Kate & PR expert Nancy Marshall
PR and Your Business.
Kate & PR expert & _Maven_ Nancy Marshall Chat about PR and Your Business
Kate: Hey, everybody. Kate Paine here from Standing Out Online. I’m really excited to have you join us with – join me for Coffee with Kate today. I am excited to have PR expert, Nancy Marshall with me to have coffee with me.
Kate: Nancy, thank you for being here.
Nancy: Thanks, Kate. And I love my Coffee with Kate mug. It’s just the right size. I’ve been using it every day.
Kate: Oh, good. I’m glad.
Nancy: I was at that actually because I’ve put it in the dishwasher so many times, I was hoping the logo wouldn’t wear off. [laughs]
Kate: Well, I hope it’s not.
Nancy: No, it hasn’t. It’s perfect.
Kate: Mine has not either. So, it was funny when I had this idea to do the show, I thought, well, I need to get mugs and then send them to each of my guests, so it really does look like we’re even though we’re virtual, it looks like we’re really having coffee together. So, thank you for being here.
Nancy: That was a very good PR idea I must say. [laughs]
Kate: Oh, and we’re here to talk about PR today. You get 10 points for that one.
Nancy: Yeah. [laughs] Thank you.
Kate: All right. So, we’re going to dig in, I think we’re going to be getting a lot of people coming in here, who really want to know about how they can be using PR in their business. For people who are on or know me and my background, my whole background is from PR. I was in PR for over 20 years and I was both in for profit and nonprofit. I got my start as a journalist at CBS Evening News with Dan Rather as an intern. And then – and then, I realized that jour – a career as a journalist wasn’t really going to work well for me, so like all journalists do, you turn to PR. [laughs] So, anyway, I went into public relations and public relations back then which would have been the early 90s is very different from today’s public relations. So, tell me, Nancy, when you – when peo – when you talk to people about sort of today’s PR, how do you describe why PR is important in their business?
Nancy: Well, PR helps you connect with your targeted audiences. And I think – I think the difference between back then and now is now, we start with identifying our avatar or the personas that we’re trying to connect with. And you can actually even write a story about like who is the person you’re trying to connect with and then you use PR to convey your messages or tell stories on an ongoing basis to that avatar.
Whereas, back in the day and you will remember, but I mean, my first PR job was in a public television station and I made a list of all the newspaper editors around the state. And I like got in my car literally drove around and went out to lunch with each of them. [laughs]
Actually, I still have a relationship with some of them, I mean, they’re all like pretty old now. [laughs]
Kate: Well, you bring up a good point though. PR is another way to build relationships. I think a lot of people don’t see it that way, I think they have visions of press releases and how to like get on TV and stuff like that and there’s just so much more to it, right?
Nancy: Well, I think of marketing and PR as the art and science of building a relationship with your audience. As a matter of fact, I have my book here, Grow Your Audience, Grow Your Brand, and I feel that in order to grow your brand, you need to have an ongoing conversation an ongoing relationship in a variety of different places.
And when I say places, I mean whether that’s Instagram or Facebook or LinkedIn or whether people are seeing articles about you in newspapers and magazines or stories on radio and television. So, but even back in the day, like in the 80s when I first started out, we used to talk about kind of assaulting the senses of our people.
And that’s when I worked at Sugarloaf, the ski resort.
Kate: In Maine, right?
Nancy: Yeah. I was the PR person there, you know, starting in the mid-80s and back then we were thinking about billboards in Boston. You know, we wanted to have billboards that people would see while they’re driving on I93 on their way north out of Boston.
Nancy: And we wanted them to read about us at the Boston Globe and hear about us on – on channel 5 TV in Boston. And, but now, we don’t have to depend so much on the reporters and editors because we actually can become content producers ourselves.
Nancy: Our styles have, I think that’s a big shift is now it’s great to have those relationships because the media outlets obviously their websites have great credibility and...
Nancy: Domain authority. But, we also can use our own media outlets and create our own content and not depend on the reporters and editors.
Kate: Right. So, before we go any further, we got a couple of people that have hopped on. Lisa Danforth, who I know you happen to know.
Nancy: Hi, Lisa. [laughs] It’s great.
Kate: And, Leanne, thank you for tuning in. She’s saying hello to both of us as well, so I’ll pop her...
Nancy: Hi, Leanne.
Kate: I’ll pop her up here. And, Lisa, thanks for tuning in. As always I appreciate it. In fact, Lisa is the one that introduced me to you, Nancy, at an Agents of Change Conference in Portland, Maine I think three or four years ago.
Nancy: Yeah. That seems like ages ago because I don’t know about you, but I feel like the past year seems like ten years. [laughs]
Kate: Yeah, I know. I know. Right. I know, this whole year just feels so strange. Thank goodness for these technological tools though.
Nancy: I know. Actually, I was just writing about that. I was writing about can you imagine if we had had to go through the pandemic with no internet, like what that would have been like? [laughs]
Kate: I don’t think it would have been – I don’t think it would have been very pretty. [laughs]
Nancy: No. [laughs]
Kate: So, let’s – let’s talk a little bit more about today’s PR because I think a lot of people especially people who are more my age in their 40s and 50s still think of PR like I mentioned earlier it’s like the traditional press release, where you write up a press release and you literally, you know, email it out or back in the day when we used to fax it, remember that?
