Walk Up And Take Control With Laurie Buckle Of CookIt Media

Today we’re speaking with Laurie Buckle of CookIt Media . Laurie is the CEO + founder of CookIt Media, a digital talent management company with expertise in the food and lifestyle space. CookIt is Laurie’s second act, following a career in traditional print – one that included leadership roles at some of the most highly regarded publications in the industry: Bon Appétit, Better Homes & Gardens and the Kitchn. Driven by the idea that influencers were the new content creators, Laurie ditched print and launched CookIt in 2015 with a goal to helping bloggers better understand the business of blogging and its potential. She worked with some incredibly talented creators, playing a key role in helping them shape their brand strategy and growth goals. Laurie still works to help the talent on CookIt’s roster find their unique path to success in the ever-changing world of influencer marketing. She also works with brands to help them create impactful partnerships and strategic campaigns that benefit both creator and brand, and result in engaging content that out-performs expectations.



[00:00:00] Jessy: I’m so happy to have you on the show today. I feel like we’ve like gotten to know each other over the past like many months, I’m such a like fan girl of what you’re doing with crooked. And just like I don’t know, your enthusiasm about all sorts of stuff. I feel like we’ve had conversations about all sorts of things in the industry. And it’s really cool to see all the ways that you’re innovating. So first and foremost, welcome, and how are you today? 

[00:00:26] Laurie: Good. Thank you very excited to be here.

[00:00:30] Jessy: Super excited to have you we have, we were like chit chatting a little bit before we started recording. So I don’t know, there’s all sorts of stuff we’re gonna get into today. And I’m really excited to get into it. I think before we do, and before we get into like the nitty gritty of like, all the cool things that you’re working on, I think it’d be really awesome just sort of level set and just hear a little bit more about like you and your own words, and sort of just like how you ended up with this company and like doing the work that you’re doing today?

[00:00:58] Laurie: Absolutely. It is a little bit of a long story. So I’ll try to keep it short. But before I sort of appeared on the influencer marketing front of things, I had a career in magazines and food magazines, and I worked at bon appetit and Better Homes and Gardens and fine cooking. I also worked at a couple of digital products in the editorial space, one of them being the kitchen, which is an amazing site. But really, that was the bulk of my experience in the content space. And over time, and this is going back about I think 10 years ago now, as the influencer community as the influencer world was really starting to, you know, rise. And we were, we were working with influencers in content creation when I was at fine cooking and things like that. But as I moved over, and basically really began to understand sort of what was happening in content in traditional print, I began to think about digital because in traditional print content requires, especially in the food space, content requires huge teams of people and so much time. And it was watching, you know, sort of publishers really struggle with that and budgeting for that. And realizing that over here on the influencer side of things, these content creators were able to do so much that it took us up, like I said, a full team of people to do, and they could do it so well. And what was happening here was so interesting compared to what was what was over there in traditional print, especially in terms of cooking, and that kind of thing, there was a lot of innovation over here. So I decided to jump ship to really leave traditional print and come here and figure out what my value was, this was really kind of the start of cooking. It was it was in the consulting space. And really, for me understanding what it was like to help an influencer, basically what they were bloggers at the time, help them become a better business that was really the focus of the consulting strategy, working with them to help them appreciate the the potential that they had, how to better understand their brand story, who they were, how to understand their audience, because bottom line content only works if it’s really serving the audience, how to understand even simple things like content, calendars, and, you know, consistency in content and that sort of thing. And that was really the beginning of kind of my deep dive into what this world was and where it could go and how I could help individuals do that. And over time with you know, sort of clients coming back and saying to me, Well, all of these things that we’ve been working on, they’re actually they’re working, and I have brands coming to me. brands want to talk to me about how to work together. And I don’t know how to talk to them. But because I had been in, in the magazine space for so long working with both edit teams and sales teams. That was a really familiar side of the business to me and working with advertisers and helping advertisers understand sort of the value of brands story in a magazine, and how that really connected with the consumer that they wanted to reach. That all sort of became a process that ultimately became a talent agency cook it is a talent agency, a full service talent agency in the food space. And that’s kind of the short version of how I got to where I am now the crazy thing is that this job, I think I love it most simply because we joke, we joke about this at the office, but every Monday it’s a different job. And that wasn’t the case in traditional print where you were kind of on this on this path that really didn’t shift a whole lot, you know, with the exception to the seasons and holidays and things. But this is really an industry that I think it’s still in you know, its early stages of growth and development and where it’s going to go and how it’s going to eat traditional advertising, lunch and all those things that are about to happen. So I think that’s really my favorite part.

