WIIM

How to Survive (and Thrive!) After Lay Offs

Brooks Miller has been working in the Influencer Marketing industry since 2015. Currently, she is the EVP of Influencer Marketing at Edelman, based in New York. Previous to Edelman, Brooks was at Twitter for 7.5 years, leading the US Creator Content Strategy & Execution team, which focused on collaborating with the internet's top influencers and artists to make best-in-class content for Twitter's advertisers. Before her life was peppered with #sponsored and #ad, she was an account manager at creative agencies like at Barrett Hofherr (fka barrettSF) and 72andSunny. Brooks has won multiple Shorty awards and her work has been featured in AdWeek and AdAge.

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[00:00:00] Brooks: One of my frustrations towards the end of Twitter, outside of just all the change and leadership was we would have these cool integrated ideas with influencers, but unless they sit in a tweet, we couldn’t do them. And it started to feel limiting to not have the whole Crayola box to execute what we thought was the best idea for whatever the influencer happened to be. And the client happened to be,

[00:00:39] Jessy: Hey guys, welcome back. I’m so excited. To be here with you, gosh, this episode is being released just before the holidays. So I’m just extra appreciative that you’re spending some time. Listening to this show because I know you are all swamped. You’re so busy. I hope this is an opportunity for you to just relax and enjoy some time with the WIM podcast.

We have a really good guest today, a very good guest today who I’ve been friends with now for many years. We first connected. When she worked at Twitter I had my agency representing influencers. So it has been many years. Don’t want to reveal how many exactly. Under 10, more than two, but I am very excited for you to learn more about Brooks Miller, who is our guest today.

But before I do just a couple of quick announcements, we just send out an email with one of our incredible 2024 virtual programs that we are offering to you guys. It is called 10 common legal mistakes that you want to avoid. It is with the wonderful Jean Homburg, and she is our resident legal expert and lawyer.

She is going to be going over the things that you want to look out for, the things that you want to avoid. And we have her teaching masterclasses once every single quarter, all in 2024. Why? Because. I want to get you guys protected. I want to get you guys taken care of. And she’s just a wealth of information.

So she has raised her hand to help you guys in all things legal protections, whether you’re a creator or an agency or a brand, we’re going over all of it. So we just announced that and I’m very excited. All you have to do is go to our website, iamwim. com slash events. The event is free for everybody, so please check it out.

Please join us live, too, because that’s the best way to experience all of our virtual events. Also, keep an eye out for a couple of things. We have so many things on the horizon, you guys. So one thing is that we are going to be announcing all the different cities where we are going to be hosting in-person events in 2024.

We have signed on. I think we’re up to 22 ambassadors who are going to be planning events, sure, in LA and New York and Chicago, but all over the place, you guys, wait, let me pull up this list so I can even read them to you. We have ambassadors in Boston, Nashville, Miami, in Charlotte, North Carolina.

We have someone in Atlanta. We’ve got people all over because we want to come to your neck of the woods. And nothing beats an in-person interaction. we’re a networking group at the end of the day. I almost hate that word and I want to, I don’t know, I want to flip it on its head because networking is such an old antiquated term.

But nothing beats that in-person interaction with women who just get it, so we’re doing that more and we have so much to announce. I know Dallas is hosting a holiday party the week that I’m recording this, tomorrow actually on the 13th, so it’ll probably be in the past by the time you’re listening, but more in Dallas, more in all those cities, and I’m so excited to announce all those soon.

and then the last announcement is that we are going to be launching our first membership for creators. This has been years in the making and is something that I’ve always wanted to do. But it’s just been on the back burner because that’s not what WIM has been focused on. Our focus has always been on, agencies, management companies, and brands, basically those who hire influencers, who advocate for influencers.

But. It’s called Influencer Marketing. So we would be crazy to not provide offerings to creators and influencers. So we are about to launch that very soon, likely at the beginning of the year. So keep an eye out for that. I will give you a teaser. It’s a bunch of casting opportunities. So very excited to launch that.

And we will have a very, intro price at the very beginning for those who sign up early days. So if it’s something that you’re considering if you’re a creator who listens to the show or people who are like, Oh, we’re on a lot more casting opportunities, then definitely sign up early days.

It’s going to be incredibly inexpensive and the price will definitely go up later, but always want to reward people who are like, Oh, who get in at the beginning. All right, you guys, I want to introduce our guest to you again. She’s wonderful. You’ll see for yourself in a few when you hear from her, but here’s a little bit about Brooks.

So Brooks Miller, she’s been working in the influencer marketing industry since 2015. She is currently the EVP of influencer marketing at Edelman. She’s based also in New York City. Before Edelman, she was a Twitter. For seven and a half years, she’d led the US creator content strategy and execution team, which was focused on collaborating with the internet’s top influencers and artists to make best-in-class content for Twitter’s advertisers.

Before her life was peppered with hashtag-sponsored and hashtag ad. She was an account manager at creative agencies like Barrett, Hoffer, AKA Barrett Ssf, 72, and Sunny. She’s won multiple Shorty awards for her work and has been featured in Adweek and Ad Age. I just want you to like experience how lovely she is.

She’s such a light, such a personality. And I know you’re going to enjoy it, so keep listening. Thanks for listening. Happiest holidays and this is Brooks.

This show is sponsored by Women in Influencer Marketing, better known as WIM, the best online community for the creator economy. You will meet fellow influencer marketers. You’ll meet brands. You’ll meet talent agencies to talk shop and get hired. And even find a mentor. When you become a member, do not forget to check out all of our incredible resources.

For example, we have dozens of masterclasses from the top voices of TikTok, YouTube, award-winning agencies, and women who are paving the way for us all. So if you want the chance to network with FooSoo and influence our marketing, check out what it takes to become a member. Make more money and have fun doing it.

Visit Iamwim. com slash join that’s I A M W I M. com slash join today and I so look forward to seeing you more around the community. So first and foremost, welcome and it’s been literal years, literally years. 

[00:08:20] Brooks: We won’t tell anyone how many though, cause then people will know how old we are. 

[00:08:23] Jessy: We’re going to keep it a secret.

It’s been more than two, less than a decade. Big more 

[00:08:28] Brooks: than two. We’ll 

[00:08:29] Jessy: stop there. Yes. Yes. But we knew each other from back in the day when I was a talent manager, you were working at Twitter when Twitter was Twitter. We don’t call it X in this house. No, I don’t think many people do, to be honest. No, it’s 

[00:08:45] Brooks: wild how disrespectful, truly no one embraces it.

It’s Meta, everyone’s fine with, X, but no one’s really on board. It’s 

[00:08:53] Jessy: just it’s also Meta’s a cool name. Yeah. Yeah, that too. Yeah. I heard that Elon wanted for years to name a company X. That’s what I had heard. 

[00:09:07] Brooks: Like he owned like some sort of domain or something along those lines and just retrofitted it.

Exactly. He cared a lot about that, letter. 

[00:09:17] Jessy: Aren’t his kids named, they have wild names? 

[00:09:21] Brooks: They do. I think one of them is named X. I remember when he was, like, visiting the office, right before he took over, the one with Grimes, the OG with Grimes. He had it with him at the office and people were sending photos of it, I think that child’s name is X or X is involved 

[00:09:40] Jessy: somehow.

There is an X in the name. Yes. That’s pretty, I feel like this is an unpopular thing to say, but I used to be an Elon Musk fan. I like, I was like a big Elon Musk person. I just liked a lot of things. I liked the big thinking, I liked the bold, risk-taking, et cetera, et cetera. My opinions have changed a bit recently.

Years for a lot of different reasons. But anyway, for people who are tuning in and probably like, why are you guys talking so much about Elon Musk and Twitter? So we’re going to get into all of it. Brooks is with us today. She’s also in New York yet. We like, we should be in a room together, but we’re not.

It’s okay. We’ll do that soon. But the reason I guess we’re chatting a little bit about that is because that’s where we met when Brooks was on Twitter. So she was around during the days of transition from Twitter to X, but, and we’re going to, get into your experience I think that would be really like, I’m so curious about what that was like during those days before, after, et cetera.

But, before we do, I think it would be great to just catch up on recent events. I think you just moved back to New York. Is that right? I did. 

[00:10:53] Brooks: I did. And that’s kind of part of the X story. But, yeah, so my husband and I’ve lived, the ongoing joke is that we’ve lived everywhere that’s expensive.

as soon as we find out that there’s a new expensive place, 

[00:11:06] Jessy: we keep moving there. 

[00:11:09] Brooks: LA, San Francisco, New York, Austin, which is very expensive now. And then back to New York. So we just need Singapore. We need London. Yes, you do. And then we just have the holy trinity 

[00:11:21] Jessy: of all the extensive.

Absolutely. So tell us about it, but you were in New York before. What brought you back? Yeah. So we 

[00:11:31] Brooks: were in New York for five years throughout the entire pandemic. So we were like fully in lockdown. We stayed here the whole time throughout the intense parts of the pandemic and the shutdowns.

Doing Clappy Hour, looking outside of our windows, and giving people thumbs up, the whole deal. It was traumatic. But during that, everyone had kind of these crises of what are we doing with our lives? And we certainly had that. Three of our four parents turned 70. And we were like, wow, our parents are getting very old.

And then on top of that, my sister had her daughter and then got pregnant with her son. And I was like, this is wild. We are so far away from our family. And my husband and I are both from Texas. We’re both from Dallas. And then we decided also that we wanted to have a family. And so we were like, I guess we need to move home and get a house and a yard and be near grandparents and uncles and cousins and aunts and all the things.

So we moved to Austin for his job, 

[00:12:37] Jessy: got there. And hated 

[00:12:39] Brooks: it so much. I feel like we’re the only people that have said that they hated Austin, but I went to college there and it’s just a very different town. Now it was like a small cool, funky town. And now it has a Hermes store and a Soho house.

And it’s what is happening with this place? And it’s just politically, not my vibe. It was so hot. Having a house is like a thing that I was not prepared for. And then I lost my job. So when we started looking for new jobs, or when I started looking for a new job, we were like, we should probably move away.

So when the opportunity at Edelman presented itself, my old boss who ended up being the person who hired me in Edelman was like, this job is a New York job. Is that okay with you? And I was like, that is. It’s very okay with me. So 

[00:13:22] Jessy: we’re back. We’re back. Okay. So we’re back. So it’s like the universe bringing you back to a certain extent.

Yeah. Okay. So let’s take us. So you’re back in New York. Selfishly. I’m like, that’s great. Cause I’m here. Yay. I know. I’ll meet you at a happy hour. Exactly. Can’t wait. Exactly. But okay. So let’s take a step back. So I would love. To, you live through the Elon Musk acquisition of Twitter and were among, so many people, most of the company, right?

Who lost their, jobs. 

[00:13:54] Brooks: Yeah. 50 percent of the company. So 

[00:13:56] Jessy: walk us through. A candid view of what that time was like for you. 

