We had the privilege of sitting down with Megan Pintell of Magnolia Megan (@MagnoliaMegan, 175k followers on Instagram), and asking her some questions about how brands and agencies can best work with influencers just like her.

PIVOT recently collaborated with Megan on behalf of our client Piada Italian Street Food. Megan’s content reached over a million people, helping spread awareness of their new location opening in Raleigh, North Carolina.


Tell us a little about yourself. Where did the name Magnolia Megan come from? What inspired you to start your journey as an influencer?

The name Magnolia Megan came from a branding project in college. I have always loved magnolia flowers and so I created a logo of a hand drawn magnolia flower for my brand. It was first used for my resume, cover letter, and portfolio website and later used for my name on social media!

I’ve always been a creative person and went to school for graphic design. I grew up doing photography and first learned on film from my Grandpa. I then did plenty of art classes like ceramics, acrylic painting, oil painting, and more.

I first started thinking about social media in college around 2017/2018. It was always a thought in the back of my mind but at the time I didn’t know how to pursue it. I was too busy with school and working three jobs at the time as well as pursuing a freelance business for graphic design, mainly focusing on logos and t-shirt designs.

When I graduated, I got a job at Dick’s Sporting Good’s Inc. in their corporate office on the signage team creating signs and graphics for their stores. The job was exciting at first and I learned a lot, however, I knew I didn’t want to work a 9 to 5 my whole life.

Six months after graduating, my husband (fiancé at the time) found out he had the opportunity to relocate to Houston, TX for his job. So, we moved across the country to a massive city.

I found a job at a boutique and started working as a helper in the store running errands, organizing clothes, and helping design graphics for social media and their website. I worked my way up in a short time to then start managing their social media and that’s when my interest in social media that I had in college began again.

I loved the creativity that went into social media and I saw a lot of potential in it. I then decided to start a blog website using my Magnolia Megan name and begin posting some content on my own personal Instagram. I had no idea what I was doing with my blog at the time and after a few months, I shut it down.

Around this time, Covid happened and I also got laid off from my job at the boutique. I began to start posting things to do and food on TikTok and Instagram during Covid, and my TikTok began to gain some traction.

Another content creator who was very big in Houston reached out to me and so I began working under her creating videos for 10+ restaurant accounts, managing their social media, creating viral videos, and going on content shoots.

I learned very quickly how to create consistent viral videos and kept improving my content for these restaurants. This also helped me have content for my own account to post and I began to love social media even more because of what I saw it do for the businesses I worked for.

After two years of living in Houston, we moved on a whim to Raleigh, NC in December of 2021. With all of the experience I gained in Houston and my creative skills that I have had, I grew my own Instagram account focusing on North Carolina content from 5,000 followers in December 2021 to 170,000 in January of 2024!


How would you describe your personal brand, and how has it evolved over time?

I would consider myself a lifestyle content creator that focuses on experiences, whether it is in North Carolina, a surrounding state, or at home.

I first started focusing on food in North Carolina because I knew it was the easiest to grow with. I then expanded from there to start to include interesting places, experiences, and more.

I wanted to keep my content broad enough that I wasn’t just considered a food blogger or locked in a specific city. That is also why I used the branding I created in college and chose the name Magnolia Megan because I wanted to have a personal brand and provide value to others with the things that my husband and I were doing.


Can you share some do’s and don’ts for brands or PR professionals when they want to collaborate with influencers?

Always have a budget in mind, especially for larger influencers.

It takes a lot of hard work, time, and creativity to create social media content and it is just as effective or even more effective than traditional marketing when you work with the right person. I have worked very hard to learn what I have and to get to where I am, all while building an organic following and building trust between my followers over content I post.

It can be disheartening when larger brands want to work with you, and they don’t have a budget set aside for this type of marketing. This type of marketing is growing, so it will be exciting to see how brands and PR agencies respond in the coming years!


Before accepting a collaboration, what kind of research or due diligence do you do about the brand or team?

I look into the brand or PR agency to make sure that they are credible, and their collaboration offer is something that would work with my audience. Then, I will think of a creative concept that will work organically for my page and will resonate with my audience. I don’t want to just accept any collaboration, you have to make sure it aligns with your brand!

Also, always make sure that you read over the contract before accepting and/or send a contract for them to sign! There have been instances where I was excited about a collaboration and was emailing the agency, we had a great conversation, approved the concept, and negotiated payment. They wanted the turnaround to be quick so I went through a platform to accept their proposal, spent hours creating the content, sent it for approval, only to have a delayed response from the agency working with the brand after sending the content for approval. After a few weeks with no response and several follow ups, they told me that the brand decided they were no longer doing the collaboration.

I had already done all of the work except for posting only to be told they are no longer doing it and I won’t be compensated for my work. When I went to the platform I accepted the approval on, I realized there was no contract signed. Of course you don’t expect these things to happen and for scams to be real, but they are and it is better to take all precautions. Read over contracts and do your research. Don’t rush into a collaboration even if it seems legit.


In your opinion, what are some common mistakes brands make when reaching out to influencers?

I believe a common mistake is not doing enough research on the influencer and on payment structure for social media.

Each influencer is different – the type of content they create, the engagement rate, demographics, location, payment expectations, and more. It’s always important to also do your research into an influencer so you know who you’re working with. Will they provide the results your client is looking for? Or is their page mostly engagement groups, bots, or the wrong demographic completely?

Everyone is different and working with the right influencer can provide amazing results. Be sure to reach out to influencers that will provide the type of content you’re looking for and send a thought-out proposal so they know what kind of collaboration it is.

Be open with the pricing structure and the concept so they can create something that will resonate with their audience.


As the industry continues to change and evolve, how do you plan to adapt, and what changes do you foresee in the influencer landscape?

I am always studying analytics of my content and analyzing trends.

It is important to keep updated on how your content is performing, what your audience is reacting to, and what social media is doing at that time. The algorithms are changing constantly and the psychology behind why posts perform well is very important. If you don’t change your content or improve, it will get overlooked very quickly.

Social media is a very competitive space and that can be a good and bad thing. If influencers become complacent with how their posts are performing or with their content quality, why would brands want to use them for marketing?

Just like any other job, it is important to keep on top of your work and on all the ins and outs of social media.


What’s one thing that you want all the PR professionals to understand about working with influencers?

Influencers became influencers for a reason – because they provided useful content with value, they are creative, good at storytelling, and more. They also know their followers best and how they would react to different concepts or types of content.

Let them be creative and have room for that with the collaboration. This is not a brand’s way of pushing an ad that you would typically see in a magazine or on TV onto social media because it will most likely not get good engagement or response on their account.

When using an influencer, the best thing you can do is let them be creative and make the collaboration feel as authentic as possible toward their audience. A great creator will be able to do this and that is where the beauty of social media comes into play!