Commentary

WhoSay Is A Lot More Than A Showbiz Site

You might go to the WhoSay.com Website and see it for what is there: A pleasant, definitely unsnarky celebrity-laden place whose headlines are about all the people you care about, like Bradley Cooper, for example. Today on WhoSay he weighs in with his “Idea That Could Help Bridge Hollywood's Gender Pay Gap,” or, if that’s too heavy, look at Channing Tatum dressed as ‘Winnie the Pooh.’ For real!

It’s a good, newsy and good-newsy site that is brand and celeb-friendly, and boasts six million uniques. And it has a feature CelebsUnfiltered, that lets users get a direct line to their favorite stars' special postings. 

It’s also something of an actor itself. Because, pull back the curtain, and there is WhoSay, the cleverly constructed content marketing site.

Over 2,000 celebrities, from stars like Tom Hanks to Reese Witherspoon to sports stars to television chefs, use WhoSay as a one-stop place for them to communicate with their fans. Those stars (or more likely, their publicists) can use a private, password-protected part of WhoSay to post messages that will get distributed to whichever social sites they want.

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And WhoSay will monitor those sites to see what kind of action they’re getting.

“You get a lot of fan data in one spot and we can you show you if you got more famous since last night. You could log on and see your total fans count going  from 7 million to 7.1 million,” says Rob Gregory, the chief revenue officer.

It doesn’t end there. It once did, Gregory relates. 

Once that was the business. WhoSay was going to be the go-to place for show biz news because the biggest stars would use it to get their message across, on social media and also on the Web site.

 It is no accident that WhoSay had a bigger idea than just a fan site. WhoSay is owned jointly by the big talent agency CAA, and Comcast, Amazon Ventures and Greylock Partners and Steve Ellis, and owning an editorial Website alone would seem to be kind of unadventurous for a bunch like that.

But it did that until realizing  it had amassed a lot of stars (now about 2,000) and collected a data base of an astonishing 400 million email and social media addresses of all their fans. And brands could find that useful.

That wasn’t the original idea, Gregory insists.

“We realized the secret formula for us is to get a critical mass of talent using the app so you have enough reality stars, sitcom stars, sports stars, celebrity chef stars that you can sit down with a brand and a media agency and say “Okay, we not only have a relationship with all of these story tellers, we also have a ton of data because we have been publishing them in Twitter and Facebook feed for the last five years,’  And so basically, we can match these fans and story tellers with a brand. “

So all those data points are mutually beneficial to brands, and to those celebs. Because now those stars can (if they choose) appear in content marketing spots that are likely to be seen by the people who love them most.

As a result, WhoSay has done over 70 brand campaigns with over 100 celebrities in the last 18 months. Clients include Chevrolet, American Express, Diet Coke, Unilever and Procter & Gamble.

But Gregory will be the first to tell you there are enough competitors doing something like this and so the only way to win is to do it more cagily.

That, it would seem, WhoSay has done.

At the other end, back at the Website, Kirstin Benson, the editorial director has been able to use WhoSay’s unique relationship to its star clients, and its Celebs Unfiltered featured, to their mutual benefit. While Caitlin Jenner made her big cover splash on at Vanity Fair, Benson had the idea of getting to Jenner to write a series of articles for WhoSay, which, as the fan friendly site it is, syndicated them to the other sites including Huffington Post.

With a masters from USC Annenberg in Communications Management in the Entertainment Industry, it would seem this job, which Benson has had for a year, is pretty perfect. WhoSay also teamed with actress Piper Perabo, who serialized her humanitarian efforts helping Syrian refugees, with Benson’s help. Those Perablo stories are also syndicated to other show biz Websites, free of charge because, I guess, WhoSay has bigger fish to fry.

Though Benson’s worked for a quite a few entertainment sites in her young career, when I ask her if she thinks her job is far different than what other show biz Website editors are doing, she responds quickly, “Oh, I’m sure of it.”


pj@mediapost.com
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