[00:14:04] Brooks: It was so wild. So I don’t know if, I was thinking about this last night when we had talked about what we, like questions, would be today. I do think it’s important because everyone is probably going to get laid off throughout their career.

It’s just kind of part of the deal and I think it’s important to categorize it in multiple different contexts. there was a personal context. There was like my team context and then the company, but it was. Dramatic. I don’t know if everyone remembers, but it was, it happened basically over a year.

So in this is all 2022 in the winter-spring, there was an activist investor, which ended up being Elon. And he gobbled up a ton, not a majority share, but a significant amount of shares in the company like seemingly overnight. And he was offered, I think at the time, like a board seat.

Said he didn’t want a board seat and then offered to purchase the company. They reached an agreement in May. I know it was in May because it was about a week before I gave birth. So all of 2022, I was pregnant. They reached the deal in May. And then while I was on that leave and that entire summer, he tried to get out of the deal.

I don’t know if you remember that Oh yeah. Oh, there are bots. There are too many bots. And he was essentially like, he bought it for too much money. He overvalued it and tried to get out of the deal. I came back from maternity leave within three weeks. I think the first week he was visiting the office, the second week he started and brought like the sink in, and the third week he laid off 4, 000 people.

And it was like the Thanos snap is what we all joked that it was because we think it was like 11 o’clock on a Thursday. I was trying to Slack on my phone and my Slack wouldn’t work. I was like, Oh, this isn’t good. And I went to open my computer and my computer would not turn on. I was like. I think I 

[00:15:59] Jessy: don’t have a job anymore.

Can you walk us through what that’s actually like to experience? Because of your point, I do unfortunately think that so many people are going to be going through layoffs and experiencing what you did. I think that a lot of us are like, Oh my gosh, like I would never go through something like that.

But I’ve personally met dozens and dozens of people who have gone through this in the past two to three years. What does that feel like? And like, How do you, how did you navigate that? Like really, truly, it 

[00:16:31] Brooks: feels like shit. It’s not fun at all. I think my first biggest tip truly, and this sounds so tactical is to have your personal computer.

I, one of my biggest stressors immediately was that I didn’t have a computing device. I didn’t have an iPad. I didn’t have a laptop of my own. And I realized like really quickly if I wanted to make connections with people, if I wanted to work on my resume, I didn’t have the tools to do that.

So the first piece of advice is if you don’t have a personal computer. Go and get one, get a cheap one, get an old one. It doesn’t matter how old or young or what iOS system it is. Have something so that you’re not completely just held onto your phone. Because that was one of the biggest stressors it was like making sure that I had my documents and my photos.

I had a newborn like I had photos on my computer. I had all of the work that I’d ever done. My Rolodex, all of my information was essentially held hostage for a hot second. so back up your stuff. And make sure that you have a laptop. That’s my first, that’s my first and biggest piece of advice.

No, 

[00:17:37] Jessy: it’s such good advice because I feel like, it’s like it’s technical advice, but I, feel like a lot of people like naturally will just utilize the work computer and make it this hybrid thing where it’s like they’re personal and they’re professional and whatever. And like most of the time.

We just assume everything’s going to be a hunky dory and never have an issue. So you just operate in that way. But the truth is if things can, we’ve learned in the past three years with the world, like we do, doing backflips that anything can happen. So I think that’s such good advice to just.

Keep things separate because, for many reasons and both ways to like, I think it’s good to not necessarily have work stuff on your personal computer because just it’s good to keep them uncoupled. I 

[00:18:33] Brooks: think that’s really, solid advice. Get an external hard drive, and get a computer. Those are my two big ones.

But in terms of what it was like, it was stressful. The thing that I’m really glad about in retrospect is that my entire team was essentially selected all three. So we were all in the same boat and there was certainly a sense of camaraderie there. And I remember immediately we started creating DMs.

There was like a Slack group that everyone had started of alumni. I remember putting together an Excel of everyone on my team’s name, their amount of experience, their LinkedIn, and the kind of jobs that they were looking for. And so we just banded together in this really beautiful way, even though it was like out of tragedy.

And a lot of ways, but that part was nice. I would say I would not recommend it to my worst enemy. The three weeks that I was back from Matley would be essentially like the takeover because there’s so much uncertainty when you have a person, especially a person like Yon coming into a company.

The entire executive suite is not going to stay if anything, they’re either going to leave because they don’t agree with the way that he runs a business, or he’s in a clean house because he wants to have all of his people there. like those weeks, and even over the summer, when I was on leave. It’s just that nothing got done.

And like people, it was so much drama. People were dropping like flies. You heard this person was leaving. This person was getting let go. This person had a new job somewhere else. Cause they had been looking elsewhere all summer. So there was so much unrest and anxiety that we couldn’t do any work.

We couldn’t get anything done. And then being an influencer marketing, our poor influencers were so worried. About, the health of the platform and whether or not they were going to use it to monetize that was so much of what we did with them and making sure that they had a really strong Twitter presence and we’re bought in on the company.

And so it was like, not just a loss of us and our jobs and people that I care about, but also the loss of this utility in this platform that. I’d spent almost eight years talking about and believing so deeply in the power of kind of just like wrap unraveling right before our eyes. It was like really sad.

It was sad on multiple levels. I was going to say you 

[00:20:48] Jessy: were there for a long time. that’s not, that’s a long time, like half the life of the platform. Exactly. And also like these days, I feel like people jump a lot from job to job. It’s rare to have a stint, like eight years at a company.

