Who is Karen Civil? - Biography & Career

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Karen Civil turned her childhood passion into her dream career. In this lesson, we'll take a closer look at how Karen got her start, some of the areas she's impacted, and how she's bridged music and social/digital media.

Meet the Social Media Maven

If you're wondering what rapper Lil Wayne, musician-turned-entrepreneur Dr. Dre, and politician Hillary Clinton have in common, look no further than the woman in the shadows: social and digital media strategist Karen Civil. At only 32 years old, Civil is helping to manage social media channels (like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) and digital media platforms (such as websites and blogs) for some of Hollywood's biggest names and speaking with authority for some key players in Washington, D.C.

If she seems too young or inexperienced to hold a job impacting voices and perceptions in the entertainment and political arenas, you'll never believe how young she really was when she was first bitten by the stardom bug. Read on to learn more.

Early Days

Civil was born November 8, 1984, and grow up in Elizabeth, New Jersey, a stone's throw from Brooklyn and New York City. It was during her formative years that Civil, who has described her childhood as 'socially awkward', developed an interest in combining her love of media with entertainment. She built fan websites for a favorite actor as well as for The Backstreet Boys. The latter earned her third place in a national competition and a chance to meet the members of the group.

Civil went on to Union County College near her hometown, but gave up the books to go to work at a radio station with the famous DJ Funkmaster Flex. That experience launched Civil into a partnership with hip-hop group Dipset to help them build an e-commerce platform. It was that experience, Civil said, that helped her realize there was money to be made behind the scenes in the world of the internet.

Career Take-Off

A few years later, Civil found herself working for Asylum Records.

In 2008, Civil launched her own website to give lovers of the hip-hop genre a place to see news about the industry, as well as read about stars on the verge of breaking through to the big time. At the time, rappers like J. Cole, Nicki Minaj, and Drake weren't the household names they are now; some of that first notoriety can be attributed to their appearance on Civil's website. Leading industry media outlets like XXL Media Company, MTV, and Billboard Magazine have been known to pull from Civil's web content.

Since a website wasn't enough for Civil, she launched her own marketing agency with a focus on helping those in the hip-hop industry with their digital and social strategies. That agency, called Always Civil Enterprises, focuses on brand strategy and consulting for celebrities. Brand strategy focuses on helping build a brand over the long-term that appeals to consumers.

By 2010, Civil had drawn the attention of rapper Lil Wayne who was, at the time, incarcerated. Needing a way to communicate with his fans, he built a website (with Civil's help) where he could do just that. It was the big break she needed.

Of her early days, Civil has said her work was about helping artists get noticed in platforms like blogs, personal websites with regularly updated information, video and music hosting and, later, social media.

Civil Today

Today, Civil is noted as a public speaker for the women's empowerment movement, drawing from her successes in a mostly male-dominated culture for credentials. She has continued that theme with the launch of a beauty and lifestyle website as a way to better incorporate women into the culture she was already well-versed in. Civil has built partnerships with Cover Girl and Carol's Daughter from that experience. Her messaging has also inspired the recent Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to tap her prowess in an effort to recruit young voters.

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