[00:05:08] Jessy: So first of all, you’re making me like very nostalgic for those times when I’m like getting on an airplane and like going to those little stores and getting like all the gossip magazines, all this talk about magazine, I still do that with Starburst. Yes. Love. It was funny. Yeah, like your best sweet. And like, you know, something goes really, I’m just like, it’s a treat and going in the airplane. I’m just gonna, like, indulge, like all this talk about magazines and like permission to still do that. I mean, well, those little newsstands wouldn’t exist. If they didn’t, the magazines wouldn’t exist if they didn’t. And like, it’s so good. It’s just like a reminds me of such a like, nice time, you know, and like, in childhood, like the different kid magazines and like the teenage magazines, I don’t know, it’s like taking me aback. But I also beyond that, I’d love to hear a little bit more about your talent, because I feel like there are definitely some really great talent management firms out there, who like so many of them I am like living vicariously through through Wim. And like, seeing the people do incredible things, but very few of them have niched down as much as you have. And I love a company that like knows their lane, and they’re like, we’re gonna master the space. Tell me a little bit more about some of your clients like brag a little bit, I want to learn more about,

[00:06:31] Laurie: Oh my gosh, we work with the most amazing people. It’s, it’s interesting, because I don’t consider sort of recipes and cooking a niche, obviously, I know it is. I know it’s a category. But when we look at sort of talent, and content, and all of the things that food can be, it’s interesting in that it crosses over so many elements of you know, sort of just life if you think about it, if you think about travel, and traveling to eat and traveling to explore new cuisines. If you think about sort of, you know, the world of cooking beyond the kitchen, and what that looks like, and how much how much there is out there in terms of understanding food, which is really such a big topic right now, everything from farmers market to regenerate regenerative foods, sustainable foods, the topics that people are interested in, in terms of health and wellness and fitness, it’s almost like when you are a food creator, you are very much a lifestyle creator at the same time. And I think that’s important to know. But I also think it’s true in terms of this niche and our expertise in this niche, which we are all obviously I came from food magazines, everybody on the team has had experience in some way or another with food and food content. So we talk food, and when we’re talking to brand clients on the other side, it’s a very specific language that we’re speaking and we’re really helping them understand things, you know, especially if they’re a startup are kind of new to this business, we’re helping them understand sort of the world of food, almost from a calendar perspective, you and I were just talking about q4 and how really, in so many ways, this is the food season, we’re about to jump into all of the holidays, from Thanksgiving, through the Christmas holidays, through everything that you know, Cookie parties and all that stuff that’s about to come up and how for brands that are kind of new to this, there’s so much to know, in terms of where they’re, you know, sort of how their partnerships can create those opportunities that really puts them right in the middle of the conversation. In social media that’s happening right then and pretty soon we’re all going to be talking about Halloween and all the fun cakes and you know, things that make smoke all the things that people do make for Halloween and and the big food part of that. So for the people that we work with, we are definitely always aspiring with them to this kind of larger lifestyle opportunity that they have, and how their content it is about them. Do you know what I mean? This is something that we’ve also been chatting about a lot this you know, becoming the face of your brand is more important now than ever, but it’s about who you are and the inch in your interest and the way you’re interested spanned out across the world of food and how that makes for so much variety in your content and so much innovation and that’s what we’re really seeing and the people on our roster that are just killing it and it’s inspiring to be honest with you and I’d love to like leave you at the in the notes at the end with a whole bunch of folks that people would want to follow and check out and learn from Hi would love that. I will definitely do that.

[00:09:52] Jessy: We will totally do that. That sounds awesome because it’s also like you could talk about them but it’s also another thing to like see what they we’re working on

[00:10:00] Laurie: I also don’t want to talk about that and leave somebody else.

