Attention, all creatives and self-starters. Industry leader Idalia Salsamendi has launched a one-of-a-kind comprehensive schooling for those looking to break into the influencer scene. But this certainly isn’t a crash course. Salsamendi—whose client list includes top talent Chriselle Lim and Jacey Duprie, plus brands such as Valentino—wants to dispel the notion that becoming an overnight social media star is a quick route to lasting success. The longtime talent rep and strategist tells The Daily what to expect from the six-week course. Class is in session!
How did you find yourself in this business?
Interesting enough, I grew up in it. My mother has worked in the public relations field for major American television networks since I was eight. My career actually began as a child actress doing commercials and tv shows. As I grew older, I became fascinated with the behind-the-scenes of the industry and thus began my career as publicist working on projects like the MTV Video Music Awards at the age of 19. From there I met Alexis Borges, President of NEXT Models (LA) and one of my greatest mentors. That’s where I pivoted my career from traditional PR to the world of fashion and talent management. The rest is history.
In a nutshell, what does a brand and influencer strategist do?
I can’t speak on behalf of all strategists, but I’m happy to share what I specifically do. When working with influencers, our primary focus is defining and creating the “bigger picture” in their lives, and I’m not just talking professional. It’s about establishing a strong foundation to their business and building a sustainable empire from that. It’s about taking brand partnerships to the next level and really ensuring we are truly servicing that client by providing maximum added value for them. It’s about taking a step back from the business and seeing what more can be done in using their voices for a greater good… whether it’s creating partnership programs like Chriselle Lim’s “12 Days of Chris-elle” primarily driven to donate back to charities (this initiative I created has given over $70,000 back to charities, the largest influencer-driven donation to date), or having the influencer be hands-on with a cause; such as Brittany Xavier making ear guards for medical masks during the COVID lockdown. When working with brands it’s about creating campaigns that move the needle and speak to the brand’s mission statement. For example, for one of Chopard’s Happy Hearts holiday campaigns, I sat with their executives to see how we can give proceeds back to a charity. Without batting an eyelash, they immediately connected me to the incredible Petra Nemcova (who I later interviewed on my podcast). Her non-profit All Hands and Hearts addresses the immediate and long-term needs of communities impacted by natural disasters. The result was a spectacular campaign that had glamour and a give-back component. So, no matter if it’s an influencer or a brand that I’m working with, I’m here to disrupt the status-quo and go above and beyond in defining and executing “success.”
What was the impetus for launching The Influencer Masterclass?
I’m truly mystified at the lack of truthful information out there about the influencer industry. There’s a lot of noise, or what I like to call “glitter”, out there, but where’s the proverbial gold? Does it even exist? Although I can’t answer that question, I do know that The Influencer Masterclass is the first of its kind. We’ve never seen someone with 17+ years of talent management and public relations experience actually sitting down and explaining how the influencer industry really works. No smoke and mirrors. No sugar-coating. The Influencer Masterclass is pure radical transparency.
What types of learnings are involved in The Influencer Masterclass?
The Influencer Masterclass dedicates itself to the most vital fundamentals of the industry needed in order for any influencer to grow, thrive, and survive the oversatuarted market. We cover everything from finding your “why?”, successfully monetizing—and I’m not talking about a quick paycheck; it’s all about relationships and getting those bigger deals— and building a powerful team that supports an influencer’s vision, as well as evolving an influencer’s business and brand. The powerful six week course comes with not only beautifully produced videos, but also with interactive worksheets. I’m holding everyone that takes this class accountable for their success. We dive in so much more deeper than the superficial layers of the business, and really get to the core of who the influencer actually is as a person. The Influencer Masterclass was designed for someone who wants more than just their 15 minutes of fame. It’s designed for longevity.
(See below for a teaser!)
Who is The Influencer Masterclass suitable for; who’s your ideal target for it?
Although most of my other online business courses caters to brands, entrepreneurs and influencers alike, The Influencer Masterclass specifically targets influencers who are genuinely ready to take control of their success and career trajectory. It’s for someone who’s ready to step out of their comfort zone and realize their truest potential. It doesn’t matter if they have 100 or 100 million followers. It doesn’t matter if they’re a foodie influencer or fashion influencer. It’s all about the hunger. If you’re hungry to succeed—The Influencer Masterclass for you.
How have you seen the influencer industry change over the last five years?
Oh my, it’s constantly changing. Figure that five months ago we didn’t have Instagram Reels, and fifteen months ago TikTok wasn’t a form of mainstream social media in the states! The space is constantly changing, constantly evolving, and constantly re-inventing itself. That’s the thrill of the industry—it’s never stagnant. Being bored really isn’t an option. Now, more than ever, we are seeing influencers turn into household names and really claiming the stakes in other industries, not just the ones they were originally known for, and the world is listening. There really is no better time to be an influencer!
Can you tell us more about what a sustainable career as an influencer looks like?
Personal and professional growth. It’s that simple. For an influencer to have a sustainable career in an industry that is constantly craving the “next big thing,” they have to constantly be stepping out of their comfort zone both as an human and as an entrepreneur.
You work with big name talent, what’s one thing they all have in common?
There’s a lot of incredible and creative talent out there, however when I left corporate America and began my company, I knew that I wanted the talent on my roster to have that “extra something” and it boiled down to one thing: kindness. There is no room for ego in my company, and this includes my own as well. We leave it at the door, and operate on a higher frequency. So when you see Chriselle Lim, Brittany Xavier, Alexandra Pereira, Coco Bassey, Caitlyn Warakomski, or whomever I may be working with, you know these ladies run their businesses through kindness and professionalism. Brands know this, and are always excited and motivated to work with them because of it. That’s the secret sauce right there, and the proof is in the pudding. Look at their respective successes! It’s truly an honor being a part of their success stories.
What makes an influencer stand out in a crowded space?
It’s funny because I get this question all the time and I always answer it the same way: what makes any human stand out in a crowded world? The question inadvertently becomes the answer. We are all born being our own unique self. The goal in life, no matter the career choice, is to be yourself 100% without apology. It’s about living your authenticity. For influencers, it’s about showing that authenticity and taking it one step further—inspiring others to live their truth as well. When we shift the focus from the phrase “standing out” to “being authentic,” we open ourselves up to a lot more possibility for growth and success. We no longer have to be aspiring to be something or someone. We no longer have the burden of “standing out.” We have the freedom to just be, and there is nothing that resonates with the public more than seeing someone for who they really are.
What’s one thing you wish you could tell everyone in the influencer community—aspiring and established?
Take The Influencer Masterclass! hahahah I’m kidding. If I could only tell the influencer community just one thing, it would actually be a question: how are you making the world a better place?
What’s one thing all influencers should take away from 2020?
My message has been the same since I started managing talent over a decade ago, and this year it’s resonating now more than ever: Use your voice for a greater good.