Have you ever dreamed of becoming a household name? What about a bestselling author or the number one expert in your field? Or are you simply looking to take your business to the next level? Whatever your ultimate goals in business and life are, it all starts with building relationships, not just any relationships, authentic relationships that will attract people to you and bring clients, profits and notability. My guest for this episode used this exact strategy to go from a $42,000 a year salary to now running a multi-seven-figure business. Her name is Selena Soo. She’s helped many dozens of clients crack the publicity code, connecting with powerful influencers, building fan bases and forging lasting relationships with people that matter in their industry. What Selena does is much more than your average PR agency. In a world where having a social media strategy is no longer enough, her insights will help you understand what sets truly remarkable people apart from everyone else and how to attract and build influence in the real world.
Selena, it’s great to have you on the show.
Thank you for having me. I’m thrilled to be here.
Let’s start by distinguishing for our guests the difference, if there is a difference, between publicity and public relations or PR.
It’s similar. When I think about publicity, I think about it in broad terms. Sometimes people think it’s traditional media like magazines and TV. I also think there are a lot of incredible online visibility opportunities including cool ways to collaborate with influencers and share their work or your work on their platform. I would include that in the publicity category as well.
A PR person or PR firm may not have that expertise or those connections to the online influencers. They may only have the connections to the journalists and traditional mainstream magazines and newspapers and so forth.
It depends on what kind of PR firm but I would say that a lot of PR firms are more familiar with traditional publicity because that’s what they had been doing for years. Also for some of the more exciting new media and online opportunities with influencers, those are things that take time to cultivate that level of relationship. In some cases, it can make sense to hire a publicist especially if you’ve got a big budget or if it’s something that you don’t have a lot of time to focus on. When you have top influencers who’ve got a platform of 10,000, 100,000 or one million people who feel emotionally connected to you, who want to support you and get their fans behind your work, that’s obviously more powerful. It’s important for every entrepreneur to at least understand how to do their own publicity. If you do hire a PR firm, you know how to manage and guide them to make the most out of your investment.
In consulting, there’s this model of done-for-you. There’s also in the coaching space done-with-you or you’re holding the person’s hand as they learn the ropes and then there’s do-it-yourself. You get some training and you do it yourself without any hand-holding. What’s the best model for publicity or I guess, it depends?If you have a strong online presence with clear messaging about who you are, you’re going to be seen as a much more serious expert. Click To Tweet
It’s a hybrid approach. Everybody needs to understand how to get publicity for themselves and how to cultivate the relationships they are going to need and how to leverage the publicity. It’s also valuable to get some help, even if you’re doing it mostly yourself. Having a virtual assistant who is helping compile the media list for you. Maybe you’ve got a few standard pitches or list of story ideas that you can mix and match and adapt. With the business, there’s so much to do that if you can have a virtual assistant do some of the heavy liftings, that’s amazing. That’s much more affordable than going all out and signing a six-month or one-year contract with a PR firm.
PR firms are pretty expensive. My experience has been $5,000 a month and up, maybe $15,000 or you can keep going on and on. I’ve used PR firms before and I’ve gotten mixed results. That’s a big expense to learn the hard way that it didn’t work out. I’ve hired top-end PR people like the lady who came up with the Human Network as the tagline for Cisco years ago. She has had the most amazing credentials but we didn’t get results from that engagement. It didn’t move the needle. I’m curious to hear how to implement a model where you do a lot of the heavy lifting yourself with the help of a VA to keep the costs down and what does that look like cost-wise and potential ROI-wise?
Publicity is easy and it’s hard. It’s something that anyone can learn. It’s not like rocket science. At the same time there is work involved. There are follow-ups involved and all of that. The most important thing when you think about getting publicity is having a clear strategy because entrepreneurs are so busy. There are a million things they could be spending their time doing, whether it’s having sales conversations or serving their clients. They need to make sure the publicity is working for them. I have this framework called the Publicity Pyramid. If you imagine a triangle, there are five different levels. At the bottom level is your home base. In order to be successful with publicity, it’s important to develop that home base. That would be your online presence, whether that is your website. For some people, it might be their Instagram account or social media. When the media is googling you, looking to learn about you and nothing comes up about you online, they’re going to wonder like, “Is this the real deal?” If you have a strong online presence with clear messaging about who you are, perhaps you already have some blog posts on your website, they’re going to see you as a much more serious expert. The next level that I recommend people pursue is guest posts. It’s like an extension from sharing your writing on your website, on your blog, perhaps on your newsletter to then sharing this content on other websites.
The cool thing is that there are top websites like Forbes, mindbodygreen, Business Insider and they’re contributor-driven. They’re looking for content all the time. Right away with your first media when you’re associated with this well-established brand, you’re reaching a big audience. Oftentimes, there are links back to your website. That helps with SEO and things like that. That would be level two. Level three, it would be podcasts and video. What’s cool about podcasts and video as well, maybe some of the top podcasts in your industry might not be a household name like Forbes. They can help get you in front of the right clients. These could be very niche opportunities. The people listening to the podcast hosts are their super fans. They are people who are investing a full hour to learn from that podcaster and from you. These are people that are more likely to purchase high-end services, consulting, coaching and information products.
The next level up is the magazine. This is going from a little more niche to then more broadly. Magazines are great if you have a more low-end product to sell. Maybe you’re selling an app or a book or something that’s maybe less than $100 or a couple of $100 versus $10,000. After that, there is TV. That’s at the top of the pyramid. The opportunities at the top, they are harder to get but every single opportunity below helps you build up to that level. Oftentimes, people fail publicity because right away maybe they don’t have experience. They’re saying to a publicist, “I feel like if Oprah knew about me, she would be all over my work. I wanted to get on Super Soul Sunday or I want to be on the Today Show,” versus working their way up this Publicity Pyramid and building a body of work. When a producer for a top TV show is wondering about this person, they see it as a person is established. It takes practice. On day one, you’re never going to be as good as you could be several months later or years later. Publicity is something that is a process. It’s not overnight where someone becomes this big media sensation. When you approach it in a strategic step-by-step way, it becomes a lot easier.
You work your way up the pyramid, build your credibility, your position in the marketplace for the journalists, TV producers and all that, when you finally make it to the top of the pyramid. You also need to build experience and a track record within each level of the pyramid too. When you work your way up to the TV, pinnacle part of the pyramid, you don’t jump right on to the Today Show. You start in more local markets, smaller markets, get some experience being on TV because how likely is it that a producer of the Today Show or Good Morning America is going to take you on as a first-time person on TV? It’s pretty scary.
The other thing that everyone should be doing is leveraging their relationships and talking to their audience. Asking their audience, let’s say you’re a marketing expert, “When it comes to marketing, what are your favorite podcasts, websites and influencers that you follow?” We may think that we know what people are listening to and reading, but what better way than to ask our audience directly? You may see there’s a particular marketing influencer that you’ve never heard of before. It’s like everyone is talking about them and then you learn, “They’ve got a podcast.” That will help you get in front of the right opportunities to attract more of your ideal clients.
The other thing that you can also do is ask your audience or maybe ask your friends if they have publicity or media connections. I remember when Tim Ferriss had one of his books come out, he emailed his list saying that he was looking for more media opportunities for his book and if anyone had connections to media to fill out a quick form. There are different ways to do it. You could ask your whole list or maybe within your circle of friends and colleagues that certain people have been successful with publicity and having a conversation with them about it. One of the things I say is instead of asking for a big favor, ask for advice. Rather than saying, “Give me your Forbes contact.” Saying something like, “I admire how you had that feature article on Forbes. I thought it displayed your expertise in such a powerful way. I’m curious how I could get those kinds of opportunities. I would love to pitch myself. Do you have any ideas for me or suggestions?” When you get into a conversation about it, then people are helping you solve a problem. They want to see you win. The person is more likely to be like, “Let me put you in touch with my person or let me share that email contact,” versus going straight out and asking for it. Those relationships are important. Also sometimes the people that can give you the publicity opportunities are your friends, colleagues or clients themselves.
One of my most meaningful publicity opportunities was being on the cover of Inspired COACH Magazine, which is an industry publication for female coaches. I never thought that I would see me on a magazine cover and to have this multi-page spread and all of this support and promotion. The publisher of the magazine was a client of my mastermind at the time. It’s common when people know you and they like you. Whether they have worked with you or you meet them at an event or you have a friendship or you’re someone who’s supporting them and their goals, they’re going to start thinking about ways they can support you too.
What happened from you being on the cover of Inspired COACH? Did you get a lot of business from it? Did you get some connections maybe to be on TV like the Today Show or whatever?
Being on that cover of the magazine was the ultimate authority booster. It definitely opens up the door for other media opportunities. You have to make sure to leverage it because you could be on the cover of a magazine and not tell anyone or you could share it with your entire audience and they get super excited. People are like, “Selena, I’m seeing you everywhere. It’s a sign that I’m meant to work with you.” I find that when I do big PR pushes for my business, that’s when people are like, “I want to be mentored by you.” They’re enrolling in my $25,000 mastermind. It definitely opened up a lot more doors and not just with clients and people in my email list but other industry colleagues started to see me as someone who was going places in my business. That also opened up doors to more speaking opportunities and visibility opportunities.
Do you track the ROI of every media impression or every win that you get from publicity like what the ROI was for the Inspired COACH Magazine placement, for example?
Some are easier to track than others. With a podcast opportunity for example, you could have a dedicated landing page that people go to and you could track how many people are hitting that page, how many subscribers, seeing if they turn into clients and that kind of thing. I feel like I’m doing publicity and visibility all the time. I had hundreds of visibility opportunities. I’m not tracking each and every one of them. For the bigger ones, I am tracking. The other thing is a big part of it is how do I leverage it? I remember with one of my launches in the early stages of my business, I did this powerful interview with Andrew Warner of Mixergy. It was centered on how I help clients. It was called How to Charge Premium Prices From Day One (Even If You’re an Unknown).
