Professional of 2020” by Aesthetics Everything. Watch for more captivating reality TV shows coming out produced by Gina Rodriguez this year.


Shazir Mucklai – @shazir.mucklai

Shazir Mucklai, a 23-year old, Goldman Sachs alum, who took investment banking and private equity and coupled it with an act for public relations. Shazir first debuted his book on Amazon when he was 16 and went on to become the youngest writer for Forbes at 17 and has generated over 8 million unique views on publications he has written for. Mucklai now represents over 200 celebrities, brands, and media production houses and is an award-winning influencer, an activist investor, a former analyst at Goldman Sachs and is currently in law School while growing his public relations digital arbitrage firm.


Addison Rae – @addisonrae

Addison Rae Easterling, colloquially known as Addison Rae on TikTok, is an American social media personality and dancer. As of May 2020, she has accumulated 1.9 billion likes and 38.0 million followers on TikTok, ranking as the fifth most-followed individual on the platform. She has broken records left and right with 15.5 million followers on instagram has got attention from many huge celebrities like kane brown, katy perry, jason durelo and the list goes on. In January 2020, she signed with the talent agency WME. She was featured in events throughout the 2020 NBA All-Star weekend alongside Charli and Dixie D’Amelio. She just put out her first huge collaboration with Fanjoy. You can buy her merch


Christian Garcia – @chrstiangarcia 

Young, inspiring, and humble are just a few words to describe, Christian Garcia. Garcia rose from fame when we were first introduced to him on X Factor Mexico. Now the artist on the rise is gearing up to release his debut album! Christian has been singing since the mere age of seven-years-old. He went from performing at local county fairs in his home state to meeting with artists such as Meghan Trainor, Demi Lovato, and more.

Christian has passed over half a million on Instagram and his slime videos have garnered the attention of Good Morning America and Telemundo. He has been featured on Kylie Jenner’s Snapchat and other celebrity cameos.

He is set to debut an album later in the year. He has also crossed over to the entrepreneur world and is investing in huge brands. He says “ I’m crossing industries that makes me work harder.”

How Top Brands Turn Their Leaders into Influencers

Free On-Demand Video

Making News with Your In-house Experts




Learn how executives from Macy’s, Danone, Evian and more get their executives on the news. Watch this free on-demand video as industry leaders share their insights on the best practices for a brand spokesperson to get their story out there and deliver it with authenticity. We’ll discuss message development, opportunities for broadcast coverage, social media video, training and preparation, developing story angles, the importance of representing diverse leaders as spokespeople, and more.  

The panel will be discussing Brand Visibility 2020 (download here), a survey of 366 journalists by D S Simon Media as well as tactics to get your or your client’s executives featured in the media in a positive story.



Doug Simon, CEO, D S Simon Media | @DSSimon 

Doug Simon is the CEO of award-winning firm D S Simon Media. His firm advises and executes broadcast and social media video communications campaigns for leading brands and non-profits. As media preferences have changed, this increasingly includes featuring CEOs and other executives in satellite media tours in the travel, consumer, technology, healthcare and financial services spaces. Doug began his broadcast career at NBC Sports, where he served as Talent Assistant to Bob Costas. His hobbies include performing stand-up comedy at New York’s top clubs and rooting for terrible sports teams including the Jets and Knicks while still remaining optimistic.



Michael Neuwirth, Senior Director, External Communications, Danone North America

Michael Neuwirth leads external communications for the businesses of Danone in North America.  He is based at the company’s White Plains, NY headquarter office and leads the company’s relationships with journalists and on various corporate communications topics, including crisis communications for the company’s yogurt division. Michael has spent the majority of his career advocating and influencing for better food and agricultural choices for the betterment of people and our planet. Michael has extensive experience in crafting communications, including the past 14 years with Danone’s integrated businesses, and seven years in the company’s North American bottled water and specialty foods businesses, where he served as Director of Corporate Communications for Evian and other brands from 1994 to 2001.  Michael left Danone in 2001 and later returned after working for three years building organic food company Acirca and its flagship brand Walnut Acres, before selling it to Hain-Celestial.  Following this he served for two years as SVP of the marketing practice at Ruder Finn, an independent public relations agency based in New York. He started his career at Porter Novelli, an Omnicom public relations agency, on behalf of Gillette and other clients.


