Week 5: A Conversation with Guest Speakers Babette Pepaj & Jeremy Pepper

Sara Ergen

Sara Ergen

By UCLA X425 Student Sara Ergen

Babette Pepaj (@BakeSpace) – BakeSpace.com

On December 2, BakeSpace.com founder and KitchenParty Live co-host Babette Pepaj joined our class to lend her expertise. This former TV producer/director has turned into an online food tech founder and publisher who has built solid relationships with both bloggers and brands. She produces the traveling TECHmunch Food Blogger Conference, and has conducted major campaigns with brands such as KitchenAid, Disney, and Desperate Housewives, to name just a few. During our class discussion, Babette touched on a multitude of topics ranging from customer service, earned media, making a website and brand unique, and so much more.

Babette Pepaj

Babette Pepaj

She  stressed the importance of managing consumers on social media when there is negativity or a complaint. If there are negative comments, Babette will address the issue immediately in a way that is responsive but not overly friendly (which can give off a demeaning vibe to the consumer). Her preferred method for handling consumer complaints is to answer with a question. This puts the ball back in the consumer’s court and eases the situation. According to Babette, the key is to figure out what’s causing the problem, and then present a solution. Once this is accomplished, even the biggest critic can become your biggest supporter.

Another key component she discussed was creating a unique site and brand. A feature that makes BakeSpace.com distinctive is its live shows on Google+. The #KitchenParty series gives viewers an exclusive experience in that they can virtually, and in real time, connect with chefs. Recipe contests and lots of branded content, specifically branded recipes, play a role in BakeSpace.com’s uniqueness as well.

What ultimately resonated with me from Babette’s discussion was how she stressed the importance of constantly building relationships and networking. Relationships you build in your career now can benefit you later down the road. Also, she strongly encourages being persistent in your communications and following up with those connections. She phrased it as “one-upping” them in that “I did a favor for you, can you now do one for me?”

Overall, it was a pleasure to have Babette as a guest speaker, and her knowledge and expertise is sure to be beneficial in and out of our UCLA X425 class!

Jeremy Pepper

Jeremy Pepper

Jeremy Pepper (@jspepper) – PR, communications, and social media consultant

Public relations and social media consultant Jeremy Pepper also joined our class on December 2. Jeremy discussed an array of topics touching on his more than 15 years of experience. Topics included brand terrorism, bloggers, email marketing, and the constant changing of Facebook’s algorithms, to name just a few!

The topics that most sparked my interest were:

Know your audience!
Jeremy stressed the importance of knowing your audience before you interact with them. Once you have targeted your audience, you will be able to generate the appropriate content on your website and/or social media platforms.

Blogger$
Bloggers now want to be paid. Jeremy recommended working with a blog network. This will get you coverage in exchange for payment. The Internet allows everyone to be a publisher, and more and more people creating their own blogs. It is important to keep bloggers in your contact list, especially those who have authority and are relevant to your  brand. .

Where does your brand stand?
In order to get a better idea of where your brand or website stands, Jeremy encouraged us to check out grouphigh.com or traackr.com. These tools help you manage all your influencer relationships in one place.

What resonated with me…
Regarding social media algorithms, especially Facebook’s, Jeremy said the reason they are forever changing is to force people to become better storytellers. This piece of information never occurred to me, but I think it is brilliant! What also resonated was when Jeremy insisted that email marketing is not dead. As the email marketing person in my Development Associate role, this was great to hear. He says it’s not dead because email generates a higher click-through rate compared to that of social media platforms.

Just like Babette, Jeremy shared an immense amount of invaluable knowledge and expertise that I know I will take with me down my career path.

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