The Power of Influence: People in Media to Watch in 2018

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Welcome to social media, where mega-influencers and micro-influencers with followings and engagement rates you could only dream of exist. Their content peppers our feeds, helps us engage with and discover brands, causes, and movements, and even inspires us daily... well, at least the ones who dominate the algorithm.

Thanks to Instagram and other popular social apps, an influx of leading influencer marketing agencies like Riot Media Group, Bollare, The Influence, and Hello Society, among others, are helping brands collaborate with the right influencers for visibility.

Influencer marketing is “one of the fastest and most effective ways to build brand awareness, especially on social media,” according to Forbes.

Most influencers are industry experts, celebrities, CEOs, bloggers, models, and content creators.

And financially? They’re doing pretty well. According to this article, all you need is 3,000 followers to start making money from your posts.

The most successful brands are meticulous about which influencers represent them. Bumble has taken on Erin and Sara Foster as their token brand ambassadors. Fashion Nova works with Cardi B, Amanda Lee, and other curvaceous influencers. REVOLVE has its own roster of babes who take luxurious trips together dressed in their clothing, and brands like Supreme and Young & Reckless are tagged consistently by those considered in-the-know.                             

The reason influencer marketing works for them? They hire the right type of influencers to tell their story.

The success of a brand like Young & Reckless, for example—in addition to its high-quality clothing—can be attributed to its relationships with multiple influencers. Case in point: Young & Reckless CEO Chris “Drama” Pfaff, an influencer on his own merit, tags the brand in most of his Instagram posts.

Andres Izquieta, co-owner of Young & Reckless (also co-founder of Five Four Group), says “choosing brand influencers has changed throughout the years. Today, it requires a much more dynamic approach. Things like engagement lead the pack, but also: Who will be the right personality for your brand? Who will go above and beyond to tell your brand story? Influencers have to organically like the product and use it in their daily lives. Consumers can sniff out what's real and not."

Below, you'll find influencers and personalities that differ vastly, who work with several brands across many mediums, and who also apply a range of creativity to their own pursuits.

This carefully-curated list of influencers is part of a new Beyond The Interview 3-part series: media moguls on the rise, founders who are succeeding beyond measure, and creatives who are using their voices to express themselves and inspire change. Most, we realized, fall into all three categories by default.

With the power of influence on the rise, it’s only fair that we get to know them. What sets them apart? Who are they? What exactly do they do? What inspires them? And what advice do they have for the rest of us?

This is our Media List. 

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Dubbed Master of Branding and Preeminent Influencer by Daily Mail, Rachel McCord is an entrepreneur, media personality, author, and philanthropist.

In 2017, she released her sassy how-to book, "Slay the Fame Game," about making it in social media and in Hollywood. 

Featured in top magazines and outlets around the world including Vogue, Forbes, and Glamour, McCord stars in and produces "Slay with Rachel McCord" on FocusTV. She is a renowned speaker who gives keynotes and participates in panels at USC, UCLA, FIDM, StyleCon, The Startup Series, Marketing in the Digital Age, et al.

Passionate about helping rising talent succeed, McCord accepted an adjunct professorship for the MBA program at Miami Hotel School in 2018. After selling her first company at 24, she has gone on to build a successful career on camera, empowering women through entertainment.

Her latest venture, MindBodySlay, delivers a business in a box to every woman, whether she is influential or disadvantaged. Her vision is to guide these women onto a successful entrepreneurial path with their own e-commerce empires. Referred to as the "influencer of influencers," McCord founded The McCord List in 2014, a network of the most influential women in media. Between her own social channels and those in her network of fellow talent, McCord's reach exceeds 50mm.

From humble beginnings in Georgia, McCord believes that "No matter where you grow up, you can create the life you dream of." And she is helping you do it...one hair flip at a time.

WISDOM YOU'D LIKE TO DROP?

1. Decide on a message you want to share with the world. A voice, a purpose, and an ideal person you are talking to. Make it personal.

2. Think of why you want to share your story with the world. What do you hope to achieve with it? Make it about truly helping, caring, giving to the world. Also, think of the things that might come up and challenge you on the follow through. What are some reasons you may want to give up? Decide on a solution and action for any time you think of walking away.

3. Decide on a brand and voice. It should be authentic and real. It needs to stay focused on your passion and share feedback, tips, or thoughts that will truly help. This keeps your audience coming back for more.

YOU'RE A GUEST LECTURER AT A UNIVERSITY. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO TEACH TODAY'S STUDENTS?

I speak at UCLA, USC, and FIDM about being 100 percent who you are. Live your passions. Find a specialty in your dream industry, and become the best. You are the only one stopping you from your greatest potential...so don’t.

A POWERFUL QUOTE YOU LIVE BY?

"Live fully from your heart. Experience every emotion. Commit to riding the waves of life. It won’t always be easy, but it will be yours."

This is my favorite mantra, but I save so many on my channel, @MindBodySlay. My mood changes on the daily, so it really depends on where I am at in life. 

WHICH INFLUENCER INFLUENCES YOU?

I am influenced by my entire network of celebs, influencers and bloggers. Every girl who goes for it, who is courageous enough to be real and vulnerable in the public eye. They all influence me.

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Jacques Morel is a 28-year-old producer and host based in Brooklyn, New York. He has been working on camera in different capacities for nearly 10 years and started as a News Anchor at Genius in August 2017. Prior to Genius, he was a producer for The Huffington Post's video team covering politics, pop culture and black issues. While there, he also hosted live streams on location at a 5000-person march through the streets of downtown Chicago with Chance the Rapper, floated in a small boat looking for survivors during the 2016 Baton Rouge floods, and helmed a weekly Hip-Hop show called BARS that averaged 80k views per episode. He has interviewed hundreds of people. His roster of interviewees includes Jamie Foxx, Yara Shahidi, Tyrese, Senator Cory Booker, Ne-Yo, Sanaa Lathan, Wiz Khalifa, Matisyahu and more.

WISDOM YOU'D LIKE TO DROP?

1. Keep your ego in check. At the end of the day, social media is just a highlight reel and we all have struggles, so try not to act holier than thou.

2. Experience trumps clout. Try to find places that will let you learn the craft that you wish to succeed in. Internships, internships, internships. Only after you get the experience can you really utilize the clout.

3. You control your happiness. The buck stops with you.

YOU'RE A GUEST LECTURER AT A UNIVERSITY. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO TEACH TODAY'S STUDENTS?

I'd lecture about the importance of hard work. Working hard is a muscle that you have to build up over time, and if you slack off early in life, then it'll be more difficult later on. College is the easiest it's going to get, so now is the time to work as much as you can so later on in life you can relax.

A POWERFUL QUOTE YOU LIVE BY?

"Talk is cheap." -P.T. Barnum

I choose this because of how it stresses the importance of actually backing up what you say. People can really share how great their skills are, but if they're not spending time working on them (i.e when no one is there to listen to them), then does it really matter what they're saying?

Which influencer influences You?

Marcus Troy. I have been following him for nearly 10 years, ever since it was leaked that he was supposedly Kanye West's ghost blogger. He influences me to keep true to my brand and constantly put out quality. It takes dozens of posts to really build a great brand and one bad one to tear it all down.



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Stuart Brazell has been paving her way through the entertainment industry for quite some time!  After breaking into entertainment news as a Production Assistant for E! News Live, Stuart went on to help launch one of the first live digital streaming platforms as Programming Director and Head of Talent and Casting - in addition to anchoring four hours of live programming, five days a week.  Stuart continued to pursue her passion from both behind and in front of the camera, as an Entertainment Correspondent for ABC's On the Red Carpet; Reality TV Casting Director for over 15 television series for NBC, VH1 and MTV; Host of Ovation TV's Culture Pop and Broadway Bash;  and as a Live Red Carpet Host for multiple Dick Clark Productions awards shows including The Golden GlobesAmerican Music Awards and Independent Spirit Awards. Somehow, Stuart even found the time to license a television pilot to the CW Network for a show she also co-created, produced and starred in. 

Clearly not one to wait for opportunities, Stuart created her own branded platform StuartSays.com to share her life's passions with over 250,000 active and engaged followers.  She's embraced the rapidly-evolving media landscape, creating her own content for numerous digital and social media platforms in addition to Hosting and Producing Studio Wrap for TheWrap.com, featuring interviews with the industry's elite and breakout stars. You can also find Stuart regularly hosting A-list movie junkets and global premieres for AMC Theaters and as a pop culture and social media expert on KTLA, HLN and Reelz. It should come as no surprise that Stuart has some thrilling new adventures in her immediate future, not the least of which is motherhood!

WISDOM YOU'D LIKE TO DROP?

Imagine your dream, create your happiness, live your life! 🗼

A post shared by Stuart Brazell (@stuartbrazell) on

1. Be specific, be passionate, be unique! Practically everyone with an Instagram account considers themselves to be a social media influencer these days.  In order to break through and find your audience, you need to be specific and own your niche.  Launching a food blog?  What kind of food? Are you featuring all vegan recipes and talking about how you live a vegan lifestyle? Then launch a vegan food blog and use those keywords in the description of all of your social media accounts.

2. Creating and sustaining a career in social media is a full-time job where you will work long hours and most nights and weekends.  In order to stay motivated, you need to be truly passionate about your personal brand.  For example, you must eat, drink, breathe, sleep, can't live without fashion to be a successful fashion blogger and influencer.  Don't just start a fashion blog because you've seen people you know succeed, you are looking for free clothes, or think that is an easy way to start making money.  Really decide why you want to be a fashion blogger and why people should come to you for fashion inspiration. Trust me, there are no quick fix or overnight social media success stories.  Get ready to put in some serious work!  The one thing that will continue to drive you and motivate is your fire and passion for the content you are creating!

3. Being unique is everything right now!  Find your voice and unique way of telling your story.  Think about what makes you special and different and own it!  Don't copy what everyone else is doing, because then your content will just be a copy of someone else who did it first.  Be unapologetically you!

YOU'RE A GUEST LECTURER AT A UNIVERSITY. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO TEACH TODAY'S STUDENTS?

My personal motto in life is "Shine bright and do you!"  I would explore how important individuality is and living your life for you.  

A POWERFUL QUOTE YOU LIVE BY?

"Comparison is the thief of joy." - Theodore Roosevelt

Now more than ever it is so easy to compare yourselves to others.  Working in social media is especially brutal when it can seem your entire personal worth is measured in likes and comments. Always remember that what you see on social media is heavily curated and not an accurate description of someone's day-to-day.  You might see someone post a jaw-droppingly beautiful photo of themselves in some crazy gorgeous locale wearing the most beautiful dress you've ever seen and say to yourself "I wish I was there," or "I wish that was me." In reality, that person probably shot that photo weeks ago on a day they shot eight different looks and were so stressed they possibly didn't get to fully enjoy that moment. They are most likely posting that photo at home, on their couch in sweats.     

WHICH INFLUENCER INFLUENCES YOU?

I'm obsessed with Chrissy Teigen - she is the Queen of keeping it real on social and has grown her fan base enormously with her witty tweets and self-deprecating posts.   

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Danielle Robay is a TV host and entertainment journalist currently co-hosting WCIU’s Chicago-based morning news program The Jam. As the youngest morning TV host in Chicago, she brings her trademark blend of energy, wit, and candid cultural commentary to the city—and to her loyal social media following of over 250,000 connections across major digital platforms. Danielle sees pop culture as this generation's cultural currency and is dedicated to making sure women's voices are amplified in this era. Her previous on-air reporting and hosting credits include Entertainment Tonight Online, NBC 4, and HLN’s Dr. Drew, where she’s interviewed everyone from Tom Hanks and Gina Rodriguez to Michael B. Jordan and Taylor Swift.

WISDOM YOU'D LIKE TO DROP?

1. What are your 4-5 pillars? It's OK to find your lane and be niche. I didn't want to put myself in a box when I was younger. Am I entertainment-focused? Am I politically focused? Should my Instagram be all about feminism? I get to be, share, and talk about all of them. Use social media as your tool so others identify you with those ideals. Figure out your 4-5 pillars and stick to those.

2. Whatever you think your limitations are, they all have a corresponding strength. And, they are what make you unique.  For instance:

Naive -> Positive

Disorganized -> Creative

Shy -> Reflective

Don't hide from your weaknesses. Embrace them, talk about them (super important to talk about them and not shame them), leverage them. Your weakness may just be your competitive edge.

3. Be your own best agent. Don't wait for people to come to you, email you, present you with ideas or collabs. Reach out to them and think about how you can add value to their lives and brand!

YOU'RE A GUEST LECTURER AT A UNIVERSITY. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO TEACH TODAY'S STUDENTS?

EQUAL PAY: The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements are transforming the way our society values women. At its very core, salaries are about "perceived value." How will we ever perceive women as equal if we don't pay them equally? We won't. And that's why we need to talk about something most women have long been told not to bring up: Money. 

A POWERFUL QUOTE YOU LIVE BY?

"Direction is more important than speed." - Oprah Winfrey

Stay true to who you are, what you stand for, and what you want to put forth into the world. Our truth is a powerful tool.

WHICH INFLUENCER INFLUENCES YOU?

Sophia Bush. She walks the walk. She stands up for others, she shows up every single time, and she still keeps her feed fun, inspirational, light hearted. She is goals!

@nicmora.jpg

Nic Mora is a television personality & blogger who has worked with various brands and TV outlets such as AXS TV, FREEFORM, Walmart, BevMo!, Dr Pepper, The Huffington Post and Starz, to name a few. She launched the entertainment & lifestyle blog, Give Me Mora in 2013 to share her love for all things millennial, pop culture, social media, philanthropy and lifestyle. With four other TV Personalities, Nic co-hosts the talk show #FaceTimeFive. Earlier this year, Nic launched her own line of collagen eye gel masks with Beauty Kitchen.

WISDOM YOU'D LIKE TO DROP?

1. Don't quit your day job. Starting anything in the social sphere takes time, patience and a lot of work before you can choose to leave your current job.

2. Align yourself with brands! Shout out brands you know and love to keep your feed genuine.

3. Be you. Be real, be honest, be vulnerable. The more relatable you are, the more people will want to follow you!

YOU'RE A GUEST LECTURER AT A UNIVERSITY. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO TEACH TODAY'S STUDENTS?

If I could lecture about anything, it would be about finding your voice. In anything you do, your own unique voice is essential to your success. It took me a while to fully find my voice as a writer and as a TV Host, but once I did, it felt like magic. Having my voice allowed me to tell stories in ways no other blogger or TV Host was and I owe a lot of my growth to staying true to my voice.

A POWERFUL QUOTE YOU LIVE BY?

"You don't have a right to the cards you believe you should have been dealt. You have an obligation to play the hell out of the ones you're holding." - Cheryl Strayed

I love this quote because it's so easy to make an excuse or provide a reason why something is or isn't happening to you. I've had so many things come in as what I perceived to be a road block, but seeing this quote was a reminder that "Okay, this is happening, how can we navigate through it and come out better?"

WHICH INFLUENCER INFLUENCES YOU?

I am obsessed with Lauryn Evarts of @TheSkinnyConfidential. She was super influential to me when I was becoming a blogger. Lauryn just gets it. She has her own voice and she is so open, honest, and real. There's nothing you can't ask her and nothing she won't talk about. Reading and following her taught me to stay true to myself and to reveal because that makes you relatable. 



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Natasha Martinez is an entertainment news host and news anchor for Complex Media, a brand passionate about music, sneakers, and pop culture. She is also the host for American Latino TV, a nationally syndicated television show that broadcasts on KCAL 9 in Los Angeles. She earned her degree in Broadcast Journalism from Chapman University, where she met a lot of people who helped her get to where she is today. "Through internships and classes, I learned what it took to get the job done. However, most of my skills that set me apart came from my experience in pageants," she tells BTI. "Yes, beauty pageants, and before you ask, no I was never in a 'Toddlers and Tiaras' pageant." In 2015, she fulfilled her dream of winning Miss California USA. "It took me four years to reach that goal and in those three years of failing, I was able to show myself what hard work and perseverance can get you," she says. Before pageants, she had a brief career in professional cheerleading. She was a Laker Girl from 2011-2012. "It was one of the most fun experiences of my life! Dance is still my passion, and I regularly take classes to keep me sane in this crazy town we call La La Land," she adds.

WISDOM YOU'D LIKE TO DROP?

1. Ignore any fears of what people will think when you announce that you’re starting your own blog or own venture. People like to poke fun at "bloggers" or "influencers" but don’t let that narrative stop you from doing what you want to do.

2. Create! Even if you don’t have a set plan yet. Sometimes I catch myself overthinking the big picture so much, that I don't get started on anything. The best advice I've received is never stop creating. You'll eventually find something that sticks.

3. Try your best to be the best at whatever skill you’re trying to master. For me, writing is a huge part of my hosting job. So is having an eye for producing segments. So I try and practice those skills outside of work as much as I can.

YOU'RE A GUEST LECTURER AT A UNIVERSITY. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO TEACH TODAY'S STUDENTS?

My lecture would be about the power of perseverance and how failure is the best lesson in growth if you let it be. One could argue that I've "won" a lot of titles in my life, but my biggest win was when I didn't let the numerous failures stop me from working hard to attain what I felt in my gut was meant for me. We already know our individual callings in life. It's up to us to declutter the noise we get from failure, and other people around us, to be able to attain what is meant to be.

A POWERFUL QUOTE YOU LIVE BY?

"Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway." -Earl Nightingale

It means a lot to me because society likes to put a time cap on the point in our lives we're supposed to accomplish certain things. The time doesn't matter, the work does. If you put in work and are genuinely passionate about your dream, you will get what you are seeking. The best example I have is winning Miss California USA. Not many people would return time and time again after "losing." I didn't care how much time had passed because I knew that being Miss CA USA was my dream, and I was going to prove to myself, and no one else, that I was worthy of having it.

WHICH INFLUENCER INFLUENCES YOU?

I have a lot of favorite influencers that I follow for different reasons. My favorite at the moment has to be Kristen Noel Crawley. She is the founder of KNC Beauty and what I love about her is that she is a boss babe, who is a mother of two, and is married to one of the most influential designers at Nike Jordan. Her style is so unique and girly. And while she has the means to buy designer, she is advocate for having great style no matter what your budget is. Plus her IG story beauty routines are the best, I buy almost every product she uses.

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Andrea Feczko is a travel influencer, YouTuber, and host of ABC's Vacation Creation. "I hustle!" she tells BTI. "I have the dream job I've always wanted, but there is still a fire in me to see new places, tell new stories, and capture every moment." When she's not in a far-away destinations exploring the world, she is in front of her computer editing so that she can bring stories to the world.

WISDOM YOU'D LIKE TO DROP?

I have a lot of advice for someone wanting to start as an influencer or TV host. To give it content, my ambition was always to be a TV host, with hosting a travel show being the "Hail Mary" dream job. The reason I am now hosting my third TV travel show is due to starting out as a YouTuber. So, here's my advice.

1. Be clear on your goals as that will give you direction and a clear barometer of "success" (because success is different for everyone). For example, I started doing YouTube videos as proof of concept for hosting jobs that I wanted, but wasn't booking. I would change the direction of my channel whenever I started getting paid for that gig. Therefore, success to me was getting a tv show from my social media. I don't do it for money. For others, though, it's about making money, so the content will be different.

2. Social Media is an extension of show business. That means two things: only a few people are making millions, and it's a lot of starving before you get paid. A lot of people come to Hollywood to become a star, but there are only a handful making Jennifer Lawrence money. You will be doing a lot of starving and unglamorous work while growing your empire.

3. Hustle, hustle, hustle. If you want to make money off social media, you have to be your own star and agent. It's a full time job that never turns off and is constantly evolving. This has to excite you, not terrify you.

YOU'RE A GUEST LECTURER AT A UNIVERSITY. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO TEACH TODAY'S STUDENTS?

I have done guest lecturing at universities and I would love to do a course on social media and hosting. It's my passion and I want to show other people how to do it!

A POWERFUL QUOTE YOU LIVE BY?

If I do follow "quote" channels, I like meme-based content like Betches. With that said, I have recently gotten into Grant Cardone's 10x planner where I have a different quote every day to motivate me. Today's quote is one I made up saying "Follow Your Passion Once A Day."

When I'm passionate about a subject, I will spend hours creating it without feeling like I'm working. The problem is, usually what I'm passionate about are things that aren't on the to-do list. So, I'm trying to do one thing I'm passionate about everyday in hopes that those creative juices will spill over to the things that I don't want to do, but need to do. I'll let you know how that turns out. 

WHICH INFLUENCER INFLUENCES YOU?

I love @belenhostalet and @travel_inhershoes as they have beautiful Instagram feeds.



This list was compiled and edited by Nicole Behnam and Mariella Rudi, the co-founders of Beyond The Interview. For more information, or to work with us, contact editor@beyondtheinterview.com.