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How to Get PR for Your Company with Megan “Squeaky Wheel” Bennett who is a Partner at Light Years Ahead | Ep. 202 | Business Podcast

How to Get PR for Your Company with Megan “Squeaky Wheel” Bennett who is a Partner at Light Years Ahead | Ep. 202 | Business Podcast

How to Get PR for Your Company with Megan “Squeaky Wheel” Bennett who is a Partner at Light Years Ahead | Ep. 202 | Business Podcast

How to Get PR for Your Company with Megan “Squeaky Wheel” Bennett who is a Partner at Light Years Ahead | Ep. 202 | Business Podcast
How to Get PR for Your Company with Megan “Squeaky Wheel” Bennett who is a Partner at Light Years Ahead | Ep. 202 | Business Podcast

Summary

Megan Bennett is CEO of national boutique PR agency, Light Years Ahead. They’re dedicated to helping businesses, especially small entrepreneurs, build their images, often from scratch.

Megan is known in the industry as a fearless and relentless champion of her clients – one who catapulted a small Kansas City company to a quarter million-dollar upswing in sales after getting them featured on FoodandWine.com.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg! She has plenty of similar stories to tell, but best of all – she’s here to provide you with plenty of insights and actionable tips that you can use after listening , even you can’t afford to hire an outside PR agency right now.

This is a “how I built this” episode packed with tips you can use to get PR for your company.

Links from the show

Hello Friends,

Brandon:

Welcome to the Edge. Today we’re talking with Megan Bennett, the Ceo of Lightyears Ahead PR agency and Megan shares her story on how she created a PR agency and as importantly for you, how you can get PR for your company.

Brandon:

She drops a bunch of do it yourself tips so you can do it yourself and some advice on how to pitch people.

Brandon:

Here we go. Megan Bennett. Ceo of Lightyears Ahead PR agency.

Brandon:

Welcome to the Edge podcast, your weekly playbook about the inner game of building a successful business, making you a happier, healthier and richer business owner. And here’s your host, Brandon White, a Megan. How are you?

Brandon:

So nice to meet you, How are you doing? Great, thank you for having me on. Yeah, you’re welcome. I’ve been looking forward to it. You know, I gotta tell you something. It’s a really small world and here’s why because Andy Quinn, who has been on the show before, who is a cinematographer, sent me this t shirt, Oh my gosh, I just met him and I never, I never had heard of war horses for soft.

Brandon:

And he had sent me a text the other day and he was like, hey, what size are you?

Brandon:

And I was like, I’m a medium, what are you doing?

Brandon:

And I get this t shirt.

Brandon:

So then I’m reading about your firm and you and it comes to turned out that you represent warhorses for veterans.

Brandon:

Yeah, that’s our client, you know, what do they do?

Brandon:

Well, the T shirt you got is Special forces and I think I met it was Andy that I met a couple weeks ago because the company came out and he was shooting a commercial and they involved war horses in the commercial and he is amazing.

Brandon:

Um, it was for something for a line of supplements for horses.

Brandon:

So actually not only do I do pr for workers for veterans, but my family co founded the company back in, I think it was 2014 and so it’s just something that’s near and due to my heart, it is an equine experience that based, it’s based outside of Kansas city and basically it’s where they fly in combat veterans also.

Brandon:

They have local first responders and veterans here and they come through the program and work with courses for 3 to 5 days, sometimes there with some of the bodies from the military and they just find calm and purpose, they regroup, They do different things with the horses and with health, they cook meals together and by the end of the trip they feel most of the time totally renewed, rejuvenated and it helps them to network for jobs as well.

Brandon:

So it’s like something that gives them just a sense of security and camaraderie and you know, that’s what war horses is.

Brandon:

And actually When we first started, they didn’t have any recognition in 2017, I started to pitch them and got them on the today show And that sort of is what spearheaded them into becoming a national nonprofit to get that.org certification.

Brandon:

We made over $150,000 in donations from this one segment on the today show.

Brandon:

It was actually with Megyn Kelly back in 2017.

Brandon:

So that’s the power of pr right there, wow.

Brandon:

So your family founded the whole initiative.

Brandon:

They co founded it.

Brandon:

So it’s on my family’s property where I grew up and the co founder is pretty well known horse trainer in the United States and also a combat veteran who’s a former combat veteran.

Brandon:

And so he was working to train the horses.

Brandon:

And then they thought of this idea to turn this into a non profit and that’s how it got started.

Brandon:

And my parents just love veterans and have veterans and their family.

Brandon:

And so that’s why it came to be.

Brandon:

Well, that’s really cool.

Brandon:

It’s a small world, that’s really weird. Like what a small world.

Brandon:

Well, my dad actually lives in Kansas city now.

Brandon:

His offices in Westport.

Brandon:

Oh my gosh, So I’ve actually spent time, I think you’re, you’re located in near Overland Park.

Brandon:

Is that your casa?

Brandon:

It’s about 20 minutes away. I mean, you know, I’m sort of in the suburbs where the families live and and then, but I, I mean, I go to Westport sometimes. It’s really nice over there. So trendy place, it seems to be, but he’s been there for, I want to say over 20 years.

Brandon:

And there used to be a vinyl record shop I used to go to as a kid, it still may be there.

Brandon:

It was on the corner, right down from the coffee shop and uh, just like a cool hip place.

Brandon:

Yeah, totally.

Brandon:

Especially for Kansas city. Well, I think Kansas city is sort of a forgotten city. Look, I don’t know how you all do it. I’m a ocean guy. So I got to be near the ocean. But Kansas City is an undiscovered sort of hidden thing that has all sorts of great, has great brisket for sure.

Brandon:

And then I don’t know if you remember there used to be a restaurant on the plaza that played ragtime jazz on saturday or sunday nights and I used to go there all the time.

Brandon:

Yeah, underneath plaza three. Right. It was underneath the steakhouse. Yes, it was, yeah, I’ve been there before. It’s not open anymore. Closed down. But that’s so funny.

Brandon:

I can’t remember the name of it. I think it was like city City something or I don’t know, but I want a few times too. It was used to go there with my dad. The, it’s really cool, but Kansas City actually, Kansas city has an enormous amount of industry, especially around Aerospace.

Brandon:

Yeah, we do.

