Mary Palac’s Pointers for Working With Influencer Accounts

a photo of Mary Palac
Add industry-leading brand ambassador Mary Palac's pointers into your arsenal before you start targeting influencer accounts for your alcohol brand.

Mary Palac is Campari’s Mexican Spirits Portfolio Brand Ambassador for Espolon, Montelobos and Ancho Reyes. With over 20 years of experience working in the hospitality industry, Palac offers passion and expertise in spirits education and building communities, receiving national recognition from the Spirited Awards in 2020 as a Top Four Finalist, and in 2019 as a Top 10 Nominee for the “American Bartender of the Year” honor, among other accolades and awards. Born in the Philippines and raised in California, Palac grew up surrounded by both Filipino and Mexican culture, which helped build her connection to agave and Mexican spirits. She “strives to seek out opportunities for others within the industry, especially women of color who are frequently overlooked or undervalued,” said the news announcement, and recently led a panel for AAPI Heritage Month for Tales of the Cocktail in 2021.

What are your top 3 tips for building relationships and working with influential accounts?

Mary Palac: My #1 tip is to work from a place of sincerity. As someone who comes from the hospitality side I can tell you we know when we’re being “sold” on. Be open and honest about the partnership you’re looking for. And understand that a partnership is a long term investment that like any relationship requires maintenance and upkeep. 

What strategies or approaches do you find most effective when building relationships with influencer accounts?

Mary Palac: I really begin with understanding and learning everything I can about the people, the concept, the menu of an influential account. Many of these bars and restaurants are led by creative people, so I want to get to know what their needs are, and how I can support their creativity through partnership. The more I understand a concept, the better I can show the buyer how we can align with one another. 

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What are some common mistakes or pitfalls to avoid when working with influencer accounts?

Mary Palac: Don’t show up to a bar and just expect to talk shop during service. I always hated a cold call as a bartender if it was anything other than an introduction or hello. If you are visiting an account unannounced, just enjoy the time and get to know the staff. I also think patience is a virtue; you often won’t see the fruits of your partnership until well down the road. 

Once you’ve secured shelf placement, how do you keep your product on their shelf/menu?

Mary Palac: By being present. We can’t be everywhere all at once, but accounts definitely notice when you’ve been absent for a while. Even though I travel A LOT I always make time for the accounts that I know my presence has had an impact. 

In terms of staying updated on emerging trends and generating fresh ideas, what are some ways you do this? 

Mary Palac: Social media is a huge resource today, but viral moments come and go. I stay very closely connected to trade members in hospitality, so getting to see what they’re constantly working on also allows me the opportunity to offer resources. Good vibes are always trending so I’ll ask where industry members like to enjoy cocktails and check out those places. 

Are there any emerging cocktail trends or products that you’re keeping an eye on?

Mary Palac: I love the play with textures and jellys from companies like Solid Wiggles, it’s definitely one to watch. I also love to see the diversity of the cocktail-scape inspired by creators’ heritage, seeing unique ingredients and foods being introduced in cocktails. As someone who represents agave, I’m definitely watching the continued growth of Tequila and Mezcal. 

How do you use social media to engage with influential accounts and expand brand reach?

Mary Palac: We’re lucky to have an amazing team across the country that loves to share when we have a new placement or cocktail, so I’m genuinely excited to reshare and engage with posts from accounts that feature our products. Many accounts are now really talented when it comes to cocktail photos and social media, so I always comment or reshare when I see them, always crediting the creators. 

What are some strategies for fostering brand loyalty or long-term partnerships with influential accounts?

Mary Palac: I believe people love brands in large part because the people that represent them love them and believe in them. And partnerships vary from account to account, so really being able to anticipate the needs of our partners, whether it’s a staff training, or POS, or education, or cocktail strategies. Most of all staying present and showing up; this is an industry of relationships and they require our time and effort to maintain. 



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