Orlando Veras, Director of National Media Relations, Macy’s, Inc.

The annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks are among the most iconic events celebrated in the United States. As director of national media relations, Orlando Veras serves as a spokesperson while also playing a key role in the communications strategy and execution of these events. He also oversees national and regional communications strategy and execution of press initiatives focused on Macy’s Technology and Digital Customer Experience projects such as the mobile app, social commerce, in-store tech enhancements, digital media, mobile payments, virtual and augmented reality projects and related e-commerce programs. His portfolio also extends to experiential retail concepts, brand management and partnership marketing initiatives, diversity and inclusion efforts and tourism marketing projects.


Jeanne M. Salvatore, President, JMS Consulting & Adjunct Professor, Fashion Institute of Technology

Jeanne M. Salvatore is president of JMS Consulting, a full-service strategic communications firm offering life and executive coaching as well as media and presentation training.  Ms. Salvatore works with individuals and business organizations to help strategically turn change and disruption into opportunity.  She also coaches executives to appear on camera or give important presentations. Ms. Salvatore founded this firm in 2018 after serving in a leadership capacity at the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).  The I.I.I. is a non-profit trade association that represents the property/casualty and reinsurance business. In her tenure at the I.I.I., she played a critical role in building the organization into the highly effective multi-media organization it is today.   She was the I.I.I.’s chief communications officer and it is primary spokesperson appearing frequently on broadcast media to represent the property/casualty insurance industry. As a spokesperson, she communicated complex insurance information into simple consumer-facing language to educate the public on what insurance is and how it works.  An important part of her responsibility was focused on communicating what to do before, during and after a disaster. She worked closely with the CEOs, the chief communications officers and the general counsels of the leading national/international insurance companies as well as state and federal government agencies and non-profits focused on safety and disaster preparedness.



Lessons on Influencer Marketing from an 8-Year-Old

Lauren Parker, Executive Vice President, FrazierHeiby

Ryan Kaji is eight years old and makes more money than you do.

He is the namesake of Ryan ToysReview, one of the most influential YouTube stars on the platform. My four-year-old twins are included in his more than 20 million subscribers and my family has contributed to the channel’s more than 30 billion total views. He reportedly raked in $22 million in 2018 from his videos and a line of toys and clothing at Wal-Mart.

The time spent watching these seemingly frivolous videos proved valuable once I began to watch through my marketing professional’s lens. As more and more of my clients are tapping outside influencers and launching their own personalities as brand stewards, much of the counsel I’ve offered could be summarized in a Ryan ToysReview case study. Here’s what I mean.

Let Personality Shine

If YouTube wasn’t around, this kid would have found another path to the big screen. He exudes unabashed childhood joy and comes across as unrehearsed and authentic. His parents play equally charismatic supporting roles, fully investing energy into wild and silly activities with their kid. As a marketer, make sure the spokesperson or influencer you choose to feature is willing and able to be comfortable on camera. And, give them the flexibility to be themselves without forcing them to recite corporate messaging verbatim.

Balance Variety with Familiarity

Ryan and his family release a new video every day. With a release schedule this aggressive, it’s important to find a balance between variety of content so the audience doesn’t get bored with some structure so viewers know what they can expect. Typically, Ryan ToysReview videos fall into one of the following categories: unboxing, a wildly popular YouTube trend among young kids; a silly science experience; cosplay with familiar children’s brands like Marvel or PAW Patrol; a field trip or special event like a birthday party or day at Disneyland.

Keep the Mistakes

Flub a word? Dump too much glue in the recipe for slime? Knock the Batman mask off daddy? Ryan ToysReview videos often keep unintended mishaps in the videos – and for good reason. Much like our appreciation for SNL characters “breaking” during a sketch, these unexpected moments add excitement, humor and authenticity. While there is still a time and place for slick, polished video content for brands, these more homegrown videos can be more emotionally compelling. 

