10 Questions with Alex Jackson, A Media Maven Who is Advocating for Higher Pay for Black Influencers
Updated: May 7, 2021
ON-CAMER PERSONALITY, ENTREPRENEUR, AND OWNER OF L.A. GIRLS MEDIA, ALEX JACKSON, ANSWERED 10 QUESTIONS ABOUT ADVOCATING FOR BLACK INFLUENCERS AND HER OWN JOURNEY AS A BLACK WOMAN IN INFLUENCER MARKETING.
By: Kaitlyn Rose
Alex Jackson is the epitome of an ambitious woman. In 2020, this womanpreneur turned lemons into more than just lemonade, coming out of a ruthless year even stronger...and that was just the beginning.
Coming across no available opportunities in the wake of a pandemic, Alex was left thinking the era of influencer marketing was officially dead. Before calling it quits, she took the risk of expanding her business by broadening her approach and brainstorming more effective ways to publicize her services. Shortly after, she was back to not only landing deals, but closing more than she had done before the pandemic. With grit, class, and a little bit of sass, Alex inspires us to recoup, reshift, and to fight with an unmatched zeal.
I recently spoke with Alex about how she self-runs a major brand, manages celebrity clientele, and how she obtained over $100,000 in brand deals for black influencers during a pandemic.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you started your brand, Media Girls LA!
My name is Alex Jackson and I’m an on-camera personality, an entrepreneur, and the owner of Media Girls LA. We curate events, provide PR services, and we do influencer marketing. I’m from Memphis, Tennessee and I moved here to L.A. in July 2015, 3 years after I graduated from college. I used to be a social worker staying in Dallas, and one day I literally woke up and was like ‘I want to follow my dreams.’ So, I started doing media work on the side. Then when I lost my job, there was nothing holding me back, so I packed up my U-Haul and drove 22 hours to L.A. In 2017, Media Girls LA was founded! Originally with 4 ladies, we started it because we wanted to have events for women in media while giving them the opportunity to learn and network. We threw our first brunch in 2017, and at the time, me and my cofounder didn’t see eye-to-eye on everything so we decided to go our separate ways, but I continued with Media Girls LA. 2018 was the year I started to really build the business. It was nothing I had planned on doing originally. It just kind of started and got bigger from word of mouth!
Wow, talk about a leap of faith! Over the past few years, you have built a dope roster of celebs and influencers that you work with including Master P, Romeo Miller, Miracle Watts, Mehgan James and more. How did you start getting celebrity clients?
As an on-camera media personality, I started to build relationships with celebrities and influencers before I ever started publicist work. I just was interviewing people, building relationships, going to events...and I got into publicist work because celebrities were reaching out to me asking if I could get media people to cover and post their projects or events. People would even ask if I could get them on red carpet events, like the Grammys. When I did my first tour: Beauty Meets Media back in 2018, one of my good friends who is an influencer, Miracle Watts, was a host for one of my events. After that, I started to get her more opportunities and brand deals on social media. As a result, other influencer friends would reach out to me, and that’s when that side of my business started and branched out.
What drew you to influencer marketing?
When I was in college, I curated events and I was really good at finding sponsorships...so I thought that I would be able to find brand partnerships for influencers using the same skills. When I started pitching influencers, I noticed how some brands would pay a white influencer significantly higher than black influencers. So, I decided to make it my goal to reach out to influencers that looked like me, and make sure that I negotiate the best that I can for them to have equal pay.
Let’s talk about the major success that you had in 2020. Despite being in a pandemic, you were able to score $100k+ in brand deals for black influencers! That’s amazing. For entrepreneurs who might be in limbo right now with their brands, what you did to strategize and have a great business year?
