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Sep 29, 2017

Susan Lindner is the founder and CEO of Emerging Media, an award-winning PR, marketing, branding, and social media company. Today on the EO Wonder Podcast, Susan discusses how she grew her company from her tiny apartment, the importance of delegation, and how she built the life that she wants. Tune-in to hear Susan’s tips on storytelling, knowing your “why,” and implementing your own PR plan (without hiring an expensive agency like hers!)

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 00:39 – Susan’s background
  • 00:40 – She’s been in EO for 10 years, has had her own business for the last 15 years, and has grown from an agency run out of her apartment to being able to see it flourish
  • 01:00 – She can now watch her business succeed while she talks about what she’s learned; it’s amazing what start-ups can teach large corporates
  • 01:15 – Her passion is to teach big companies what small companies have known all along
  • 01:20 – How Susan started; 2 weird starts
  • 01:27 – A horrible blind date with a senior editor of Forbes magazine; he introduced her to the world of PR while she was an epidemiologist at the center for disease control
  • 02:09 – They became good friends and she would rewrite pitch letters; she eventually left the CDC and became a PR person
  • 03:08 – Everything shifted when 9/11 happened; their biggest client that put them on the map was on the plane that hit the World Trade Center
  • 03:25 – That founder was also her boss’s best friend and he lost the interest to do PR after that
  • 03:55 – 9 months later her boss asked if she wanted to buy the business for $1 Million / $100k/year for the next 10 years
  • 04:30 – She declined but opened her own agency when the other one closed down in 2002; she ran it out of her 550 sq. ft. apartment with an intern
  • 05:10 – Business Challenges
  • 05:20 – Overwhelm; you don’t realize how many people and how much time goes into running a company when you work for someone else
  • 05:40 – Mental implications; marketing, bookkeeping, sales, etc. and keeping up with all of it
  • 05:50 – 6 months later she ended up in the emergency room (the same place she had worked) after a week of chest pains
  • 06:10 – She saw her old boss; he said to stop doing PR, it was killing her because she had internalized so much stress
  • 06:35 – Business was going well, but she needed processes and people; her boyfriend at the time gave her a proposal to work for her and improve Lotus Public Relationships
  • 07:15 – She weighed the pros and cons; he offered to take a $150k salary cut to work for her, she was terrified because everything was unstable and he was a widower with two kids
  • 08:00 – 15 years later, they are married, happy, and running the business together
  • 08:20 – How was the first day working together?
  • 08:28 – It was in the small apartment with heavy, hot 2002 laptops, shorts, towels on their laps for the laptop heat, and coffee overflowing in the kitchen
  • 09:07 – Clients received great work and gave them referrals; they had a great feeder system
  • 09:20 – A year later they moved into a small office across the street from Grand Central; her boyfriend could run from the office to the train in 3 minutes
  • 09:56 – They started hiring full-time teams and within 3 years they hit $1 Million in revenue and were one of the fastest growing PR firms in the country
  • 10:10 – She couldn’t have done it without her now husband
  • 10:28 – Other people that have attributed to Susan’s success
  • 10:33 – Staff along the way; expansions and contractions along the way have contributed to the people that have been there for her
  • 11:20 – She has surrounded herself with EO members that she sees as mentors, friends; her lawyer and accountant help her determine if she’s living the life she wants
  • 12:28 – Susan feels that she and her husband now have the life that they want
  • 12:33 – The agency is running great, now she knows that she wants to give back and teach what she’s learned
  • 12:43 – For the past 2 years she has spoken to 700 start-ups through Venture Out New York; international companies come to NY for a week to figure out how to succeed there
  • 13:11 – She’s the first speaker they meet to find out how to establish credibility, tone, message, and buyer connection in the U.S.
  • 14:20 – She now speaks at conferences all over the world
  • 14:40 – Her talk: “Storytelling for Innovators and Disruptors”
  • 14:50 – Goes into her journey of researcher to now working with tech companies
  • 14:58 – How messages need to be developed through story: How do we create stories of biblical quality?
  • 15:25 – How to create the founder’s story (prophet), a core group of early adopters (apostles), and how to take that message to market (user-generated content)
  • 15:45 – The people will carry the message, but you must know how to make it spread
  • 16:15 – How do we do the above?
  • 16:33 – Reference to Simon Sinek “why” question in his Ted Talk; it’s not what or how you do what you do, it’s why
  • 16:50 – Start-ups are consumed with product road maps and prospect conversations and leave themselves off the table
  • 17:20 – You need to use tools or people whose strengths help you stay on track
  • 18:05 – Ask: what are your strengths? What is it about you that makes you an entrepreneur in your field?
  • 18:25 – Be 100% authentic by selling a part of yourself (authentic brand); get off the path of self-doubt and be yourself
  • 19:35 – Figure out who will be your story carrier (Star Wars analogy) by being clear on whose life you’re making better
  • 20:50 – How are you changing the customer’s life by being in it?
  • 21:20 – Know the impact; a great product has personal ramifications