Brandon:

I remember my dad, we went to this wedding that was some guy and it just struck me even as I was younger, I was like, people make money in Kansas City.

Brandon:

I know that sort of sounds funny, but you know when you’re, I was originally from the East Coast and and now I live on the west coast, you just don’t realize what’s happening in that, in the middle middle of the country, You know what I mean?

Brandon:

It’s not right along, it just sort of forgotten because you fly over totally.

Brandon:

It’s a cool place.

Brandon:

Yeah, so small world.

Brandon:

And then, I mean maybe I’m just not putting all this together, but I interviewed interview because we don’t do interviews, but I guess that’s what people say, but had a conversation with Patrick, you see cow company the other day and you guys ladies represent him as well, right?

Brandon:

Yes, yes, love Patrick.

Brandon:

And then working with him for a few years and he’s like one of my favorite people ever.

Brandon:

He’s such a good person, has such a great Brandon story.

Brandon:

Tell.

Brandon:

Yes.

Brandon:

So we had, wow goo hot dogs last week in Ouagadougou, I made meatballs with the ground beef.

Brandon:

Were they so good?

Brandon:

They were over the top.

Brandon:

Yeah, I love the hot dogs and I love the ground beef.

Brandon:

Those are my two favorite things, even though they’re not like the fanciest, but I just, that’s my jam.

Brandon:

So it’s sort of weird, you eat that hot dog and you and you’re like, this tastes really good, but you can’t figure it out because I think your brain is so used to having an Oscar Mayer wiener that it just tastes so much better and your brain can’t figure that out, that’s why it’s so good, totally.

Brandon:

There’s just something about it and it’s something about it that made it like the best selling beef hot dog in the United States.

Brandon:

So it’s that good.

Brandon:

I think it’s that good because somebody there, maybe you at your at your light years ahead firm got them and shooting line, is that right?

Brandon:

Yes.

Brandon:

So we’ve been working with the company, we started back in, I think at the end of 2018, got them some press, they hadn’t really had any exposure as far as like they have had no pr coverage and they try different marketing tactics.

Brandon:

But the other Patrick, who is the co founder of War Horses for Veterans, introduced me to this Patrick because he’s a veteran too, and they’re from the same town, and so, you know, I said, you know, give me a few months, let’s see what we can do, and let’s and I said, you know, please know that pr does not ever guarantee that it’s going to drive sales.

Brandon:

It will drive brand awareness more.

Brandon:

People will definitely learn and hear about your brand, but that does not mean that it’s going to get you sales sometimes you’ll get a segment on the Today show and nothing happens, or sometimes you’ll make hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Brandon:

It really just depends on the product, the messaging and who’s listening that day.

Brandon:

So, you know, we worked with him, got him a great write up in the Wall Street Journal where he made some money when in the Today Show made some okay money.

Brandon:

This, this was all like when we first started, and then when he came up with the hot dogs in the summer, we started to pitch the bejesus out of them, got a response from food and wine online, sent them the hot dogs.

Brandon:

Unfortunately they didn’t get them in their living room, we had to resend another package and when they got them a couple weeks later I kept following up and following up and then Patrick calls me on a thursday and he’s like, do we get it right up or something?

Brandon:

I’m getting so many emails that I’m getting so many orders right now and I’m like, oh my gosh, the food and wine stories up and you’re listed as the number one.

Brandon:

Well, I come to know two weeks later to make over $250,000 in sales from this one pr hit and that’s sort of what sort of created this launch of the companies and now everybody knows who they are and we’re just continuing the momentum.

Brandon:

But that is a definite way that pr did drive sales like that is our oi right there and it’s a great case study for us too because a lot of our clients, we see a little bit of bites here and there for sales but sometimes it just does drive awareness.

Brandon:

It really depends on the products and this is a great product with a great story, it’s veteran founded and so like right there that is a hook right there.

Brandon:

So yeah, it’s awesome, I want to turn back the clock a little bit.

Brandon:

How did you get, you’ve been in pr for 18 years, right, you get started in pr so I went to school in upstate new york and I was actually a theater major because I thought I wanted to go into like entertainment or do something and fillmore casting or and then I realized it just wasn’t my thing but I kept the major took some business courses and realized that like any kind of acting experience that you get will make you good in any career that you do, whether it’s sales marketing, especially in the fields that I was interested in.

Brandon:

So I started to intern at different pr firms.

Brandon:

Um I went up to Los Angeles, my junior year of college intern for two different Companies, one and Entertainment one NPR and then when I moved to Los Angeles after I graduated I had one short job in pr that I didn’t like and then that’s where I got the job that I have now I was hired by the founder of the company that Betty light, she lived up in her house in the Hollywood hills.

Brandon:

I would go work with her every day.

Brandon:

I started out part time after eight years, I was like, knowing how to do everything, moved to Kansas city, worked from here with her and two years ago my business partner and I who worked with Betty, we took over the company, so now we are running the company.

Brandon:

So that’s how it happened.

Brandon:

But I mean it wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t completely passionate about it.

Brandon:

I mean this isn’t just a job for me, it’s a hobby.

Brandon:

I knew when I started to work with her that like, I loved going to work every day, it’s a rush, makes me feel happy.

Brandon:

I love helping the little people, the small companies that just are startups and need that push and it’s just continued to be part of my life.

Brandon:

What didn’t you like about that job that you, that first pr job that jumped you over to work in where you are now? Well, and I would say also an internship I had before that was NPR too, and it was Celebrity Pr and I did not like that, I was like, okay, this is not for me, it’s not something I want to be doing, I want to be helping people helping causes, helping them grow their brand, but I did like the pr the side of just getting the exposure for people that needed it.

Brandon:

And so then I worked at this clothing company and it was supposed to be NPR and it turned out that it was like they didn’t have their ducks in a row and they started making me do all this other stuff that was like shipping. And I ended up not really even being able to do the pr side and then that I said this is not what I want to do. I’m not gonna waste my time anymore, I’m like not doing it.

Brandon:

So but it was really the second job that I found out of college and I’ve had it ever since. So that’s That’s a long time.

Brandon:

Yeah most people get nine or 10 jobs till they find something that they want to keep. So I lucked out in that department is doing the celebrity pr really different or I mean is it isn’t the job are different for you?

Brandon:

It was different back then.

