Everything Influencer Management

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Everything Influencer Management

Interview With: Emily Ward and Jess Hunichen of Shine Talent Group

Published May 11, 2021

Listen to the live podcast version of this story

So you’re going to hear from the women behind Shine Influencers today. Emily and Jess are incredible. There are a lot of management companies out there. Every company is going to take a different approach to management. If you’ve been listening to our podcast for a while, you know management is my entryway point into influencer marketing. I have a lot of opinions on how to manage influencers, how to manage an agency (since I had my own), and I can honestly say that I have so much respect for the way that Shine is running their agency.

And so during this conversation you are going to learn about all things talent management, running your own management company what it is to have business partners.

Jessy Grossman:

Welcome, Jess and Emily. This is going to be such a good conversation. So get ready. We have two incredible women from Shine joining us today. We’re going to get real and ask some really great questions. Whether you’re an influencer yourself, you have questions about how to get managed, or how to price your content appropriately, or how to best work with managers. I cannot emphasize enough, these are your women. So they are going to be honest and real and supportive, because that is what WIIM is all about and they’re both incredible members of our organization. I know that they will be giving it to you. Jess, can you introduce yourself? I’d love for you to  share a little bit more about you and your journey to influencer marketing.

 Jess Hunichen:
Of course, thank you for having us. And so as you mentioned mentioned, I’m Jess and I’m the co-founder of Shine Talent Group with my partner Emily, who’s with us today as well. And so my road to influencer marketing kind of either was a windy path. And so I started my career in publicity in Melbourne. I’m from Melbourne, Australia originally, so worked predominantly in television and entertainment in Australia. And then I moved to Toronto around seven years ago and stumbled across Emily who had like her freelance PR business at the time. And we started a PR agency together first and then yeah, we kind of like fell backwards into influencer marketing just in terms of like seeing a really a really lovely space for it in the Canadian market first and foremost. Again, this is six years ago. So like, in like, I feel like it’s like dog years, you know, like in like influencer years and like a lifetime decades ago. And so yeah, six or so years ago, you know, the landscape was completely different. And there was a really nice opportunity for us to come in and really fill a void, both for the influencers, and bloggers and Instagram is at the time. And like the agencies and brands who didn’t quite know, like the best ways to connect with the talent and get the most out of their campaigns. So, so yeah, that’s how, that’s how we start now. Let Emily tell the rest of the story.

Emily Ward:
Yeah, we were just speaking to a new team member this week, who joined our LA team and I was recounting like how Jess and I met which seems like a minute ago and a million years ago, all the same. But yes, so Jess and I both come from a pretty extensive background in PR which I think has aided us a lot. We hear so often people talking about the influencer category and refer to it as being this like totally new space is totally new thing that in actuality the way that you know Jess and I have always approached it is that it’s not it follows very much the same like proven principles of PR, though finding you know, those tastemakers and ambassadors in different categories, and then arming them with information so they can share it authentically like with their with their community. So Jess and I have always shared that approach when it comes to both our PR clients and then also the influencer space and it’s just been like a really wild, exciting ride watching the past like six years unfold. We started off as being like just two freelancers coming together who decided to create an agency where because honestly, we had booked a really big meeting we had booked, like a big beating, and we didn’t want to go in as being like Jess and Emily, we want to go in as being more professional. So started Shine, really on a WIIM and never thought that it would be this. But I think I always innately knew that it was going to be successful, we just didn’t, I didn’t know what that was going to look like. And, you know, since that time, we’ve obviously grown tremendously.We are now not a team of two. We’re a team of 25 across two markets. A team in Toronto, and LA. And what started out as the influencer has been just a unique offering that was trying to strengthen our PR business has now grown to be like, 99% of the business of what we do. So very, very exciting journey.

Jessy Grossman:
Super exciting and I love what you sort of started to touch on which is that success looks different depending on who you are. You guys started in one place and maybe with different intentions and now you’ve grown and people look from the outside, look at Shine and say “wow, this agency is like really successful”. How is Shine different?

Emily Ward:
Well, I think Jess and I are in different places like in our careers as well. So I feel like when I look at the difference of when we started like six years ago to now I feel like you know Shine has like grown up with the industry. So when we started and we were really trying to carve out like a niche for ourselves. We very much both have had experiences within the advertising in the PR industry have been like this very cold, like harsh space. And you know, particularly like Jess and I had freelanced at one agency together and we just had a lot of experiences when people were treating team members and even the relationship with some clients like it was very, like, it was very harsh. And that’s kind of how people thought was the right way like to motivate or to kind of like gel teams together. And we had such like a strong like opposition to that. So when we like launched Shine and we launched it with really like this like very, like feminine, like positive like vibe first, which I actually feel like you do see more like automatically in agencies like nowadays, but six years ago, when we launched Shine and started an Instagram account, and decided to not be posting about our clients, or like our wins, or our people because we really didn’t have clients to be speaking about at that time. And we decided to, you know, post things about the lifestyle that we were trying to, like, create, like for ourselves. And it was a lot of quotes about like kindness, and like my gosh, like, you know, bunnies with flower crowns on and stuff like that. And so when I look at kind of that branding and positioning, which attracted an a really amazing tribe, in terms of the employees that we gained, and like the clients that we gained, like from that, I feel like, like shine like has like, like grown up to like a different like space now. And we still absolutely like lead with like kindness and positivity. But I feel like we don’t need to be like as loud about it anymore because it’s so engrained in just like who we are and the team is bigger and the culture of who shine is it’s known more.