  • 22:00 – Ask client, “Tell me how we’re making your life better.” (Über example)
  • 23:40 – Sometimes what the customer loves isn’t fundamental
  • 24:14 – Summary: Find out the “why,” authentic story, gain early adopters to believe what you believe, purchase, and tell people
  • 25:40 – Get innovators and early adopters first then they’ll do the storytelling for you; evangelists become loyalists
  • 26:20 – How do you find influencers/innovators/early adopters?
  • 26:25 – Create a feedback loop, processes, and communicate with all your clients if you are a young company
  • 27:18 – As the story grows and changes, people interact differently with it; let the brand adapt and change, and let customers run with it
  • 27:45 – Create processes to collect data and a way for customers to talk back
  • 27:58 – Have you created a way for customers to talk to one another (Dollar Shave Club example)
  • 31:39 – If someone can’t hire a PR agency, what can they do?
  • 31:47 – Susan’s talk, “The 7 Day PR Plan: How to Build your PR Plan in 7 Days Without Hiring an Expensive Agency Like Mine”
  • 32:00 – She believes so many people need and deserve attention that will never hire a PR agency
  • 32:19 – Susan’s “7 Day PR Plan” condensed
  • 32:23 – Day One: Listen. Make sure you understand the journalist’s conversation before you pitch a reporter
  • 32:35 – What is going on already in your space? Make a “Google Alert” for your top 5 competitors and their CEO, then you’ll get press coverage on your competitors
  • 33:38 – Competitive intelligence is not for the CEO alone, make sure you share it with your team
  • 33:56 – Day Two: Get Organized. Set up a Google Sheet that everyone in the office can access that has those articles, the name of the article, the reporter’s full name, Twitter handle, and email
  • 34:19 – This is building a media list; get the processes in place to make those journalists your new best friends
  • 34:45 – Day Three: Stalk...smartly! Stalk their social media accounts like Twitter and Instagram; Twitter is the media environment, follow your competitors (from another account and journalists from your personal account)
  • 35:58 – Their bio gives personal information, you may have a lot in common with them
  • 36:34 – Follow in silence for the first few weeks, then start complimenting them, opening up a conversation, and retweeting their stories
  • 38:22 – Connect with the reporter on LinkedIn to get their email address
  • 38:55 – Day 4: Newsify in True Anchorman Style
  • 39:00 – Determine what is newsworthy in your world; figure out the message, determine what is headline-worthy, and see what that journalist finds newsworthy
  • 39:40 – In the next 6 months, what are the 3 coolest things that are going to happen to your business that are worthy of being in the news?
  • 40:00 – Examples: New rounds of funding, hiring a very senior level person, rolling out a new product, attacking a new market, expanding your current market, speaking at an event
  • 40:40 – Find out your “news,” go back to your list of reporters, and pitch your “why” and story
  • 41:20 – Day Five: Write your Pitch (no more than 100 words!)
  • 41:59 – Come with respect, “every pitch is a gift,” and ask how you’ll make the journalist’s life better
  • 42:36 – Think about how that pitch will transpire because there are 5 PR people for every 1 journalist: You’ll need a killer subject line to stand out
  • 43:17 – The email should come from you identifying yourself as the one in power; this is just as important as your #1 sales prospect
  • 43:39 – Make sure you’re current and know how the journalists compose their piece so you can compose your pitch accordingly; some love narrative, some love statistics, some use 3rd party experts
  • 45:45 – Day Six: Get Ready for the Interview
  • 45:50 – Make sure you have 3 key messages; no one can remember more than 3 things so say what you need to say in 3 bullet points
  • 46:30 – 90% of your interviews will be by phone so smile, speak with passion, and get excited
  • 47:21 – You want to stand out amongst all the phone interviews that journalist has; it may be the only opportunity you get to speak with that media outlet
  • 47:56 – Follow-up: Take as much volume up on the page as possible to get the most clicks
  • 48:10 – Pictures (360dpi at least), infographics, supporting media, linkable video, and background data give the journalist more to add to the piece
  • 49:15 – Day 7: Share the Love
  • 49:20 – Say thank you to the journalist, after the interview and after the piece comes out
  • 49:50 – Share through your social channels and site, share with your mom, and use the press coverage in different ways
  • 50:11 – Press coverage can be part of your email marketing campaigns and include links back to the journalists page so s/he gets credit and wants to do more pieces with you
  • 50:57 – Show them that there’s momentum in your business and keep in touch for repeat business
  • 52:00 – Susan’s “Why”
  • 52:04 – To deliver amazing experiences with content that helps people create an impact on their world
  • 52:15 – She connects with people and wants to share in a way that moves people to action with energy and humor
  • 52:50 – She did stand up at a Comedy Club; when you can give people the experience of a lifetime, they become the best leaders they can be
  • 53:38 – Advice for entrepreneurs: Be vulnerable, be willing to say “I don’t know” and people will rise to help

 Key Points:

  1. Know your “why,” tell an authentic story, and let your early adopters do the storytelling for you.
  2. Follow Susan’s 7 Steps to build relationships with reporters and build your PR plan.
  3. Be vulnerable; be willing to say “I don’t know” and people will rise to help.

Resources Mentioned: