The BYCA Inspiration Day and the importance of authenticity in PR

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Two years ago when I started my business I transformed my whiteboard into a giant ‘spotlight vision board’. It listed all the PR opportunities I hoped to achieve. Some of this was media coverage in specific outlets, others were awards I would like to win, and others were speaking opportunities I hoped would materialise. When I wrote these goals I had just graduated from the Beautiful You Coaching Academy and attended my first Inspiration Day. I had got so much out of the day, and one of my ‘blue sky’ goals was to speak at a future Inspiration Day, so you can only imagine how it felt to see that goal come to life when I was invited to be a panellist.

The Inspiration Day panel discussion was on PR and media, led by BYCA Founder Julie Parker along with award winning life coach Fideliz Cruz and myself. With years of media experience behind her, and as host of the ‘Priestess Podcast’ Julie shared valuable tips on how to interact with the media, decide what opportunities to pursue and her personal experience receiving pitches for her podcast (including the very amusing story of an electrical company’s pitch). Fideliz spoke of her experience of  being a PR and media superstar, gaining lots of coverage since she started her business, and how she keeps the nerves at bay when presenting. You can read more about her experience here.

The theme that constantly came up for me during the day was authenticity. It was something that had been shown beautifully by key note speaker Johanna Parker and Amy Mackenzie. Both are incredible speakers who had inspiring messages to share, and they did it in their own authentic way, remaining completely themselves the whole way through. When it was my turn to take the stage I shared a tip with coaches about making the most of their media coverage with authenticity. Here are some of the reasons why:

1.       If you are not yourself the media and their audience will pick it. You can often tell when someone is not being themselves because they come across as uncomfortable or make you feel uncomfortable.

2.       It is exhausting putting on a façade. You may get away with it in a one minute sound bite, but it’s hard to keep it up throughout an hour long podcast episode.

3.       You will most likely come across as vanilla. If you hide your true self, quirks and all, you’ll come across just like everyone else and that makes it very hard to create an impression with the audience.

4.       It stops you from attracting the right audience. If you are yourself, media exposure will help you attract your ideal audience, and importantly will also repel those who are not the right fit. If you’re not yourself you may start attracting and repelling the wrong audience.

5.       You are not being honest to yourself or your audience.

If you are a coach or small business owner I encourage you to start your own ‘spotlight vision board’, it may take time but hopefully like me you’ll start to see those goals come to life! When those media and PR opportunities do come your way don’t be afraid to be yourself and let your true self shine through.

  Julie Parker, Fideliz Cruz and myself. Images by  Fi Mims Photography .

Julie Parker, Fideliz Cruz and myself. Images by Fi Mims Photography.

Ten podcast episodes to get you through the holidays

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Yesterday I visited a book store (remember those?) and was handed a ‘Summer Reading Guide’. It was a long time since I’d rifled through one, but it was something I always used to look forward to. Summer holidays (or holidays in general) were always about reading for me. I still find it a great form of relaxation, but in recent years books have been overtaken by podcasts.

It’s because podcasts can be consumed while multi-tasking. In the car, on a walk and even while tapping away on my laptop. Just like books there is a podcast for everyone and there is also a podcast for every mood.

Last week a friend of mine put out an SOS on Facebook for podcast recommendations to get her through the holidays. There were some great recommendations and it inspired me to put together my own list. While entrepreneurial and business type podcasts are usually my go to, this is a list of fascinating, quirky, scary, hilarious and thought-provoking podcast episodes that will help you escape the silly season and be sure to give you some great conversation starters.

1.       Thrive Global with Ariana Huffington – Episode 11 with Brandon Stanton , the creator of ‘Humans of New York’. Thrive Global is one of my new favourite podcasts, and this particular episode is such a beautiful conversation with Brandon who is a warm and interesting soul. If you enjoy this I also suggest Ariana’s interviews with Tim Ferris and Glennon Melton Doyle.

2.       This American Life – No Coincidence, No Story! This fascinating 2013 episode is from the archives, but it will get you thinking are coincidences really coincidences?

3.       No Filter – Dianne McGrath – The woman with a one way ticket to Mars.  I found this interview so interesting that I jumped at the opportunity to attend an event Dianne recently spoke at. Taking on the Mars voyage is not for everyone, but you can completely understand why Dianne is so interested and passionate about it. Through her interview with Mia Freeman we learn of her super interesting way of getting used to her new life, including growing accustomed to a diet including crickets!