Nancy: Oh, yeah, I remember that.
Kate: And, you know, you put it on letterhead and you’d have, you know, your lead and all of that and who, what, where, and why. And this press release I still think people are stuck in that mindset that there still needs to be a press release.
And I don’t think the press release what I share to people and let me know what you say is that I say a press release is still a good tool for you to create, but you’re not necessarily going to distribute it like you used to.
First of all, a lot of news outlets just to make sure that if you want to distribute a press release, you got to go into their form on their website and fill it out. They don’t want you sending them PDF.
So, what do you have to say about that?
Nancy: Well, I think a press release is just one tool in your toolbox. And I do think that a lot of times journalists like to have the press release. But, it is just that, it’s a tool. And I feel like almost anybody can create a press release. But, I always say where the rubber hits the road is your ability to actually pitch that story to journalists.
So, I think media pitching is really important. And media pitching takes on a lot of different flavors depending on who the journalist is and that’s part of our job as PR people is to know which journalist like you to contact them by email, which actually like an old-fashioned. There still are people that like you to call them on the telephone, believe it or not.
Nancy: And there are some who like you to contact them through Twitter.
Nancy: Or even pitching what’s happening on Instagram messaging now. So, the key I think to being a really good PR person is to know how the journalist like to be contacted and that’s part of having a relationship with these journalists.
And, I feel that part of my success over the years has been building relationships. I really value that one-to-one and I mean, even in 80s, like I had databases, where I would keep track of how exactly people wanted to be contacted then, whether it was by fax or in the mail or telephone call. And, of course, now, there are so many more options.
Kate: Yeah, exactly.
So, you bring up a good point, I want to get to media pitching in a second to just let people know more about what you mean by that. But, you also made a good point about it is so important that you understand who you want to send the pitch too, like we used to call it back in the day. We used to say you need to know the reporter’s beat. Like you needed to know what do they cover. Do, they cover crime? Do they cover business? You know, what’s the thing that they do?
And that’s used – that was back when the press pool was much bigger and a lot of these places had beats with lots of reporters in each of them. Today, I think our press rooms are a little smaller and people are covering more things, but there’s still way – how do people find out who to reach out to, so that when they send a pitch, they know who to send it to by whether it’s by going to the website or whatever. What do you recommend?
Nancy: Well, I use Twitter a lot. Twitter I think is kind of like a secret weapon for PR people today because most journalist are on Twitter and you can search on Twitter for that beat that you’re looking to send your release or your pitch to.
Nancy: And you could also start following people on Twitter and liking their stuff and commenting, so that they recognize who you are. So, you kind of build the relationship on Twitter before you go in for the pitch.
[0:10:00] You know, you should be giving either recognition or a shout out or whatever, so that you’re not asking for something right out of the gate.
Kate: Right. Right. So, tell us what you mean by pitching a journalist?
Nancy: Okay. So, again, we still do press releases for – we’re working with the brand new restaurant right now for example and we did a press release, but it wasn’t picked up that broadly. So now, we’re actually going one by one to journalist and following up and sometimes with different angles, like the restaurant we’re working with is farm to table.
So, for some of the journalists, we know they’re interested maybe in vegan cooking.
Nancy: So, we’re contacting that journalist saying this restaurant has quite a few options on the menu that were vegan. Or we’re also – this particular restaurant is in a college town and there are those that write about travel to college towns and so, we’re contacting travel writers and following up.
And so, instead of something that being a blanket pitch or a blanket message, with a pitch you’re saying hello whoever, you know and using their name.
Nancy: I know that you like to write about travel in college towns and we have this hotel and restaurant in a college town. So, you know making it more personal and you’re showing that person that you’ve done some homework.
Kate: It’s very important that you’re going to, you know, you – people need to remember that journalists, reporters get hundreds of emails a day with stories and ideas.
Kate: And, everybody thinks their idea is the best one. [laughs]
Kate: Especially – especially I think a lot of people who are in the nonprofit arena, but you know they just get hundreds and so, when you show that you’ve done your due diligence, you’ve done your homework as to what they like to write about and you follow them for awhile and given them shout outs and stuff, I think you’re going to be more likely to have your pitch or your email looked at, yes?
Nancy: Yes. And, sometimes you might be sharing a story idea that has nothing to do with the client. You might share a story idea because you know the journalist is interested in writing about casinos and there’s a new casino opening, but it might not even be a client.
But, you know, having a few gimmicks like that, where you’re sharing something. Or, the other thing is some journalists like to write about things in threes especially those that have to cover national stories.
So, again, I talk about travel a lot. You know, if you’re representing a new museum, an art museum for example, you might want to say, well, I’m representing this museum here in Maine. However, there are two other similar museums in Arizona and in Oregon that are similar.
And, oh, Lesli...
Kate: Yeah, Lesli, she just – she just reacted to what we’re saying, be a resource.
Nancy: That’s awesome. I actually, I tell my team sometimes that we are like the servants to the media and some people don’t like to think of themselves like that. But, we have to be of service and be a resource and you know...
Kate: Well, Lesli – Lesli has just made this – this comment. Lesli is the director of underwrite – corporate underwriting support for Vermont Public Radio. So, thanks for listening, Lesli, and thanks for your comment.