When I was promoting a course of mine that was about $3,000 and it was time for people to buy, I said, “I know it’s a big decision to decide whether to spend these next six months with me. We may just be getting to know each other. I want to share this interview that I did.” It was raw. It was a very popular interview. It was the number one interview for Mixergy that year. I also shared it with my audience prior. Sometimes it’s good to share your interviews and publicity multiple times. There were numerous people who emailed me saying between that and the webinar or whether, “It was that interview that sealed the deal for me. I’m going to go ahead and enroll in your program.” I’ve definitely seen a very strong connection with the media. I get the more times I’m being visible out there in front of people and then people who are joining my programs.Being on the cover of a magazine is the ultimate authority booster. Click To Tweet
It’s so true that you need to leverage these media opportunities that you’ve gotten because who’s going to know otherwise other than the die-hard fans? Maybe not even they’ll know that you’ve gotten this TV appearance or whatever. When I’m on TV, I’ve had fifteen different TV appearances over the span of a couple of years. Every time I would not only share the clip afterwards but while I’m at the TV studio prepping in the green room, I would share a Facebook Live video, him in the green room. After I’m done with the TV appearance, when I’m about to leave I’m like, “I’m finished. Here are the lessons learned. Here are some tips that I shared on the episode or on this TV appearance. I’d love for you to check out the actual clip once it’s available on the web. I’ll share it here too.” Those multiple hits, strategies so that you leverage what you’ve done are important. I was on TV fifteen times. I had two different magazine covers. Most people would never know that if they didn’t go to my website or didn’t follow me on Facebook or Twitter or whatever. As soon as you’re in my clan, you’re going to get hit with those elements of social proof.
Media can be good for Facebook ads. Right now on Facebook, everyone is advertising and Facebook is optimizing for personal stories but also for social proof. An image of you being on TV or you’re highlighting your article on Entrepreneur or Forbes, that ad is going to do well. You can also retarget those people to then opt-in for a webinar or a video series or something else that would get them into your funnel.
You can target not only people who have been to your website or to a landing page but people who have watched your videos on Facebook. They’ve watched 70% or whatever and now you’re retargeting them with an offer for them. I’d love to hear some examples of each stage in Publicity Pyramid where you’ve gotten yourself some win from each stage. We’ve heard the Inspired COACH example. I’d love to hear some more. I’d love to hear some examples of client wins at each stage of the pyramid. Can we walk through a couple of times up the pyramid and down?
With guest posting, that’s how I built my email list. I remember my first article on Forbes, I got 150 new email subscribers, which is great. People were like, “You’re in Forbes. That’s amazing.” With my clients too, I’ve probably helped 70 people or so or maybe over 100 get articles on Forbes. The interesting thing is people’s businesses can be very successful already. Maybe they have a successful webinar but their parents or their friends, they don’t know what a webinar is. They see, “You’re on Forbes. My daughter has made it,” and that kind of thing. I would say also from generating excitement from your audience, from your family, from your friends and people seeing you as the real deal. I would say being on those household name websites, publications have moved the needle for many of my clients.
What you’re saying is whether you’ve written the article yourself, which is the guest posting strategy or being a contributor strategy or if another contributor guest poster is writing about you or mentioning you even in the article, either way, you get to leverage the cachet that brand has. Maybe use it for example as seen on logo list on your homepage.
One media hit and you can use the name Forbes with your brand for the lifetime of your business. When you’re being introduced on big stages, they’re going to introduce you. They can say that you’ve been featured in places like Forbes. It’s a media logo for the home page of your website. It can be used as social proof on webinar registration pages and sales pages. It’s definitely time well-spent to get a couple of those media logos. In terms of the media logos are going to make the most sense, they are going to be ones that are going to resonate with your audience. It will be different for everyone.
Another place too that I want to mention that is oftentimes overlooked is the signature portion of your email. I’ll give an example of myself. I scored a big win. I got my first article published in Harvard Business Review. If I never get published again in Harvard Business Review, that’s okay. I still get to use the logo. I still get to add a little PS line right above the signature block or even incorporate the HBR logo into the signature block. Every person who’s going to receive an email from me, a personal email, is going to see that in the sig line and that’s going to drive more views, more credibility. Even if they never looked at the article, the fact that it’s there is going to subtly influence them.