But it was a cool thing that you guys had built and I can imagine it was, I think it was cool as platform-based. So theoretically it felt like there was a lot of stability there and resources there, but it was like very influencer. It was all influencer-focused, what you guys were doing and the people that were involved are so cool.

it, I can imagine there was like a sense of loss when something that you built was swept up underneath you fairly quickly. And it’s at least from an outside perspective, it felt messy. I would like to think that if I were in his shoes, I would have done so many things differently to just manage it more.

Smoothly for so many reasons, like optics to have human decency, I don’t know, like little things like that. What I also heard you say is like this, this is weeks after you had your first kid, right? Or this is after you’re finished from that leave. 

[00:22:08] Brooks: Yes. He was 20 weeks old at the time. So five months, five months old.

[00:22:13] Jessy: What was your process for once you knew that you were part of the P of the group that was going to my laptop didn’t open anymore when you were suddenly like trying to log in for work and weren’t able to, and your stomach probably dropped to be like, this is how I’m going to find out like, this is happening.

And so it settles in like. When did you start to try to put your feet in motion and one foot in front of the other to say like, all right, I need to figure out my next step. And how did you do that? Yeah. And 

[00:22:52] Brooks: I’m lucky in that. And I was alluding to this earlier, like there’s a personal context, team context, company context was like, it’s, it exploded from the inside out.

It doesn’t even have the same name anymore. It’s not the same place. And I wasn’t bought in on him as a leader, even before he took over. So when he became an activist investor, I just didn’t want to work for this guy. He’s transphobic. He doesn’t have a great history with women or people of color.

He doesn’t pay his employees very much or have Great benefits packages, not really for me, but also for the team context, my team had drastically changed throughout 2022, and our global leader left for a different job. Our other leader, like mysteriously left in very strange circumstances. And then our us sales business leader took a much-deserved mental health break and decided she didn’t want to come back to the company.

And then we also got reorg. So all the leaders and mentors and people that I interfaced with a ton for, eight years were gone. I was like, this isn’t that fun anymore. that is a lot of what I cared about. And I believed in their vision too. And I was like, Oh, I have to.

Learn all these new people. I don’t know if I want to do that, but ultimately I wanted to have my baby live my life and figure out what I was going to do with a longer timeline. But, basically over the summer and before I finished my mat leave, I started talking to people about what my next step might look like.

And I think my biggest piece of advice outside of getting a laptop is to use your Rolodex. That is where you should start. You shouldn’t start with just throwing your resume on Greenhouse and throwing it against random LinkedIn jobs. I think that’s a great way to get your foot in the door for sure. But the most valuable thing that we all have for us is the people that we’ve worked with before, the mentors we have, and the leaders that we know to talk to them about who you are, what you care about, and what your next step may be.

And starting there was what I had done before coming back. So that was basically what I wanted to keep doing. I was like, I’ve got a baby and a mortgage. I need to get a job. And I’m going to start talking to people that I know about and care about and who like to understand who 

[00:25:09] Jessy: I am as well. And I think that’s Oh, that’s such good advice.

Because I think a lot of people, people react. To heighten moments in such different ways. I can, I’ve seen a lot of people panic, and and in that panic and just like that frenzy. I’m just going to do everything to blast out messages to everybody. 

[00:25:31] Brooks: know it was like drinking out of a fire hose.

There were so many inbounds. It was wild. I had email after email, after DMs, after LinkedIn DMs. It was, I was like, Whoa, this is too much. But ultimately it settles 

[00:25:44] Jessy: down. Yeah. Yeah. it’s a lot, but also like in your, from your direction outward, I can imagine people would just throw spaghetti at the wall, just feeling I don’t know what to do, so I’m just going to do everything.

So that’s such good advice. And I think that like maybe to get to the place of being settled and calm and strategic, maybe you need to take a beat to get to that headspace. So take the time that you need. And be strategic and go through the people who I love that, who just, who know you and who, share maybe the similar values, get, understand what you’re about in a, from a business con in a business context.

And I think that’s such good advice. What else did you do? Like the first day in the first week of layoffs, so people can see what your process was and excuse me. And would you change any of that? Would you do any of it differently? Yeah. 

[00:26:37] Brooks: it’s funny. I got it. laid off the night before PTO, I was coming to visit people in New York.

So, the first thing I did was take a vacation, but honestly, it ended up being nice because I think if I had been working or just near a computer and not distracted, I think I would have gone down the rabbit hole of all the inbounds and just like obsessive with going. Through all the tweets and DMs and all the things, which ultimately probably wouldn’t have been very healthy.

The first thing I did though, when I got back was call several of my old bosses and set up time with them. I think I got a calendar late, which was very exciting so that I could set time with people. And I just set up my resume. I bought a computer, got a calendar, figured out my resume, and started talking to people that I cared about in industries that I thought were interesting.

And, I’ll say. What you were alluding to before about taking a beat, I was very dung ho about working immediately, mainly because I had just been off for 20 weeks. not off. It’s not a vacation when you have a baby, but I hadn’t been working for 20 weeks and I was like, I want to get back in the workforce.

I’m like, I got a mortgage. I have things to do. There were a lot of people on our team who were straight up just fatigued and they’re like, I don’t want to do this for right now. I want to enjoy my holidays. It was around November when we all got laid off. they wanted to just enjoy life for a second.

And a lot of people took time off and started their job search later, and they’re all doing great. It depends on you and your personal, decisions around what feels good to you right then and there. 

[00:28:16] Jessy: Yeah, for sure. I also want to acknowledge, and I know you would acknowledge this too, is like some people aren’t in a position where they can do that, right?

And so maybe that’s a good lesson as well in like this, I don’t know, this like self like preservation and just like thinking that anything could happen. It’s a really good idea to have maybe set money aside when things are good so that, if something happens, you can have a certain amount of money set aside so that you can have some time to figure out your next best move.