But, it’s just so true. In fact, when I was coming up as a journalist over time, it was something that I naturally did is that whenever I found a story idea that I thought this particular journalist or news outlet would appreciate, I would reach out. It had nothing to do with me, it had nothing do with the client or whom – with whom I work. It was truly just out of literally being helpful.
And then, when it came time for me to ask something, they were already like we had a connection and they were appreciative because I wasn’t always just about me.
Nancy: Yeah. You always think about your bank account of goodwill.
Nancy: And you want to start with a good balance in your bank account and then, you know, sometimes bad things happen. Sometimes, there might – you might be involved in the scandal or something bad.
Nancy: And that it helps if you’ve already got a good bank balance, so you could afford to withdrawal without going into the negatives.
Kate: [laughs] An excellent analogy. In fact – in fact, let’s touch on that just a little bit. In today’s world of, you know, social media and people posting stuff and I don’t want to get into the negatives too much. But, we’ve seen a lot of, you know, vitriol and things like that, whether it was, you know, political, religious, whatever, people I think feel more comfortable saying something not very kind to people because they’re not looking at them in the eye, right?
Kate: From the PR standpoint, if your business or organization or your place of business is – gets like for example let’s just say a bad review. Let’s say somebody went to your restaurant and they didn’t like their meal and then they go on social media.
[0:15:05] And normally, your food is always just fabulous and everybody loves you, but somebody does something like this. Do people actually come to you as a PR agency to help them with something like this if it gets really out of hand?
Nancy: Well, we – I do have a crisis communications division in my agency and actually I have a partner who works with me who was 40 years with the Maine State Police doing crisis communications.
Nancy: So, that is part of our business. But, in that example, if I own a restaurant and there’s a really bad review, I would recommend going on and thanking the person, showing that you really appreciate the feedback and that you’re paying attention and then try to take the conversation offline, so that you don’t get into a back and forth.
There’s nothing worse than dickering back and forth with somebody on...
Nancy: In the comments. So, I think it’s appropriate to go on one time, again, show gratitude for the feedback, you know, this is not normal, we are always trying to improve. And I would like to learn more about it, so please call me here on my telephone number and give your number.
Kate: Yeah. I think that that’s always – I’ve always told people, that’s actually an opportunity to show your level of customer service, your level of the fact that you simply do care, that you do want to help and you’d like to, you know, right the wrong, so to speak. But, taking it offline is important, playing it out, I don’t think it’s anything that really needs to happen. Mostly, people just want to be heard.
Nancy: Oh, yeah. I always – I always say that a lot of those people are like babies crying, like, “Waa waa, come get me mama. Come get me.” And they just need – they just need a little love. [laughs]
Kate: Well, they do. They need a little control.
Kate: Right. Right.
All right. So, let’s – let’s also – let’s talk a little bit about – about you and your agency. Just give us a little brief synopsis of – of how you actually created your own agency and the types of clients that you work with because I know you work with -- I know you’re in Maine, so I know you have a lot of Maine clients, but you also have some national clients.
Nancy: Well, today, actually is the 30th anniversary of my agency, like April 1st, 1991.
Kate: Well, we have to toast to that. We need to toast to that, Nancy. All right. Congratulations. I had no idea.
Nancy: It’s been a lot of work. [laughs] It’s a lot, I mean, it’s very fulfilling. I feel like I was born for this and I’m so glad that I found a career that was made for me or I was made for it.
But, yeah, so when I started 30 years ago, I had worked at Sugarloaf at the ski resort and it got to the point where they just didn’t want to continue paying me on a year round basis. And they suggested why don’t you start an agency and we’ll contract with you.
And, at the time I was like, oh, you know, you don’t need me all the time. Thank you, Leanne. [laughs] At the time, my feelings were a little hurt, but there’s – I’m so glad that this happened because they identified me as an entrepreneur and I really am an entrepreneur.
So, initially we were mostly working in tourism. We had – we had the ski area, we had a rafting company, we had a windjammer that sail the coast of Maine. And then, we had a chamber of commerce that put on a moose festival.
Kate: Of course, if you’re in Maine, it’s got to be something about moose, right?
Nancy: Yeah, or lobsters.
Kate: Or lobsters, yeah.
Nancy: But, then, over the years, we started doing more economic development marketing and then we developed what we call the Marshall Plan, which is our form or a strategic marketing communications strategy and that’s something that we do now.
We like to do a Marshall Plan for client as a way to get started to really do that in-depth discovery and understand their targeted audiences and their competition and their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. And establish their brand manifesto and create a message map, which is a really important tool that we use.
So, our clients now are in tourism economic development. A lot of government, we do a lot of municipalities, we’ve done counties, we’ve done state governments, and we’ve done some federal government work as well. So...
Kate: And when you’re working with municipalities, I’m just curious, what kind – what kind of like PR work are you doing for municipalities?
Nancy: We’ve done several of our Marshall Plans to helping municipalities to define their unique brand and to attract more visitors, where there’s tourism or businesses economic development.
Nancy: Our most successful municipality was the city of Saco, Maine.
Kate: I’ve been there.
Nancy: Yeah, which we helped them that we came up with a new tagline, which was friendly by nature. Because they had gotten a lot of national recognition for being like pet friendly and elderly friendly and family friendly. And so, we knew they were friendly and then, they have a lot of natural attributes like being on the coast of Maine.
And so, yeah, they’re using their new branding, then they developed a new website. And, again, we help them create their brand story and identify who their targeted audience was for tourism and for economic development and they had tremendous success attracting new businesses and attracting new residents and growing the tax base.
So, that’s essentially why municipalities like to do brand marketing of this type and public...
Kate: Okay. So, you mentioned the people work – do the Marshall Plan, can you just give us a snapshot of what the Marshall Plan is just so that they have an understanding of it being a tool?
Nancy: Yeah. I mean, we have this 65-step process, it’s quite a complex process. We do it in three months. We start with like a three-hour discovery meeting, where we go through everything that they have done in the past as far as marketing that has been successful or not.
And then, we talk about what are their goals and objectives. And then, we get into, you know, what kind of publicity coverage they’ve had in the past and then, what are their wildest dreams for the future.
And, you know, we’re working with another municipality now that is very environmentally sustainable. They really want to be known for sustainability. So, we’re working on a new logo and a new tagline and new branding for the city to help attract more businesses that want to be environmentally sustainable.
Kate: So, there really is an overlap between PR and marketing, I mean, especially if you work in a bigger agency or corporate environment or something. PR and marketing should be talking to each other. [laughs]
Nancy: Oh, yeah, definitely and sales too.
Kate: And sales as well.
Nancy: I look at PR and marketing sort of set the stage, so that when sales walks onto the stage, then can close business faster. So, marketing kind of creates the backdrop and PR makes the connections and then sales is the one that closes the sales that drive the revenue.
Kate: Right. When I was coming up to the PR ranks, I used to feel sometimes that businesses and organizations will look at public relations and PR as a nice to have, not necessarily a need to have.
So, in other words, if things got tight, a lot of times the PR division or the PR person got cut from – from the budget because they didn’t see it as something valuable. What do you – what do you say to that?
Nancy: Well, as soon as something really horrible happens and they have no relationships with the media, they’re going to realize that it would have paid to have those relationships.
I mean, having those relationships not only with the media, but also with the public, it’s priceless.
Kate: It is priceless.
Nancy: Yeah. And, I mean, I have such good relationships now with the media that they call me when they need a story.
Nancy: Or you know I write columns for Mainebiz newspaper. And, the other day, the editor contacted me because the digital editor is going to be out all week next week and he just needs columns. He’s like, “Please, can you write more of how to columns?”
Nancy: I went, “Sure, you know, I can pump those out all day long.”
Kate: What would you suggest to like the solo entrepreneur, you know, like the – the speaker, author, coach, business coach when – and as far as like the building relationship piece. Do you feel it’s important for the – even the solo entrepreneur to reach out to certain channels on their own to do that because they don’t necessarily have the agency or the resources for the agency?
Nancy: It’s even more important. That person needs to be a thought leader. That person needs to be sought out. The way you, I mean, you’re the perfect example of someone who has – has – you own the LinkedIn authority. You know, you are known for that. So, you know, you are definitely a thought leader and...
Kate: Thank you. I didn’t expect that, but go ahead.
Nancy: Oh, yeah. Well, I mean you have carved out that space and you chose that niche and you – you put your stake in the ground as an authority on LinkedIn. And that was a very smart thing to do.
[0:25:00] So, I mean, when people think of LinkedIn authorities, they think of Kate Paine.
Kate: Well, I mean, I hope so. But, there’s certainly a lot of others out there as well.
But, for the person who is, you know, like a business coach or has written a first book or is in the process and obviously, they’re a thought leader in a certain space too. Is it worthwhile for them, should they be reaching out to their journalist in their own community or should they be reaching out to national?
I think there’s some confusion sometimes like I also think sometimes especially we as women sometimes I think we sometimes think a little small and we think, oh, well, if I tried to reach out to national, they’re – that’s not going to happen.
But, I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. I think it kind of goes back to the following them on Twitter like you said earlier. But, what – what would be one or two things they could do to start building those relationships as a solo entrepreneur with journalist?
Nancy: Well, again, you want to be findable online. So, it’s probably going to be easier to reach out to the editor of your local business newspaper and either offer to write a column or say, you know, I’ve just won this award or whatever and try to get some publicity locally.
I think of it in concentric circle, so you know if you live here, just start with the...
Nancy: With the media in your immediate area and then keep building out and out. But, once you’ve got some articles and some, you know, you want to have your name show up on a lot of different websites not just your own site.
But, once you’ve got some links on some other publications and media outlets, then you can reach out even to the Wall Street Journal. I mean they like to have contacts and examples from local communities around the country.
So, I mean, you’re not going to get a story in the Wall Street Journal every time you contact them, but it’s going to build the relationship and they’ll remember you especially if you’re responsive and you – you’re of service to them.
Kate: Right. I agree. I always suggest people start small, start with where you are more likely to have some success. And then, as you start and then – and then once you get those opportunities, make sure that you’re putting them on your website, make sure that you’re putting them on your LinkedIn profile.
Because then, when people do find you maybe through a search, you’ve already started to establish some authority, they can hear you speak, they can tell that you’re articulate or they can read your article and know that you’re a good writer and that you obviously are knowledgeable about your topic.
