April 17, 2018
Unity meets…Rhiannon Lambert
In a new series of interviews with UK influencers, we explore how some of the most prominent Instagrammers, bloggers and public figures interact with brands, to greater understand their needs.
Here at Unity we believe that if you can meet people’s needs through a campaign, brand message or product – rather than just telling them – ultimately you can increase human happiness. This applies to our influencer methodology too – co-creation rather than a strict brief. Get in touch to find out more.
In the first instalment, we meet nutritionist, TEDx speaker and bestselling author Rhiannon Lambert. With over 82,000 Instagram followers and 11,000 Twitter followers, she is fast becoming a leading name in the ever-growing and increasingly confusing world of healthy eating. With so many names delivering different messages on how best to fuel our bodies (is coconut oil better than olive? Paleo, caveman or 5:2?), she believes in giving clear facts to her followers, rather than fad diets.
Unity: Tell us a bit about yourself?
Rhiannon Lambert: Hello! I’m a registered associate nutritionist and I have a clinic on Harley Street – which means I work with clients on three main areas including weight management, eating disorders and sports nutrition. It wasn’t always nutrition that I was into; I kind of fell into this role from being a professional classical singer in the past and not knowing the right nutrition to fuel my body.
U: Great – what are you working on at the moment?
RL: I have a book called ‘Re-Nourish’ on sale, which details my philosophy. It’s half a nutrition bible, half a recipe book – so it’s like the best of both worlds for everyone out there. I’m also hosting a retreat this summer, called the Re-nourish Retreat in Bordeaux, France – where I’ll be teaching people how to understand their body’s relationship with nutrition. There will also be fitness classes hosted by my friend Alice Liveing (U: an influencer Personal Trainer and columnist for magazine Women’s Health) and holistic treatments so people can well and truly relax. There’s hopefully going to be more of these coming up in the future, which really is a perk of the job because I get to travel and get to know people one-to-one and really educate them. It’s all about going back to basics with food. There’s also lots of talks, festivals, super clubs and potentially other books. I’m actually writing a book at the moment with my client and co-author, professional snooker player Ronnie O’Sullivan, which is coming out on the 27th December – and that’s called ‘Top of your game’, eating for mind and body, so there’s a real emphasis on mental health in the book, which I think is really important because food and mental health go hand in hand and are crucial to a happy and healthy life. There’s also other exciting things in the pipeline but I can’t talk about them yet. So, stay tuned.
U: Did you set out to create a personal brand, or influence around your work?
RL: When I was at University in my first year, there was no Instagram or Twitter, so it never even crossed my mind. I never thought Rhitrition would ever be a brand, I didn’t even think I was a businesswoman. It’s still a bit difficult to come to terms with it myself, even though I now hire staff and have a clinic. I never saw it as a brand, I just loved nutrition and believe in that passion – and that’s kind of how it started. I was going to call the clinic Rhi-Rhi’s nutrition and my fiancé put a stop to that and helped me simplify it to Rhi-trition, which encompasses everything I believe nutrition is in one word. So yes, never set out to be an influencer it was definitely all organic growth.
U: When did you first notice your social channels start to get traction?
RL: I had Twitter first, I never really took Facebook very seriously – Facebook is just a channel I use to connect with friends and family and see what they were up to back in the countryside, whilst I’m living in London. Twitter started to grow, really slowly and organically about four years ago, so it’s been around in the background for a while now. However, Instagram is completely different. I only set up an account about two years ago and it just kind of catapulted. Originally, I created an account to share the food I was making with my clients and see what they were making as well. I had clients ask me if I had this ‘new app’ because they wanted me to see what they were eating on a regular basis to review and discuss in our sessions. Suddenly the channel started to really peak, and I was getting invited to take part in talks and I think from networking, it just spiraled. I really can’t tell you how it grew traction; I’ve never paid for SEO, to be honest I don’t know how that works. It’s interesting for me to see that people are interested in me but I think because I’m honest and providing people with insightful information around nutrition, that there’s a genuine interest from people wanting to alter their relationship with food.
U: What’s changed in the way you use social media since you started?
RL: I treat it as a business now, 100%. I have to separate emotions from it and treat it is as simply a tool for my business.