People always forget to do that. That’s super powerful. I’m thinking that I should update my signature block with an article that I had on Forbes, which is popular. Another thing that I’ll mention is that sometimes when you’re featured on places, whether it’s Harvard Business Review or any of these business publications, sometimes I’ll use stock imagery as a lead photo. When you post it on Facebook, it doesn’t look that exciting. When I’m sharing stuff with my email list or with my audience on Facebook, I’ll create my own graphics. I’ll use one of my best-performing images. I’ll have the article title or a shortened version of the title and the Forbes logo. I’ll use that for the ad or for the organic Facebook posts. It draws attention. I’ve had other clients create images. It’s like, “I’m on this place and that place.” Don’t feel like you have to only use what they give you. Whatever comes up and you put the link in Facebook, you can control the message that gets out there and how they’re seeing your publicity.
You gave an example of the guest posts stage of the framework. How about podcasts and video?
The podcast, I think back to one of my students to my Impacting Millions course, who was getting started. She had a website. It was one page. It’s not well-put together. She didn’t even have any opt-in on her website. I remember her thinking, “Is it too early for me to get media?” She was excited about the prospect. She went for it on her very first podcast interview. She’s a life and leadership coach. She was sharing her personal story and how she helps clients. Someone sent her a Facebook message saying, “I’d love to work with you.” They got on the phone and she sold her into a $3,000 package. This was her first time charging premium coaching prices because she was transitioning from corporate into being an entrepreneur. It was a huge deal. It was surprising to her that even with no opt-in and not feeling totally stage-ready, she still had someone right away from that first interview saying, “Can I work with you?” and signing up right away.
With magazines, I share my own Inspired COACH example. With magazines, one thing to keep in mind is it depends on who you’re targeting. When I have clients that are looking to enroll people into $10,000 or $15,000 consulting packages, being in a mainstream magazine can definitely help with the credibility factor. Unless it’s a niche trade publication, you might not always get the most ideal client. In magazines, when you think about the products they feature, there are things that are accessible to the average reader. I remember a client getting featured in The Oprah Magazine. She had a lot of inquiries for her health coaching practice. People wanted a one-off session. They weren’t inviting you to enroll at $5,000 or $10,000 levels. She was able to leverage it with her existing audience and get people more excited. That’s why I say when it comes to publicity, you want to think about what your goals are. Let’s say if that health coach had a book, that would be a great opportunity. If her end goal is, “I want to get people into this high-ticket offer.” The magazine and whatever she can offer related to that might be a stepping stone, but it might not be the most direct path to get those types of clients.
With whatever path you take to get the clients, it’s important to track the ROI of all this stuff so that you know that this is working and it’s not throwing money down a pit.
With TV, I’ve had clients be on TV. It’s an adjustment sometimes because most of the entrepreneurs I know have more experience with podcasts where they will be doing a 30, 45-minute or an hour-long interview, whereas the average TV segment is about three minutes. You have to be concise. You have to get to your point more. Also being on TV, you can’t usually talk about your clients as much or your business offerings. It is for a more mainstream audience. What I will say is there are people that are in my student base who have gotten on TV. It has opened up the doors to some amazing opportunities. One of them is a sleep coach. From being on TV, she’s had mattress companies reached out to her and different companies that now want to book her as a corporate spokesperson. They have flown her around the world. She’s been their spokesperson at a media event where she got to meet editors from places like Elle and Vogue and share her advice as a sleep expert. A lot of different opportunities have opened up. When people are thinking about who do they want to hire for a big corporate speaking gig and they see that you have been on top TV shows and things like that, it raises your credibility and makes you a much more exciting option for them.
How about yourself? Have you gotten any TV appearances?We are always our own worst critic. Click To Tweet
I have done a local TV appearance. For me, it’s not something that I personally doubled down on because for me, podcasts and online publications make more sense based on my business goals, based on the clients I’m looking to attract right now. If I were to write a book one day, absolutely that would be a bigger focus. I support a lot of people who are looking to be, not just experts, but mainstream personalities. They’re looking to impact millions. For me right now, the way that I impact millions is by elevating those experts and creating that ripple effect where they’re impacting more people. My preference is focusing on the experts and entrepreneurs, which is more of a niche audience versus super mainstream TV at this time.
It’s exhausting. It’s a ton of travel because you’re going to their TV studios. It could be anywhere in the US or overseas or whatever. It’s a commitment. When I did a lot of TV appearances, I had to get on planes a lot. You’d spend overnight in the different cities because you don’t want to be on an early morning show and have flown in that morning. It’s super risky. You end up spending a lot of time on the road. It was exhausting. I’m not on the TV circuit right now but it’s certainly been valuable. There is this difference between being an authority, being a celebrity and being on TV even if it’s larger local markets with big TV networks, ABC, NBC, CBS, etc. It still conveys the celebrity status that allows you to charge more and to get keynote speaking gigs that you wouldn’t have otherwise been able to get, etc. Do you want to share any other client examples where folks that you’ve trained or that you’ve worked with personally have gotten some huge wins anywhere in that pyramid?