Cause I can imagine, like what not to do is just jump into something just to jump into it, but then it’s not the right. Get it all. And then that sounds awful, so you want to set your future self up to be able to have the luxury of time. It’s a, I think that I can imagine that’s a really important thing that we can give ourselves.

So today, presently you’re at Edelman, which is an awesome agency. And so I’m so curious, like what are some of the key differences between being at a. big, well-known social media platform versus an agency? It 

[00:29:28] Brooks: is so different. You would think that it would be similar. it’s similar in that everyone is really smart and driven and cool.

that’s great. And I, that’s, My dream. I just want to work with cool people that make me feel smarter and better Like nice, but it is so different. And I more so than I even anticipated. So before coming to Twitter, I was working at agencies as well, but it was more like traditional advertising.

So I was doing TV commercials, billboards, print ads, like all the old school, like traditional advertising. So I had agency experience, but I think The biggest, well, one of my frustrations towards the end of Twitter outside of just all the change and leadership was we would have these cool integrated ideas with influencers, but unless they fit in a tweet, we couldn’t do them.

And it started to feel limiting to not have the whole Crayola box to execute what we thought was the best idea for whatever the influencer happened to be and the client happened to be. And so that started to feel like really limiting. What’s nice about an agency is we don’t have any of those trappings.

We can work with anyone on any platform in any format, in any way. We don’t even have to have it be a 30-second commercial. It can be kind of anything. And that has felt relieving creatively and as a leader to be able to help people dream big, like super, super big, not just within 140 characters.

But I will say outside of that, the most. The wonderful difference about being back at an agency is I think at a platform we’re so mission-driven because everything is about the product. In our case, it was Twitter, but there was a mission. It was like, make Twitter amazing, make it at the best utility, connect the world.

And everyone was so in lockstep about that mission. And that felt good. But ultimately marketing and comms. And influencers, like we were not the mission. We were not what everyone in the building did. And we were treated that way. Like sometimes it was really difficult to get, support. It was really difficult to get a high count.

It was really difficult to get tools, someone didn’t want to pay for a Captivate membership for a long time. It was just trying to figure out how to get the financial support from a team leadership perspective that got really, tough. And what’s amazing about an agency as we. All do comms, all of us, like our job, my job is everyone’s job.

So there’s like inherent buy-in with influencers, even if someone doesn’t necessarily feel like they understand influencers, they understand that they are important to marketers and the marketing landscape. And I think that part has been so refreshing of not necessarily having to beat the drum of these people are important.

They have influence and they’re connected to audiences and all those things just to get support internally. 

[00:32:28] Jessy: It’s like everybody gets it. every, everybody gets it. Everybody’s like trying to, everyone’s doing the same thing versus, where you were prior. Like you were all, you had a great team who was all, who all got it and was doing the same thing, but it was part of such a larger company and they, and other people had, very Peripherally aligned interests, but different. Like they were just doing different things for that company. So I can imagine that it’s a pretty cool experience to have. It’s not to have to beg for things that may seem obvious as something that would be valuable for you. So now at an agency as well, I can assume that you’ve got lots of different clients and lots of different teams that you’re working with at those respective companies.

Love to get a pulse check on what people are talking about these days, what they’re concerned about these days. And I just think that you have a really interesting vantage point, given that you are at such a large agency that works with so many different companies. I know that you only have a certain set of clients yourself personally that you’re working on, but what are your clients most concerned about these days in terms of their work with influencers?

Oh my gosh. 

[00:33:44] Brooks: It is all. Crisis, safety, and risk. All of it. I think that Bud Light and I’m so sick of talking about Bud Light to be completely honest with you, but unfortunately, it’s super relevant because it is a lot of marketers’ worst nightmare come true. And I’ll say that. With the Bud Light of it all, the issue was with Bud Light.

It was not with Dylan Mulvaney. Dylan did nothing wrong. But Bud Light simply just didn’t have a strategy around who they partnered with. They pandered to hateful people and lost on both sides. And they’re still dealing with the financial repercussions of it. And I just see across the board that clients are just Nervous. So nervous. So we’ve been having in target, apparently experienced some similar stuff. And then now with Israel Hamas war, there are so many conversations being had. And this is very serious stuff, but so many conversations are being had around influencers who are speaking up on either end of the spectrum.

And if they should be. Kept on a campaign if they decide to post something that’s pro-Palestine, or if they should be, kept from a campaign, if they start posting about being pro-Israel, or if they post at all, or if they attend a march here and there. I think there’s just so much anxiety about companies feeling that they may or may not get canceled and they’re going to suffer major losses.

according to who they partner with. It’s something we talk about a 

[00:35:12] Jessy: ton. It’s so interesting. Like I definitely, I’m sure you do. I 

[00:35:16] Brooks: have thoughts on all of it to be complete. 

[00:35:19] Jessy: Exactly. Like I certainly have so many thoughts on it. I know you do too. And I think I can separate them. I have my thoughts personally based on just like things that I believe as a human, but I also can look at it from a business perspective from that lens and I understand that anxiety and that fear.

I think what comes to mind is the idea that it’s an impossible feat to try to please everybody. And I imagine that’s where the anxiety comes from and it’s just going to be the self-perpetuating thing because you’re, it’s an impossible thing to be able to do, to achieve, to be able to please everybody.

I could imagine and it’s, coupled with the fact that it’s been a tricky economy. So because everybody’s just really trying to like to increase sales and drive revenue and stuff like you, you don’t want to limit your, customer base by saying, I can’t please everybody. So we’re going to take the stance, but naturally, of course, that’s going to remove some people from being customers.