U: Do you have two separate accounts then, one for your personal life and one for your Rhitrition business life?
RL: Do you know what? I don’t. I’m not the sort of person that uses Instagram for personal inspiration myself. I’m a bit old school and will read a book or a magazine or go to a talk. This is only something I have realised this year though; my social channels are for my brand, Rhitrition and I am Rhitrition. So, I have had to differentiate between business and personal life, I’d get upset by a few comments perhaps if I posted a picture of eggs and it angered someone who didn’t eat eggs. I had to just learn and realise that actually its’ going to help people and bring business into my clinic, it’s a good tool for information.
I personally now read over my posts with a fine-tooth comb before posting because I understand the limitation with social media and the consequences of posting something that isn’t right or will potentially get you into trouble. Words that are posted on the internet are always there, there’s no way around it and people use my platform to get information on sensible nutrition, so I have to take it very seriously.
U: What was the first brand you ever worked with? How did the partnership come about?
RL: I haven’t done much work with brands. With my association the AFN (Association for nutrition), I’m bound by these regulations where I can’t pick one product over another because one is not superior to another. So, if I were to do brand work it would be on the scope that I’m working with them as a nutritionist, providing nutritional information for a product and not recommending that one is better than another.
The first paid brand I worked with outside of Harley Street was with Dream. They’re a dairy-free milk company and that was only in the last year or so – I got involved because I liked their campaign. I wanted to help those trying to go dairy free and to do it sensibly because not everyone has to live a dairy-free diet.
I pick brands that I work with very carefully, to make sure that I can give the right advice and it’s not biased in anyway shape or form. I have a rule not to work with brands that I don’t feel passionate about or wouldn’t want to put my name by.
U: How do you like to work with brands?
RL: It’s a mix of two routes. Often, I haven’t had time to seek out opportunities myself because I’m busy running my clinic and writing a book and other things. So I’m very fortunate that things come to me and I actually end up saying no a lot more than I say yes to brands.
Some people can make a lot of money working with brands irresponsibly. My ethics mean I’ll never give into that – so unfortunately, I’ll never be a millionaire! But I don’t need that to be happy. Plus, it almost devalues that influencer’s engagement with their followers and their trust.
U: What’s usually the rationale behind saying no? Is it because their brief isn’t what you want to do?
RL: If it’s a food brand in particular, because obviously I get approached by a lot more of those…what people don’t know, for TV advertising for instance you can’t make certain claims. However on the internet you can say anything you want, pretty much, within reason. So, a product that markets itself heavily on Instagram, you won’t see it on the TV because a lot of the claims are incorrect and usually not backed up by a body of evidence.
So the reason I say no is because a lot of the time the claims don’t match EU regulations, or for example it might say it’s organic but it’s not 100% made up of organic produce. I believe I would be falsely telling my followers to invest in a product that isn’t as great as the label makes it out to be. My audience have a level of trust for my platform, I want to keep it that way, and that does mean having to scrutinise every single product.
If there was a brand to do with sleep or fashion that I loved then I wouldn’t say no, because that’s not going to harm someone’s health, but I’d have to love it and I see myself as more of a nutritionist than an influencer.
U: Do you prefer to be given a brief to follow, or be involved creatively and co-create?
RL: From my experience, brands always have an outlined brief because they always know what they want to achieve from you. However, I may often need to adapt or change it to suit my brand. I always go back and say actually ‘this might benefit you more if we do it this way’, or ‘have you tried this approach’? So I’ll offer my expertise and negotiate and then come to a conclusion on how we are going to work together. I don’t think it looks good to have a social page swamped with paid-for posts, it needs to be organic and genuine because it keeps the trust between you and your followers and it also ensures you’re being honest with the brand. It stops the content from getting lost too. Most of the time a sponsored post isn’t, and a set of influencers are posting the exact same words as each other, making it less engaging. When I work with brands, I want to write my own words about what I think, so people know it is coming from me.
People are now clueing up that it’s not about the number of followers you have, but it’s about the level of engagement you have on your content.
U: Who would be your dream brand to work with?
RL: Oh it’s so difficult. Disney! Ok, it wasn’t difficult it just popped right in my head. I’m the biggest Disney fan, I love Disney songs and what it’s about. There’s a lot of good morals in their films and hidden positive messages.