So, I agree with you like build it out. And it’s – it’s – it’s like I say about using LinkedIn, it’s a slow dance to do this too, because it takes a while to build relationships, it takes a while to build the authority and you got to be patient. It’s not going to be this overnight success.
There’s a guy in my LinkedIn user group, Andy Foote. I’ve interviewed him on this show before. And, as Andy Foote said, “It took me 10 years to become an overnight success.”
Nancy: [laughs] That’s awesome. Yeah. I mean, what we all have to think is people need to know you, like you, and trust you in order to want to do business with you.
So, I mean, doing business with you and imparting money, hard-earned dollars, there has to be a certain element of trust that if they think you’re a scam artist, they’re not going to spend money with you.
So, you know, we all know scam artist. I mean, I can identify so many of them online all the time.
Kate: All the time.
Nancy: And you can just tell. You could just smell it, you know.
Kate: It makes you feel oogie just reading it. Yeah.
Nancy: Yeah. Yeah. But, we’re not like that because we value personal relationships and you know we have integrity and we have good reputation and you know we work every day.
Nancy: We’re talking for you and me and all of our listeners I’m sure, who, you know...
Nancy: That they really take their reputation seriously, because your reputation is, I mean, again, it’s everything.
Kate: Your personal brand equals your reputation and your reputation is made up of your integrity, your values, and certainly your professional expertise.
Kate: How you want to be known for what you do, that top of mind awareness thing. So, your reputation really matters.
So, if anybody who’s listening, if anybody has any questions, anything, there’s – and remember, there’s no such thing as a stupid question. Please ask anything because PR is one of those areas, you know, I’ve been in it a long time that people just don’t necessarily really understand. They’re like, is it marketing, is it this? And it’s a little bit of a lot. But, yeah, I think Nancy’s helped really illustrate what it is.
Let’s talk a little bit more and then if people pop in with questions, I’ll put them up on the screen.
Let’s just talk a little bit about – so, you know my favorite area is LinkedIn and I like to help people when they’re – when they’re working on their LinkedIn personal profile, my biggest piece of work first is before we even get to LinkedIn is that we talk about their personal brand.
[0:30:10] Because a lot of times, people sort of know what it is, but they don’t know how to package it, they don’t know how to write about it. They don’t know how to message it, they don’t know how to position it.
So, that’s some of the first work we do is like let’s really make sure we understand who you are, what you do, and how you help, so that you know that, so that when you talk about it through your website, your blog, or your LinkedIn profile, you talk about it in a way that is confident and succinct and helpful.
So, when I’m working with certain people on their LinkedIn profile, I’m saying to you to them, “You know what? Also think of your LinkedIn profile, your personal profile page as a PR tool. Because if people find you and like if a journalist is doing research and they’re maybe considering you as a source or if they’ve happened upon you through a Google or LinkedIn search, the better your LinkedIn profile is the better you’re serving that journalist.”
Can you speak to anything about that?
Nancy: Sure. Well, first of all, I should say that you helped me with my LinkedIn, which was a wonderful process to go through. And I thank you for doing that. And, one of the reasons that LinkedIn is so important is it is a great big reputable website with high domain authority.
And, again, people might be confused about what domain authority is, but basically, you know, a big site like the Wall Street Journal site or like LinkedIn that are curated and, you know, they are professionally edited and maintained and they’re kept current. Those sites will show up sooner in a Google search than a little, you know, Podunk newspaper that maybe doesn’t really update very often.
Kate: Right. Right.
Nancy: So, that’s one thing. And then, your personal brand. Oh, my gosh, I could talk all day long about your personal brand, but...
Kate: We could talk for hours, couldn’t we?
Nancy: I love personal branding and I actually should give a shout out to William Arruda, who is a thought leader in the area of personal branding. And he – he had a company called Reach Personal Branding, that offers certifications in personal branding and social personal branding.
Kate: Does he still have it?
Nancy: He sold the company. There still is – it’s now called Career Thought Leaders.
Kate: Oh, okay.
Nancy: And it’s a little more HR oriented.
Kate: Oh, okay.
Nancy: But, he told me that I was the person that had taken all of his principles and apply them to PR the best or the most. And I got...
Kate: I followed his blog and followed him and watched his webinars and things like that. Yeah.
Nancy: Yeah. So, actually, through him, I realized because I have kind of [laughs] very extroverted personality and for years...
Kate: You have?
Nancy: I thought when I was like professional I had to be more buttoned up and like suppressed who I really was. And then, because of him and actually with a little bit of listening to Oprah and Gayle King, you know, those people helped me accept that I’m – I can put it all together. I can – because that makes me stand out.
Nancy: Because I am known for my enthusiasm and for my very loud laugh. And, you know, I am a very extrovert. I’m all the Es; energetic, extroverted, enthusiastic. And so, I made that all part of my personal brand.
Kate: Well, it’s not even that you even necessarily had to make it. It’s because it’s who you are, so you actually embraced it.
Nancy: Yeah. Yeah, I did. I did. Because I used to kind of like – I used to say, well, I have my private life and then, professionally I was like trying to be a little more buttoned down. And now, I’m just showing myself as I am and...
Kate: Which I think our world does now. I think that’s when I and in fact, I think that’s actually if there’s an upside to the pandemic, I think one of the things just because we’ve all been on Zoom and we’ve all been locked down, that we’re all letting ourselves literally and figuratively be more of ourselves online.
Nancy: One person who does a good job of that is Gini Dietrich of Spin Sucks. I don’t know if you’ve ever interviewed her. But, if you haven’t I recommend...
Kate: I do. I know Gini. I met her at Agents of Change.
Nancy: Yeah. She is somebody who I really admire because she puts it all out there and has been sharing daily, you know, how life in quarantine has been...
Kate: You did – she did a post on Facebook every single day all 365 days of, you know, lockdown, whatever. And she did a really lovely wrap up on 365 because she was like, “I’m still going to post, but I’m not going to do it daily.”
Gini, G-I-N-I, Dietrich, D-I-E-T-R-I-C-H. I can’t put it in the comments because it won’t show on LinkedIn.
Nancy: Spin Sucks.
Kate: And Spin Sucks is her business and her book – and her book is phenomenal and it’s by the same name, Spin Sucks.
Kate: In fact, what a nice segue you just gave me.
Kate: Gini – Gini writes a lot about a PR term that we should explain to people and it’s called The PESO Model, Paid, Earned, Search – and what’s the O?
Kate: And Organic, yeah. So, before we get there though, I just wanted James Tucker, who is – thanks for joining us, James. He is in Europe, I believe. And pops into Lisa’s LinkedIn lives and mine often and so I appreciate that.
Nancy: He has a nice big smile too. I like that, James.
Kate: He does. Oh, thank you. James, I didn’t even read it before I put it up there. But, thank you. I humbled and appreciative that you shared that and I’m glad it’s helped you stand out.
Bob Farnham is a personal frontline actually. He loves Gini. If Bob was live right now, he would say something about a story he has with Gini that I think it was over Twitter or something. Correct me if I’m wrong, Bob. But, somehow someway, you’re going to cook dinner for her someday.
Kate: And that’s a little kind of an inside joke that Bob has with Gini when they’re posting things online.
So, another – another example actually by what I just shared with you of people building relationships with people online especially if they’re in that world, where you want to learn more. Because then, you create that relationship that is so – cements what you want to do in business going forward whether it’s an ask or a give.
Nancy: It speeds up. Just like I said previously that PR and marketing set the stage to speed up the sale. Just having a relationship speeds up accomplishing whatever you want.
For example, you know, I have a very good relationship with the Associated Press bureau chief here in Maine. And, I mean, we actually we’re not on first name basis, we’re in a last name basis because that’s what the old newsroom...
Nancy: People use.
Nancy: So, his name is David Sharp. So, you know, when I have a story idea, I can just say, “Sharp, what do you think about this? What are...?” And he’s very honest with me. You know, sometimes he doesn’t like all my ideas, but he responds very quickly like I – because we have that relationship, he pays attention if I contact him.
Kate: I’ve built that too. To this day, I don’t – I don’t call in ideas as much mostly because just my clients are all over the world, so I’m not as sort of Vermont centric as I used to be.
Kate: But, I still even I sometimes just reach out and just say, “Hey, I was thinking of you today. Hope you’re well. Hope you’re making it through the pandemic and had nothing to do with the news story.”
Kate: Again, it’s just showing that you – that you care about people or something.
So, back to the PESO mode, Paid Earned Search Organic, Gini writes about it a lot in Spin Sucks. Describe what that is, so that – in a 101 way?
Nancy: Well, these are all different ways that we can communicate our key messages to our targeted audiences. So, again, a Marshall plan strategy would include all these various pieces.
So, Paid would be paid advertising. So, that could be either traditional advertising, buying ads on television or radio or in the newspaper or magazines or paid social.
So, you can do paid...
Kate: Facebook ads and?
Nancy: Yeah, every social take. And then, Earned is what we do – previously, we have done on PR, which is getting articles in the media. So, that’s called earned media.
Then, Search is standing out online. So, showing up when people search either for your name or search for something that you do. You want to be the one that shows up first. If somebody is looking for a plumber or an electrician or, you know, a career counselor, you want to be the one that Google identifies as being the best match for that person who’s...
Kate: So, keywords are really important that in your content, the keywords you’re using on your website and in your social?
Nancy: Yeah, keywords, but don’t do keyword stuffing.
Kate: No, I don’t mean keyword stuffing. No, no, no.
Nancy: Yeah. [laughs]
Kate: No. But, knowing what they keywords are for your space for your industry and incorporating those words and organically in your language and your post, your blogs, your vlogs, and your website.
Nancy: Exactly. And showing up online in a lot of different places too, I mean, you can’t just rely on your own website.
Nancy: That’s another reason for using all these other methods.
[0:39:58] So, the final letter in the PESO model is O for Organic and that’s what we call organic search. So, in order to come up in organic search, you need to have good SEO, which is using keywords.
Nancy: And, also, Google looks at the intent of a search or two. Like, Google is so smart, I always say Google is like Santa Claus and Google knows if you’ve been bad or good and will either reward or punish you accordingly.
Kate: Well, that’s true. I always used to say Google slap, you know like...
Kate: If you’re keyword stuff, you’re going to get a Google slap.
Nancy: Exactly. You’re going to get punished.
Kate: They will ding you.
Nancy: Yeah. I want to go back to personal branding for a second too. One of the big things about having a strong personal brand is you want to be the one that shows up when people are searching for the thing you do.
So, if you’re a lawyer, a criminal – say you’re a criminal lawyer. You want to be the criminal lawyer who shows up when somebody searches for that or you know sign maker, you want to be the one.
And, again, it’s a long slug to get there, you have to be – you’re actually creating content in a lot of different ways on an ongoing basis. This is one of the things that I love the most about the new PR is just content creation and I have to say I’m a little obsess with it. I just think about it all the time.
It’s like, oh, I want to write an article about, you know, pitching or I want to write an article about SEO or whatever. And I love doing that, it’s a lot of fun.
Kate: Well, one of the things that you do based on what you just said is that you write – you have some kind of a relationship with Forbes, where you write articles for Forbes. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Nancy: Yeah. I’m part of the Forbes agency counsel. And I contribute column every month. And so, that’s part of my thought leadership strategy. And, of course, the Forbes brand as a powerful... [crosstalk]
And then, Forbes itself then shares my articles to their audience and then, I’m able to share it with my audience, so, yeah. And, those articles are highly curated, like they spend a lot of time, first of all, fact checking to make sure everything is accurate and making sure that it’s all original thought.
Nancy: And, I can’t just go in there and promote my own clients or my own brand. It has to be helpful to the audience.
Nancy: So, that goes back to the being helpful and being a resource in everything we do.
Kate: Right. Right.
All right. Let’s shift gears a little bit because we’re getting towards the end. So, I just want to remind people. So, if anybody has a comment about something they’ve done that’s been PR oriented in their business, put it in the comments. Or if you have a question for Nancy about PR or tool maybe or strategy or methodology, certainly ask the question.
But, let’s just switch gears a little bit. So, Nancy, a couple of years ago, you actually took a big bold move to create your own podcast called the PR Maven, which I love.
Tell us about your podcast?
Nancy: Yeah. So, I created in 2018 and it has...
Kate: 18? Wow.
Nancy: Yes. It has become a big part of my business and my life. You know, I had to look at, you know, what do I like doing the most and I like exactly what we’re doing right now talking. [laughs]
Nancy: So, and it’s a really great way, again, to position yourself as a thought leader and also to affiliate yourself with other thought leaders. So, for example, John Lee Dumas, who’s from the state of Maine originally and very well known author and speaker. And he actually has a daily podcast called Entrepreneurs on Fire. So, I’ve had him on my podcast.
But, I also interview current and prospective clients as well. So, it’s a really great way to nurture client relationships and sales because it’s very flattering to a person to have them on your podcast. I mean, I’m very flattered to be on your podcast today.
And it’s a way, again, to show your association with that person. I mean, you’ve done an amazing job promoting this podcast with me, you know, leading actually...
Kate: Actually, a webcast just because I don’t have a formal podcast.
Kate: Just so I don’t confuse anybody.
Nancy: Yeah. [laughs] So, yeah, my podcast was audio only until literally today, I’m doing my first two podcasts with StreamYard. So, it is going to be audio and video as well this afternoon.
Kate: That’s what I’m using, StreamYard, right now. I love StreamYard.
Nancy: I would have never thought. You know, it’s like, again, it’s like one of the other changes that we’ve made in the past year.
Nancy: You know, here I am at my home office and I’m going to be broadcasting from right here.
Kate: Well, I was flattered when you invited me to be one of your first guests, right? When you started your podcast. I think I was episode 8.
Nancy: Yes. And you’re still in the top 10 of the most popular ever.
Kate: Oh, really?
Kate: That’s cool.
Nancy: When I checked the rankings, I think you’re right in the top 10 still.
Kate: Well, you know, you had your one year anniversary and I think you were having a little gathering in Maine and I was – I was literally had it in my calendar. I was going to try to get there and then something came up last minute and I could not, because I was so excited for you that you had done that. And I love the name PR Maven.
So, who is a good – who’s like an ideal listener to listen to your podcast?
Nancy: I find that there’s a lot of people that are in-house marketing managers or PR people working for companies. And I think they dream of perhaps having their own agency or their own business someday.
So, my ideal listener is somebody who is kind of maybe stuck in the job that they don’t love and then, they see me smiling and having so much fun doing what I do. They’re like, “Wow, that seems pretty appealing.” So, that is one ideal listener.
The other ideal listener is somebody who has their own business and knows the PR would help them, but isn’t really sure how to do it exactly.
So, let – if somebody wanted to talk to you about, you know, work you do for them, do you have basically like is it just sort of one level of service or can you do like if it’s a small business, you have a service that’s more aligned with a small business and then you got the Marshall Plan and the things for maybe the bigger business or organization?
Is there any – anything you can share with us about that? Like what type of people you serve best?
Nancy: We actually serve companies best that have an in-house PR or marketing person.
Nancy: Who needs the support kind of like of a department behind them. We probably aren’t that ideally suited for a startup.
Nancy: We’re more suited for either an established business or a municipality and we like to have that in-house person.
For example, one of our clients right now is Puritan Medical Products, which is the only manufacturer of the swabs for COVID-19 testing in the whole United States. And one of only two manufacturers in the world that can make those – they’re called Flock Tip Swabs for COVID.
And they’re located here in the state of Maine, but they’re expanding very fast.
Kate: I bet.