What, what, So you’re the expert though. Like you, so what advice do you give them to alleviate anxiety, to navigate them through that? I think 

[00:36:37] Brooks: there are two different things to keep at the forefront of your mind on the brand side. You have to know who you are as a brand.

You just have to, that’s table stakes. And if a brand doesn’t know who they are or why they’re doing, an initiative with March Madness, an initiative with a particular influencer, if they don’t know why they’re doing that, it’s because they don’t know who they are. And they need to do the brand work to understand, what they stand for.

What is their identity? And everything else, when you have a good handle on that, everything else flows from that. pretty easily. So a lot of it is working on the brands and we challenge them to do those self-reflective exercises. Honestly, it’s like a very therapy mindset. But I also think the other thing to keep at the forefront of your mind is understanding inherently what is the value of an influencer.

And to me, It’s their humanity. They are human. And I think we as marketers spend a lot of time trying to humanize brands. We give them voiceovers. We give them Pantones. We give them jingles. We give them, everything in the book to try and give them a voice on Twitter. You tried to humanize the brand, but what’s beautiful about an influencer is that they’re already human, right?

Like we don’t have to 

[00:37:51] Jessy: do that. 

[00:37:52] Brooks: And I think when you deeply understand that at a core level, these are human beings with lived experiences, with family and friends and opinions and history. You start to not only expect that they’re going to be vocal on issues that matter to them, but you also understand that you respect that they’re going to be vocal about issues that matter to them and value it.

And that’s where I get tripped up. Feel like I have to constantly remind brands that these are people, they’re people, they’re not a billboard. they have a circuitous relationship with their followers and they’re going to weigh in on things 

[00:38:25] Jessy: that matter. And I can also imagine that.

From a creator’s perspective or, the team that’s working with them, managers, et cetera, to be able to grow, maintain, and build an audience of people who care what you say and what you’re talking about, they have to take a stance too. And so the brands like. They got to do their work.

And in my mind, I’m like, I hope they empathize in some way that the creators need to as well because there is so much going on in the world. And I think that people respect creators who. Aren’t just billboards, are real people with real opinions like that’s, I’ll just speak personally like those are the types of critters that I’m attracted to, I want people who like think and have opinions and.

Like I want to know what they believe and so that will get me engaged and then brands want engaged audiences from why you want to hire what it’s almost like being your authentic self is like the way to be exactly yet. I think people are being punished transparently. I got you they’re being punished.

They’re missing out on jobs. They’re being taken off of things simply for having an opinion. Big picture. What do you think about that? even just like aside from your job on a day-to-day basis, what are your opinions on, like censoring people at a better, like basically coming down on people for being vocal about their 

[00:40:13] Brooks: opinions.

Yeah. Something we’ve been talking about a lot internally is this idea that brands have stock prices. Influencers have followers. That’s their stock price. That’s their NASDAQ, right? Yeah. And the way that they create a healthy business, because this is their business, this is what they do for a living, is by creating trust with their community.

It’s Community Building 101. And they can’t do that if they are being If they’re censoring how they feel about things now, do I think that there is a public persona and a private persona? Yes, absolutely. I’ve talked to a lot of creators about what they are and are not posting. And certainly, some other more spicy takes are left in the text messages and DMs that it’s not going out and they want to be brand safe.

Ultimately, if we’re going to hire people to take advantage of their community, we have to understand that they’re going to come to their community authentically. And if you as a brand have a hard line in the sand. Then don’t cross that as a brand, but also make sure that you’re working with influencers that have those same lines in the sand.

So then it’s all copacetic. I just ultimately don’t think it’s fair to censor somebody because of how they think just don’t work with a creator. Thanks so differently from you that you would need to censor them. Does that 

[00:41:34] Jessy: make sense? It does. It does. And so I’m curious, there are people certainly listening who, are either at an agency or at a brand and they’re like, okay, I’m sold.

Like I agree. I think that sounds great. How do they? Do that. How do they find the best partners for them? what, is your process, and has it evolved since the world has been on fire a bit more these days? 

[00:42:00] Brooks: Yeah. we have a pretty deep vetting process and it’s different for each brand because each brand has a different threshold of what.

They care about it and it’s not just political. I think a lot of brands get sensitive if a creator does too many brand sponsorships and they feel like they’re just like on QVC essentially and don’t want to be associated or, there’s, a lot of people have landmines that are unique to them.

So I think it boils down to having a robust vetting process. And looking at who you’re recommending, but also having transparent conversations with your clients about what are their triggers. And let’s be honest about those triggers because I think sometimes brands will say what they want to work with.

And say that they feel comfortable, but then ultimately, like I, we got a brand today that was asking if we thought a creator having, and it was a male creator having painted nails was distracting. And it was like, Oh, okay. How do I, have this conversation with this brand to help them understand that someone paying for their nails is not distracting at all?

What we did is we pulled other photos and videos of the same influencer with their nails painted in every single image. We’re like, this person is always like this. It’s not going to be distracting. If you feel that makes you uncomfortable, let’s have that conversation. But otherwise, let’s just keep it moving and not engage with that.

Oh my 

[00:43:31] Jessy: gosh. There are so many little details and just, and it’s such a business of managing people and figuring out the psychology of it all. And, having empathy. 

[00:43:43] Brooks: Totally and having empathy for that client who they’re not mentioning that out of like Bad intentions. They’re just really trying to do their due diligence because their life and their livelihood is on the line.