Brandon:

It was just like a different culture now. I mean we have worked with some experts, we’ve worked with a few B. C. List celebrities on different events and it’s super easy it’s actually very easy to do. But like those firms were that’s all that they do. It’s just it doesn’t interest me is not because it’s all about somebody’s reputation and you know trying to make sure that they look good in the limelight and for me I prefer to work with products and to work with people that want to see something, their vision grow behind them.

Brandon:

So you know it’s really but some people love it.

Brandon:

It’s just not, it’s very cutthroat and I don’t know, I I just knew when I did it.

Brandon:

I’m like okay I don’t think I want to spend my life doing this. I will not be happy.

Brandon:

I think it’s good to know what you what you like and don’t like how did Yes. So you worked with this firm for a long time and did did the founder original founder decided that she wanted to retire and you and your partner bought her out or how did that work?

Brandon:

Yeah, it was it was like that we worked with her and then she was kind of ready to take a break but she still works in consults with us and things like that and then we did yeah, buy out.

Brandon:

And so that’s how it works.

Brandon:

But it was this really easy transition because we kept everything the same and kept all the same clients and it was just like very smooth because I was already dealing with all the clients before the buyout happened. So there wasn’t a big change in what I was doing with the clients.

Brandon:

Well now you have payroll though and everything which changed a little bit didn’t it a little bit but we’re a small team and luckily I don’t manage that side. It’s my business partners. I’m one of the Creating, she’s more of the numbers and that the numbers crunch and you know the detail oriented one.

Brandon:

So it works out really well as a team. I think if I had done it alone it would be a lot more stressful. But like on one side of the brain she’s the other.

Brandon:

So we work really well together. Well, I think that’s key to a good partnership. Yes. And acknowledging that right? Yes. What you’re not good at and also just like what you don’t want to do or you want to outsource because you don’t have the time to do it. You know, you don’t, you can’t take on everything and be successful. It’s just not possible.

Brandon:

I appreciate you sharing that story. Let’s talk about PR because I know our listeners, everybody wants PR and everybody wants to know how to get good stories and placement and articles.

Brandon:

I don’t know where to start.

Brandon:

What would be your if I wanted.

Brandon:

For instance, I have a product and I want to get placed.

Brandon:

Do you think that because of what you said earlier, which is that there’s not always a clear R.

Brandon:

O.

Brandon:

I on in today’s age.

Brandon:

Everybody wants, they want the link, they want the click, they want the order, they want customer acquisition costs to be X and Pr is something that to your point earlier it can be hard because you need to decide that you’re building your brand.

Brandon:

Do you distinguish or should a business owner think about that.

Brandon:

They want segment their budget for their brand and then segment directly for facebook ads which is is more about you know, direct orders.

Brandon:

So does.

Brandon:

Yeah.

Brandon:

I think that’s important.

Brandon:

Yeah I think that you need to have I mean if you really want to have a stellar marketing campaign you have to have a budget set aside for X, Y and Z.

Brandon:

If you have a small budget I would say the very best thing for your buck this pr because you might pay somebody like three or $4000 a month Of a monthly retainers for pr for us to get you 5-15 placements and top media outlets that are earned.

Brandon:

And then you might pay $4-$5,000 for one ad in a magazine that might get you to sales and everybody knows that it’s paid for.

Brandon:

And so like that’s why I think it’s important to do both facebook ads.

Brandon:

Absolutely.

Brandon:

There’s ways that you can do it with a small budget and I think that is important because then you are going to see the direct ri which brands need to see as well see who’s buying the products whose who’s listening, who’s interested from pr perspective like I said, yeah it doesn’t always drive sales but even just getting if you’re starting a company and you want to get some clout, you wanna build some buzz around your brand so that people think you’re legit know that you have a good story even if it doesn’t drive sales, If we’re getting you into Buzzfeed Huffington post, Good Day, L.

Brandon:

A.

Brandon:

Whatever, and you put that on your website in the bottom, you know, as seen in blah blah blah, then people are gonna look at you and they’re gonna say, wow, this is a legit brand, I want to buy this, it’s not just some clunky dink brand, the mom and pop brand that has no sales team behind it, It looks legit and and that’s that’s the real reason to have pr is to give you that third party word of mouth that somebody in the media like shoe brand and that we didn’t pay for it to happen.

Brandon:

It’s because they truly like it.

Brandon:

So, I mean, that’s the difference.

Brandon:

Well, I think that’s the key of one thing you just said, which is earned, earned meaning, you know, the writers actually agree with the pitch, right?

Brandon:

Yes, there was something else and that that’s that can be hard to do, isn’t it?

Brandon:

I mean, yes, there are relationships that are, I mean many years we build relationships and then we get a bite and sometimes because we have multiple brands that will work on, if they say no to one thing I pitch something else or if they say no, then I come back three months later or if they say no, then I reach out to somebody else from their media outlet that might cover it and then once we get the sample out there or the story or the interview then it’s just follow up follow up follow up stock, stock, stock, stock, stock and sometimes they do something and sometimes it gets bumped.

Brandon:

But a lot of the times if you continue to persevere and it’s good enough product and you do intensive follow up, which is what we do is publicists do get the story to happen.

Brandon:

Do you think that, did you think that in today’s day and age there’s just as much value from getting a story online as there is in print or is online worth more these days.

Brandon:

Like for instance, Good Morning America.

Brandon:

People say, well who watches Good Morning America anymore.

Brandon:

I don’t know who watches Good Morning America.

Brandon:

But is that as important in today’s day and age as it is in using Casey cattle ranch as an example, their article in food and wine.

Brandon:

I don’t know if that was just online or and or prints online so that they were on Good Morning America, my understanding was right there on the Today show and that made sales to Absolutely.

Brandon:

It’s just, I would say that if you can get on the Today show, good Morning America or CBS this morning or even Fox and Friends like you are golden in that department because having video footage from a top tier media outlet that it’s not an ad is something that you can send, you can send it to buyers, you can send it to different retailers that you want to get into and be like, hey I was on the Today show, but having a really solid digital placement, if you’re a direct sales website where like, you know like Casey cattle company, you go to Casey cattle company dot com, that’s where you buy the product.

Brandon:

Then if it’s online, somebody’s reading the magazine or the, the article, all you have to do is click on the link and it’ll take you to buy if you’re reading a magazine in a nail salon and you see something you like, like what are you gonna take?