[00:10:04] Jessy: So I’m curious though, like, with, like, with food influencers, you’re talking about, like also wanting to them to, we’re talking earlier about, like, create their own cookbook, or you know, have additional opportunities that aren’t so food specific. And I think that it’s brilliant when people niche down. But I also think that it’s important to keep a broad perspective of the number of different opportunities that are available, just like what you’re describing with a cookbook and a number of other things. So I’d love to hear from you like, what are additional revenue streams, or like additional projects and things that talent managers should keep in mind that are options for their talent? Because it sounds like you know, that really well,

[00:10:52] Laurie: That is definitely something that we are focused on right now. And we are, we’re hearing from our talent all the time, as well, in terms of understanding themselves as a brand. And as a brand that can do so many things. In the in the food space, a cookbook is often a highly, you know, a sort of prized product that I think it’s I think the great thing for talent is that a cookbook is a different kind of authority, obviously, you have a you have a lot of authority on your website, and in your social channels and that sort of thing. But there’s nothing like your name on a cookbook and seeing yourself at Barnes and Noble, and kind of feeling like, okay, that this is, you know, I’ve really, I’ve really done it now, I really succeeded. And the cookbook world itself, I did, I did a lot of work in cookbooks when I was working at Bon appetit. And we were expanding the cookbooks section of our brand, effectively, and working with Random House and really beginning to understand what the cookbook world was and how it worked and how it was different than magazines. And it’s, it’s a really interesting place. And to be honest with you, it hasn’t changed all that much in recent years. But it is still a place that needs you know it, we need to help people basically navigate those opportunities and get them with the right agents and the right publishers, and all those things. And that’s a really good example of sort of how our skills in the food space I think are helping our talent go in the directions that they want to go. And we’re also you know, we’re hearing that people want to create merchandise or a product line, they want to start a podcast, they want to dig into live content on different platforms, they want to explore affiliate opportunities. And for us it is this like, like Jesse, like I was just saying, I really want to learn more about the back end of podcasts and you know, sort of how that works, and what the revenue opportunities are, and how to really bring those into the conversation with our talent as well. So all of those things are really they kind of fall in our wheelhouse now in a way that they didn’t used to it was usually just about, you know, your blog and your social channels. And now it really has expanded into sort of brand revenue, strategy and growth. And for us, that’s just been this incredible chance to really think about how can we continue to be the stewards of their brands and their brand stories as they go through this process? 

[00:13:15] Jessy: So I have a question. I feel like one of the like, very challenging thing sometimes about being a talent manager, and for those of you who might be listening and unaware, that’s my background as well. One of the more difficult things about talent management is like, it almost feels like there’s never a ceiling from the talent perspective, right? Like, I want more more growth, more this more opportunities, more of that. And like I fell last week, personally that like that is challenging, because there’s like, it’s hard to continuously find additional opportunities and additional revenue streams and all the things. So if you had a talent of yours, who, hypothetically speaking, was coming to you and saying, all right, Laurie, but like, you know, we made a million dollars last year, and the year before I made five. So you got me from $5 to a million but I want I want 5 million this year. What would you tell them like do you manage their expectations? Do you go and you’re like, there’s always a number of opportunities. Like let’s get at it. Like how does that conversation sound?

[00:14:29] Laurie: To be honest, I feel like you’re describing my favorite person. I mean, this is funny. This is kind of coming to me as you’re saying it but I’ve always even before I started to cook it I felt like I always looked at my job as an entrepreneur. So do your job and then do beyond your job, the things that you know are going to make that opportunity bigger and better for you. And perhaps they’ve brought that with me in terms of understanding talent and what they need in order To succeed in this really volatile climate, do you know what I mean? It’s, they can’t, they can’t sort of say to themselves, alright, I have an amazing website with a lot of traffic. And that’s a great revenue stream. I’m over here on Tik Tok, I’m, I’m on Pinterest, I’m exploring, you know, some other options and that sort of thing. And that’s the scope of my opportunity. Because I feel like when you think that way, you limit yourself to basically just business as usual, the status quo, but when you think in terms of a true multi platform strategy for yourself, which I think is the opportunity we’re talking about, it’s obviously a multi revenue strategy as well, that that’s, that’s where true growth is. And that’s where this industry is going that these individuals aren’t going to be limited to these specific channels that they are going to expand out into the world of, you know, sort of like everything we were talking about, from product lines, to cookbooks, to tour guides to podcasters, and how they take their brand story with them that it’s the through line, but it’s giving them this chance to really to expand and to also find success in a way that is very specific to their skills to which is an ongoing process, I think.

