Last week, I had the pleasure of having a conversation with Ken Brenner, Founder & CEO of Legacy Direct, Inc. Legacy Direct aims to help agents, business managers and other people who represent athletes and entertainers strengthen the celebrity’s brand by providing additional resources and expertise with a specific focus on philanthropic opportunities and technological tools. Ken did not need to convince me about the equity of giving back and leveraging new internet platforms like social networking. I have long been an advocate of agents taking a broader role in the representation of their clients. Ken’s idea is that agents can work collaboratively with Legacy Direct, since many agents do not know where to begin when it comes to new technologies and philanthropy. Mr. Brenner’s aim is to help agents help their clients. Seems like a worthy goal. Here is how our conversation went down..
Darren Heitner: Give me a snapshot about your company. Keep it basic…what exactly do you do?
Ken Brenner: After starting Sponsor Direct with my partner Mark Rockefeller which provides tools to corporate sponsors to help them manage and measure their sponsorships we decided to start a second company, Legacy Direct, to provide tools and resources for individuals, athletes and entertainers and their agents, to help them better leverage their position of influence and visibility to become more appealing to a broader audience, more relevant to a wider and more diverse group of corporate partners and therefore have greater impact on their local, regional, national or global community.
Darren Heitner: Do you still consult with sponsors and help them make decisions on what particular athletes to endorse?
Ken Brenner: No, we have great relationships with most of the major sponsors but Sponsor Direct only puts web tools in place for them that let them analyze the marketplace.
Darren Heitner: Would you say that the majority of your clients are athletes or the agents/agencies who represent them?
Ken Brenner: Our clients are the athletes and the people who represent them. We empower the agents and agencies with tools and resources to service their clients. Natalie Gulbis with IMG is an example.
Darren Heitner: I read a story in the NY Times about Natalie Gulbis leveraging Twitter to her advantage. In fact, I am connected with her on the social news site. What was your role in that process? Do you continue to advise Natalie in terms of her Twitter account?
Ken Brenner: Yes. Legacy started with an initial Legacy Assessment with Natalie focusing on technology and philanthropy since agencies really aren’t focused heavily on these aspects. We recommended to her agent how she could increase her exposure, reach new audiences and engage with fans using new technologies. Twitter was one of the tools we recommended and helped her get going with it. The next step will be to layer in our proprietary communications platforms, LegacyPortTM and LegacyDashboardTM, to further enhance Natalie’s communication and accessibility to the community at large. Then we will advise on philanthropy strategies and make sure her charitable giving is efficient and effective.
Darren Heitner: What clients have you helped out with building their Legacy?
Ken Brenner: Natalie Gulbis of IMG is our main client thus far. Legacy Port will help her receive proposals and opportunities for appearances, speaking engagements and corporate partnerships from the community. It will get her local/regional reach and charitable opportunities. We want to open up athletes to be able to engage with people and communicate. An agent is empowered with a dashboard that brings in real-time market data and a desktop of tools to evaluate these opportunities. We are facilitating agents’ goals, not competing with them. It’s critical that athletes and entertainers are giving back.
Darren Heitner: Readers will want to know, what is the cost to their clients or to an agency for your services?
Ken Brenner: Our business model is to get our tools in as many hands as possible so we can have an impact and start a movement to help athletes give back while simultaneously building their brand and ultimately their legacy. We wave the base fees up front; we want our clients to see what we can do first. So there’s no financial obligation initially. We give them a Legacy scorecard to see how they are performing in a number of different fields. We measure their sustainability and give them a philanthropy and technological assessment. It is all wrapped up into a three year legacy game plan free of charge. The next phase is the execution. If the athlete and the agency want to start executing on the plan, there’s a cost to maintain the technology tools, for ongoing analytics and measurement tools and other services. These fees are often paid by one the athlete’s sponsors who wants to show their commitment to the athlete and like their athlete having additional resources and reach into the community. This way, there is no financial fee for the agent or player and the sponsor gets closer to the athlete and also gets branding on the communication tools that connect them better with the community and consumers.
Darren Heitner: Would you try to assist an agent or athlete to convince a sponsor to pay the fee?
Ken Brenner: If they want help we are here to support them. We know best how the sponsor benefits from all of the tools we put in place for the athlete and agent. All of our actions are done in concert with the agent, working for them and supporting their efforts.