Brandon:

Like take a photo with your phone and then remember to buy it.

Brandon:

But at the same time the one nice thing about magazines are retailers, the big ones, they still tend to be a little old school and they like to see, you know, if you were featured in shape magazine or something, this hair care product is at Cbs, they like to see the paper of the print, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to drive sales, it does a lot of the time, the print placements still help with distribution and help to get other stores to want to carry your product.

Brandon:

But as far as like sales, I would say digital is where it’s at and you.

Brandon:

So, but you still think that even though sales let’s let’s, I know sales are important, but like you said brand is important too.

Brandon:

But getting on the today show and these other places definitely drive eyeballs and awareness I guess that you could follow up on at some level and then do an ad for people who follow the Today show and then serve it that way as well.

Brandon:

Yes, absolutely.

Brandon:

That’s it.

Brandon:

That And then The one thing also I would say just back about the magazines and stuff is that it’s a lot harder to get into the magazines now than it used to be when I first started working for Betty, the founder, I would like go outside and print out a list of contacts, sit by your pool and call 100 people.

Brandon:

Hi, this is Megan calling from and it would be like click click were not interested click and then every, you know, 8 to 10 calls, hey we are doing a story on oral care.

Brandon:

Go ahead and send over the Rembrandt whitening toothpaste which was the first account that I ever worked on.

Brandon:

And then we would send it and they’d get it right up in people magazine or Glamour and then they would spend the owner of the company would send all the prints to, you know, the different sales team and have them go out that’s just different now.

Brandon:

You know, things aren’t the same because in order to get into these magazines most of the time you have to be an advertiser to get like that priority.

Brandon:

So if you look at, you know, in style and there’s this frizzy zad, frizzy hair care, I’m just giving an example, I don’t work with them or anything.

Brandon:

And then you see an article about hair care.

Brandon:

I mean, I can pretty much guarantee you that freeze these products will be in that round up because they paid for the ad, so it just gives them that incentive to do it because right now it’s hard.

Brandon:

I mean the magazines are looking for more money, They’re hurting because of digital because a lot of them are turning digital.

Brandon:

So the top media, I would say Today show Good Morning America, those top tv and then just all the digital.

Brandon:

I mean that’s that’s that’s really where it’s at.

Brandon:

Well, I think that’s I think that sucks Megan that these people that the magazines have compromised themselves.

Brandon:

I mean, I’ve been an outdoor writer for 2.5 decades and and back in the day, you could actually read content and not see the ad three pages away.

Brandon:

That was honest.

Brandon:

That I mean they basically, these magazines have become infomercial.

Brandon:

So is it have you noticed that two of you have seen that?

Brandon:

I’ve noticed it and I’ve heard it, like if you go pitch, if you try to pitch a magazine, obviously you do it all the time, they they want you to do the ad.

Brandon:

And then coincidentally if you don’t do the ad, they’re not interested in the article.

Brandon:

It’s like then what do you, what’s your magazine about?

Brandon:

Like what is it now?

Brandon:

Well, it just shows that they need help.

Brandon:

You know, I mean, I hate to say it, but that’s the way it is. And I would also tell you that another thing is that a lot of the big online websites and magazines are doing affiliate programs now. So you have a, I would say, I mean, I don’t know if this is true, this is just my perception, but you have a better chance of getting featured on a big website if you do an affiliate through them, whether it’s share a sale skim links because then if they share your product they get a percentage of sales.

Brandon:

So you know that’s but it’s but it’s also that’s just the way that the world is evolving and you know, I could get angry about it but you just gotta roll with it and then you you got to get in on it and you’ve got to convince the clients to do it because that might be the only way they’re going to get into a huge website like Buzzfeed is if they’re sold on amazon.

Brandon:

So I don’t let it get to me, I just figure, well I think it’s disappointing because, well I think it’s good as a business owner because at least they’re putting the link in and you can share the revenue.

Brandon:

I have no problem with that.

Brandon:

I think that’s great.

Brandon:

I mean, Philip marketing for a long time, but they the I think that that it’s compromising media because now people can’t trust it.

Brandon:

Yeah, I mean, I totally agree with you on that level, I would say with experts, it’s a little bit better because it’s not like they don’t ask, you know, they’re more asking just like if they’re doing an article and they need a wellness expert or health expert or whatever.

Brandon:

That’s a little bit was.

Brandon:

They tend to they’re looking for experts and not necessarily to make sales from that because a lot of experts don’t have anything to sell.

Brandon:

And if they do an expert, they always say, please do not mention any products or brands that you’re affiliated with.

Brandon:

It’s a running process. I mean, I could go on and on about this because I’ve had so many different experiences and so many ranges of clients, but so you’re even the pr industry, I had a pr Agency early early on, not in the current, but like 20 years ago and things have changed.

Brandon:

How do you or how can our listeners think about paying for?

Brandon:

And the expectation because your job is really hard.

Brandon:

You I mean, do you guarantee or not? I mean because the business owner is saying, hey, Megan whatever your, whatever it is, which we can talk about a range from what pr companies should realistically charge, but for how much you could expect and you say well how many articles I’m going to get in the business owners mind as you know from being in it.

Brandon:

It’s well I think I’ll get you five placements.

Brandon:

If it’s $1000. I’m saying, You know, they’re saying Oh it’s $200 an article.

Brandon:

And you start to I mean everything’s about metrics these days.

Brandon:

Not not that KPs aren’t important but you can’t in a Pr agency. It’s very hard to guarantee. Yes. That sort of success. So how do you how do you communicate that to your customers and set expectations?

Brandon:

And what should listeners who would hire a Pr agency?

Brandon:

What should they expect?

Brandon:

We get asked a lot. What can you guarantee me or can you get this many impressions? And we say honestly no. And if you’re looking for a guarantee that you should just do paid stuff because that’s going to guarantee you that you’re going to get whatever they tell you you’re going to get that you’re paying for what you’re paying for with PR is we can guarantee you that once you get some pr placements once we get you some hits, that will increase your brand awareness.

Brandon:

Like people will know more about your brand.

Brandon:

We guarantee that because people are going to read about it. People are going to see it in stories. Sometimes we’ll say, you know, we’ll give an example like this is a skincare brand and in the past month, you know, we’ve been working with them.