It all comes down to the same thing, getting new clients and doors being opened up to other opportunities. The thing is when you start writing for a top website, your writing can become the basis for a book idea. Sometimes people will be approached by even literary agents being like, “Have you ever thought about turning that article into a book?” That has happened to people. Sometimes when you’re doing podcast interviews, you notice that certain stories are resonating with people and that can become the basis for your TED Talk. As you get more and more publicity, there can be a way to partner with brands to be a corporate spokesperson. All of these opportunities, brand partnerships, speaking and writing a book is all interconnected to publicity.
A lot of people have fears. They’ll say things like, “Why would the media want to feature me? There are other people out there that are more advanced who know more than me,” or they’re totally afraid of messing it up. I think back to one of my clients, her name is Neelam. She’s an Indian woman. She was a retired school teacher. She was on my webinar when I was opening up the doors for my program. She was like, “Can senior citizens join Impacting Millions?” It was so sweet. I was like, “Of course.” She wanted to reinvent herself and become a parenting expert. Even though she didn’t have a PhD or advanced degree, she had raised four very successful kids. One of them had gone on to become a New York Times bestselling author, another working at a top consulting firm and another entrepreneur. Through the work that we did together in my program, we helped her become that go-to expert and to land podcast interviews, articles and things like that. She got her first very basic website up with an opt-in.
I feel like if Neelam can do it when English was her second language, she was feeling like, “Maybe I’m too old for this.” She wasn’t that good at technology, which is a small piece of it. It’s something that everyone can do. When you look at the people who are getting all the attention, it’s not because they’re the smartest people in the world or that their information is better than everyone else’s. It’s that they’re go-getters. They’re willing to put themselves out there and do the work. Maybe they feel fear but they’re going to do it anyways. They’re going to build relationships. They are going to be consistent and that’s why you’re seeing them everywhere.
The early bird gets the worm. Many people look at the successful ones and think, “How I wish I could get coverage in the New York Times or whatever.” It takes the hustle and drive to make it happen. You can outreach directly to a journalist. A lot of times their email address is right there. I did that for a client. I coached him exactly what to do. This was for the Denver Post. I got him covered with a full-page article on the Denver Post, his company. It’s a multibillion-dollar company that owns real estate specifically in the Section 8 Housing market. They’re rehabbing a beautiful building in Downtown Denver. It was Section 8 Housing he was going to be in. The Denver Post was a perfect outlet. They were going to send a press release and I was like, “No. That’s not the way to do this.”
Nobody wants that as a journalist or as a podcaster or blogger or whatever. The last thing you’re looking for is, “I wonder if there are any story ideas in this big slush pile of press releases that I got.” It’s not going to happen. I found an article in the Denver Post about rising rents in Downtown Denver. It was three weeks old. It’s still relevant. It had the email address of the journalist right there at the top with the journalist named. I coached my client on what to say in an outreach email commenting about that article. The first time he sent a draft to me and it was a mini press release. I’m like, “No. This is not going to help you.” Back to the drawing board. He wrote something insightful and thoughtful about rents in Denver. The guy responded almost immediately. He ended up sending a colleague to cover the grand reopening of the building. They wrote this whole full-page article about it in the paper itself, not just on the website, which was cool.
A lot of people will ask me, “Selena, where should I go to get into a press release written?” It’s not even the right question because when someone gets a press release, I think, “Is this a mass email that was sent to hundreds of other people versus direct communication to that person?” The media is so busy. Whenever you can hand them a thoughtful story on a silver platter, when you can also acknowledge them, show that you appreciate their work, maybe you’ve read an article and gave you an idea or, “You mentioned this but have you thought about this?” That’s going to make a world of difference.
None of this throwaway praise that’s not specific to the article or the content piece because they can see right through that like, “That was thoughtful and insightful. I loved that piece.” Insert in the blank the title of that article. I hate that.
Everyone can see through that. That’s almost better not to do that when someone is assuming, “That’s fake or I love your podcast.” Are you sending that to every single podcaster? It’s something specific, whether it’s you appreciate their philosophy or you’ve listened to a recent episode and you thought XYZ was particularly insightful. Something specific so they know that it’s real and genuine.
What are your thoughts about hiring a company that does outreach specifically to podcasters? Does that fit into the model or should you try and develop that as part of your internal strategy using your VAs to build that media list that includes a podcast host lists and have an internal team reach out to these podcasters? I’ve tried both and they both work. I’m curious what your thoughts are.
It definitely depends because there are a lot of different services like that. It depends on who the person who’s pitching. There are some people who are incredible podcast publicists. They spend a lot of time nurturing and developing the relationships and making sure to only send super qualified and aligned guest to the podcaster. If someone has a deep relationship with a podcaster, then it is valuable to get their support if it makes sense for your budget and all of that. There are also a lot of PR people that take a spray and pray approach. Maybe it’s not the press release exactly, that it’s just formulaic and sound mass to everyone, then that’s not going to work.
If the PR person has genuine relationships and they’ve done a great job of cultivating relationships, they’re thoughtful about the introductions they are making and how they position you, then that could definitely be a worthwhile investment. For some people, it makes more sense financially to handle that in-house or they prefer to have that control. I have seen it being done both ways. It depends on the entrepreneur. Are they willing to carve out the time to handle it in-house, which in some cases can be better? It depends on who the person they hire is. If they do super quality work and approach things in that personalized, thoughtful way.
It depends on who you’re assigned within that company as well. I’ve had differing experiences depending on who in the same company has been assigned to work with me or to work with my wife, Orion, for her podcast. I had an episode with Jessica Rhodes and Interview Connections is her company. I’ve had some good success with her. Orion has had some good success with her. It’s a team of people. You’re not working directly with Jessica. You’re working with one of her booking agents and sometimes it doesn’t work out. There’s just not the chemistry there or they’re not doing the best curation of the podcasts that you want to get on. You need to give that feedback. If it doesn’t change the outcome, then you need to ask for a different person on the team. Don’t be afraid to do that. That’s a great episode.To compare yourself to the top leaders in your industry is not fair to yourself. Click To Tweet
I’ve heard good things about her. That’s why it’s so important to understand how to do your own publicity even if you hire another agency. Even if you’re noticing like, “I don’t think these podcasts are super-aligned or something seems off.” Just to be able to speak up and to know this is how you want it to be versus being a total passive player.
I’ve also experienced the other side of it where I’m a podcaster. I have not just this show, but I have Get Yourself Optimized, which used to be called The Optimized Geek. I get pitched all the time. Interview Valet had been aggressive in pitching me over the years and it was getting super annoying. They’d say things that I knew were not true like, “I loved your last episode,” inserting the title of that episode. It was so clear that it was disingenuous. These guests that they were pitching were not the right fit. It got to the point where I’m like, “I’m about ready to add them to my blacklist or to a spam list in my email filters so that I don’t see these anymore,” and then they laid off on emailing me further. I haven’t seen a pitch from them in a while now. It was getting annoying.
A lot of PR people, they want to be able to tell their client, “We sent this number,” as if the more the merrier. It’s more important to have a targeted outreach that makes sense. I can totally understand. People feeling like, “To do a good job as a PR person, I need to blast all these places,” but that can definitely backfire.
Let’s talk about TED Talks because it’s pretty easy to get on a podcast but it’s very hard to get on a TED stage. Even a TEDx stage, that’s a whole other ballgame. I personally have not been on a TEDx stage yet. I would like to achieve that. Is that something that you help your clients and students with achieving?
No, that’s outside of my wheelhouse. Once people identify what their big idea is, it’s easier to pitch yourself for those opportunities. I always refer people to an expert. I’ve got a bunch of TEDx experts in my network that I recommend. Alexia Vernon is one of them and Chantelle Adams. There are countless people. I don’t dive into that in my publicity programs.
Let’s talk about the stories and the big ideas that will get you potentially a TEDx Talk or will get you a major TV appearance. You need to have some hook or angle that’s unique, that’s timely, that’s relevant to their audience. That’s not an easy feat, right?
Yeah. When it comes to media or TED or any kind of outlet, there are certain topics that are always popular in terms of health, weight loss, happiness and things like that. People are always looking for an interesting angle. That’s counterintuitive or set in a way that’s emotionally relevant or timely. I think about people like Gabrielle Bernstein, who is a spiritual teacher and who’s written a lot of books. She has been successful in getting a lot of media and speaking opportunities. On her website, she has a tagline, “Become the happiest person you know.” That’s more interesting than, “Be happy or find inner peace.” It’s like the phrasing. For me, on my website, rather than saying, “Get more visible,” which is clear but a little bit boring. I have, “Go from hidden gem to a household name.”
Part of an idea is messaging in a way that gets it to stand out. Even if you’re touching on something that has been said before because most things have been said before. That’s a big part of it. It’s also sharing your personal story. People are like, “Other people have more years of experience.” Maybe they’ve got more credentials. The way that you can stand out is your unique story and journey to coming about this information, to becoming an expert on this topic and the things that you’ve overcome. It’s all about the best, whether it interviews you’ve listened to, articles you’ve read or talks that you listened to. The ones that pull on your heartstrings where people feel like, “I can relate to this person. I can connect with the fears and the struggles.” The personal story is a big part of putting yourself out there.
I’d say in fact that the best storyteller wins. I was not a great storyteller when I started my speaking career, when I started my first agency back in the ‘90s. I honed my craft and I got better at it. For example, the storytelling isn’t when you interact with me, it’s also on my website. It’s in my emails. Storytelling is weaved throughout everything. My weekly email newsletter, my Thursday Three is what inspired me, what challenged me and what intrigued me. Each one of those is essentially a mini-story every week. It’s gotten the best feedback of all the newsletters I’ve ever sent, this new format. It’s gotten such great feedback. I don’t normally get feedback about an email newsletter. I have people come up at events and say, “I love your newsletter. It really has been impactful for me.”
