There comes a time in your life when you have to throw caution to the wind. A time when everything that made sense for your career no longer applies. When that day comes you can choose to seize the moment or move forward in your safety zone haunted by “what if?”. Today, we’re sitting down with branding wiz, Olivia Scott Perkins. With a resume that reads like the “Who’s Who” of advertising and marketing, Olivia decided that the next brand she was building would be her own. She’s brilliant, she’s committed to excellence, and today, she’s talking to In Her Shoes about the latest chapter in her uber- impressive career, the entrepreneurial journey:
In Her Shoes: Congrats are in order! After over a decade of lending your expertise to some of the top agencies and brands in the industry, you’ve decided to dedicate 100% of your time to your own business, Omerge Alliances. What inspired this career move?
Olivia: Spiritually, I felt as if there was no other option for me at this point in my career. After working for nine organizations, I could not think of one other place I wanted to pursue for employment and thought it was time for me to dedicate my total being to my own entity. I was also at the point in which I wanted to do more than just work, I wanted to serve others. So, I chose to create an entity through which I could offer my acquired skill and knowledge set to a group of people I am most passionate about – content creators – be it filmmakers, TV content developers or musicians.
In Her Shoes: How did you arrive at the name Omerge Alliances and what does it mean?
Olivia: Since one of the things I have a real passion for is partnerships, I started ideating with the word “merge.” After numerous brainstorms with my husband Al, we combined my first initial “O” with merge and added Alliances to it.
We liked the ring to it and the fact that it was 100% ownable to us (especially important for google purposes). We have two definitions for Omerge Alliances, 1) The merging of various necessary resources/alliances (strategy, publicity, marketing, planning) to help businesses move forward AND 2) Merging two entities together in an alliance. To be omerged is “to experience a greater existence after being immersed in a strategic alliance that connects you with your target consumer.”
In Her Shoes: Tell us about a couple of the projects you’re currently working on and why In Her Shoes readers should support them:
Olivia: One is securing brand partners for independent country and Christian record label Curb Records in support of LeAnn Rimes’ new album, Spitfire, set for a Spring 2013 release. The album is absolutely beautiful. One of the most honest and prolificly written albums I have listened to in years. As we all know, due to personal circumstances over the past few years, LeAnn has had a rocky road with a divorce and new marriage, but she forges ahead as a true braveheart I’ve by sharing all of her feelings through song (esp heroic given all parties are still living!). I’d like support of her album because she’s being honest and real, and the music is beautiful, regardless of which music genres you love.
I am also confidentially securing product integration partners for a feature film set for 2014 with an all-black cast, as well as sponsors for all-guy video content series Gentlemen’s Dwelling (watch on blip.tv). Additionally, I am currently strategizing marketing plans for Somi, Kelli Sae & Black Rock Revival, all of which are amazing artists with upcoming music planned for 2013. I would love In Her Shoes support of these projects, because they are all high quality, yet independent, with little financial backing from major entertainment machines like labels, major studios, etc.
Good content is good content, and I am encouraging all of us to seek and identify what we define to be good content for ourselves vs what is pushed at us through significant advertising.
In Her Shoes: As we all know, working in a client service industry can be grueling and thankless at times. What is the most challenging client experience you’ve had in your career thus far and how has it made you a better marketer? What lesson(s) did you learn from it?
Olivia: Wow Renae, there are so many! But I guess the most “grueling” had to be while at Live Nation working on the execution of the ING concert sponsorship program for Jennifer Lopez & Marc Anthony I’d developed. At this point at the ripe old age of 33, I was traveling on tour bus from city to city setting up and taking down the on-site consumer-facing marketing materials night after night with my team (because clearly I’m a wee bit too hands on), while entertaining clients during the show and sleeping on the bus afterwards. NO WALK IN THE PARK. It was physically demanding and very “special.” The client loved the work, and so did my boss. But, I was wearing myself thin. This experience forced me to think about efficiency. I’d done the strategy and the planning to a tee, but I had to think about how to execute in a more strategic fashion which would lead to a brighter and more enlivened career for me was the trick. I love to work, very very hands on, so I had to think about working smarter and not harder.
