LBBonline x ITB's Claire Byrne

Navigating a New Normal with Talent

A View From Senior Account Director, Claire Byrne – Published on LBBOnline here

When the fast-paced talent-marketing industry, built on the foundations of production, relationships and conversation, is temporarily called to a halt, how do we – as consultants and experts – advise our peers and clients on how to navigate a new normal that is entirely unfamiliar to all of us?

Typically, our role at ITB is to use our market knowledge and expertise to negotiate, consult, guide and lead our clients through the ever-evolving landscape of working with talent and influencers. When we are faced with working in a new climate with no point of reference, we are forced to lean into our relationships, listen and draw upon our expertise and instinct. Our role as a conduit between both of these parties is increasingly relevant at this time.  In the initial weeks of COVID-19 affecting our work, we used the time to analyse how our industry was evolving and adapting around us.

Working in equal measure with brands, agencies, talent and influencers – we recognised that one of our immediate duties was to extract common themes, concerns and feelings across the aforementioned entities. Once armed with this knowledge and insight, we can begin to move forward and collectively navigate this time with as much prosperity and sensitivity possible. After speaking with agents, managers, digital influencers and live agents, ranging from large global agencies such as CAA, WME and UTA to smaller boutique establishments, such as The Bloom, the following themes emerged:

Tonality 

During this time of duress and uncertainty – tonality is key. There is an appetite for talent and influencers to ‘work’ and ‘create’ right now. Virtually every talent representative we spoke with expressed concern about striking the right chord, a hyper-awareness of generating socially sensitive content.

Cause and Community 

Our conversations concluded that value in any content created during this time will be derived from the cause and relation to the community. ‘Cause’ or ‘Purpose’ must be at the heart of the narrative at the moment, be that by providing some unconventional light entertainment for the influencer’s immediate community in the form of a TikTok dance routine or a sincere call to action to volunteer / donate money / support local business etc.

Programming and repurposing content 

‘Content Creation’ is undoubtedly the pulse of our industry – be it a live music event, a photoshoot or a solitary Instagram post – generating new and desired content is crucial to the wider industries of entertainment, sports, fashion and music. In the era of Covid-19 this seems no different for a plethora of talent and influencers. We are seeing a willingness for talent to ‘programme’ their own shows, expand their capabilities by moving onto additional platforms. Right now, with all production on hold, we are seeing both brands and talent alike tap into their intrinsic creativity by hosting tutorials, take overs, interactive conversations and at home editorial shoots. It would seem there is no time like the present to try something new.

Keep Talking  

As a result of reaching out to key industry players and clients for their invaluable feedback, it was clear that right now communication is imperative. Unsurprisingly, the pace of the digital space is fast, and many brands and talent will move with it. We must ensure we are in regular contact, concepting ideas together with input from both sides, bouncing our ideas off one another whilst subsequently drawing on insights and our collective expertise in order to future-proof our businesses.

Platforms to Explore 

In this current climate, there is an unquestionable appetite for engaged listening and audio consumption. With the technology available at our fingertips to create audio content – be it voice-overs or podcast content – we are seeing promotion and exposure move more significantly into this space. Agents are really open to exploring how clients can generate audio from home and are actively making us aware of who has the right facilities and set up at home to do these types of services.

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