When the pandemic hit in 2020, a lot of the campaigns we had were put on pause. Influencers were reaching out to me asking for different deals, but nothing was really moving. Nobody knew what was going on, and I was starting to think that influencer marketing was over. Originally, we were supposed to be on lockdown for a month, and then it kept escalating...so no one was doing new deals or campaigns. And at that time, I was only working with influencers that had 100,000 or more in following. So, as I was trying to come up with a plan to still navigate through the pandemic, I decided to reach out to smaller influencers that had at least 30,000 followers. I also figured out ways to reach a wider audience, and that’s when I decided to come out with e-books and webinars that showed people how to get brand deals. This really pivoted the business, and I started getting a lot more traction. And with me doing these things I was able to find more influencers to work with, including micro-influencers and YouTubers. So, in 2020 we truly made it a point to strategize and make the most out of the circumstances by broadening our influencers, reaching out to different companies that I wouldn’t typically come across, work with smaller businesses, and work with more black owned businesses.
From your perspective as a Black woman, what is it like advocating for your clients of color in situations where a brand may be trying to get over on you or your talent?
I try to be as professional as possible. Sometimes you have to be “nasty-nice” in those emails! At the end of the day I am representing my clients, myself, and my company...so I have to be very strict and not let people try to negotiate me down because I know what type of engagement and influence my clients have. Standing on your business ground and standing up for your clients is very important. I represent people that I truly believe in, so I know what they’re capable of and what they bring to the table.
For new and aspiring publicists, what are 3 qualities needed for this business?
Good writing skills, a rapport with different media platforms or journalists, and patience.
What’s your approach when scouting and helping new clients? Is there anything a person should have in mind before working with a publicist?
I’m very particular about the influencers that I sign, especially since I’ve gotten to know the business and I understand what brands are looking for. Most of the time when I first sign an influencer, I can tell right away what their niche is. Usually, I work with influencers that already have an established brand so that I can pitch and sell them to a business; however, there are some instances where I help people start off. In those cases, I give them a few tips on what they need to do to start building their own brand and help them come up with a good pay range for their deliverables and social media pages. Then, once they do so, I encourage them to reach back out to us. If you don’t have an established brand, there’s no need to get a publicist...you’ll just be wasting your money.
Are your clients exclusively signed? Do you have any tips for micro-influencers thinking about getting an agent or manager?
All of our influencers are on a non-exclusive contract, so they are able to get their own deals outside of us. We never want to deter people from making money on their own. Most of our influencers don’t have managers, but some of them do so when we do have a deal, there’s emails that have everyone CC’d. Unless you have a very big following and you’re getting massive deals, I don’t think there’s a need for a manager. I’ve seen a lot of cases where influencers miss out on a lot of money because they have a manager. There’s been times where I’ve been able to get influencers various opportunities, and their manager won’t respond, and the influencer doesn’t realize that they’re missing out on various deals and thousands of dollars. So, it's about getting good management. And if you do have a manager, you want to be CC’d in the emails. If you’re a small influencer and you don’t have major things going on, I wouldn’t suggest getting a manager.
I can tell that you’re very passionate about what you do, and you do it with purpose. In addition to influencer marketing, what else is on your plate?
With me being a media personality, I freelance for different media platforms as well. I also have an E-book called “The Building Blocks of Becoming a Media Correspondent” where I go over everything I’ve learned over the past 6 years. When I started in the media business, I didn’t really know what to do. I got a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and nothing that I’m doing now has anything to do with my degree...so everything that I know about being a media correspondent is solely self-taught. I always tell people that “Google University” and “Youtube University” were my mentors, so I came out with the E-book to teach people how to get opportunities, how to excel in media, and how to escalate to the next level in this industry. I also started a Christian and Black-owned t-shirt brand last year called Statement Tees, where we give a percentage of the proceeds to social justice organizations. We’re currently working on hosting pop-ups in different cities. So, my plate’s kind of full!
What’s up next for you this year?
This year we’re hoping to double or even quadruple our brand deals. We’re already at $50,000+ in brand deals so hopefully we can at least double the number from last year. We had 4 virtual events last year, so this year we plan to have an event curated depending on what the world looks like. I also have a new E-book coming out that’ll show people how to make a bag on the ‘Gram, how to obtain brand deals, and I share a list of apps that influencers use to get brand deals!
Keep up with Alex and her brands!