[00:16:18] Jessy: And so do you find that for your talent in particular, because they tend to, I mean, they’re pretty niche and the food space, that there tends to be a very lucrative secondary source of income, like our podcasts really killer, or, you know, I guess, like platform wise, like, are you telling everyone to get on tick tock, because I’ve actually heard mixed things. Actually, we have a weekly room on LinkedIn, they have like a LinkedIn audio room that we host every Thursday, selfish plug at 1pm. Eastern. And we cover the latest, like news stories in social media and influencer marketing. And one of the stories we recently discussed was all these influencers on tick tock, who like the numbers look great, but they’re having difficulty converting the viewers to being followers. And therefore they’re having difficulty also getting brands like partnerships, because the people aren’t necessarily like sticky and loyal, and things that they might have experienced on like, a YouTube, for example, or even Instagram. And so my question, you know, I’m kind of going off on a tangent about tick tock, but, you know, I hear a lot of people saying, like, Oh, my God, I tell all I recall, I’ve heard a manager say this, I require all of my talent to be on tick tock, they have to be on tick tock. But for you know, it’s interesting. And if it works for them, it works for them. I guess I’m curious what works for for your talent in terms of like, the platforms that they’re on, and like, what they’re doing the best at, like, what they’re getting the most traction on?

[00:18:01] Laurie: I love that question. There’s so many sides to that question. I think one of the interesting sides is, is clients, effectively brand clients, and their transition from fear of tick tock to tick tock requests right now, was pretty fast, it was really, you know, at the start of the pandemic, there was a lot of back and forth about ticking tick tock off your phone and things like that. And it’s really become the platform that so many brands are interested in, because it has so much potential to have, like dropping a boulder into the ocean, instead of throwing some rocks in and seeing what happens and how, how quickly something can go viral. And, and have this huge impact. The challenge is that it’s very difficult to predict that that’s going to happen, obviously. But there’s also this sense of sort of regular pacing content, this and this. And this, like you said, Here’s, you know, it’s just kind of a straight line, and then it does the viral thing and then it goes back down and how to actually manage both talents, expectations around that and the clients expectations. Predictability is is definitely an issue. But to be honest with you, it’s an issue with Instagram right now too, with all the all the stuff that’s going on. And Instagram is very hard to predict that a you know that an influencer will get the same result doing exactly the same this time as opposed to last time. But in the food space on the talent side on tick tock. One of the biggest challenges is there is no place to keep a recipe effectively. And recipes are obviously a very big part of the content creation that our people provide that they excel in. And we are we’re working hard with them to ensure that they’re, they own their content, and it’s almost this what we’re recommending is they go back to the idea of having a blog or a website, where it is proprietary. Despite what’s happening, and all the social media platforms, their content lives there, and it can’t, it can’t disappear with the, with the, you know, with platform, if that were to happen that has happened before. And people who have all of their content create all of their content within a platform that’s outside their own brand, they that is a that is a real risk. And in terms of revenue potential, a strong optimized, SEO optimized website is still one of the most valuable things that a food creator can have. And the people who have been doing it for some time, and if built out significant traffic and have amazing content that’s performing for them, year after year, basically, that’s a really significant revenue stream. And I think to think about that, not so much in the oh, wait, we’re not blogs anymore perspective, but to think about it from what is the future of having your own site? And what can you do with that? And how can you monetize it is, is a lot of what we’re talking about right? Now, the other piece of this, and I think this is kind of coming back to how we help them prioritize their time, because we do have people who want all of it all at once. And it really is kind of helping them understand where is the real value? And how does that compare to the time investment that I want to put into creating a podcast or writing a cookbook. And that’s a real conversation, because cookbooks are this amazing thing. It’s funny, we’re talking about cookbooks so much, they are this incredible thing to have sort of in your you know, sort of in your roster of successes. But at the same time, they are very time consuming. They can take one to two years. And that’s a pretty significant time investment, when you think about this business and how quick it’s changing, and how much you have to do to really stay in the conversation. So oftentimes, will,