Nancy: And, they have in-house marketing person who really didn’t have much PR experience at all. So, I’m kind of like her confidante. You know, we talk on a daily basis. And I’m helping them kind of navigate. I’m helping them sort through all the media request that they get and help them decide, you know, which ones to take on and then doing media training and coaching with their executives. And that’s really an ideal client for us.
Kate: Okay. Great.
So, as we’re wrapping up, I know one of the things that we’ve both talked about that I think we would preach it until the cows come home is that the building relationships matter, building relationships with the press with journalists, with your client, everybody. I mean, building relationships across the board.
But, so other than that, what would be one of your top one or two takeaways for people today about using PR in their business, regardless of the size of their business?
Nancy: Journalists are human beings, and just like any human being, they like to be acknowledged. So, before you reach out to them, they want you to have read some or watched some of their stories and to know what they’re interested in and acknowledged some of their previous work, not just go in for the kill... [crosstalk]
Nancy: And, like all human beings, they like to be thanked for doing something. So, I am a huge advocate of thank you notes. I’m sitting here at my desk and I have big stacks of note cards here and piles of stamps and I write thank you notes all the time.
And, I actually save the notes that I get, so I have – I have big piles of mail here because I like to look at it. And I just I’m sort of a pen pal person. I write and receive letters from a lot of people and they mean a lot to me.
And I think that letter writing is sort of a lost art.
Kate: I agree.
Nancy: And you’ll really stand out from the crowd if you write a handwritten note and send it the mail – in the mail as opposed to texting or emailing a thank you.
Kate: And if you don’t do the note though, I do – because I’m friends with several journalists. Even an email thank you is still appreciated too. It’s better than nothing, just showing that you appreciate that they took the time and made the effort.
[0:50:03] And it’s just, you know, it goes a long way because it can be a pretty thankless job, you know, and the news cycle is so fast in this day and age because of social media, things are happening like this all the time.
Nancy: Which brings me to one other point.
Nancy: The news cycle is so fast and there aren’t that many reporters who specialized in one specific feat. So, you need to sort o educate people about your story.
So, you can’t assume that a reporter has – has a lot of knowledge about your industry when they come to do a story. It’s a good idea to, again, give them some background and feed them the sound bites that will go into their story.
And sound bites are really useful, journalists don’t like it if you just blabber on and on and on.
Nancy: Because then, they have to pick out most important points.
Kate: Being to the point and concise and it takes some time to learn that. So, it does, I mean, it took me a long time to realize that. And I try to use that even in my interviewing like this in this setting is, number one, be a good listener, try not to interrupt. And, number two is to, you know, let – let people share what they need to share.
Now, one of the things I’ve learned from interviewing is if somebody starts to go on too long, there’s ways where you can gently insert and go, “Hey, you just made a point – good point there. Can I interject for a moment and let’s unpack that a little bit?”
Kate: Like, that’s not necessarily an interruption, it’s just that sometimes we tend to especially when we get excited about our topic, we can start to go on a little too far and go off on a tangent. And so, it’s my responsibility as a host to sort of bring it back to what we were talking about.
Kate: I’m not saying you do that at all, Nancy.
Nancy: Yeah. [laughs]
Kate: I’m just echoing, I’m echoing what you’re saying about that journalists, you know, they appreciate the love.
Nancy: Yeah, they do.
Kate: So, as we end, tell us a little bit about your – you said – tell us how people can reach you? So, obviously they can connect with you on LinkedIn and let Nancy know that you – I’m connected to her – with her through being on Coffee with Kate.
Kate: Any other ways they can connect with you or learn from you?
Nancy: Well, email me at email@example.com. You can listen to my podcast on all the major podcast players, the PR Maven podcast. Yeah, and you can get it off of my agency website there. And, I’m on all the social media all the time. [laughs]
Kate: What’s your handle?
Nancy: Well, on Instagram, I’m Maine PR Maven.
Nancy: And, yeah, I have kind of become more of an instragrammer than – I mean, I do Facebook still too.
Nancy: It’s a little bit of a problem, but I justify because I need it for my business. But, I really like...
Kate: Well, there is Clubhouse, which is another whole thing. So, I don’t go there, but... [laughs]
Nancy: You know, I was born a social person and I sometimes say social media was created just for me because it allows me to socialize 24/7.
Kate: I know. I’ve said the same thing for me. I used to do a lot more than I do now because I started to sort of, I don’t know, I guess I don’t want to say I’m holding myself back, I’m just, I guess I’m just more judicious with what I do out there.
I used to and when it was fairly new, I felt like I put out everything because that’s what people were doing and I was like, “You know, I guess I don’t mean to put that out there.”
Nancy: Yeah. Right, exactly. [laughs]
Kate: So, anyway, Nancy, I can’t thank you enough for having coffee with me today.
Nancy: Yes. Thank you.
Kate: Thank you so much.
Nancy: I had a lot of fun. I really enjoyed it.
Kate: Well, thank you very much and I appreciate you making the time. And, everybody, please, if you have any questions, put them in the comments because this will show up as a replay. And I will be putting it out over the next few days for people to see the replay.
So, if you have questions, not too late to ask even if you watch the replay, put them in the comments. Either tag me or/and Nancy and one of us will be sure to answer your question.
Thank you again, Nancy.
Nancy: Okay. Have a great day everybody.
[0:54:24] End of audio
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