Jessy Grossman:
Well, I really appreciate that because you know, like it or not, there are definitely other agencies that lead with, like, that’s not a priority. Let’s just say, right? The priority might just be making money at whatever cost, right? Or the priority might be growth at whatever cost, because that’s their priority and as a business person, I’m not going to knock that I would never knock that but it’s refreshing and I feel like I’ve… it’s clear to me that mission, and that distinction of yours really does come through. So I appreciate that a lot and I’m sure other people in the industry do because like you You set the you pave the way, right. I mean, there are only so many management companies out there who work with influencers specifically. So just sort of take that approach. I think it’s great. I think that also what’s interesting is that in the talent management space in particular, it is really easy to get burnt out. And I think that approaching your agency and you mentioned you know, the talent that you attract in terms of managers and people that work for your company. They should that like I hope that they appreciate it too, because elsewhere and I’ll speak personally like it is very easy to get burnt out. Unless you really strongly prioritize mental health. What are your like, you know, are there any specific thing like conversations that happen behind the scenes at Shine in terms of like how to stay… how to keep ahead of that. Like, how to stay healthy in terms of mindset, um considering how manic the industry can sometimes be?

Jess Hunichen:
Yeah, I think this is something we talk about all the time. It’s extremely important to us. And I think, you know, this year and last being pandemic years, it was like, just pushed to the forefront like it hasn’t been before. So I know towards the end of last year, and I believe this is the case for most talent management agencies, but q4 is always just like, a bonanza, like, It’s wild, it’s so busy, there’s so much going on. So towards the end of last year, we were like, gosh, and not only our team, like our team, our talent, the agency, like, no one’s in a good mood, like, everyone’s ready for like, a break. And I think everyone’s gonna, okay, get to the end of the get to the end of the year. And then like, we refresh, like, that’s what the new year is, like, it starts again, but like, we started and like, kind of in the same situation, right. So I think that, you know, towards the end of last year, particularly, we, you know, we had experts come in to do both for our talent and our team separately, to do sessions on burnout, because we’re like, this is like, this is real, and we were very aware of, you know, that they’re failing, and the end of the day, like our team is, it will always be our biggest asset. Like, if they’re burnt out, then like, we got some problems, you know, and so there’s that, but then there’s also, you know, finding a nice balance and boundaries with talent, which can be really hard. And, you know, we love our talent and, you know, they’re all they’re all creatives, right, so like, they like potentially don’t see like the business side of what we do all the time. And it’s hard to kind of, you know, find that balance of like, how much do you share of like, what goes on behind the scenes, like, in some ways, like, well, that’s our job to like, handle all the nitty gritty, all the back and forth, I don’t need to see that there’s been a 50 email thread around usage rights. Like, that’s what we’re there for. That’s what they pay us for. So, but at the same time, you know, we don’t want it to we don’t want our talent, like, oh, like, Oh, this was just easy peasy. Like, they just locked it in, there was no problems, I think it’s like, it’s finding a nice balance there. So that the talent like understand and really appreciate like, how much time the team put into everything and how like, innately personal, it becomes like, we this is a job where like, you have to put your own personal ego on the back burner and be always advocating for other people and not like, that can be tiresome, you know, and like, and as I said, like, it’s easy to do in the sense that like, we have such great relationships with that talent. And that’s really important to us but it’s, you know, that they don’t see everything that goes on. And that’s, that’s very deliberate on our end, like, they don’t, they don’t need to see it. As I said, it’s our job.

Jessy Grossman:
And so talk to us a little bit about that, like, for any influencers, listening, let’s say, who want, you know. What don’t they know? What don’t they see? Give us like a brief overview of things that happen on a day to day that they’re probably completely unaware of.

Jess Hunichen:
Oh, gosh, like so much like this there is. So I feel like they probably see 10% of what happens. And again, like, Is that a good or a bad thing? Like, I don’t know, I don’t know, which, like, side of the fence, I sit on, I sit like, just on the fence on that one, I guess because, you know, there’s, like, obviously, like, all the internal meetings, you know, there’s all of like, the strategy, and that’s, like, you know, where we’re at, when I come into play as well. And like, potentially, like, our team don’t see half the things that we do to we’re talking about this earlier today. Like, it’s those little things that we do that, like, enables the agency to run as it does, and that, you know, certainly the talent agency. And again, that it’s not bad in any way any kind of negative but, you know, there’s there’s hundreds and hundreds of meetings and strategy sessions that like we do with the team, I learned just to like, arm them with like really incredible strategic mindsets and capabilities so that, you know, when they are going out and pitching, like, it’s strong, and it’s, it’s good, and it’s successful. So, I think, you know, there’s there’s that they, they don’t see all the pitches that happen that the answer is no, and then the the email back, like, push it further the calls that like, you know, just like that kind of general, like agency marketing that really like serves as, like, the purpose is that it serves everyone really well. And so yeah, I think there’s a bit of that, but um, is there any, like, what am I missing there? There’s, as I said, there’s a lot of things that people don’t see.