Brandon:

We’ve had 10 placements so far an X amount of impressions, just to give you an example of the type of stuff that could happen for your brand. But again, like, we just can’t guarantee it, and most of them understand it, the ones that don’t understand that they don’t hire us and they work with somebody else that’s pay for play, which that’s pay for play pr where you pay somebody and if you get a placement, they pay you.

Brandon:

We don’t we don’t work that way. We only do monthly retainers because we put in so much work into developing the story, reaching out to our contacts that we it’s just more of a day to day thing, it’s not like one off things that we do.

Brandon:

So, I would say that there aren’t guarantees except for that. We will do our very, very best to build your brand awareness so that more people know about your brand and want to purchase it?

Brandon:

Well, with that in mind, let’s talk about if I were to want to have a pr company so that we could take a listener through the experience because it’s not, I think people, I think the expectation is that business or say I’m the one paying you, so I’m going to choose you.

Brandon:

But in many ways you’re choosing a client because if you if you can’t pitch them, I mean, and you take the money and you can’t and you don’t think it’s a good story then ultimately that hurts you.

Brandon:

So you’re incentivized to actually screen them as well.

Brandon:

Yeah.

Brandon:

How does that work?

Brandon:

What does that look like when you when someone goes through that process?

Brandon:

I mean, you know, we have, we set up an initial call and we talked to them and we haven’t sent us information about their product and if we feel like there is a story that we can spin or if they don’t have a story but we feel like we could spin it into one then we take it on and if honestly we’re talking to them and we’re like we’ve had to turn down stuff where we say, you know what, we actually can’t help you.

Brandon:

We think you need to focus on just local pr and you could probably do that yourself without having to pay a P.

Brandon:

R. Firm, you know, stuff like that, we’re honest. You know, we’re not desperate, that’s for sure and has had to turn down things but we try to take on things that we know that we can really like blow up sometimes though we’ll get an account and like one of us will be like, I don’t know and then the other one will be like just trust me and then it will happen and then we just start laughing, you know?

Brandon:

So it’s like one of us has to be completely 100% about it, how much can like in today’s day and age, forget the paper plate because I think that that’s just pick what you want.

Brandon:

Problem is it’s not a strategy and you don’t have someone looking after the strategy and that creates a whole problem because you think you got the article in Forbes or whatever and now you don’t have any follow up and anything around it.

Brandon:

How much can business owners expect a range because a lot of companies aren’t $500 million dollars in revenue.

Brandon:

So if we start talking about the smaller businesses, what can they expect?

Brandon:

Like a monthly retainer kind of arranged to be just so someone would have an idea like you know it depends, I would say that the bigger firms started like anywhere from 10 to $15,000 a month.

Brandon:

We’re boutique, so we work more in like the 3500 to $5500 a month range for most of our clients depending on the scope of work, which is really reasonable.

Brandon:

And when we started out doing this it was used to charge a lot more back of the day because it was just a whole another ballpark back then. But it works and most of the clients that we work with they have the budget to do it and they commit to either you know a certain amount of time or you know it’s we commit to a year and then we kept going, I would say 70% of our clients we’ve had now for over five years.

Brandon:

Some of them, one guy I’ve been working with since 2005, Even though I’m only 17 and I’m just kidding, look like that.

Brandon:

I saw a baby picture and I was like way too young to have a baby meg. I don’t know how you’re doing, although I did see your instagram so I cheated. You cheated. See, so I think that it really depends on the brand and some people those, you know, one women pr or one man pr people, they might charge even less than that.

Brandon:

You know, if you just get a one person but you’re not going to get the support that you would with the whole team, the way that you would with somebody like us or with a big firm. The difference between us and a big firm is that we handle all of the accounts together and pitch, you know, we take turns pitching the brands, but the big companies, like they’ll assign you an account and that’s what you have to work on the whole time.

Brandon:

And so that gets a little stale, or sometimes the media is sick of hearing about you about this one or hearing from you about one product.

Brandon:

You know, they’re like, please stop contacting me and then I’ll be like the next week Chloe you pitch this friend, you know, because it’s somebody new, so, you know, there’s different tactics and it’s really just like exploring and finding new ways to do things I think what I found with the bigger firms and I did because I was encouraged let’s say to hire a bigger firm I think you actually get and I don’t mean this in a bad way but I actually think in many cases you get more junior people.

Brandon:

What I mean by this if you take a small boutique from like you I can work with you.

Brandon:

Yes like I get you now you you may have an assistant or an associate or a junior person which is fine but there’s much more interaction.

Brandon:

I know you’re making the calls when you get up into those big accounts you’re paying a premium for their brand, their office space and a bunch of stuff and they’re hiring people I’m not saying they’re hiring them right out of college or or their MBA or whatever but they are and then you’re getting this person who just doesn’t have that book necessarily because the incentive that those big firms as they’re managing their own P.

Brandon:

And L.

Brandon:

And it’s all about their payout at the end of the year is how much revenue they generate.

Brandon:

So the incentives change at scale.

Brandon:

Now maybe if you’re you know one of these huge companies that you actually have to hire the big company because it justifies where you are that maybe that works.

Brandon:

But I tend to feel like you the boutique firms you really get the person and the rolling deck because, you know, if you know the Today show Producer then that’s going to have a lot more weight than you telling your associate to call that person.

Brandon:

Exactly, yeah, that’s a good point.

Brandon:

I’m a reliable source.

Brandon:

Yeah.

Brandon:

Do you think it’s possible for people to do their own, like, let’s say you’re a sub $20 million company.

Brandon:

Do you think that it’s realistic to think that you’re going to manage your own pr maybe even 10 million?

Brandon:

Say you’re at 20 people?

Brandon:

Like, is that realistic?

Brandon:

It’s still more economical to hire a PR from the higher.

Brandon:

Yeah.

Brandon:

There’s a few firms where they have like an in house pr department.

Brandon:

But the problem with that is that then that person, all they’re doing is pitching your brand.

Brandon:

They run out of creativity if that’s all that they’re doing?

Brandon:

I mean, I hate to say it because that’s something I looked at originally was to in house pr and I’m like, this is too boring.

Brandon:

You know, like how are you going to get creativity or what if it’s a product that has like two skews and you’re pitching it over and over again.

Brandon:

Like a lot of the firms that have in house PR two, if they’ll have that person will also do social media, it’ll do the marketing, so they do other things.

