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

Alessandra Simas

Alessandra Simas

By UCLA X425 Student Alessandra Simas

On December 2nd, BakeSpace.com Founder and KitchenParty Live Co-Host Babette Pepaj was joined by PR/Social Media Consultant Jeremy Pepper for a dynamic conversation on PR and personal branding. What emerged was a rich discussion on brand terrorism, bloggers and the current state of communications as a whole.

Babette Pepaj

Babette Pepaj

Babette provided many insights on what makes a blog successful and what it takes to truly engage the public, as well as make a profit from that engagement. In the end, what  stood out was the fact that the basics are still the core of what makes people connect: common interests, open dialogue and the search for a connection (in a deeper meaning: belonging). Her website (BakeSpace.com) mirrors the emotional aspect of social media: people trading recipes, wanting to be recognized for their talents and, at the same time, searching for more knowledge in a field they are interested in. Such aspects allow her site to monetize with campaigns that promote movies and TV shows via branded recipes. These campaigns create brand awareness that most likely would not be achieved if the message wasn’t connected to an interest that generates so much passion.

Jeremy Pepper

Jeremy Pepper

Pepper, on the other hand, addressed a less emotional and darker aspect of social media with a discussion about brand terrorism, which was extremely on point given the chaos caused by the Sony Hack and Uber PR disaster in the past few weeks. The social media strategist also covered the relationship between journalists, PR pros and bloggers (“social media is dead and bloggers suck”). He also highlighted the fact that social media has become a marketing tool, which makes it almost impossible to trust what bloggers write nowadays since they are paid to do so. He also mentioned that given the limited credibility of bloggers and social media in general, good old email marketing will never go away. After all – it can be a very organic social experience in its own right: it gets opened, it gets shared.

Pepaj and Pepper also covered many other topics, such as earned and paid media (and what it takes to guarantee the hits), the importance of humanizing a brand’s twitter accounts, brand publishing, native advertising and Buzzfeed’s impact on content marketing.

Both guest speakers not only understood social media, they defined it and discussed it with majesty.

Now that is something worth sharing.

You can follow Babette at @BakeSpace and Jeremy at @jspepper

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