Emily Ward:
Yeah, and I think we were talking about this recently because we were talking about like the difference between being with a larger agency versus being self managed or being with like, an independent person who maybe only has like three talent. And I think like a lot of the things that we do and the advantages of being part of the largest our agency is that strategy piece and all the patterns and trends that we see. So all that information that like we’re privy to, because we do hundreds of campaigns, like every month, we do hundreds of campaigns like across North America, we’re able to see very quickly before most people to what is working and what’s not. What is the trend in terms of like the dominance of different kinds of brands coming in. What is the trends in terms of like, the interest in certain kinds of social voices, we are looking at that information. And Jess and I are analyzing it constantly. It’s just what we do, like organically now. And that information gets filtered through and every conversation that we have with our team. So if a talent is struggling in terms of hitting like billing goals, or for evaluating, bringing on a new talent, like to the team, these are all the things that we’re processing at all times. That I don’t think people understand like the the volume that we have to kind of sift through in order to make ourselves successful. And you’re Jessy, you’d said like earlier on about like how and that’s amazing. I love hearing about how there’s five new job postings like in this category in the space right now with WIIM. And that’s like somewhat pinned up and proof. I think that we’re very lucky in terms of being working in a space that allows us to continue, but it’s not pandemic proven. The fact that we’ve seen also, like a lot of agencies like closed their doors last year. And the ones who have like prevailed, the ones who have had a lot of strength are the ones who are able to like, rapidly be able to digest all this information that we get in order to like serve their talent better, or to pet stronger or to make, you know, more successful cooperations because it’s um, it’s not just by nature, like being online, it’s being able to understand all those different communication tools and all those different like points of difference, to be able to make like really like strong, successful campaigns.

Jessy Grossman:
Absolutely and that’s definitely worth noting. So we’re gonna take a little bit of a shift to be able to just get to know the two of you a little bit better. We see… you know, the professional side, but I always like to just get to know you ladies more on a personal note. And so we have these like fun rapid fire, get to know you questions that we’ve been doing lately. And so are you ready? Let’s go for it. Cool. So first question, and this one’s directed towards, um, um, what’s your favorite social media app?

Emily Ward:
I personally like Pinterest. Like that’s the one that I’m on the most personally like I love sifting through like recipes or if I’m like looking for you know, other like design ideas, or I was just thinking the other day because I moved recently. So I’m looking for like ideas like for like my backyard. So I am like a sucker for Pinterest. That’s the one I certainly love to play on. And then like, obviously, Instagram, we know Instagram like the most and I love, I love sifting through Instagram as well.

Jessy Grossman:
So good. Jess, question for you. What is your favorite age to be?

Jess Hunichen:
This is such an interesting one. I feel like that is a such a funny thing for people like I my birthday was right around a month ago now. And I feel like every age that I’m at kind of becomes my favorite age. Like I’m not like, I don’t look back and like oh, like I just turned 34. How old am I? I just turned 34 and I’m not like Oh, I wish I was 27 again, like, I don’t think I have that. Like I like I think like my life thus far has gotten like, more fun and more exciting as I’ve gotten older and I’ve had access to more things and that like that just like excites me so much. So like I’m like the biggest birthday present I feel like ridiculous birthday parties in celebration of myself every year. So I pre COVID of course but uh but yeah, so I think I just gotta say my current age.

Jessy Grossman:
I love it to living in the present. That’s awesome. Um, Em, as a kid What did you want to be when you grew up?

Emily Ward:
Oh, I want to be a dancer. And I did end up going to university for dance but as like a kid I still remember watching like dirty dancing and like I wanted to be Penny like I wanted to be like be like x rock cat who was like working at some you know, resort. Which is so funny when I like look back at it now because I was like so young watching like that movie and not being like my big aspiration but yes, I wanted to be a dancer.

Jessy Grossman:
I love it. No, I studied the arts terrorism musical theater major, so I can totally appreciate that. Jess, do you like… Well, I think I know the answer to this question based on your last answer but do you like or dislike surprises?

Jess Hunichen:
I think it’s one else I think it’s very hard to surprise me. I don’t think I’m super surprisable. If that’s a word, but no I love a surprise. I’m yeah always done for a surprise.

Jessy Grossman:
Oh my gosh, well now like I’m an I are going to be up for the challenge. And we’re going to surprise you with something. And Em, what is the most interesting thing that you can see out of your window right now?

Emily Ward:
Out of my window right now I have an almost completed swing set. So my boyfriend had moved his sister’s swing set over to my old house, and I had to like take it down and put it back up together for that. And then when I moved recently, it’s been like taken down and put back up together. Again, it’s a really like, extensive swing set that’s worth the move. But it’s pretty elaborate to put it together. So it’s not quite done yet but it’s there.