Brandon:

So it’s not as like the same thing every day, but usually the ones that have more money, they hire somebody outside.

Brandon:

So let’s go back, you’re, we do initial phone call, what data are you collecting?

Brandon:

Like what, what would someone who has a business be, what would you expect to see that they would already have as a sort of a foundation level of, I don’t know how assets Megan, whatever it is.

Brandon:

What would you think that someone would have?

Brandon:

Okay, well, I mean the most important thing when we’re going to start is your website has to be up and running.

Brandon:

If you’re selling a product, it has to be available to purchase because if we’re pitching it and we get you a story and people want to buy it and there’s no way to buy it, then that’s no good.

Brandon:

I recommend going on and having distribution or having something on either amazon or one of the bigger sites just because everybody just wants to click and buy.

Brandon:

And from a media standpoint, sometimes they demand that you’re on amazon and they don’t want to just cover your website having full like beautiful white background shots of your products, high resolution that we can send to the media so that as soon as they’re interested they can take that shot and like publish it, be ready to go, You should have samples for the media ready to go set aside.

Brandon:

I would say to start with like between 50 and 100 samples that you can actually send to the media because they’re going to want to try it.

Brandon:

And if you’re not ready to send samples, then you shouldn’t be pitching them in the first place and just like a good I guess I would say somebody in customer support or somebody that can answer questions for the media that we can’t answer or questions for consumers so that there’s it’s not just like going into a black hole when you hear from customers, but other than that, like if you have those key elements and you have also, I mean this is sort of an obvious one, but having a facebook and instagram page now is key because people like to link, they like to show your stuff on social media.

Brandon:

I will say that we have worked with a few brands that like don’t have instagram pages and it’s hard because people want to link to instagram.

Brandon:

They want to do posts too.

Brandon:

So it’s all of those elements I think are very important before you land launched a PR campaign or brand, you can’t be half pregnant.

Brandon:

Do you think it’s important to like to have a full grand brief meaning just for listeners out there who might not know, but the font, the color, the all the versions of your logo, the slogans, how you say what etcetera doesn’t need to be that sophisticated.

Brandon:

I would say not for pr perspective, I mean, you know, we don’t need all of that for social media for marketing.

Brandon:

Yes, but for us we’re sending things out via email.

Brandon:

We just need a beautiful photo of the brand, the pricing a link to the product and we’re ready to go.

Brandon:

They do need to have their elevator pitch dialed in or will you actually come up with an elevator pitch based on what you hear based on what we here we come up with it.

Brandon:

And if we hear something that’s not interesting, then we’ll find a way to spin it so that there’s something interesting there.

Brandon:

Like for example, a lot of skincare companies, it’ll be somebody that starts a product.

Brandon:

Well, why did you start it?

Brandon:

I don’t know.

Brandon:

I like CBD or I like CBD.

Brandon:

It’s just that’s an example.

Brandon:

But do you have are you an institution?

Brandon:

Do you have any background in product development? No. So is there a story behind why you created this line?

Brandon:

Well, I like skincare, you know, stuff like that. So that’s our job. We help you find a story, whatever it is, we’ll find it for you because otherwise they don’t want to feature it.

Brandon:

It’s just that’s just the way it is.

Brandon:

So you should.

Brandon:

I think, I think it’s fair to say you should practice your story or have some ideas because how many hours of development for lack of a better word does it take with a customer when you bring them on board to get this.

Brandon:

Makes a few weeks to get it ready to go.

Brandon:

I mean we’ll have a meeting, we have a creative director, she’s awesome, she is in texas and she does all of our press materials and writes all the backgrounders.

Brandon:

So she’ll be on that once we’ve signed on, when we get her on the call, she listens to the story, takes notes, gets a bio together, asks all the relevant questions and then she starts plugging away and gets press materials ready within the first couple of weeks.

Brandon:

Even before that, our main thing, if we really want to start jumping is to get a pitch written so we can start to just pitch the media right away.

Brandon:

Sometimes we do it before we even have a background or because if if it’s interesting enough and we can link to the website and put the information in the body of the email, that’s all they need to start.

Brandon:

So, so if somebody goes obviously if they work with you, we know what to expect, but if they try to go price it, which entrepreneurs will do and that pr firm doesn’t ask these questions and doesn’t do this development, then it’s probably a red flag, right?

Brandon:

Yeah, yeah, I think that’s an important message.

Brandon:

You have to know the brand, you have to build the story, so definitely just someone who says, oh well I’ll get you in X, Y, I’ll get you in inc magazine, entrepreneur magazine, the Today Show and this and we’ll be set.

Brandon:

I think that the reason I’m saying this man is because that can be really alluring to a business owner, but it’s not necessarily strategy, right?

Brandon:

Exactly, and you’ve got to have now, do you develop this after you put all this together?

Brandon:

Is there a business plan that you say here’s the people were pitching, like, how do you communicate that?

Brandon:

We put that into our proposal, and when we first sent out a proposal to work, you know, we say, we’re going to focus on lifestyle beauty, you know, parenting and health, online, print and tv media, we’re going to pitch you to podcasts, you know, so it’s more in some of the clients afterwards asked for more details, but I mean that’s usually the ones that are new and don’t understand it and want to like micromanage and we try to get past that and say, let us handle this, we will reach out to you as soon as we get a bite because it can be counterproductive to keep providing all this information back to people just let us do our job.

Brandon:

That’s what I say, he likes that, but most of our clients, they just let us do what we do and the micro managers don’t last very long.

Brandon:

The podcast, our podcast becoming important to get mentions on these days, yes for entrepreneurs, most of the brands that we work with, the founder wants their story pitched as well is that we work with podcasts and different websites and outlets for interviews to get them that exposure as well, which then helps to get fair brand awareness and makes them feel good about themselves.

Brandon:

And it can sometimes really helped drive the story.

Brandon:

And also, like sometimes the media wants to see the founders doing interviews and things, they want to see the role and so once we get that that we have out here, they’ve been on X, y and Z podcast, you can see them in action.

Brandon:

So how do you screen podcast?

Brandon:

I mean there’s like five million podcast, you’re on this podcast.

Brandon:

So somebody screen me because you take spaghetti and you know, there’s a, there’s a great database.