I get it. So I think it’s just having empathy for the conversations in the first place and then feeling confident in the creators that you decide to work with and the why. It’s all about 

[00:44:04] Jessy: the why. Totally. Okay. So we are recording this like mid-December of 2023, so it’s like a really interesting time of year where everybody is planning for 2024, anticipating it.

How are you preparing for 2024? I 

[00:44:23] Brooks: am taking so much vitamin C so I don’t get sick. I feel like I’ve had a permanent cold. No, I think it’s like one of the big reasons I wanted to come to Edelman is, that my old boss from Twitter actually hired me here and he’s bought in on this idea too. But I think one of the things that I’m most excited about with influencer marketing, just generally you and I have been around for a long time, like pre-FTC disclosure, pre-people having CAA agents, like I, people’s moms are looking at their contracts when I was started out doing this. So it’s a billion-dollar industry. That’s cool. And I think it’s table stakes for everyone to understand that creators are good at creating content. that’s what they’re content creators.

They do that for a living and we know they’re amazing spokespeople. They have done that since the beginning of branded content, but what? I am excited about 2024 and encouraging brands to utilize more is that these are people who have consultative expertise. They can tell you, like, how to handle the Israel-Hamas war on social, because they’re professionally online and because they have this circuitous relationship with their followers, they’re very much incentivized to understand, what people think.

And what people feel and how to best connect with them because they’re also small business owners. So we’ve been trying to get more and more brands to start utilizing influencers for their consultative expertise. Like we’ve had influencers pitch in on a pitch for a shoe brand that was trying to understand like, like cool fashion, urban shoe, like the fashion landscape better because they saw that.

more of the Instagram girlies were starting to wear their shoes. They didn’t understand how to talk to them. So we brought in influencers to come give them advice on Hey, I’m a fashion influencer, girly. I love your shoes and here’s why. And it’s simply using them as consultants to even talk about emerging platforms like Lemonade when it was released.

In the States or pushed for more in the States over the summer, we had several influencers come and talk to us about Hey, are you paying attention to this platform? Why or why not, what trends are you seeing, et cetera. These are experts in their field. They’re marketers and small business owners, and utilizing them for consultation is a huge part of one of the ways you can be more successful online and within culture.

[00:46:45] Jessy: That’s so interesting. I want to do a whole panel discussion with people about that exact topic because I hear people talk about how they’re starting to do it or they’re interested in doing it. And I think that’s a great first step, but I want to learn what are those success stories.

how does it move the needle for people? Because I want to get people to think creatively about how that can be so effective for them. I think that we cerebrally like under. Stand it. And that seems like a good idea, but I think there’s, I don’t think enough people are doing it and like really like experimenting with the best way to do it.

So I’m really curious, are there some particular success stories that you can share that come to mind? When that maybe some of our listeners can take from. Yeah. I think one of the 

[00:47:38] Brooks: The easiest way to implement the idea of influencers as consultants is when you’re talking to an influencer, ask them their opinion.

And one of the ways we even got to this insight in the first place. This was because in the post-2020 world, that first black history month, we got a lot of briefs from problematic clients. They had their best intentions in place, but they were asking influencers to perform some trauma and talk about like really serious things in a very strangely branded manner.

And it was just like, they’re bad briefs all to say, and through no one’s fault, they were well-intentioned, but not. In line with what was happening online. And so we had a lot of influencers come who I was reaching out to, to participate in the campaign. And we have these really honest and great conversations of this is like a great brief.

I don’t think that the creativity that comes out of this brief is going to be good. And I don’t think it’s going to be received well. So let’s change that. And thankfully those clients were incredibly receptive to the idea of switching things around and being more malleable with our overall intentions.

But my recommendation, so that’s certainly an example of how this can be really, helpful. But I think anyone who works with influencers, whether you’re an agent, whether you’re, or you’re an influencer yourself, whether you’re, deploying them for your campaigns is having an encouraging you to have a two-way conversation with them about what we’re working on.

Does it feel insightful? Is it going to be successful online? Because I hate to say it like. They are good at what they do and they probably know it’s going to go well. And it’s our job, at least here at Edelman, to interpret that in a way that makes sense for clients. Like they’re not replacing us, but ultimately they’re these trusted advisors and we should use them as such.

[00:49:30] Jessy: They’re not replacing anybody. I think, but I think that, and I know that you’re like, We’ll get worried about that though. That’s what I was just going to say. I know that you’re talking about it, like jokingly and you’re like, obviously, but, people do in the back of their mind, they don’t want to admit it, but they do think about that.

And I understand it, but I think that they should be looked at as advisors, like you said, or like trusted partners and people to just like. To riff ideas off of to amplify the vision as a whole, like they have their place in the team and you have your place on the team as well. So I think that, yeah, 

[00:50:08] Brooks: totally.

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt, but I also just think ultimately there is a power dynamic and I’m just speaking from you. Yeah. Being someone who activates campaigns with influencers on behalf of advertisers. So this is different for everybody, but in what I do, there’s a power dynamic. Like I am paying the influencer.

I’m for all intents and purposes, their employer. They want to do what I ask. I know it doesn’t always seem that way, but they want to do what I ask because they want to. Be perceived as a great person to work with. They want to have, really high engagement rates, new rates, impressions, all the things and do so that they can get the next job.

So if an influencer is like, Hey, this is not working. Listen to that. It means that it’s not working. there’s no reason for them to say that unless they do think it’s going to affect the creative. So that stuff is really valuable. If you just examine it through the lens of the relationship.