Jessy Grossman:
Perfect. No, I love that, Oh, I wish I were in the suburbs during this whole pandemic thing. We don’t have room for them in Brooklyn. That’s awesome. Um, so ladies, I love to hear about your relationship in particular, like we have people that we interview on clubhouse, the podcast, etc. And most of them are solo business owners, and maybe they’ve hired people, but they’re certainly not partners. I’ve had business partners, it wasn’t great. And so I think that it’s so interesting to hear, I want to learn from you, like, how did you get into business in the first place? And you know, how do you navigate your business relationship as partners together?

Jess Hunichen:
I think this is such a fun one. And we’d love to talk about this because you’re totally right. Like, in both in PR and influencer space. Like, we don’t see a lot of partnerships, obviously, you know, there’s a few out there. And some ones that we have seen, like have, as you said, Jessy, like, not good. And have like, ended badly and each time we like Em and I had like, I didn’t think so much anymore but like, when we would hear about like a business partnership, like breaking down and like not a good way we’d always be like, Oh, we next like is that us. But I think like we came into this in like, a very unique way. And that like we did not know each other, like at all. So like, I think a lot of people going to business as like friends and things like that. And that it can get really icky. So obviously, like, we’re very good friends now. Like, we were very close friends, of course, but it’s like that came more as like a secondary thing. So like when we met like, as I said, I had moved to Toronto, I like moved for a boy, I knew no one like not a soul except for that guy. And, and no one would hire me. So like, I was like not I was like someone’s gonna hire me like I need to get a job. And I ended up randomly long story short connecting with someone who knew and she was an NPR, she was in like the wedding planning industry. And that’s what I thought I wanted to do in Toronto. And she was like, Oh, I don’t think I have all the consultants that I need but you sound like you’re much more suited to PR, like I’m connecting you with my friend. And I was like, completely disenchanted with PR like it was dead to me, didn’t want to do it anymore. And anyway, her friend was Em and then Em like, I looked back on this a while ago because in my mind, like I was like oh is like, you know, days or a week later, like Em emailed me back and we went and met but when I went back and looked at it for like a talk I was doing for a school, it was like two hours later in my mind was like, so long. And so we went and met and we started working together that day like as I mentioned, she had like a freelance PR business that was kind of getting like, a little bit too much like how to manage solo, which is obviously a great spot to be in as a freelancer. And so we just kind of started working together. And we… I think were like our skill set is so like, wonderful is like we both have really different skill set. So like, you know, like, we’re in meetings together of clothes all the time. And like and we’ll ask questions, like, in a million years never have thought to ask that but like what a good question. But like, it’s just like things that would never crossed my mind ever. And so I think like out, like where our skill sets are different. We like intersect in so many ways in terms of like how we want to run a business and touched on that before. So like we it was important to us to like lead with kindness and and like genuinely care for our team and and have a team that like felt like family like that was always like really important. And I think we did a lot of work at the very beginning of Shine with some business consultants who have become very good friends of ours. And we did a lot of work with them and what that kind of showed us it was like we had this very like unique and similar kind of set of values, but different skill sets to bring to the table but that just like it just intersected perfectly because we always knew kind of what we were coming back to like what’s like the core purpose of this and like It was like, I’ve got to say, I think one of the biggest things that it comes down to it was never like, financially driven. Like, it wasn’t like, we obviously, like we need to live, like, we need to make money. But it wasn’t like, let’s like, make all the money in the world. Like, that wasn’t where we came to it from, like, we want to, like build something really special. And I think that’s kind of allowed us to, you know, always like, look back. And there’s been many times, like, throughout this business and Jessy like, you know, all too well, like, it’s hard. Like, it’s hard to manage talent, it’s hard to manage a team, it’s hard to grow a company. And I think, you know, as challenges have, like, popped up along over the years, you know, there’s been times where I’ve come back and be like, okay, like, do we change the way we operate? Like, something would have happened that kind of rock the bird? And we’d be like, should we be just as a small example? Like, should we be much like harder on the team? Should we kind of pull ourselves back from that? And not have those, like, friendships and be more like, where the boss, your other employee? You’re the employee? Like, should we kind of go back to that? And, and, you know, we’d both like, kind of look at each other and be like, well, if we’re doing that, like, it’s not fun for us anymore. Like, and it’s like, that’s not why we started this business. And I think, as I said, like, I really do feel strongly that it has been one of our greatest assets, because we’ve always be able to, like, been able to come back to that. And I, like, I love the team being able to see that, like our teams. Yes, disagree, like every day, like, we always have different ideas, like disagreements, like too strong of a word even but like, we always have different ideas, but like, it’s I love them being able to see us like and consider like, I think it should be A and I say it should be D and then like how we like, figure out like, okay, let’s bring a pot of it in a pot of tea and like this works really nicely. And like kind of like watching us ideate on something like I know, a bunch of our team members have said like, it’s really interesting to watch you together come to something that like neither of you were really added the beginning, like, so like, I think that’s been like, really fun. I forgot what the question was, I went off on a tangent, I’m sorry.