My About page on my website has personal storytelling. Many About pages are so boring. They’re like the little bio. I have a timeline. I have to give full credit to Greg Merrilees of Studio 1 Design for this idea. He’s got it on his site too where it’s a timeline that walks you through that story of struggle, that journey from rags to riches. It’s cool. My version has a picture of me as a little kid. It has examples of the magazine covers that I got and some TV appearances when I landed a testimonial from Target many years ago and so forth. All these interesting little mini-stories are weaved together in a timeline. If you can do that storytelling everywhere, your website, your emails, even when you’re on stages, I’ve seen some effective videos at the beginning before the person comes on stage, you’re already wrapped because you watched a 90-second video introducing that speaker. It has all the social proof and all this amazing stuff in the little video.
I would love to tell a story if that sounds good to you about my first experience doing media because when it comes to publicity, I can relate to people that feel terrified. It’s interesting even though I love promoting other people, that’s my personality. It has been hard for me to receive attention. I remember when I started my business, this was several years ago. I had a client who was a huge fan of my work. She was like, “Selena, I would love to introduce you to my audience. I will do a Skype video interview with you.” I remember when she suggested that, I immediately froze and thought, “I can’t do that. I’m going to mess up. No.” There is this wiser voice that was like, “Selena, what’s the worst that can happen?” Do it once and see how you like it.”
I was prepping for this interview. It was a big thing for me. We did a Skype interview. Afterward, she sent me a copy. I was with my interns. I had a couple of interns at the time. I was also working on public speaking. I was in Toastmasters because I knew that I needed help with my public speaking. We were watching the interview together. They were accounting my filler words. It was a 40-minute interview. At one point, we were at 137 filler words. I told them, “You can stop counting. This is such a disaster.” I was watching the interview, my face getting red and my hands covering my face. I was like, “This is a train wreck. There’s no way I could share this with my audience.” I noticed in the interview my eyes were darting around. I didn’t maintain good eye contact. I was speaking too fast. I didn’t feel I seemed that charismatic or confident.
One of my interns said to me, “Selena, honestly, it was a good interview. You shared some valuable advice and stories. I think your audience would like it.” I debated like, “Do I send this to my list and see what happens?” Ultimately I decided, “I’m going to send it. I know it’s not that great or it’s not perfect, but I feel like something about what I shared. Let’s see what people think.” I sent it to the email list. I came back to my email and about two hours later, people were responding. They were like, “Thanks for sharing this side of you. I didn’t know that or that was so valuable. Thank you.” I learned three big lessons I always share with people. That is when it comes to ourselves, lesson number one is we are always our own worst critic. Rather than being, saying to myself, “Selena, congratulations for feeling the fear and doing it anyways in your first interview.” I had all my interns there. I was watching the interview basically waiting for all the times where I felt I messed up or wasn’t good enough. Nobody is doing it like that. People are there to listen to your interview to gain value. It’s usually never as bad as we think.
Number two is that we may have high expectations for ourselves because we think about the thought leaders, the experts and the personalities that we admire, that seems so comfortable, eloquent and poised. The thing that we forget is that they’ve been doing this work for five years, ten years, fifteen years or more. They’ve worked on their talks multiple times. They’ve done interviews dozens, if not hundreds of times. They’ve hired coaches and things like that. On day one, comparing yourself to the top leaders in your industry is not fair to yourself. The only way to get better is by doing the work and having it not be perfect but each time getting better and better.The only way to get better is by doing the work and having it not be perfect but each time getting better and better. Click To Tweet
The third thing that I realized is my whole mindset around visibility was a little bit self-centered because rather than thinking about, “I want to get out here and share my message and help people,” I was thinking about, “How do I look? How do I sound? I don’t want to make a fool of myself. I don’t want to mess up.” The thing is we put all that pressure on ourselves that is like, “Me, me, me,” focused. We’re not focusing on the right thing. The entire point of getting your work out there into the world is that so you can help and impact more people’s lives. Even now when I do interviews, I still have filler words. Sometimes I trip up. Sometimes I get a question I didn’t expect. I ask myself, “Did I show up to this interview and give it my all? Was I generous with my knowledge and my advice?” If the answer is yes, then I did a great job. There’s no need to think about it further or overanalyze things. Those lessons and mindset shifts have helped me get more comfortable with getting publicity. I know it’s helped a lot with my students. It’s getting out of our own way and doing it.
Somebody told me at one point, “People are dying because you’re not sharing your message, Stephan.” I had this dream to write a book about personal development, which is still in progress. It will come out. That was the impetus for me to start a podcast which started as The Optimized Geek and it had nothing to do with SEO or online marketing. It was all about things like biohacking and transforming yourself into the best version of yourself and all the journey that I went through, the Tony Robbins events and all this other stuff. I wanted to share that with the world. Because I had fear about stepping into that space, I delayed. I finally did it. I finally started a podcast and started working on the book and everything. While you delay, people are dying. People are having horrible tragedies happen to them because you could have shown the light to light their way, light their path.
