Recognizing Value: Influencers Deserve To Be Treated Like Traditional Talent

Nov 21, 2023
Recognizing Value: Influencers Deserve To Be Treated Like Traditional Talent
The creator economy has evolved, and the traditional power dynamics between brands and influencers have shifted. No longer are brands the sole powerhouses, and influencers aren't just individuals awaiting their big break. They've become the landscape itself and shape consumer engagement and brand perceptions worldwide.

I've had a front-row seat to this transformation. Starting in the mailroom of a renowned talent agency, I worked my way up through the ranks. I eventually served as a creative executive to a filmmaker and moved into talent management. These experiences were instrumental in understanding the intrinsic value of talent, a comprehension that's now more relevant than ever in the burgeoning creator economy.

Today, as the owner of a PR agency, I see striking parallels between my days in talent management and the current influencer-centric market. We've moved from a world where influencers accepted minimal compensation or free products in exchange for endorsements to one where they operate as mini-enterprises. These digital brands are represented by heavyweights like the Creative Artists Agency or United Talent Agency, emphasizing their value and notoriety.

In talent management, recognizing an individual's unique value is the cornerstone of their career development. I've learned that this principle is transferable. Today's creators invest significant resources into their personal brands. They keep up with their audience, nurture their followers and produce content that resonates. This is their livelihood. As I navigated negotiations for actors, understanding their appeal and audience was paramount. Similarly, creators' digital platforms are their stage, demanding respect and appropriate valuation.

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The casual outreach strategies once common in PR no longer suffice. You cannot simply send a direct message and expect a brand endorsement deal to follow. Engaging with a creator today requires the same formalities, preparedness and financial commitment as traditional talent negotiations. Their time, online presence and creativity come with a price tag.

Why this monumental shift? It centers around the recognition of value. Just as no seasoned actor would perform for exposure alone, digital creators now seek rightful compensation for their influence and reach. They built their platforms through consistent effort, creativity and audience engagement. They know their worth. They know they are valuable commodities within the marketing ecosystem.

In response, brands are evolving. My firm has witnessed this firsthand. Many companies go so far as to establish dedicated departments for managing influencer relationships. This adaptation is not without challenges, though. The creator economy demands clarity in communication, readiness to provide fair compensation and an understanding that these collaborations are more akin to business partnerships than casual sponsorships.

Navigating this new terrain requires leveraging lessons from talent management. It's imperative to recognize that influencers are entitled to the same professional courtesies and respect as traditional talent. Their contribution to a brand's visibility and success is significant, often driving consumer trust and engagement more effectively than other methods.

As we navigate this relatively unexplored territory, one thing is abundantly clear: The creator economy is here to stay. It's a domain where influencers are not just contributors; they are stars, and their influence is the currency. In this complex yet exciting landscape, understanding the rules of engagement is essential. The parallels between talent management and the dynamics of the creator economy are unmistakable, highlighting that while the players may change, the principles of valuing genuine talent endure.