Emily Ward:
It’s talking about like our partnership. I am I like, I thought about it like a lot. And I’m like, immensely proud of it. Like I really am and I think that over the years, like we’ve recognized, like how rare it is, because we’ve seen a lot of partnerships like who have broken down for like, lots of different reasons. So people have asked us like, often like what it was like about justify that did make it work. And I certainly do believe it’s just sad, because we didn’t like it’s so rare, like because we didn’t actually have history together. Because we met together first through work. And there wasn’t, it became into the relationship incredibly, like clean that way. Like there was no things that we had to like work out in terms of like that past relationship. But the other thing that happened right at the beginning that I think was like a big part of it is that we both wanted and needed it equally. So Jess come from Australia to Canada to start, you know, new life, and she had a boyfriend who she moved to. And she ended that relationship a couple months into being here. And then I like myself I was married and I had had like two children. And around the same time, like I decided to, like leave my marriage. And that’s for Jess and I both like, just wanted to stay here in Canada and make you know, a goal of this. And I was in a position that like I really had to, I really had to step up and become like completely, you know, financially independent. So at that point in time, like we both like needed it to work, we both needed something to work we leaned on each other and bonded with each other because that but then also both had some pretty similar experiences that we had a just share like the same like viewpoint in terms of what kind of life like we wanted to build and what kind of like life and like work life that we wanted to build. And I think that basically that was the motivator. So it was financial in terms of becoming like independent, and being able to like, live the lives that we wanted, but it wasn’t a financial goal in terms of being like it just never drove a lot of our decision and it still doesn’t like we are mindful and we are feel responsible in terms of being like profitable for the the greater business for our talent for our team like for the overall like grow. But Jess and I are equally not motivated, by the same way that in terms of where you feel, you know, in terms of greed, like we don’t have it that’s not what like, excites us. And I think that like core basis like it just allows us to work out like so many of the bumps that are in challenges that go along with, you know, growth, it makes us I always say get very focused on, like, the greater picture of like what we’ve built and just trying to to preserve that. Does that like, set give you some information?

Jessy Grossman:
Yes. 100 percent and I have a follow up question though, too, because it’s really interesting the way that you ladies talk about this, but you’re financially… I mean, I don’t know how you’re, I mean, I’m not looking at your books or anything. But like, from the outside, it seems like you’re financially successful. So logistically speaking, or technically speaking, do you just fully out? So I mean, obviously, you have a hand in that, but like, who manages Who? whose job? Is it to focus on that to outsource it? Did you? Did you bring somebody on the team? Or is it just something that you know, between the two of you, but like, how do you guys handle that? Because someone’s doing it? So I want to know how that’s been successfully handled for you?

Emily Ward:
Well, we are involved and don’t get me wrong, like in terms of like, it’s not that we’re not involved in the finances. We’ve always been like, intimately involved in the finances and have, you know, had to grow and like learn as like the company has gotten larger and larger. So we’ve always been like involved with it, but it’s not the the core motivating factor is what I’m saying that we didn’t go into this business for the purpose of we’re gonna make a ton of money like that’s not what had ever like driven us before. But we are we are involved. But in terms of like, where we are like currently, right now, with like, the finances, in our in our structure, we do have a lot of support, we have to we’re a large agency. So this just this year, we brought on an internal finance lead, we have two full time bookkeepers, we have external accountant. So there’s a very large team that supports Jess and I making all these decisions in terms of finances,

Jessy Grossman:
I’d love to pivot a little bit just to talk about like the nitty gritty of, you know, working with influencers and park brand partnerships and stuff like that, because I know we have listeners who are wanting to know answers to those questions as well. So like a question to start, this is a conversation that needs to be had so much more, it’s such a juicy conversation, I want to talk about pricing. I want to talk about how you know, we’re talking a lot about finances. Fantastic, because I feel like we need to talk about those things as women in business more often because it shouldn’t be a stigma, it should be talked about all the time. And so let’s even speak specifically now about pricing influencer partnerships. I would love to hear, you know, are you under the camp that there is some sort of formula, let’s talk about rate cards on media kits that I know Jess and I had spoken about previously. My question is like, when someone from a brand or an agency, on behalf of a brand comes to you and want to work… wants to work with one of your influencers? Where do you start in terms of pricing?

Jess Hunichen:
So I know, Jesse, we talked about this last week or something, and I think this was one that we disagreed on in a fun way. That’s why I love I love chatting with you so much. But so we have our prices on our media kits as like a general rule. There is absolutely a disclaimer on them that says, you know, this is depend, you know, this does not include exclusivity, whitelisting, usage, and you know, anything additional. And, you know, at the end of the day, like each campaign is like it is just so different. So they are priced out, like uniquely on a campaign by campaign basis. But I think it’s nice for the brands and agencies to have just like a base point because they might be like, Oh my gosh, we love talent A we want to work with her. She’s amazing, perfectly aligned, yada, yada, yada. So we can say great, like, he’s her media kit. So they know, okay, like, these are the demos, this is this, this is that, but they might have been expecting to work with them for $3,000. And then they’re gonna see like, oh, they’re starting right to 10. So either we need to go back to the like, we need to come back to the table and be like, Okay, can we find the budget to work with this person who we really want to work with? Or are they just like way out of our price range? And do we need to like look at alternatives. So that’s why like, you know, we feel that for the brands and agencies it you know, we really look at our role as being making like, we should make their life easier. Like that is our role as the talent management agency. So I think that kind of cuts down on like that, like, awkward dance that we do about like, what’s the budget? Well, how much do you have? And what’s that like? Like, it’s kind of like, let’s just cut the bullshit like this. These are the rates, you know, give or take. There’s always room for negotiation, no question. But I think it just kind of cuts out some of that time and again, hopefully it makes life easier for the agencies and brands that we’re working with. And,