Create a Universe

Anyone can point their smartphone and start filming. There are thousands of toy review channels on YouTube, and the same can be said of nearly any other niche interest group online. What Ryan ToysReview has accomplished masterfully is create a universe for its viewers. It’s constructed a look into the imagination of its star and invited others to play along with original characters and scenarios. This immersive point of view is what keeps people coming back and engaging time and time again. As marketers, it’s our job to work with clients to articulate the world view they wish to present and bring it to life on camera.

Looking ahead to 2020, research continues to show that influencer marketing is the fastest-growing online customer acquisition method. By 2022, it’s predicted that videos will make up 82% of all online traffic. If you haven’t already, give video influencer marketing a second look – and let Ryan school you on the basics.

Lauren ParkerAbout the Author: Lauren Parker is Executive Vice President of FrazierHeiby, a marketing and communications firm based on Columbus, Ohio. Lauren has more than a decade of experience counseling clients through crisis and reputation management, brand positioning, social media engagement, employee relations and digital communications strategy. You can find her on Twitter at @ImLaurenParker or connect by email at





4 Steps to Solving a PR Crisis with Influencer Marketing

Mandy Anderson, VP of Sales, Sway Group

In a perfect world, your brand will never have to endure a PR calamity. You’ll never have a single recall, product shortage, data breach, service outage, miscommunication or upset customer.


4 Steps to Solving a PR Crisis with Influencer Marketing


Of course, the less delightful reality is that most businesses will eventually be faced with some sort of PR stumbling block, whether it’s an unflattering social media review or a scandal that threatens your company’s performance.

Here’s how the Institute for PR defines a PR crisis:

A crisis is defined here as a significant threat to operations that can have negative consequences if not handled properly.  In crisis management, the threat is the potential damage a crisis can inflict on an organization, its stakeholders, and an industry.  A crisis can create three related threats: (1) public safety, (2) financial loss, and (3) reputation loss.

When it’s all hands on deck to mitigate the damage, the good news is that you have a surprisingly powerful set of assets to help boost your image and convey your sincerity in making things right: influencers and a strong influencer marketing strategy.

During tough times, influencer marketing can be an incredibly valuable tool to help manage developing PR situations and bolster the positive messaging you want out in the world.

4 Key Points to Consider When Activating Influencers During a PR Crisis

  1. Be Transparent

It’s imperative to move quickly when it comes to addressing the issue and/or apologizing. Companies who delay acknowledging the problem will only make things worse, especially in today’s environment of lightning-fast social media.

Don’t shy away from the facts of what happened or how your brand has been received. In the wake of a PR crisis, consumers want immediate, sincere information, and they definitely don’t want any corporate jargon.

Communicate with influencers to make sure they’re aware of how you’re working to resolve the situation, and encourage them to use their own authentic voice when addressing any crisis-related messaging.

  1. Make Sure Influencers Know the Plan

When a crisis is underway, your influencer campaign should include a comprehensive response plan. If questions or negative comments come up on influencer posts, they should never go ignored or unanswered. Know who’s going to be responsible for these communications, and what the message should be.

Influencers should be prepped with the basics for questions their audiences may ask, but the real work should be done by the brand. This isn’t a burden, it’s actually an amazing opportunity, not only to publicly demonstrate your openness and honesty, but to directly connect with consumers in a meaningful way.

For negative or angry posts, or complicated questions, take the conversation offline. Ask for an email dialogue or a phone call, but be sure to actually follow up. Remember, brands must be able to deliver on the promise and expectations they ask influencers to create in the first place.

  1. When in Doubt, Wait it Out

If your brand was just under fire for a serious faux pas and news articles are still circulating at a fast and furious pace, it might be prudent to take a beat before launching your next influencer campaign. Depending on the severity of the crisis, the better strategy could involve planning out a future campaign based on what people are most concerned about.

You’ll know the biggest concerns, because people will be talking about them! This is when to really pay attention to social media; people won’t be shy in telling you what they expect from your response.

Use this information to craft your upcoming influencer activities. While it’s okay to wait on running a new campaign, don’t hesitate to acknowledge the situation. Remember step one: transparency is key.