Brandon:

Everybody seems to all of a sudden have a podcast and, and then they look at their podcast and they’ve got like four episodes and You know, 1% of podcasts have over 10 episodes and I think less have over 100.

Brandon:

So how are you?

Brandon:

I mean, I’m curious because you’re seeing way more podcasts than I’m seeing.

Brandon:

I’m just seeing this and maybe a few I get on.

Brandon:

But how are you, what do you think about the podcast podcast landscape out there today and how people should think about?

Brandon:

Should they take all that?

Brandon:

My recommendation is to join something like podcast cloud, that’s what we belong to and it’s a subscription every six months.

Brandon:

It’s really affordable and you just search a topic like say, we’re going to do food, You reach out, you put in food or steak or whatever cooking and it will pull up the top 200 and I think it’s 250 podcasts, rated like the top with the stars and everything.

Brandon:

Then from there, then you reach out and then when people respond, when podcasters respond, then you go through and you sort of field and say, oh my gosh, we want to be on this one or actually, now that I’m looking at it in more detail.

Brandon:

I don’t know if it would be the right fit, but it would be a good fit for this client or, you know, so it’s sort of like, but I think that what you said is key, like the more episodes that they have, you know, that they’re legit.

Brandon:

And also if you look at their ratings, how many stars that they have.

Brandon:

That helps too.

Brandon:

So that’s my recommendation for that.

Brandon:

I mean, I know you had a great podcast because I could tell with the ratings and you look at the reviews and then the other thing I do is I look at the guests and see who’s been on there and that’s a clear indicator of if it’s legit or not.

Brandon:

I think that’s a that’s a good thing actually.

Brandon:

We try to build that in the beginning.

Brandon:

Yeah, yeah, but it’s called podcast clout podcast clout and you go in there.

Brandon:

You know, it’s curious because I’ve been getting a lot of requests lately.

Brandon:

Maybe I got some clear on there.

Brandon:

You are on there.

Brandon:

Yeah.

Brandon:

You got cloud on podcast clout clout.

Brandon:

Huh?

Brandon:

That’s good now.

Brandon:

So podcasts are definitely important. I think the other thing I just, I mean I’m podcast, my lenses podcast, but it’s important to know that when you get on a podcast, you’ve got to promote that too because it’s a joint effort.

Brandon:

Right?

Brandon:

I mean, you’re, do you tell your clients that like, hey, look, if you get this or any forget podcasts, it’s really any press you want to do.

Brandon:

You want to leverage it?

Brandon:

Yes. So you want to leverage it? And that’s why it is important to have that facebook and instagram page because if you get a write up, you want to share that and show everybody, we were just featured in people magazine is in the top 10 or whatever. You want to share that with your audience because that’s going to further instill why they should continue to buy your product and show the legitimacy. So yes. And I think that showing what podcast you’ve been on on your website saying as seen on, it’s really important.

Brandon:

It just makes you look that much more legitimate.

Brandon:

All right.

Brandon:

What is the most important type or piece of pr that someone can get that you after all of this experience say like if I said Megan.

Brandon:

I only, I can only get, I’m only going to have one piece of pr what would what would you shoot for for a client?

Brandon:

Like what’s the most important bang for the buck sort of overarching like one placement that I would recommend.

Brandon:

One placement you get one placement is it can be tv, it could be anything, I would say the Today Show, I really would, there’s just something about that show that helps to spread the word and then everybody in the nation sees you.

Brandon:

It’s all different types of people.

Brandon:

Then you can take the segment, you can repurpose it over and over again.

Brandon:

You can use it to pitch yourself for other things.

Brandon:

Like for digital media to once you get on the Today show, you can tell the magazines and the the websites, you know, this product was featured on the Today Show and a round up of X, Y Z.

Brandon:

I mean, you can’t pitch it to other tv because they don’t care unless it’s another Show within their network.

Brandon:

But I would say the today show 100%.

Brandon:

That’s it.

Brandon:

How hard is it to get on there? It’s hard, it’s hard, it really has to be right timing the right product and it’s, you know, continuous follow up.

Brandon:

Forbes is great.

Brandon:

It’s easier, it’s it’s hard to get onto forms, but it’s not as hard as it used to to get onto Forbes into digital. And I would say people magazine, it’s if you can get into people, you’re golden. It’s not easy. Yes. Yeah. It’s still like, it’s still one of the top read magazines out there.

Brandon:

Entertainment lifestyle. It’s legit. We just got our client into people dot com and it’s like huge, huge. Um v and then if you’re a beauty product, unique monthly visitors. So those are like the unique people that come to visit the site and that’s what the databases that we use. They give you those numbers. So those are the numbers that we give to our clients.

Brandon:

So I would never, you know, I see People magazine in the supermarket.

Brandon:

I was looking for muscle and fitness. Actually, what my wife event yesterday we were shopping and uh, I was like, why don’t I put muscle and fitness here? That I actually asked her that because I used to love that.

Brandon:

But people is there. So people still read People magazine. Yeah, I mean, I would say more for people, it’s more if you have a story about yourself or if it’s like more horses has been in there before and that was huge for the company that just legitimized the foundation again, to be featured in People magazine.

Brandon:

So it depends, I mean, if it’s like a beauty product or something, it’s great, but it’s not going to get the kind of feature is if they featured somebody like my client Gloria on people dot com because she’s Oprah’s personal pedicure ist and they covered her in a story about her products that was digital, but it’s still people and that’s that’s what we had and that was huge.

Brandon:

And I actually saw her, I want to have her on our show actually.

Brandon:

She needs to come on. She’s amazing. Like you would love her. She’s so smart and so awesome and her energy is just contagious. So yeah, so that and the other thing is, is there’s I’m not advocating.

Brandon:

Here’s what I would say after all my years and doing this business thing is that sometimes you need to pay a professional to do the job.

Brandon:

I mean, look, I am a bootstrap er she don’t, some people frugal whatever when you don’t have money.

Brandon:

And you and you remember how hard it is to make money.

Brandon:

You’re always trying to skip.

Brandon:

But I think what you have to realize and what I’ve realized is you want to pay for the very best talent that you can that you can afford because the at the end of the day, the R.

Brandon:

O.

Brandon:

I.

Brandon:

Is what you’re looking for and you can’t be good at all this.