Jessy Grossman:
And quite an follow up question for you like, now you have a whole team of people like do you sort of train your talent managers to negotiate in similar ways or do you encourage them each to have their own negotiation style.

Jess Hunichen:
Yeah, I think at the end of the day, they just do have their own negotiation styles. Like they have different personalities, right? Like, and we’ve had a bunch of team members who have had like, really different negotiation tactics and I think that like that works to their benefit, like that’s why each of them are great in their own ways. But in terms of like, in general, like, yes, like we absolutely look at like different kinds of negotiation tactics different, you know, ways to respond to emails, different ways to get the answers that you need, and the information you need to take back to your talent. And so we do like, I don’t know what I would call them like little kind of like internal workshops, like all the time, like, What to do if like your talents not billing? What to do if your talents not hitting goals? Like what to do if a brand’s not getting back to you like all of these things, like we want to, like keep giving the team like more and more and more resources over time, especially because the industry is constantly evolving as well.

Emily Ward:
Yeah, I think negotiation tactics like versus like education with like, I feel like our like approach like mainly, like when it comes to like our team, is we’re trying to just educate them. So they can also educate both like the brands and the talent on the the reasons why we’re the reason why rates are a certain way. I know, like, one thing we were just speaking about, like recently is in some contracts, when we were the team is getting contracts back that they might have had discussions about like an exclusivity term, but then they were getting contracts with also usage extending beyond the exclusivity term. And just things like that, like it’s not necessarily to negotiate hard or like go in with like a different, you know, tactic to kind of like up the budget, but it’s just to, like, educate them about like what that means. Because if the uses term is beyond the exclusivity term, well, they’re also kind of like, they’re also taking away opportunities in terms of that, like one talent to potentially be working with another brand, because they’re still having their content being boosted mean, exposed, like over, you know, another month or per se. And so, I think what we do really well, and is educating like the team and giving them like really good language, to be able to break down all these different things for both the brand like and the talent, so they can come to like a really good common place, or they can justify and like stand behind the rates that they have. And people understand where those rates come from. I think that’s like one of the reasons why Shine has such a good reputation in the industry because like there is transparency in terms of like how we come up with rates, like it’s not just a number, like pulled out the sky, like it makes sense in terms of what the they ask it.

Jessy Grossman:
Yeah, definitely. And, you know, what… how are those conversations with influencers? Because I can imagine that, especially if you’re so close to your work, you could think your work is worth a million dollars for one post and have, you know, 50 followers, I’m obviously exaggerating, but you know what I mean? And so, you know, how would those conversations go to be able to not only educate your team, but educate your extended team, which is, of course, the influencers. How do you decide on pricing and make sure that everybody’s comfortable?

Jess Hunichen:
Well, I think, you know, we have the luxury of representing a lot of talent. So that kind of gives us a really nice baseline. So when someone new comes to us, you know, obviously, we want to know what they’ve been charging before. And so we were absolutely getting a comprehensive list of, you know, all of the deals they’ve done, let’s say for the last six months, so that we can see like, okay, like, on average here, like we can eyeball that and say, Hey, it looks like you usually get around $1,000 for an Instagram post, give or take, you know, and so we can look at that and say, like, according to, you know, the rest of our talent and what we know to be. I say industry standards and huge quotation marks because they don’t exist. But you know, what is that kind of like average across the industry. And we can say, you know, like, you’ve been pricing yourself at around $1,000, we think we can probably put you at 1500. And we think that’s like a, we think that’s fair and reasonable. But it’s always like with the provision of like, let’s just test it out, like social is trial and error, everything we do, like nothing is set in stone. And like, even if we decide to separate it $5,000 for a post, like that doesn’t mean that the talents not going to agree or want to do like a price for 2000 or 3000 or contract. Like, you know what I mean? Like it like because everything is so negotiable. Like, it’s nice to have the rights as a baseline. But you know, as we say to our talent, like, we’re never going to force you to do anything, like we’ll give you all the strategy and all the advice in the world. But like, at the end of the day, this is your brand. You get to choose if you want to work on their campaigns like, as I said, we’ll give you advice, recommendation or opinion if you want it and that you don’t have to follow it like it’s you know, it’s your brand. So I think and maybe the team would tell me I’m wrong on this, but I really don’t think we’ve had difficult conversations around talent thinking their rates should be higher. If anything, I think talent said their rates might be should be lower. And that might be based on like, you know them coming into this and like not having a manager, it might be based on them being worried about not getting enough work. So they’re like, well, if my rates are low, I can get more jobs. And our mentality is always work, work, work less and work harder, right? Like, Oh, my God, work smarter, not harder. Oh, my gosh, that’s it. There we go.