  1. Influence Your Search Engine Results

Even long after the dust has settled, search engine results resurface past transgressions. You can help clear up any lingering bad press with influencer marketing. Influencer blog posts, videos, and social media campaigns help you populate search engine results with relevant, current and positive brand content.


4 Steps to Solving a PR Crisis with Influencer Marketing - chart


A great influencer campaign can shift opinions about your brand, drive conversations, and boost sales — and it’s exactly the kind of SEO you’re looking for. Be sure to have influencers use the same product name across the board, circulate their content as much as possible and plan to regularly engage wherever your brand is mentioned.

Eventually, Google will reflect your hard work with positive associations that far outweigh yesterday’s misstep.

The Final Word

A PR crisis will likely be a surprise, but how you choose to respond shouldn’t be. After all, as Warren Buffet famously said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” By empowering influencers to get real about your brand misstep, you can minimize the negative spin and begin engaging in the kinds of active conversations that help repair reputations and even generate positive buzz.

4 Steps to Solving a PR Crisis with Influencer Marketing - Mandy AndersonAbout the Author: Mandy joined Sway Group in November of 2018, overseeing all of Sales operations and personnel. She was previously Vice President of Sales for NBC Universal’s owned Connecticut television station after spending 6 years in management at NBC Bay Area in San Francisco. Mandy has 20 years of Sales experience in the Broadcast Television industry, handling direct and agency business across the country. She lives in Simsbury, Connecticut with her husband and teenage son.


Influencer Analytics for Next-Gen Communicators

Madeline McCabe, Senior Analyst, PublicRelay

First Data Corporation’s Vice President of Communications, Michael Schneider, recently discussed influencer analytics that the team leverages to inform their broader influencer and media relations strategies. In the clip below, he highlights three types of influencers that should be on the radar of next-gen communicators and how your measurement program can help you uncover and engage them:

Traditional Influencers

It’s an aggregate of factors that determine which journalists the Communications team at First Data will engage. Potential impressions of an outlet don’t guide their influencer strategy as much as the combination of syndication, social sharing data, and active following on social. The goal is to encourage audience engagement, rather than garner a large amount of potential impressions. All of this influencer data is analyzed over time to understand who receives consistent engagement, which then prioritizes outreach.

Influencer Analytics for Next-Gen CommunicatorsNew Era Influencers

Today we’re in an era where almost anyone can be an influencer with a strong blog or social media presence. These new era influencers are an important tool in a next-gen communicator’s arsenal. Again here, the emphasis is on quality over quantity. Schneider says, “you could be somebody who on Twitter may only have 150 followers, but if those 150 followers are 150 high-value folks that you want to create a relationship with, then that person may be an influencer.” It’s important to understand the demographics of an influencer’s audience, the audience’s level of engagement, and the topics that receive the most engagement to determine if an influencer is reaching the right audience for your brand rather than just a large audience.

Third-Party Influencers

Third-party influencers are experts in their field that journalists often quote or consult when writing an article. They can include academics, political pundits, regulatory groups, and other industry experts. They lend objective credibility to your brand’s thought leadership if your thinking aligns.

Schneider points out that it’s important to approach these influencers with the mindset of “what can we offer them?” rather than solely how to leverage the relationship to amplify your message. Share your data and insights about the industry with these influencers to contribute to their journey and this will foster a goodwill relationship. Schneider says in the end, this approach to influencer engagement “leads to wonderful sounding boards for strategic ideas that you might have. Once you develop that cone of trust, you can bounce ideas off of people and really see what others think.”

Uncovering third-party influencers often requires more in-depth influencer analytics because they tend to be buried in the body of an article rather than author pieces themselves. The extra effort is worthwhile however to establish this kind of mutually beneficial relationship.

Interested in learning more? Watch the on-demand recording of “Shaping Communications at First Data Using a World Class Measurement Strategy.”