Brandon:

I mean, right, how hard is it to pitch people magazine today’s show and six other things.

Brandon:

I mean, isn’t it’s a full time job pitching is a full time job.

Brandon:

It is.

Brandon:

You can’t just pitch and be done.

Brandon:

You have to keep doing it over and over and over again.

Brandon:

How many times you think you’ve heard now?

Brandon:

Oh God, thousands.

Brandon:

I’ve been doing this long enough. I hear no every day. And I usually just laugh at this point because I’m expecting it. You know, I guess it’s better than not responding at all.

Brandon:

But sometimes people come up with these responses that are so long winded. I’m like, couldn’t you just said not interesting, but, but humans really don’t want to say no.

Brandon:

Do they know?

Brandon:

But it doesn’t bother me. I’m so used to it. It’s like, it’s part of my job. I always say that like the number one piece of advice that I would give is do not take no for an answer. And if they tell, you know, try again in a few weeks, if they tell, you know, again, try somebody else from their same. You just got to keep trying.

Brandon:

Yeah, I think Megan no, is a temporary opinion based on the data that they have at the current moment or what kind of mood they’re in. Sometimes they’re just in a bad mood.

Brandon:

Exactly. You can’t, you can’t accept that you can’t, you can’t accept now that I actually learned that and recently somebody, a vendor, believe it or not, a vendor fired me because I, I was terrible.

Brandon:

I really was, I was a terrible customer and she wrote back and she was like, hey, I’m a freelancer.

Brandon:

She does our editing now for our youtube channel network that we’ve been working on, on having to launch.

Brandon:

she’s like hey you’re fired.

Brandon:

And I wrote back, it took so long to find somebody who is good, you know this right?

Brandon:

I mean you spend time you spend money and I said I do not accept that answer.

Brandon:

And I eventually negotiated myself out with a set of terms that I must abide by, which I have abide by.

Brandon:

But I guess the point of the story is you don’t have to accept no.

Brandon:

And I know we’re talking about pr but there’s a bigger message for all people listening.

Brandon:

Any marketing. Yeah. In any kind of marketing. Not obviously in dating, no means no. But in marketing.

Brandon:

Yes. Yeah. I think that’s I think that’s a good qualifier. But I think even even even women who have pursued in the past who said no not in a physical contact way.

Brandon:

But then like yeah no you’re you’re weird. We later dated. So so see you get it.

Brandon:

Yeah. I mean I think you have to do that. So I know in your you’re really busy and I’m grateful for you coming on here today.

Brandon:

What would be three H. P. T. S high percentage tips for business owners out there looking to get pr and and hire a Pr firm or even think about Pr that you could offer them.

Brandon:

I would say the first thing is is that you need to have a good story about how you created your brand when you’re ready to start Pr there has got to be that elevator pitch that we were talking about and yeah, if you don’t have one, we can create it.

Brandon:

But like try to find that story so that you’re ready to go and ready to like the day after we talk, if I find a hook, I’m going to pitch you, that’s the first thing.

Brandon:

Obviously I said, don’t take no for an answer.

Brandon:

That’s always my number one tip.

Brandon:

Just because you have to be able to get a lot of rejection, even if you’re trying to launch a new brand and you’re ready for pr you might tell somebody your idea that that’s close to you and they might say, oh that’s a great idea and they might not need mean it, but that doesn’t mean that like everybody else isn’t going to love it again, that person could be in a bad mood that day.

Brandon:

So you have to take things with a grain of salt and get a thick skin if you really want to be successful.

Brandon:

The third thing, like if you’re ready to, to start a brand, I would say you’ve got to be patient because Rome wasn’t built in a day, if you’re ready to like launch, you have to have the patience to say, okay, this is going to take a good 3 to 6 months before I start to cpr placements coming in sometimes, like we started with a brand new day and we got to write up today, but sometimes it takes a while and that’s okay and you have to have the patience to not give up after like, a couple months just because you’re not seeing sales.

Brandon:

So you have to look at the big picture.

Brandon:

Those are the keys that like I would tell you.

Brandon:

And then it’s obviously if you’re ready to start going, the subject line of what you put in your email is the most important thing, because if you’re going to do it yourself, if we’re going to do it for you, nobody is going to open up something that’s boring.

Brandon:

Nobody is going to open up something that looks like an ad.

Brandon:

It’s going to go straight to the junk mail and sometimes I’ll send out a pitch and I think the subject line is great and nobody responds.

Brandon:

So then I’ll change it and send it out again a few days later with a different subject line or a different intro, and then it’s like, boom, and make sure that your emails short because nobody wants to read a novel, people don’t have time in those first three sentences, it should say everything that they need to know about your brand.

Brandon:

So, this is just some little important tips.

Brandon:

If you’re ready to like, take the plunge.

Brandon:

Those were awesome.

Brandon:

I appreciate you dropping them.

Brandon:

Where can people find you Megan?

Brandon:

They can go to light years ahead dot com or they can just reach out to me via email.

Brandon:

It’s Megan m E G A N at light years ahead dot com.

Brandon:

And I promise you, I will respond because I do respond and I’m nice.

Brandon:

You do respond.

Brandon:

Thank you.

Brandon:

And I appreciate you taking time out of your day to come on.

Brandon:

You drop some great tips for our listeners. So fun. We’re going to have you back on sometime soon.

Brandon:

I would love it. This has been great.

Brandon:

Thanks for being generous with your time and joining us for this episode of the edge. Before you go. A quick question, are you the type of person who wants to get 100% out of your time? Talent and ideas? If so. You’ll love our monthly edge newsletter.

Brandon:

It’s a monthly playbook about the inner game of building a successful business. In each newsletter, we pull back the curtain on our business and show you exactly what’s happening. The real numbers, real conversion rates, lessons learned from failed and successful strategies and How we’re investing the money we make from our business to outperform the general stock market.

Brandon:

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Brandon:

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Brandon:

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Brandon:

Imagine the time and money you’ll save by having this holy grail of business intelligence. You can take all of it, apply it to your life as an entrepreneur to avoid costly mistakes and be happier. Healthier. Ian richer as a fellow entrepreneur who’s aiming for nothing short of success, You owe it to yourself to subscribe, check out the special offer with bonuses for you as a listener at Edge newsletter dot com.

Brandon:

Again, that’s e g e newsletter dot com

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