Jessy Grossman:
I’m curious about the other side of things, trends-wise, because I am under the camp that any successful business measures trends and data. You analyze things. You were talking a bit about that earlier, in terms of even your own success. When it comes to brands and agencies who are the first ones either to pitch a price or are countering a price. Where do you feel like that is going in terms of how brands view pricing for influencers? Are they fair? Are they are they higher than expected? Or are they still really like undercutting the prices that you think are fair.

Emily Ward:
I think like year over year, we always see an increase. And I think it makes sense, because I think when you know, brands are setting budgets, like it’s often for like the year ahead, so it kind of takes almost like a year for it to start to catch up a little bit. I believe that like… the majority of brands and agencies that come to us at this point now, where there are still like a few who are looking for contra deals, I think most people know now when you’re looking to work with like established talent, who’ve been doing this for a while who have proven like, success in terms of being a great collaborator, that there are some fees like attached to it. So I don’t think we really have to embattled like the same conversations in terms of like, like contra offers that we used to. And I would say like looking at, like the average deal size and how that’s like increased like your every year. Yes, budgets, our budgets are coming in stronger. brands are also factoring in things in the upfront, which they didn’t before in terms of like usage and exclusivity. Where beforehand that used to be a bit of like a surprise to them, they would come in with a rage. And they’d be like, Oh, you know, there’s this like, secondary budget that would need to be applied, but they wouldn’t have necessarily budgeted for themselves. I don’t think that is happening as much anymore. So the direction of where everything is going seems to be to like a really like fair place. And that’s probably just like through a few years of education, understanding what is necessary to play in the space.

Jessy Grossman:
I appreciate that because like, so much of it is education. What marketing trends have really stood out to you lately? Let’s chat about that a little bit.

Jess Hunichen:
Yeah, we were just chatting about this with someone yesterday, and we love to see. You know, I think we see this rolling out on Instagram and I think Clubhouse is a big part of it but I love to see and I don’t know that I’d necessarily call it a trend. But like, just like, there’s just so much more there feels like there’s so much more realness now on the app. And I think that, you know, like, apps like Clubhouse have been able to be so successful so quickly, because it just shows that the consumer is so interested in getting like, more and more and more and more like content information insight. Like, they want that. So for us as like, marketers, that’s great like, we’d love to hear that. But I think you know, particularly like we’ve we’ve worked pretty extensively in like the body confidence space, which has been like something that’s really just like, important to us. So with that, like we’ve seen just so much realness there particularly from women, but men as well. And it’s certainly not a conversation that we think men should be left out of. But it’s been that’s been really exciting for us to watch, we represent some like amazing people in that category. So seeing that trend, if we would call it that, like continue to rise is like really exciting. I know we touched on briefly and I know I’ve hopped on about it on Clubhouse many times before. But you know that it was like a big part of the reason why we launched The BodCon. So like The BodCon, you know, virtual conference for all things body confidence, body positivity, self love. And that really came out of us being able to like identify that trend and see that like there wasn’t there weren’t there wasn’t much happening in the space in terms of like large scale virtual conferences like let’s, let’s do this and we love that Shine has kind of provided us with a bit of a springboard not to just identify those trends but to action and like to do really cool things with them that we think will really like help people and like with that, like it’s such a clear goal of like we want people to feel like good about their bodies and like worthy no matter what size or shape, or color or age are all the things like no matter what they are that like they like they’re worthy. And it’s, you know, it’s been, it’s been a really fun, fun one for us to watch and to be able to kind of like, you know, work on like passion projects like that, that are like so connected to the influencer space because it’s like, that’s where like those trends tend to come from now. So, so yeah, that’s a that’s a fun one that we love.

Jessy Grossman:
Oh, wait, I’m so glad that you brought up on The BodCon. I think that’s the coolest thing ever. Yeah. How can people find out about what you guys doing that because I personally, as someone who’s like, hasn’t been anything below size 12? Since I don’t even know, it really resonates with me. I think it’s the coolest concept. Tell us a little bit more about that.

Emily Ward:
Yeah, so like I just said it was really something that like stem from a bit of like a passion project of just an eye. And you know, having like, lots of representing a lot of talent, like in the space. And just also seen, like the amazing things in terms of like how social has been able to like curve and brands directions as well, like a lot of the times like people look at the social space, especially when it comes to like body competence as being like this negative thing that it’s showing these like, unrealistic body types and kind of like making people feel like badly about themselves. So yes, I’m not saying that that doesn’t exist. But there has also been this flip side of this, that we’ve been watching over the past couple years that were so incredibly proud to like be a part of. And that’s by way of like really strong social voices, her speaking out about body confidence and body acceptance in that space. And really building up a community and tribe of people who need this who have been craving, you know, different kinds of ambassadors and people to look up to, who have this viewpoint. And because of that, because of the strength and that brands are starting to come on board. Brands are starting to shift like their advertising and marketing to be aligned in the body competence space. And that’s really like by way of power of showing like the math, who’s interested in seeing things like that. So The BodCon was developed out of that, we started off as being a virtual conference and annual virtual conference, we had our first one in February with like, 45 incredible speakers. And it was just an amazing and amazing day. But because we saw the interest in the community to connect, thereafter, we decided to not just make this an annual event. But we’re actually going to be doing like monthly or bimonthly different mini events throughout the year leading up to the conference, which will also take place again in 2022. And we just recently launched our own podcast as well, because there was such interest in continuing the conversation. T he conference almost just teased some of these, like amazing conversations that happened. And our community really want to dive in deeper. So we’ve launched a podcast. And then we’ll also have some wonderful mini events different like activities, or, you know, creative spaces, or mini panels, diving deeper to some to some specific topics.

Jessy Grossman:
When you guys first told me about this back, like, I don’t know, at the end of 2020, or the beginning of 2021, I was like, that is such a good idea. And I love that you guys are sort of like diversifying yourselves as a business. I mean, it’s obviously related but it’s just like further amplifying a passion project of yours. You don’t have to really go into something like this, like you can stay in your lane. And people say that all the time. You know, people are like, oh, like do one thing and do it really well. I’ve actually never been under that camp. Like we’re human. So we have different interests. And I think it’s like totally exploited. And just because to your point before, like whatever you’re most passionate about wherever your passion points are, like, you’ll just chances you’re much more likely to be successful. You won’t necessarily guarantee success. Let’s be real. But like, yeah, that’s that’s where the motivation comes from. And it’s so interesting, I love that we’re talking so much today about like, just motivates you. And I love that this is a conversation that we have about motivation in terms of business ownership in terms of like even how you’re working with influencers, how you… what’s your motivation when you go dive into a negotiation, all the things. So it’s been such a pleasure chatting with you ladies, I will probably have to have you back on the show sometime soon on the podcast, on Clubhouse. And I’m just super grateful that you could spend so much time with us today. We ask this question of everybody that we chat with. I’m super excited to hear from each of you. I don’t know Jess, why don’t we start with you? And then we’ll move to Em because I want to hear from both of you. What do you wish someone had told your younger self that would have given you a professional or a personal advantage today?

Jess Hunichen:
These are such good questions. Like I want to know what everyone else said and like I wanted to hear everyone else’s advice. I feel like it’s such a it’s such a good question. But I think I’m going to go with like, a pretty, I’m going to go with a pretty simple one. And that’s like, don’t be afraid to like divert from like, a traditional path. You know what I mean? Like, don’t be afraid of like, what other people think if you’re doing something that’s different and to just kind of like stay true to like, what you know, to be right for you. And as I said, it’s a pretty like simple one. And I think it’s important, like if I could go, you know, looking back I’m like, I wonder if I knew that would I’ve made different decisions? Maybe, maybe not, I don’t think I’ve like taken the most traditional path anyway. But, but yeah, I think that would be, that would be my advice.

Jessy Grossman:
No, I love that. And like, Look, everybody who answers these questions, it’s like, it’s usually like 2030 years after, that could have happened. So you can’t go back. And so you know, it’s just it’s sort of, it’s about leaving food for thought for those who are creating a path for. So I totally appreciate that. What about you, Em?

Emily Ward:
I feel like we’ve talked a lot about like, different like, motivations and like passions, like today. And when I look back on my career path, I certainly, like just like, didn’t have a traditional one. And I did just follow what I was passionate about, like, by way of the fact that I even like went to university like for dance, which is kind of like, a non traditional way to get into business. But when I look back and reflect on it, like, I know that each of those things that I did, and the decisions I made, I just leaned in towards the things that made me feel good that I was excited by and that’s still like very much a principle of Shine and why we do still like tests and try different ideas, we lean into things that we are like, excited about. So advice to my younger self would be to trust that because I don’t think anybody ever told me that that was okay. And I thought that I was being frivolous, like in my decisions by just like being like, Oh, I’m gonna go into dance and I’m gonna do this because that you know, it feels good or fun. When really like it like that was okay, because that was leading me to where I needed to be. And I didn’t have to do the traditional things in terms of going to you know, a business school or you know, following like those paths I what I did actually was the right thing,

Jessy Grossman:
The right thing for you and your desires and your motivations all are going to change over the years. So I think it’s just yeah, it’s about like staying in tune and in touch with what that is. Ladies, I have a feeling that are… people listening are totally want to get in touch with you. How can everyone… what is the best way for everyone to get in touch with you today?

Jess Hunichen:
So websites where Shine talent group dot com. The BodCon website is thebodcon.com. And on socials, we shine_influencers. And what else do we have The BodCon… The BobCon socials is The BodCon on Instagram so yeah, that’s a pretty easy one. But yeah, we’re all over. Our teams all over. So yeah, by the website, you can certainly you know, find us email us and yeah, we love. We love chatting with people. So there’s a there’s always an urban end over here.

Jessy Grossman:
I love it. I love it. And she means it when she says that. So thank you so so much ladies for the chat today. You are the best.

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