About the Author: Madeline McCabe is a PublicRelay Senior Media and Operations Analyst. Madeline holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Influence” is Building Meaningful Communities

Editor’s Note: Originally posted on Shonali Burke’s blog “Waxing Unlyrical”

Patrice Tanaka, Founder & Chief Joy Officer, Joyful Planet LLC 

I recently returned tired, but energized from a four-day Dress for Success“Success Summit” attended by 100 women leaders globally.  As I contemplated this post Shonali Burke asked me to write on the topic of “influence” it occurred to me that the hugely gratifying Success Summit was a perfect illustration of the concept of Influence.

Behavioral scientist Jon Levy in his TED Talk “What Makes Us Influential?” says “influence” is the “ability to build meaningful communities around us.”  And it’s about your “connections” and “getting people to bond with one another” and “build trust in one another and in you.”

CEO Joi Gordon with Dress for Success DelegatesThis is exactly why Joi Gordon, CEO of Dress for Success, is “influential.”  Joi is the reason that 100 women leaders gave up four days of their lives – more than a year of time – to participate in the Success Summit.  And for the nine speakers, including myself, to do so as a pro bono labor of love.

Joi is celebrating her 20th anniversary with Dress for Success Worldwide, which she has built into a global, powerhouse non-profit, helping more than a million women to achieve economic independence via 160+ sites in 30 countries.  Building a global network like this requires a tremendous amount of community building, fueled by Joi’s purpose and commitment to helping women gain confidence and clarity so they can succeed in life.

Frankly, I don’t think it’s possible to build a “meaningful community” – and certainly not a large and enduring one of more than a million people like the Dress for Success community – if it’s not based on a “purpose” larger than the individual self.

Through her ability to build a meaningful community, Joi helped Dress for Success grow from its humble beginnings in the basement of a New York City church staffed by two employees to the global community that it is today.

Dress for Success Live Your LegacyKey to influence, says Jon Levy, is the ability to “get people to bond with one another” and to “build trust in one another and in you.” Beyond just outfitting women with a professional wardrobe as they re-enter the workforce from homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters and prison, Dress for Success provides ongoing support and sisterly bonding through their Professional Women’s Groups (PWGs) at each site.  These groups meet monthly and, with the help of outside guest speakers, women learn and help one another to succeed.

For the past 15 years, Dress for Success has produced an annual, by-invitation “Success Summit” open to participants in their Professional Women’s Groups.  Selected “Delegates” are invited to an all-expenses paid Summit for a rich, leadership development experience.  The requirement of Delegates is that they return to their sites and develop and implement a Community Action Project to help other women on their path to economic independence and empowerment.

This year at the four-day, “Success Summit” aboard Carnival Cruise Lines Victory (funded by the Carnival Foundation), 100 women, including 74 inspiring “Delegates,” nine amazing speakers (“Cruise Captains”) and 17 crack Dress for Success team members (“Crew”) set sail on a voyage of a lifetime.

It truly was a voyage of a lifetime not just for the Delegates, but for all the speakers, and the Dress for Success crew who planned, organized and ran this hugely successful “experiential” event.  I say experiential event because there were Cruise Captains in captain’s hats and a lovely Cruise Director who organized this trip and kept us on schedule. There were Delegates committed to “Live Your Legacy” – the theme of the summit.

Did Captain Joi Gordon build Dress for Success into a meaningful community of women?  Did the 100 women at the “Success Summit” bond with one another?  Did they build trust in one another and in Joi Gordon, global leader of Dress for Success?

The answer to all these questions is an overwhelming “Aye Aye!”

Is Joi Gordon a terrific example of a woman of “influence”?

Again, the answer is an overwhelming “Aye Aye!”

Patrice TanakaAfter an award-winning PR & Marketing career and co-founding three agencies, Patrice Tanaka started Joyful Planet, working with individuals and organizations to discover and actively live their purpose and unleash greater success, fulfillment and joy in their personal lives, in their workplaces and in their communities. Life and organizational purpose are the subjects of Patrice’s best-selling books, Beat the Curve and Performance360. Patrice has been honored by PRWeek (Hall of Fame inductee), PRSA Foundation (Paladin Award), PRSA (Paul M. Lund Award for Public Service), among others. Reach Patrice via LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram.