Today, we speak with Rachel Maeng Brown, Founder and CEO of GEN Agency, about the GEN Agency NIL Education Program for collegiate athletes. Rachel has been awarded “NYC 20 in their 20s” in Entrepreneurship and Sports. She is a former Big Ten student-athlete, Official TikTok Partner, model, and front-office sports staff member. In addition, her experience has landed her partnerships with massive brands like Netflix, Turbo Tax, and Amazon.
What is GEN Agency?
Gen Agency started as an influencer management agency focusing on one-to-one brand deals for creators. Since then, they’ve grown into a company offering full-service brand campaigns and viral event production.
GEN Agency is a multi-channel network with over 66+ million followers across its social media platforms. Their ultimate goal is to democratize the creator economy by protecting creators by providing creators with opportunities for growth and networking, on-time payments, and industry education. Recently, GEN Agency expanded its “Athletes Turned Creators” NIL Education program to help college athletes make viral content and find paid opportunities with local businesses.
What is the NIL Education Program?
When Rachel was a student-athlete at Rutgers, student-athletes couldn’t reap the benefits of their status, name, likeness, or image. This was before the world of influencers emerged, and laws about athletes monetizing their own personal brand changed.
Athletes able to monetize their personal brand create new income streams during and after their time as an athlete, increasing their opportunities across the board.
However, more education is needed for student-athletes on this topic. This limiting situation inspired the creation of the GEN Agency “Athletes Turned Creators” NIL Education program. This program offers custom education and programs to athlete organizations, athletic departments, and local businesses to create sustainable marketing campaigns, allowing athletes to monetize themselves in their local communities.
Education and workshops include topics like how to build your personal brand, find a manager, leverage content growth strategies, and negotiate and land brand deals. Marketing workshops for local businesses include education on the different types of influencer marketing, how much to spend on different types of marketing, and how to partner with influencers.
Rachel shares, “We started working on this program about a year ago, developing what the education was going to look like, then building out short videos, building out expertise in the space with our influencer management that we do with our creators who are between a hundred thousand followers all the way up to 26 million followers.”
In addition, about 16 months ago, the NIL law was passed by the NCAA for student-athletes, allowing student-athletes to build their pro personal brands without repercussions.
She adds, “We’ve grown it [GEN Agency’s program] out where it’s more workshop intensive and a two-sided system, so we do a lot of workshops with different universities. We can also go in person and do workshops on top of the virtual.”
Many workshops feature education on building a personal brand, negotiating brand deals, and understanding usage rights, which is essential for both universities and athletes to understand.
“We’re actually giving them and local businesses education as well, where we’re teaching them how to take athlete content and use it for their social media pages or use it for ads to get a really good ROI back on their marketing and that’s a really big deal because that hasn’t really been done before and it’s something that’s always created the gap between student-athletes using their content and being influencers and getting paid with local businesses.”
Helping Brands Understand the Creator Economy
The GEN Agency’s NIL Education program helps brands understand the value of using influencer marketing, specifically with athlete influencers.
Rachel shares, “If the creator athletes are learning how to make great content, it’s great. If they’re learning how to reach out to brands, but they have so much power as a micro-influencer on their campus and their local school community, even in their homes to town, and that’s really where I think their likeness and who they are and their appearance and all of that. I think that’s where they can really monetize it.”
She adds that GEN Agency aims to close the gap between brands and creators, especially in the student-athlete influencer space.
Building Additional Income Streams
Many people, especially members of Gen Z, are interested in becoming content creators. Rachel shares that this is a plus because anyone can do content creation, and you can promote your own brand and other products while generating additional income streams.
She explains, “I think even further down the road, if any of these athletes learn how to create good content or want to go into marketing, they have an understanding of the product side, of the actual content side, and then even more so a data-driven career.”
For example, content creation analytics is a type of data showing how many people are engaging with a video or post. Learning to interpret this information from a young age can help athletes in future careers. Rachel adds that content creation gives athletes many rounded-out skills, especially while they are young and learning so much about themselves.
One of the biggest success stories from this program is with the Savannah State Men’s Basketball team, who went through workshops with GEN Agency. This workshop was the “starter kit” and covered the basics of influencer marketing, such as what an influencer is and how athletes become influencers.
The GEN Agency NIL education has partnered with HBCU Heroes, a non-profit organization helping democratize the playing field for HBCU sports programs nationwide.
The Target Audience
The GEN Agency NIL education program is not targeting one particular school or sport.
However, Rachel notes that female athletes are doing better using their NIL online. She credits this difference to women typically being a bit more creative and detail-oriented, which are great skill sets for content creation.
Rachel explains, “We’re just trying to get to as many athletes are possible, at as many universities that understand that there is something that is happening. Like the NIL here, it’s affecting the transfer portal. It’s affecting all college athletes and even professional athletes.”
If you are an athlete interested in benefiting from this program, visit GEN Agency’s website for contact information.
Rachel is excited about upcoming official partnerships that will help GEN Agency provide this education to student-athletes, particularly young influencers who don’t have a manager or a lot of education on the subject.
GEN Agency is also actively looking for more universities to connect with for workshops and educational opportunities for the college’s sports teams.