[00:21:55] Jessy: Can I ask a quick question, why this cookbook? Take two to three years? Like, can you tell us a little bit about that process? Because like, that’s a long time. [00:22:05] Laurie: Yeah, it is wild. It’s the cookbook industry, the book industry hasn’t really changed that much in all this time, they still have their own pace and their own process. And it’s just a time consuming process. With a cookbook, it actually begins with, people just think, oh, I can put together a quick proposal and send it to a publisher. And it’ll, it’ll be accepted, no problem. But it actually starts with a cookbook proposal. And one of the courses that cook it offers is actually how to write a cookbook proposal. And it’s a six month process, it really is this very detailed, very sort of organized exploration of your idea, your concept, why it’s valuable, who your audience is, how that audience is aligned with your audience and social so that you’re out, you know, your marketing machine and the process, understanding the organization of the cookbook, and the value of the cookbook, in the current conversation about food, building out recipe content that’s really unique to you and the story you want your cookbook to tell. It’s just it’s very detailed. And by the time you finish the cookbook proposal, you practically have the book, interestingly enough, but from there you go on to finding basically an agent and a publisher to really walk you through the process of getting that proposal accepted. And sometimes it’s quick and easy. Sometimes it’s an auction and to the person, you know, is you know, they get more than they expected and it’s all good news, but to be honest with you, most proposals one to 2% of them are accepted by a publisher and that’s a that’s a risk if you think about it in terms of spending all that time on something like a proposal and then still not you know still having to go back to the drawing board and work on it some more so that’s that’s just the beginning part of it. It’s a it’s a long road I really admire those people that stick with it and also want to basically stay in the influencer marketing you know space to to keep that part of it up because full transparency publishers want to work with talent that have really loyal you know, large followings that will that will buy the book too.

[00:24:21] Jessy: Yeah, I mean, that’s super interesting because like I definitely know of some influencers in the past who have it was a cookbook but you know, sold a book and continue to to have done multiple books since then. And I definitely can agree with you in that like a huge draw to a publisher is like well, how big is their social following How likely are they to actually buy the book? So like, if you’re working with influencers you already do you have a leg up from like the normal like Joe Schmo who like not Joe Schmo, but you know what I mean, like somebody who’s very talented, an author, but doesn’t necessarily have the following

[00:24:59] Laurie: Publishers don’t provide that much marketing anymore. Do you know what I mean? That was how it used to be, they sent you on a book tour and everything and not anymore. It’s up to you now.

[00:25:07] Jessy: It is but one to 2% still, that is a very tiny amount. Is there any tips that you can give people listening if they’re, you know, in the process or like they vote, you know, there are a lot of members of Wim who have wanted to sell, you know, write a book, there are some members of women who have many who have, and many others who are listening, it was like, oh, like, as traditional as that sounds, it still is like this, like level of credibility.

[00:25:35] Laurie: It truly is and is the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. Right? It’s that sort of I have arrived, and you can trust me, and I’m really good at what I’m doing.

[00:25:44] Jessy: It is. And so there are definitely people who are like, how am i? How could I be that one to 2%? Are there any tips that you can give them?

[00:25:53] Laurie: Yes, I think the best tip is, is to either, I’m trying to figure out a way to say this. There’s a lot of publishers out there that are very interested in working with influencers, basically, for all the reasons that we were just talking about. But they often present the individual with a sort of turn key, this is going to be easy for you. No stress, we’re just going to sign here. And we’re going to get this thing out of here in six months. And those individuals often end up with a cookbook concept that has nothing to do with their brand with their brand story. It’s maybe it’s a single subject, you know, concept that the publisher really wants to work on, like a book on figs, or something like that, or avocados. And that doesn’t really have anything to do with that individual’s larger, like I said, larger brand story. And I feel like if you’re going to write a cookbook, write the cookbook that really supports everything you want to say about your brand and who you are and why you’re important and the value of your content, and not to waste your time on one of those like, overnight successes, not even successes, overnight products.