[00:51:04] Jessy: Yeah. Oh, a thousand percent. And I appreciate that perspective. and so similar, like you’re in that same vein, what do you think we can do with different stakeholders within the creator economy? What, how do you think our industry should change so that we can all Just do better? It’s a really broad question.

And so I want to leave it open to your interpretation with going on in your world. But I think I think that change is one of the best things we can experience. And I know some people are very averse to it or like nervous about it. But I think that especially in our industry, We need to continuously change and evolve and learn from.

So I’m curious from your perspective and your vantage point, how do you think our industry should change so that we can all just do better? 

[00:51:58] Brooks: Yeah. things like WIM are hugely helpful because they give us kind of a focus group to talk through what we’re experiencing on the day-to-day. I just, I think a lot of times with influencers as well, they don’t sit and work at a company with a bunch of other people.

They don’t have anyone necessarily to compare notes with. They just, if they know other influencers, they can compare notes with them. Maybe their agent can help them understand what’s going on with the landscape generally. I’ve found time and time again, so much desire to be connected.

And I think that happens across the board. Even the nature of campaign work is pretty solo. It’s pretty solitary. You’re just like one person who’s talking to all five teams, and there are five influencers on the campaign. So just sharing information and then encouraging each other to understand that we all have really good intentions.

So if you know a brief. Sucks. We got, or if someone has been really exemplary to work with, tell them, and let them know why they want to have feedback just as much as we do. we have our reviews with our manager every quarter. They don’t get that necessarily. So just creating more of a camaraderie amongst everyone.

I think like things 

[00:53:13] Jessy: like women are perfect for that. And that’s great to hear. I appreciate it. I did not pay her for this endorsement. I swear we didn’t talk about this beforehand, but I. But I do appreciate the, I appreciate that you appreciate WHIM. we try to be that kind of a place for people.

I think that what you said resonates though, just, not gatekeeping information, sharing your experiences and just being candid about it. I think that just naturally a lot of people, like myself included, I think we’re a little conditioned to just, Oh, only or mainly focus on The success stories and all the good shiny things that happened.

And I know that I’m if I hear somebody give me a recap of something that didn’t work where it was like it was a tough time, but seeing them be vulnerable and then hearing what they learned from it. I, in turn, am also inspired by that person to share what I’ve experienced, and oh my gosh, I went through something that was, just like that, but in this story and here’s what I learned, and I just think that there’s so much more value to glean from those types of stories because we’re all experiencing them and for some reason, I get it.

for some reason, we’re nervous or certainly hesitant to share them, I don’t want to, I’m so hesitant to say failures cause I don’t think that they’re failures at all. They’re truly like moments to learn from. But, yeah, people, we just want to have like our best foot forward, So I under, yeah, always.

So like I understand it, but I appreciate the heck out of when people can, share maybe what’s. That’s what’s gone awry a bit and how they, how they found their way back. So I think that’s great. I would love to keep chatting with you, but I think we’re running low on time. And so I know, that our audience would love to get in touch and they should.

And so I’m curious, what is the best way for our audience to connect with you? Probably 

[00:55:13] Brooks: LinkedIn. I would say I’m not great about my LinkedIn DMs, but I do get to them. I promise. But yeah, LinkedIn is probably the best. I used to be super active on X. I’m not anymore, but I’m on Instagram as Brooke CD. It looks like Brook Seed and then LinkedIn.

And then I lurk on TikTok, but I don’t post anything. So you can find me. I’m just not, you’re not going to get anything. 

[00:55:35] Jessy: we will share all of those links in the show notes for you guys to connect with Brooks. It’s been. Such a pleasure having you on today. I know this is so nice to just catch up and you’re just such a pleasure to chat with.

And I know I encourage our audience to reach out to you and just connect, have you in their networks. And I want to see lots of connections happening. So I appreciate you. Oh, proud of 

[00:56:02] Brooks: you. This is so cool. You’ve made such an amazing impact on the whole industry. I’m just like, so proud of you.

[00:56:07] Jessy: I appreciate you so much. Women supporting women is what I love. So right back at you, I’m a big, huge fan. So I’m so happy to see that you landed at such a great company and they are so lucky to have you. And I’m just excited to see all the incredible things that you’re going to be building throughout the rest of your career.

So we’re trying. Yup. And you will. I’m excited to see, but also to see the learning moments as well. when I pulled. Flat on my ass. And that’s what I love about you. I’m, telling you, people want to hear that way more than the shiny moments, because yeah, yes. That’s what I want to hear.

At least honestly, like that, that, that makes me, my. My ears perk up. Again, we will list all of your social channels and all that in the show notes. I encourage you guys to reach out. Thank you so much for being here today and for everybody listening, we will see you next week. Bye, guys. If you enjoyed this episode, we gotta have you back.

Check out our website for more ways to get involved, including all the information you need about joining our collective. You can check out all the information@iamwim.com. Leave us a review, a rating, but the most important thing that we can ask. That’s what I’m going to do to share this podcast.

Thanks for listening. Tune in next week. Tune in next week.

Brooks Miller

EVP, Influencer Marketing, EDELMAN

Brooks Miller has been working in the Influencer Marketing industry since 2015. Currently, she is the EVP of Influencer Marketing at Edelman, based in New York. Previous to Edelman, Brooks was at Twitter for 7.5 years, leading the US Creator Content Strategy & Execution team, which focused on collaborating with the internet’s top influencers and artists to make best-in-class content for Twitter’s advertisers. Before her life was peppered with #sponsored and #ad, she was an account manager at creative agencies like at Barrett Hofherr (fka barrettSF) and 72andSunny. Brooks has won multiple Shorty awards and her work has been featured in AdWeek and AdAge.

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