4.       Making Oprah. You need to start at episode one for this, but if you are anything like me you will binge listen to all three episodes. Not only are they a trip down memory lane they give you an insight into Oprah and how she became what she is today.

5.       Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations – Brene Brown. It is hard to choose which episode to list as they are obviously all incredible, but you can never go past Brene. I’ve listened to many of her podcasts and have also been lucky enough to hear her in person. This has to be my favourite interview of her and thankfully Oprah extends it to two episodes as she has so much to say!

6.       My Dad Wrote a Porno. If you want to laugh out loud then this is the podcast for you! A little awkward to listen to on public transport and definitely not one for when the kids are in the car but it will definitely get you laughing these holidays. You have to start with episode one which sets you up for the rest of the episodes. 

7.       Alone, A Love Story. It is funny how the host’s voice, music and podcast editing draw you right in. Serial is a fantastic example of this, and I feel this podcast is the same, you just can’t stop listening. Once again you need to start with episode one. Let me know if you listen as I need to talk this through with someone, especially the ending.

8.       S-Town. This was the much anticipated series by the makers of This American Life and Serial. Just like Serial it is based on a true story, you will find yourself binge listening. It is very different to Serial but fascinating all the same.

9.       Magic Lessons. This was one of the first podcasts I ever listened to from start to finish. It is an extension of Elizabeth’s Gilbert’s inspiring book ‘Big Magic’, and has Elizabeth and experts help people regain their creative mojo. I think my favourite episode would have to be the one with Glennon Doyle Melton ‘Show up before you are ready’, although they are all inspiring and will have you running to the Art Store in no time.

10.   How I Built This – Lonely Planet: Maureen and Tony Wheeler. This is such an inspiring podcast. There are many good episodes to choose from, including Richard Branson and the founders of Ben & Jerry’s but I’ve long been a fan of the Wheelers after the Lonely Planet was a key part of my first overseas adventure in my 20s. It’s really interesting to hear their complete business journey and all the adventures they’ve had along the way.

Happy listening! I’d love to hear what you will be listening to over the break or if you have any recommendations you can add to the list.

 Here I am with Dianne McGrath who has a one way ticket to Mars! Listen to her super interesting  No Filter podcast!

Here I am with Dianne McGrath who has a one way ticket to Mars! Listen to her super interesting  No Filter podcast!

What is Public Relations and why I think it is the bee’s knees

What is Public Relations (PR)?

When I was at Uni we were taught that PR is the effective communication between an organisation and its public. 

While PR has changed so much in the years since I graduated, its definition still stands. What has changed is the multiple ways you can now effectively communicate with your audience.

To put it simply, PR is raising awareness of who you are through storytelling. It is about increasing the profile of your business and brand, making you visible, credible and building trust, as well as protecting your reputation. Effective PR will drive your audience to take a particular course of action.

Why is PR the bee’s knees?

I may be biased but I strongly believe in the power of PR. There is no faster way to make you visible, credible and raise your profile. Nothing beats third party endorsement either.
I’ve seen effective PR double a client’s social media followers overnight and  have their service packages sell out for the remainder of the year.

I also love that through PR you can have media articles and interviews that last forever. It provides content that you can share with your existing audience and new audiences through social media for a very long time afterwards. 

I hear many clients say that PR is a tactic that works quickly for them in establishing trust. Your potential clients and customers need to trust you to buy so often PR will drive a sale quicker than any other tactic.

Finally in most cases PR is cost effective. The aim of media relations is to get free coverage. That is right. You can get a free article published in a major newspaper rather than paying hundreds, or in some cases thousands for an advertisement.

Why engage PR?

There are many reasons why you should engage PR. For most business owners the ultimate goal is to drive sales by building and protecting credibility, as well as earning trust. 
 

The year I said YES

I’ve always been a dreamer. I’m constantly coming up with new business ideas, like ‘Pav-on-ova’ (a pavlova shop), ‘Bridechilla’ (a wedding planning agency), ‘Pretty my Plate’ (a food styling business) and ‘The Little Place of Calm (a meditation hub). I dreamed about these ideas for weeks on end and even worked on business plans before deciding it was all too much and going back to dreaming. On reflection I’m glad some of these ideas weren’t pursued, my track record with pavlova isn’t brilliant so I’m not sure how that would have gone!

Ever since my year 11 Economics class I’ve wanted to start my own business. Since then I’ve always told myself that the time hasn’t been right. I was never ready, I needed to wait until I was in a perfect financial position, I needed more experience. The list of excuses was miles long.

I can’t pinpoint exactly what changed my course in 2016 and finally saw me say yes. On reflection, it was a combination of factors. It was taking the first real pause I’ve ever had from my career when I went on maternity leave, it was the new-found confidence from becoming a mother which helped me drop the perfectionism I’d carried with me for years. It was the quest for a more flexible lifestyle which I could see would benefit my family in the long term.

So, in a year where we had less money, less time, and a hell of a lot less sleep than ever before I started saying yes; to a six month Life Coaching course, to becoming a certified meditation teacher, to PR consulting work that came my way and then I finally said yes to that business that I never had the courage to start.

I would be lying if I said it had all been smooth sailing, it has made me dig deep at times, question my abilities, sacrifice time with family and friends and made me repeatedly step outside my comfort zone. But boy it has been rewarding, and I have an overwhelming feeling that I’m on the right track.

So how did I follow through this time? I just said yes, I said yes to opportunities that came my way and made sure that when I said yes I believed in myself and gave it my all. Action brings clarity, so many times in the past I’ve been paralysed by the ideas and thoughts in my head. However I’ve found that when I started taking action, trying things out seeing what worked and didn’t it has led me to where I’m supposed to be.

So if like me you are a dreamer with a big idea I encourage you to take action. Make 2017 the year you start testing your ideas and saying yes. It is incredible the opportunities that will present themselves when you do.

Want to make PR something you say yes to this year? If so check out my free PR Strategy Planner here.

 

The changing face of PR

Last week I visited my old University. I was there to hear a panel discuss the blurred lines between PR and marketing. It had been 15 years since my last visit, when I was an excited and green 21-year-old PR graduate with confidence to burn and the world at my feet. So much has changed since then. A number of life changing events been experienced. Yet while I’ve seen huge changes in my personal life it doesn’t compare to that of the transformative PR world.

I was seated behind a row of PR students. Young and curious, some giggled and rolled their eyes as the panel spoke. Some casually typed away on their Macbooks while intermittently checking Facebook. Others asked informative questions on the convergence of PR and digital marketing. As I sat there furiously taking notes in my old school exercise book I wondered what my 21-year-old self would have made of all of this. That girl who:

-          didn’t own her own mobile

-          relied on the household’s one computer with failing internet connection to do all her assignments

-          had to high tail it into Uni on countless occasions to submit hard copies of assignments

-          had never heard of Google, the term ‘blogger’ or even MySpace

-          spent hours standing at the fax machine in her first part-time PR job sending out media releases. Then she’d deposit her pay cheque at the bank on her lunch break

-          who landed her dream job in the publicity department of a film distribution company by sending a letter in an actual envelope through the post

-          who wasn’t distracted by social media but spent hours procrastinating on the landline having hour long phone conversations with friends

You could be forgiven for thinking this was 30 years ago not 15.                   

One of the speakers, a PR veteran highlighted the changes she had witnessed in the industry in her time and how she had to adapt and get used to a new way of working. It made me think about what the students sitting in front of me would witness. Will they learn the art of traditional media relations or will their focus lie solely on the digital world.

When I was at Uni we were taught that the definition of PR was the effective communication between an organisation and its public. This is still fundamentally correct, but 15 years on the ways of communicating are now endless and the speed at which a message travels could never have been predicted. This provides both opportunity and challenges for PR Practitioners and a much fuzzier line between the role of PR and marketing.

The other major change is the traditional media. With far smaller news rooms and news being churned out at a much faster rate PR Practitioners have had to lift their game to ensure their stories get noticed. They have also had to expand their media lists to include online publications, bloggers and online influencers. Not to mention get their heads around the ease of self-publishing and using it to their advantage. Fifteen years ago DIY PR was unheard of; today more and more business owners are working out ways they can feature in the media without engaging a PR professional.

So what does all this mean? What does the future hold for those PR students? Will they witness the same amount of change and growth that I have in just 15 years? No doubt they will. One thing is for sure, just like me their careers will never be boring, always changing and challenging. It can be guaranteed that as long as they are open to change, are always curious about learning, interested in keeping on top of best practises and most importantly adaptable they are in for one exciting ride.