Building Relationships to Bolster Results: Q&A with The Weather Channel's Jason Hermes
Jordan Kelley, Content Director, BrandStorytelling.tv
At the Weather Channel, Jason Hermes has found success having marketers finance the production of partnered content. Brand Storytelling caught up with The Weather Channel's Vice President of Client Partnerships to learn more about what he thinks makes for the most successful brand/media partnerships (here’s a hint… it’s about building relationships with the people carrying the creative load!):
How long have you observed the practice of brand integrations and client partnerships in your years in the ad sales industry? What has changed for the better about that process over time?
I fell into the paid, in-program, branded entertainment line of media sales in 2007, when I was an account executive selling media for Martha Stewart's syndicated daytime talk show, "MARTHA". I was lucky because "MARTHA" was produced in New York and I began to develop friendly relationships with the executive producer and segment producers by hanging around the studio. It started out like, "Let's grab a beer after work type thing". We all began to know and trust each other as people. Once these friendly relationships formed the "sales people" vs " the producers" wall started to come down and we all developed a highly successful paid integration business for "MARTHA". I attribute this to developing the personal relationships with the producers first, gaining their trust as people and the working relationships followed naturally.
In your time at the Weather Channel you’ve facilitated a number of noteworthy partnerships; brands like 1st Alert, Oura Ring, and Kohler have all worked successfully with the Weather Channel. What is the common denominator in securing successful partnerships with all of these brands?
Credibility. All of the brands you've mentioned are paid in-program content partners with The Weather Channel in 2021. None of which I had ever met prior to my initial outreach this year to get them on-board. Obviously, The Weather Channel has our own credibility and brand equity, however, I always like to lead on my initial outreach to potential clients with, "You are the experts, not us." Give them the credibility they deserve in their category and let them know The Weather Channel could not produce the segment without their collaboration, and if it's the right brand, you'll get their attention.
What level of importance do you place on ensuring that marketers get direct access to segment producers?
For me, that's the single MOST important message I deliver to potential paid content partners, and it's true. In the past, I've worked at many media companies that claim they can execute content integrations, but never give a single bit of attention or time directly from the person actually creating the segment, the producer. I've found from real experiences if you want to be successful in the paid integration space, you MUST have access to producers, have a mutually trusted relationship with your producers and, at time of creative collaboration, deliver your producers into the conversations with the marketer or brand manager paying for the segment.
One of your latest partnerships is with Mahindra Tractors. Tell us more about that partnership, and the creative vision that goes along with it, came together.
This was 5 months in the making and the most successful paid brand partnerships come directly from content producers and their own creative thinking, not sales. Mahindra Tractors was derived from our creative content team wanting to profile the many people that were leaving the cities for rural areas during the height of the pandemic and how they were managing the transitions. With the help from our amazing marketing team we worked up the idea of reaching out to tractor companies to help fund these profiles and we landed on Mahindra. Mahindra has an entire tractor line dedicated to "Rural Land Lovers". These people manage their own land and maybe grow their own food, but they are not commercial farmers. After many creative collaborations with Mahindra, they jumped in as our funding partner and we're currently producing these segments that profile Mahindra Tractor owners across the U.S. - People who live and manage large acres of land for themselves and own personal pleasure and hobby. These segments are scheduled to premiere on The Weather Channel in June 2021.
If you had one piece of advice for folks in a client partnership role looking to improve their relationships with marketers, what would it be? What about marketers looking to maximize their relationships with media companies?
For the executive looking to establish a paid content partnership business, DO NOT look at the role as transactional. Marketers that are willing to develop content and work with outside media companies and their producers, are not established in an initial "sales call". A solid trust needs to be developed, and a true understanding of their creative vision must almost be guaranteed... and unless the marketer feels this level of comfort, it'll never happen!
The 2nd part of your question, that's easy, any marketer that does not feel they are getting direct access to the person actually producing their paid segment - run; it will fall flat and fingers will be pointing in every direction.
Where can we watch "Rural Land Lovers" and what can we expect next from The Weather Channel?
Mahindra Tractors "Rural Land Lovers" segments are scheduled to premiere on The Weather Channel in June of 2021 and extend across our digital platform sustainability platform, PATTRN. Speaking of what's next for TWC, It's PATTRN, and it's for those who love Earth & who fight for its future, The Weather Channel is with you. The PATTRN mission: to explore, inform & engage in the patterns of our planet. Join us: https://twitter.com/pattrn
About Jason Hermes
With a combined 22 years in media and marketing consulting and sales, Jason is a senior executive who identifies strategic opportunities, develops and executes new business strategies and creates revenue growth partnerships. He works closely with marketers and c-suite clients directly, in a consultative manner, to build solutions specific to individual partner KPI's. He has expertise in developing and executing innovative strategies in monetization and operations including digital and programmatic video sales, multi-platform media sales, contextualized integrated marketing, consumer products, licensing and organizational efficiencies. He has extensive experience in crafting and negotiating high-profile branded entertainment fee based and combined upfront and multi-year deals with brand and client partners. Jason is recognized as a senior sales executive who recruits, trains, mentors and motivates employees to thrive in their roles and within the organization.