I want to also share with your audience a free gift that I have. Once a year, I release a free publicity training as a three-part video series to help you get massive publicity for your business and determine what’s the right publicity that’s going to move the needle and exactly how to get that. People can go to ImpactingMillions.com/Stephan to get that video series. Also, something cool that I’m doing is when you opt-in for the video series and if you watch three videos, they’re very short but super jam-packed, then you can enter to win a special trip to New York City. One lucky winner will get to be flown out to New York City. They’ll be put up in a beautiful hotel. They’ll get to come to a special event, a dinner party where they’ll get to meet some of the top media and influencers from my network and also get some private coaching for me.
The program that you’ve got, Impacting Millions, tell us a little bit about that for our audience.
It’s a seven-module course on getting more publicity for your business. We help you develop a customized media strategy for you. We help you figure it out what makes you stand out, how you’re going to get the media to get excited about you and your story. Also, how to get in various types of media opportunities on the Publicity Pyramid from magazines, TV, podcast and top websites. We also talk about connecting with influencers and collaborating with influencers and being a guest expert in their paid programs, their premium groups, their masterminds and all of that. Expanding the kinds of opportunities that will move the needle in your business. It’s a great program. There are live Q&A calls.
I have a top media coach who’s worked for most of the top women’s magazines and has placed people in top business publications, who gives people personalized feedback on their pitches and ideas that’s copy edited or reviewed. We also make it fun and interactive. We’ve got a 60-day challenge that we do and prizes that people can win. For many people, it’s the best option. There’s an entire year’s worth of support when you join Impacting Millions. A lot of people make new business friends and colleagues. All the people that joined Impacting Millions are entrepreneurs, who have a big vision, who are looking to go places and who are building their platform. It’s an exciting group to be a part of.
If our audience is interested in that, they go to ImpactingMillions.com/Stephan where the free gifts are.
They’ll get access to the video series because we only release it once a year. Once that was taken down, it will redirect to the enrollment page where people can join the program.
The program will close, the free gifts and the opportunity to join for the year will end on what date?
On April 2nd. If they just joined or opt-in for the video series, they’re going to get all the free content. They’re going to get that chance to win the trip to New York City. We also have some live streams where I’m interviewing top media people and asking them how they decide who to put on their shows and their magazines and so forth. There are lots of good stuff. We’ll be notifying people when doors open for the program.
Thank you so much, Selena, for sharing your wisdom, your experiences and some of the hard lessons you’ve learned too on the process of building your own authority positioning. I hope now our audience will take massive action, jump onto that free gift that you’ve offered, learn some more and implement it.
Thank you so much for this opportunity. It was awesome.
Thank you. To our audience, take some action.
- Selena Soo
- How to Charge Premium Prices From Day One (Even If You’re an Unknown) – Selena Soo interview on Mixergy
- Jessica Rhodes – Previous episode
- Get Yourself Optimized
- Gabrielle Bernstein
- Studio 1 Design
- Impacting Millions
- Access Selena Soo’s Free Publicity Training
Your Checklist of Actions to Take
☑ Leverage online visibility opportunities by reaching out to similarly niched influencers so that I can share my work on their platform or vice versa.
☑ Create a clear game plan on how I will create my own publicity. Whether I hire a PR firm or do the publicity myself, knowing how to manage it will make my investment worthwhile.
☑ Adapt Selena Soo’s publicity framework called Publicity Pyramid. Learn its five different levels; namely – developing a strong online presence, pursuing guest posts, posting podcasts and videos, getting on magazines, and appearing on TV.
☑ Consider outsourcing some of the PR tasks to virtual assistants so that I can maximize my time and investment without paying the full price tag of hiring a PR firm.
☑ Engage with my audience. Find out what they are following, watching, reading, and listening to. This will help me in finding opportunities to attract my ideal clients.
☑ Ask for advice instead of asking for favors. Seeking publicity or media connections are necessary but it’s the relationship that I build that will matter the most.
☑ Track and evaluate my ROI regularly so that I can easily identify what’s working and what’s not and move on.
☑ Be a go-getter. To get all the attention I need, I have to put myself out there and do the work.
☑ Don’t be afraid to present my unique story. Share my personal journey and the challenges I’ve overcome to become an expert in the area I’ve chosen.
☑ Take advantage of Selena Soo’s free publicity training. Gain sharper insight and apply strategies that will help me get more publicity today!
About Selena Soo
Selena Soo is a publicity and marketing strategist for visionary entrepreneurs, experts, and authors who want to reach millions with their message.
She’s helped clients and students get featured in places like O, The Oprah Magazine, Forbes, and Inc., and land interviews on popular podcasts and national TV. Many of Selena’s clients have become industry leaders with 7-figure businesses, raving fan bases, and hundreds of thousands of followers.
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