[00:27:08] Jessy: 100%. And like, I think that it’s like the one that yeah, it does. And like the longevity of all of this is so important to continuously think about because as tempting as certain things seem like, like, that’s probably what I would assume that’s like so much of the value of like, your influencers work with you, because working with somebody in like a talent management capacity or coaching capacity consultant, whatever it is, like, you know, that’s sort of the marker of, you know, a really valuable asset to your team is somebody who is thinking long term and strategically and like how one thing relates to the other. So I think that it’s really great that you think like that. And I don’t know, I would encourage also for anyone who’s listening and, you know, wanting to build up their personal brand, we’re not even talking about your influencers at this point. But I love talking about personal, personal brands. Absolutely. Like let’s think about adding a book to something, you know, to your repertoire, because it can be a really powerful thing. If you’re, you know, up for some opportunity, whether maybe it’s even like a job, you know, and you’re you have a book that you’ve published, like, people are gonna look at you different. It’s all about perception. So I think that it’s a really valuable thing to consider at least, I’d love to hear just specifically about like, I love talking about trends, a little bit marketing trends, you know, especially since you’re in the talent management space, you’re seeing content from all of your creators to get this really interesting perspective. It’s not just through the lens of one influencer or one brand, you’re really seeing multiple brands, multiple creators, and I’m sure they’re like trends along the way. Like, for example, are you seeing a bunch like for your talent, particular obviously, are you seeing a lot on certain platforms? You know, you mentioned blogs earlier, which is definitely a very unique thing about the food space, but totally, really valid, really powerful thing, because for all the reasons you mentioned before, so like what I don’t know, What trends are you seeing these days in your worlds?

[00:29:30] Laurie: That is such an interesting question. It’s, you know, brands aren’t necessarily trends. I’m not sure I’m saying that right. But if an influencer has a very strong, like, we were just we were just saying like a strong brand’s story and really understands who she is and the value of her content, and how that content is really serving her audience. There are trends within that content if you think about, like one example is is sort of the world of moms and parenting, and how that has changed so much. Even in the even in the space of time that cook it has been around, basically talent in the mom’s space used to have a lot of time to do crafts, and fun holiday decorations and things like that. And now those trends are moving more into, like things like baby led weaning, which is really, really interesting. It’s sort of working with your baby to help them eat real foods, as opposed to, you know, foods out of a jar, and how to do that, and how to do that from a pretty early age and help them explore, and how that kind of ensures that that baby is actually getting a whole food diet that isn’t so processed, and things like that are actually trends that are happening out there in the world of food, as we all talk about healthier food, regenerative foods, sustainable foods, all those things that consumers are now expecting out of the products that they buy, and wanting to have that caliber of a food sort of in their kitchens and on their family tables. It’s it’s been a long time since I was feeding my kids macaroni and cheese out of a box. And it’s completely different now. But it’s a it’s a trend that’s been happening for a while now. And it’s really the influences that are stepping up to the plate and answering that consumer call for better quality and that sort of thing. And I think that’s happening in so many ways is food itself really shifts with the times and with the technology to be honest with you, too.

[00:31:37] Jessy: Yeah, Imean that Oh, interesting, because they feel like I mean, that’s like the epitome of influence, isn’t it? Like it’s yeah, it’s not even necessarily having like an influence or role with the trends of marketing. It’s like they’re creating,

[00:31:50] Laurie: They’re creating the trends and the consumers are following them for that, you know, for that ability to, to find the products that they want and to understand how to use them. It’s also our obligation, I think as a as an agency. And we’re spending so much time all the time in research and talking to brands, we’re actually we’re coming to see you, Jesse, we’re going to New York, and Philadelphia at the end of September to go to a conference called Expo East, which is very much for brands in the health and wellness space, that are interested in distribution. And I used to go when I was in traditional print, I used to go to see the trends to really understand, you know, all the different water flavors, all the different chips, all these kinds of things. And we still do that, because that is, you know, everything right now is everything bagel flavor. Last time we went, it’ll be interesting to see what happens this year. But it’s also that larger sort of perspective on how food is changing, and how we can help our talent. Understand that and also help clients brand clients realize that we have the talent that can support their goals in that space as well.