In Her Shoes: What is a day like in Olivia Scott Perkins’ shoes?
Olivia: I’m running. Wish my shoes were sexier, but as an energizer bunny I need to keep it moving, hence my shoes. Each day with God’s blessing, I rise at 6:30 am and zip to the gym for bikram, spinning or elliptical, then come back and begin my day, which doesn’t usually end until around 11 p.m. The day is filled with client calls providing support, solutions and brainstorms for new ideas, pitching the properties to brands or other partners for partnerships, crafting new biz proposals and responding to client requests. I have to remain flexible and fluid, so, these Vibrams are my fave pair of shoes and keep me moving and productive!
In Her Shoes: No matter how busy you are, you’ve remained committed to mentoring young sisters since the start of your career. Why do you think mentoring is so important and who are some of your mentors in the business?
Olivia: I have always believed wholeheartedly in the notion that “to whom much is given, much is required.”
When I graduated and started my career in ’95, I was very fortunate to work at ad agencies like Burnett, Frankel and DDB which had formal account management training programs where I got an amazing career foundation. In working with members from the next generation, I saw how my training gave me a competitive edge, and felt compelled to go the extra mile to teach my staff members, mentor my students, or young ladies I met along the way so they would be able to compete (this became a real focus with my female team members – ask ANY of them). Mentoring is very second-nature and innate for me as well because I witnessed my mother do this for many of her female students as an English high school teacher.
OK, in my 17 post-college working years (don’t do the age math please!), I have worked at 9 companies during which time I’ve had like 16 bosses, some which were great and some which were not so great. But I realized that whether our styles meshed or not, each boss “experience” presented me a chance to develop me own management and leadership style, for which I’m grateful. My mentors are a village and are a little non-traditional, such as two of my medical doctors whose practices I’ve patronized and studied over the last 10 years and they always allowed me to fit in a non-medical, business questions in — Dr. Elena Jones and Dr. Craig Antell. In addition to my dad who is an innovative entrepreneur, my direct mentors have been:
1) Michelle Flowers Welch who with grace, intelligence, focus, beauty and compassion took time early on to share industry insights that no one else did to help focus my energy and through her example showed me what was possible.
2) Nicole Sutherland-Hughes who provided absolutely definitive career advice to me after my ’94 Atlantic Records internship which single-handedly steered my career to advertising first and entertainment second mode.
3) Michael Ferguson who is my very own yoda teaching me very real practical business advice daily and who has taught me how to “think like a business woMAN” since 1999.
4) Jody Miller whose record with a 25-year successful PR firm was a true inspiration and motivation for Omerge Alliances.
5) Marion Black-Ruffin who has transcended solely a mentor role into much more since 1995 in showing me how to be a wife, lady and a professional.
In Her Shoes: If you could have ANY brand or person as a client, who would it be and why?
Olivia: OK, you asked. So don’t judge. I would love to give you a much more eloquent or sophisticated answer, BUT, for years I have been whining about R&B singer “Joe.” With all due respect to any of the marketing teams who have worked with him, I have felt that his talent is tremendous (songwriting, musician and singing) but has not had the brand imagery to accompany his product therefore have limited impact and resonance with consumers. I’ve been a fan since ’94 and waiting for him to explode since then. Can we build the brother a brand, please?
In Her Shoes: What’s next for Omerge Alliances in 2013?
Olivia: Delivering the most strategic and effective partnerships for my clients that deliver them the associated media support they need to move their brands forward, which will lead to even more film & television projects, particularly in country, Latin and gospel. Basically, I want to deliver in 2013 so that Omerge has longevity. Nothing more, and nothing less!