As a runner and fitness professional herself, Erin Bailey understands how difficult it can be for athletes to represent themselves on social media and in their brand relationships. Her talent agency, Momentum Management, helps them present themselves authentically and forge business relationships that align with their values.

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Erin practices what she preaches, sharing her running journey with her followers. Although she grew up running the trails in Asheville, NC with her family, she didn’t really identify as a runner until the pandemic. She taught boutique fitness classes and was more of a gym person, which of course came to a halt during COVID. She started running instead, but didn’t intend to keep doing it after lockdown ended. But, she says, “Gyms took so long to come back. And then I also realized I had this built-up fear. I was more nervous in spaces that I traditionally hadn’t been nervous in. Also, I was living in Boston and had been so city-locked for such a long time. I think I really loved how much running got me outside and into bits of nature. And I think I also latched on to some of those things that I hadn’t really experienced and you don’t experience in gym settings.”

When she started running, there wasn’t much content online for average runners, and she wanted to help fill that void. “I think that’s so important because there’s so much space for lots of different types of people and goals and activities in running. People are coming in and wanting to be a part of the running community because they want to walk-run and that’s all they ever want to do. I think there needs to be space for that person to see someone that looks like them. 

“There also needs to be space to see someone like one of the talents that we work with, Caitlin Keen. Caitlin Keen is a sub-elite runner. She’s qualified for the Olympic Trials. She runs a 2:45 marathon. So when she’s talking about hard workouts and paces and her having an easy run, and her easy run is an eight-minute mile, for people to also see ‘Oh, there’s room for a competitive edge like that, that isn’t the pro.’

“I think there’s just so much room for what running can look like. And I think it’s important for people to identify with people that are like them, people they can learn from, people they can aspire to. I feel that’s why there’s so many creators in this space now, and there’s room, I think, for a lot of creators, because we all are sharing different stories and different missions. And I think the more people that are showing their journeys, then the more people there are that want to get involved because they see a journey that they either are also on or hope to be on.”

Social media has benefited Erin, but she’s also experienced the negatives, and she helps Momentum Management’s clients avoid those pitfalls. “Several years ago,” she says, “I think I made more decisions based on things I would post, and now I feel like I very much live authentically and I show things that are part of my life.  Five years ago, I would do things that I also wanted to take photos of and share. That’s a really tough position to be in, and I think that’s a position a lot of people can be in sometimes and that’s something that feels really hard. When you’re thinking about boundaries, what do you want? What do you want social to serve in your life, not how is your life serving social?”

She reminds her clients – and all social media users – that at its core, the medium is a feedback loop. “You are putting something out there for people to give you feedback on; you have to be ready to hear feedback no matter what it is. And if you aren’t ready for external feedback, you aren’t ready to put that thing out. I’ve seen so many people share too much and maybe share things before they were ready because they felt like they owed the information about their very personal lives and very personal stories to a community that had been with them for so long. And that’s just not true. It is your platform; it is your rules; you get to decide what people need to know and when they need to know it.”

Deciding what and when to share can be difficult though, and in the case of hot button topics, daunting. That was the genesis of Momentum, which Erin describes as being at “the intersection of influence and impact.” Living through the pandemic and the social justice movement that followed, she says, “I felt like there were all of these people with public profiles that just weren’t utilizing them to talk about things that they really cared about. And when I took that veil of judgment off, I was like, they are one man shows, right?

“Again, it’s a feedback loop. Like you don’t feel like you can put something out there and it could be something you really care about. But what if you get backlash and how do you handle that? And does it make sense for you to talk about it? It was just all of these other factors that I realized people could be reckoning with. So we came in and we became a talent agency; that’s what we are at our core. But we’re integrated with our talent partners; we’re not just one and done brand deals and we move on.

“We really support voices that we think need elevation; we think they need to take up more space. So for us, that ends up being a lot of women, non-binary athletes, and people with social impact missions. That’s kind of the core of who we are. How can we support people and also help them monetize their brands, help them show up in ways they feel really excited about, and be a true partner for who they are and how they want to show up.” 

Erin treats her clients with empathy, and encourages others to do the same. “As much as we think we know influencers and talent, you have no idea how a situation is affecting people.  It could be affecting them because it connected to them in an incredibly personal way, and so they haven’t been able to process it and come out in an authoritative position around it. So I think in general, we need to give influencers more grace about quite literally everything. I think it’s incredibly hard to have a public profile, no matter how big or small you are. Choosing to live in public is really, really difficult. So I’d say, one: just give them a level of grace. 

“I think, two: if it feels like something you would want them to speak out about or are curious to hear their opinion, I’d always encourage a DM, always in private first, don’t call people out on their posts.  I think any of that call out culture just ends up putting people in a defensive nature, which isn’t typically what people want, right? No one wants to feel attacked; no one wants to be attacked. So I’d say if you want to shoot them a DM respectfully, like, ‘Hey, this is going on. I’m really curious to hear your thoughts on this.’

“Sharing from this place of grace, I think, is always helpful.  I’ve often had conversations in my DMs  that I wasn’t ready to have publicly yet. But it helped me realize what I should be saying publicly. So sometimes those things are really helpful, but always with a level of empathy for the person in the public eye.”

Momentum currently works with around twenty clients and also does brand consulting work. They recently signed their first pro athlete, Nikki Hiltz. “Everything in that world of movement, influence, and social impact is really the bridge that we want to be touching,” Erin explains. The company is only a year and a half old, but she’s happy with the direction it’s taken. “I feel really content in this level of autonomy and freedom I’ve built with this work. And that we still get to do good work and we’re still successful and we still support a lot of people. And all of those things can be true.”


Momentum Management’s website

Erin’s Instagram

Momentum’s Instagram

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