[00:32:56] Jessy: Wait, everything is bagel flavored. I don’t tell me more about this.

[00:33:02] Laurie: We went to Expo West, it’s on both sides twice a year, and it’s on both sides of the coast. And we went to Expo West, I think was back in February. And it was almost like every other product we were trying the flavor whether they were chips or crackers, or a dip or a hot sauce. everything bagel flavor was the one that kept coming up. And it’s really funny to go to those conferences and see what’s happening.

[00:33:26] Jessy: No, it’s definitely fun to go to those conferences. It’s like I don’t know, I think luckily, you’re talking to a person who like founded a networking organization. So like, I certainly love for the opportunity to meet other people and to me, so I recently a few months ago went to VidCon. Before then I went to like a few other conventions as well. It felt really, it felt different than it did pre COVID to go to a convention. I don’t know I’m like naturally a little more introverted. So going to a convention, I’m like, oh, like I have to do it, I should do it. But I gotta say like, post COVID going to my first couple conventions since then. It was kind of like a breath of fresh air like seeing people in person again and I love learning so it’s also like really kind of interesting to like sit in the you know, the like the auditoriums and just like listen to the lectures and things that people are like, you know, panel discussions and things but I’m wondering if you feel the same thing when I go to a conference. I’m also like, riddled with anxiety, because I’m always like, alright, especially if I have to travel to one because I’m like, Alright, I’ve spent a significant amount of money to be here. And like if you own your own business like you do, you know you’re like I’m this isn’t on anybody else’s dime. This is on my dime. And this conference is all of two or three days max, and I will need to get so much out of this and I’m just like, ah like well What do I do? Where do I go? And I always feel like, I didn’t accomplish everything that I hoped. Do you feel like that when you go to conferences? And if you do, like, what do you do about it?

[00:35:13] Laurie: I love that so much. I don’t think anyone’s ever asked that Jessy. Yes, I am also that introverted person who like walks into a conference, like it’s a cocktail party where I don’t know anybody. But having done it for so many years, and, and having so much, oh, this sounds funny, but having so much to brag about in terms of the talent that we work with, and the value of that talent, really kind of shifts just the model for me, because it does give me a chance to realize that, you know, I get to talk to all of these really interesting clients who need my influencers so badly. And I can explain to them what this industry is and how it works, and, and why they need to better understand this person and how she can basically change everything for them, she or he. So it is, it has become sort of this, this place where, like you said, I always feel like I leave, I don’t get everything done. You’re right, it is it is a big investment. And there’s a team of us that go. And we’re always trying to get smarter and better about how we do these shows, and who we talk to, and what we say we talk about that a lot too. And what we get out of it, and also trying to, you know, prove ROI, just like we do with the clients really prove our ROI on our experience there. But you’re right, there is a lot of pressure, but it is also that moment where you are face to face. And I think like everybody, in the past couple of years, I have missed it so much. Because when you actually get that chance, even like what we’re doing now is you know, a version of that. But it is that sense of, I get to speak to you standing here, as you know, as a representative of your brand, telling you what I know to be your path to success. And that is that is great.

[00:37:04] Jessy: It is great. It’s so great. I think like when we’re running out of time, which I am like out about, but I’d love to ask you a follow up to that where you’re just getting out I feel that you mentioned briefly or like, you know, we talk about internally for going to a conference, what what do we say? Like, what’s our pitch, you know, like to be able to maximize our time in front of some really important people? I don’t know, walk me through that process. Like how do you decide how to best sell yourself in a really short period of time.

