In my years as an event host and media personality, I've witnessed and experienced a convergence between branding, marketing, entertainment, and communications.
When I started, we talked directly to fans and potential consumers through print, TV, and my medium of expertise, radio. Today, communication is a full two-way street. Through branded content we speak beyond the attributes and price of a particular product or service and share the business' story and values. The message not only informs, it can inspire meaningful conversation and action beyond a simple visit or purchase.
Social media influencers take it a step further by aligning with, endorsing, and amplifying this message to their own dedicated followers--above a company's usual reach. In some cases, influencers are established, high-profile celebrities already trusted by their large audience.
I've been fortunate enough to work with a few of these superstars--strong women you may have heard of, seen, or met somewhere before. In each of these experiences, I took note of an endearing personal quality that directly contributed to their authenticity and success.
1. They're human, just like us.
When she's not starring as Special Agent in Charge Jane Tennant in CBS's new hit series NCIS: Hawaii, or authoring her new book Life from Scratch, Vanessa Lachey (@vanessalachey) is a busy mother of three. She's made her parenting struggles-turned-successes a focus of her social media.
Those mom superpowers were on full display at an event I hosted with Stonyfield Organic at The Grove retail and entertainment complex in Los Angeles. Vanessa earned a Guinness World Record title for the most bagged lunches assembled by an individual in three minutes.
After staking her place in the record book, she made time to share her knowledge and answer questions from young moms and fans alike.
2. They're constantly working on themselves and inspiring those around them.
Kellie Pickler (@kelliepickler) rose from season-five American Idol contestant to platinum-selling recording artist--all before winning Dancing with the Stars and hosting the nationally-syndicated daytime television talk show Pickler and Ben.
If that isn't enough, she's also an avid wellness enthusiast and runner.
I witnessed her incredible drive as we hosted Silk's "Run to the Red Carpet" event at the historic Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Kellie cheered on hundreds of participants running on the world's longest red carpet--nearly 23,000 feet!
“We’re all going to be each others biggest fans,” she told Runner's World. “We’re all on the same team and want to see everyone be the best versions of themselves.”
3. They love doing what they do, and sharing it with others.
Food Network's Melissa d'Arabian (@melissadarabian) discovered a passion for cooking while growing up on a shoestring budget.
She parlayed that love and life experience into her trademark Ten Dollar Dinners TV program and New York Times bestselling cookbook of the same name. Melissa is currently a judge and contestant on the popular reality-based cooking game show Guy's Grocery Games, also on Food Network.
Together, with partner Ben & Jerry's, we had a blast creating a non-dairy, vegan dessert nacho dish Melissa co-conceived for Instagram in front of a live audience in San Diego.
Wait... dessert nachos, you say?
The events of 2020 served as a catalyst to further blur the lines between marketing and media. Pandemic restrictions forced more people than ever to consume content digitally at home, giving brands and creators more access to a captive, immersed audience.
Topics around social justice came to the forefront, and corporations were more willing to engage in tougher, self-reflective conversations beyond mild entertainment. My friends at Ben & Jerry's launched a podcast series examining the history of racism in America.
This year and beyond, deeper connections between brands, influencers, and audiences will only develop further. Staying true to one's values and beliefs--and above all, humanity--is key to a successful relationship.
Want to see more from these events? Check out Alex's updated Event Host Demo, featuring additional footage from other major events including CES 2020 and JBL Fest in Las Vegas.