U: And they also have Disney Health Living which fits right into your brand?
RL: Yes, exactly – that would be the dream brand. Disney is so influential, they have such an impactful voice on kids – they have to do a project on healthy eating and use their influence to help improve kids’ nutrition.
U: What’s the happiest moment for you when working for brands? Is it the reaction from your audience? Knowing you’re supporting a brand you love?
RL: It’s a mixture of the two. I’d only pick the brand if I loved it and agreed with it anyway. So, I think it is more the reaction from my audience actually. It’s nice for them to see and understand that you have to make a living as well and they support that, but they also genuinely trust your choice. So they would try something that you’d recommend, then when they love it too it’s a really nice feeling to get those messages, like ‘Oh wow, I tried what you suggested here…’. It’s like the feedback from a book or when you’re reading a review that people are taking the time to actually write. Taking the time to actually write a comment is really underrated because we’re all so busy and to take a moment out of your day to write to someone, or even to send me a private message – I really appreciate that.
U: And what makes you happy and motivated to work with brands?
RL: It’s the opportunity to reach more people and make a difference. If I can work with a brand and be involved in product development, that’s a big motivation…Perhaps I can make a product healthier and get a good message out there that people may not have thought of before. They might have associated it with something else and actually if their mindset changed and they looked at it in a different way, they would see it in a different light. I think it’s the chance to make a change and a difference and I never thought I’d have that chance. I studied to be a nutritionist, I didn’t think I’d have a platform to dictate what people choose. I don’t think anyone goes in the profession to do that, you go into it to have your clinic. I aspired to just have a client a week, now I’m constantly booked up and this brand work is a whole new world. It’s incredible, the potential brands have to reach people. It’s more relatable. There’s a difference between looking at a celebrity brand partnership – when people know celebrities have lifestyles that normal people can’t obtain – or working with someone that is just like everyone else.
U: Do you see yourself as a news outlet now? (As for PR agencies it is becoming more and more important to win over the voice of an influencer as it is a paper or online news site)
RL: I never really thought about it to be honest with you, but I tag brands in posts organically all of the time, so I am giving my opinion on a daily basis. My Instagram story gets more engagement than my posts…people look at everything – if I’m wearing a scarf, I get 10 DM’s or more asking where that scarf is from and if I’m doing a live talk about nutrition, I’ll get people asking me where my dress is from. People are very intuitive and take an attention to detail.
U: Where do you want to be in the next couple of years?
RL: It’s hard! It was to have my own TEDx talk, but I’ve literally just done that…
To have the clinic open its doors to even more people than before, potentially expand it and have a clinic outside of Harley Street, to be more affordable and accessible – if I can make that happen that would be incredible.
Personal achievements-wise, it would be amazing to be on a TV show and reach more people, talking about nutrition.
So yeah, the dream is to have a self-running clinic, have a series of books that are tools for everyone to use, that they lean to and they trust – the important thing is to continue being a brand people can trust.
U: If you had every single food and drink brand in one room right now, what would be the one thing you’d say to them as a nutritionist?
RL: Every single brand should invest in getting a qualified, registered nutritionist to check their claims and check what they’re putting out there – and and to really be honest with their consumers.
It’s the age now where brands need to be honest. It’s gone past the point where you can put on the front of a packet ‘low in calories’, people want to know what’s in it, you can’t put it in tiny print. Companies need to take the brutal criticism and adapt to what the audience wants.
U: What piece of nutritional advice would you give to a PR that would make an impact on their wellbeing?
RL: They need to make time for themselves. 20 minutes a day, over their lunchbreak. If I can give any advice it is to put yourself first just for that period of time, because if you are not respecting your body or giving yourself an ounce of time in the day…You have to be selfish, take 20 minutes out, eat your lunch mindfully. Try and get that nutrition in during that time and relax, because you’re in a high pressured industry that never sleeps.
U: We’d agree with that…
Credit: RE-NOURISH: A Simple Way to Eat Well by Rhiannon Lambert is available now (£18.99) http://amzn.to/2B8nPB1
Website – http://Rhitrition.com/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/Rhitrition/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Rhitrition