[quote style=”boxed”]”I think trying to help others in a community is the best thing for an entrepreneur to do.”[/quote]
Brittany Dowell is Vice President of Publications at Influence & Co., a thought leadership and content marketing firm that assists experts and brands in growing their influence by getting bylined articles published in the world’s leading online publications. She works with experts in dozens of different industries to develop content and connect them with editors at the most reputable and noteworthy publications in their areas. Brittany has worked in the marketing departments of several large brands, including the YMCA and Hilton, where she discovered her interest in the growing field of content marketing. Brittany was on the initial team starting Influence & Co. in 2011.
What are you working on right now?
I’m the Vice President of Publications at Influence & Co., previously known as Digital Talent Agents. This means I’m lucky enough to work alongside hundreds of awesome editors at some of the best online publications out there. Basically, we help experts grow their influence by aiding them in producing high-quality content for reputable publications. What’s so exciting about our company is that we are working on the cutting edge of PR, which is evolving into a medley of content marketing, thought leadership and branding.
Where did the idea for Influence & Co. come from?
Like most great ideas, the concept of Influence & Co. came from the combination of a few people’s experiences. Kelsey Meyer and John Hall were running a co-working space for startups and noticed how many really fantastic entrepreneurs were struggling to gain exposure for their ideas. Traditional PR firms only provided these experts with a quote here or there or a press release that no one actually read. We recognized this problem and developed a solution utilizing our thorough knowledge of the online publication world. We’ve grown into one of the leading providers of high-quality expert content to the world’s best publications.
What does your typical day look like?
To sum it up in one word: reading. I’m answering emails and communicating with editors all day to ensure that we provide the highest level of unique content for their specific readership. I’m constantly reading articles from publications and taking notes to help our editorial team hit the right tone and style of each site. This allows me to learn what type of content does best on each site and helps guarantee that the editors will appreciate the exclusive content we send their way from our expert clients. I am also guilty of laughing way too much with our abnormally close-knit team.
How do you bring ideas to life?
As our CEO, John Hall, puts it, “There are people who are big-picture thinkers, and then there are people who get stuff done.” I think I’m definitely a “get stuff done” type of person. I love efficiency and organization, and I live to cross things off a to-do list. You’ll find me with a pad and pen, marking down action steps for every brainstorming session.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I think the changing nature of publications is really amazing and exciting to watch. With online publications on the rise, publishers are looking for cost-effective ways to provide the best content possible to a rapidly-growing readership. As a result, editors are becoming more receptive to utilizing guest content from various industry experts, rather than simply relying on content from reporters or journalists. Readers are able to receive expert insights and knowledge straight from the influencers in their industries.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
While in college, I was a bartender at one of the slowest bars in town. I barely made enough money from the occasional customers to cover my Ramen meals. I realized I was wasting time sitting on a barstool, waiting for customers to wander inside. I decided I wasn’t comfortable when I wasn’t applying myself completely to something that I loved so I made a change. The bar has since changed ownership and is now a favorite lunch spot for our company!
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Influence & Co. recently went through a rebrand. We were never in love with our original name and knew it didn’t best portray our specialty. Our company has always helped grow the influence of industry thought leaders, and we’ve always connected publications with influential authors. We should have taken the rebrand plunge right away.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I think trying to help others in a community is the best thing for an entrepreneur to do. Whether it’s offering job shadow programs, speaking at local universities, or simply volunteering around the area, entrepreneurs can provide great support to those in need. Influence & Co. recently partnered with the largest literacy foundation in the nation, Reading is Fundamental, on a campaign to promote literacy. For every article our company helps publish, we donate one book to a child through the foundation. We’re so thrilled to be able to add a philanthropic effort to our business model.
Tell us a secret.
I can always keep a secret.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
I use various online traffic estimation services (Alexa, Quantcast, Google Ad Planner, etc.) on a daily basis. I love the transparency that comes with knowing where a publication ranks in terms of unique visitors or page views per month. Plus, I’m a huge analytical nerd, so this research is a favorite part of my job.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Since I live and breathe the world of online publishing, I would recommend downloading a reading app, like Zite, instead of a traditional book or magazine. Zite aggregates some of the best content from dozens of leading industry publications to allow you to learn a lot in a small amount of time.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
If you love a certain online publication, I recommend following the editors and individual authors behind the content, rather than simply following the publication’s Twitter account. You get to hear the editors’ inside opinions on each piece and gain the opportunity to ask the author questions on article points. For example, you might follow JD Harrison of The Washington Post’s On Small Business section or Dylan Tweney, the executive editor at Venture Beat.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
It seems to happen every 10 minutes when I’m around my co-workers. The last big laugh came a week ago, during our building’s ‘80s prom. There were fake mustaches, puffy dresses, and a dance-off between the prom king and queen, which may have involved “Gangnam Style” and The Worm.
Who is your hero?
My parents are my heroes, no contest. They’ve survived three outspoken kids, two full-time jobs, 30 years of marriage, and countless ups and downs. They’ve stayed positive and supportive throughout it all, and I’m one lucky daughter.
Brittany Dowell on Twitter: @Brittany_Dowell
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.