[00:37:39] Laurie: It’s interesting that, you know, sort of, we have two clients, we have brand clients over here on the you know, sort of the partnership side, the business development side, and we have talent, but talent are really our our highest priority in so many ways. Because they are the source of the content and the source of the potential that the client the brand client has in terms of how to succeed in this industry. And depending upon sort of, like where we are in the conversation, we really focus on these, you know, these different opportunities as a chance to help a client understand what influencer marketing is. And I feel like that’s a conversation we come back to time and again, because so many brands think they know or maybe have had some experience, but don’t really know what we do. And getting the chance to talk about what we do and how what we do is at the center of talent or talent basically is at the center of what we do, how that is basically an industry that is very much like advertising, but not advertising, because there is this human component in the middle. And the human component gets more and more important as the industry evolves, and separates it that much more from traditional advertising, which is you know, a billboard on Sunset or something like that. whereby we’re actually able to provide what is almost like experiential advertising or experiential marketing, where this is happening in live time. And the client can see the impact of the influencer and her promotion of the product. And I think it’s just such an unusual thing, that any chance to help a client get smarter about how we do what we do is a huge opportunity from my perspective.

[00:39:36] Jessy: 100% I think that’s like such valuable advice. And I know that people listening are like probably taking either physical notes or mental notes like I am. Because it’s really, really interesting to think about that just like you said,

[00:39:54] Laurie: Yeah, it’s fascinating. 

[00:39:56] Jessy: It is. It really truly is though.

[00:39:59] Laurie: Like so much of the time, both on the talent side and to be honest with you on the client side, we are teachers about what is this business? And how does it work? And how do you succeed? How do you succeed in influencer marketing?

[00:40:10] Jessy: And it’s something that we’re all continuously fine tuning, you know, because it’s changing so much. And I know the world is changing so much too. So and it’s so much more of an art than a science also. So there’s so many variables and it depends on you and the person that you’re talking to and the person you’re talking about. And like, I don’t know, it’s but it’s the best way I guess if I were to say like, how to figure out the the best way for you is to just keep trying different things and experiment a little bit and put yourself out there. I feel like that’s probably the best way to try anything bigger on anything in life, right?

[00:40:49] Laurie: Isn’t that the truth? Just walk up, walk up and take control. 

[00:40:53] Jessy: Walk up and take control. Oh, I love it. So I have a feeling that our listeners would love to get in touch with you to learn more about you to learn more about cooking work with your talent. What is the best way for our audience to get in touch with you?

[00:41:07] Laurie: Oh, I would just love to talk to anybody who has questions or ideas, anything that sort of about this business that we could have a conversation about. I am an open door, definitely. You can find us at just basically our website cook at dash media.com which is a great place to reach out. There’s even a form there that you can fill out and get back to you right away. We just love those things. You can also DM us, we are cooking media on Instagram. And it’s interesting that we’re getting a lot more conversation on Instagram now that we have switched our content strategy to reels. That’s a whole nother conversation. But we love to hear from folks on Instagram. My personal Instagram is Laurie buck, which is really funny but full of granddaughter baby pictures if anybody needs a baby picture today.

[00:42:00] Jessy: I mean, who wouldn’t want a picture of a baby? How old is she?

[00:42:06] Laurie: She just turned one and she’s literally, I know so biased, literally the cutest thing on the planet and just starting to walk. And so getting a little crazy over here some days.

[00:42:18] Jessy: That is so thick and sweet. Yes, I think that it would be lovely to both learn about you and your company and oh my God, when you’re a business owner, they feel very intertwined. They are. They definitely are so we’re gonna definitely link all of that in the show notes below. I thank you guys so much for tuning in today. Thank you Laurie for being such a great guest and for everyone listening, we will see you next week.

Laurie Buckle


Laurie is the CEO + founder of CookIt Media, a digital talent management company with expertise in the food and lifestyle space. CookIt is Laurie’s second act, following a career in traditional print – one that included leadership roles at some of the most highly regarded publications in the industry: Bon Appétit, Better Homes & Gardens and the Kitchn.

Driven by the idea that influencers were the new content creators, Laurie ditched print and launched CookIt in 2015 with a goal to helping bloggers better understand the business of blogging and its potential. She worked with some incredibly talented creators, playing a key role in helping them shape their brand strategy and growth goals.

Laurie still works to help the talent on CookIt’s roster find their unique path to success in the ever-changing world of influencer marketing. She also works with brands to help them create impactful partnerships and strategic campaigns that benefit both creator and brand, and result in engaging content that out-performs expectations.

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