What you’ll get in this interview are Steven Le Vine steps for getting PR.
When I realized that Steven was just an intern when he built grapevine pr in his spare time, I figured he’d be the perfect person to teach someone as busy as you how to get some publicity for your company.
Watch the FULL program
Steven Le Vine, grapevine pr
Steven Le Vine is the founder of grapevine pr, a full-service lifestyle and entertainment public relations firm.
Andrew: Three messages before we get started. If you’re a tech entrepreneur, don’t you have unique legal needs that the average lawyer can’t help you with? That’s why you need Scott Edward Walker of Walker Corporate Law. If you read his articles on VentureBeat, you know that he can help you with issues like raising money or issuing stock options or even deciding whether to form a corporation. Scott Edward Walker is the entrepreneur’s lawyer. See him at WalkerCorporateLaw.com.
And do you remember when I interviewed Sarah Sutton Fell about how thousands of people pay for her job site? Look at the biggest point that she made, she said that she has a phone number on every page of her site because, and here’s a stat, 95% of people who call end up buying. Most people though don’t call her, but it’s seeing a real number increases their confidence in her and they buy. So try this, go to Grasshopper.com and get a phone number that will make your company sound professional, add it to your site and see what happens. Grasshopper.com.
And remember Patrick Buckley who I interviewed? He came up with an idea for an iPad case, he built a store to sell it and in a few months he generated about a million dollars in sales. Well, the platform he used is Shopify. If you have an idea to sell anything, set up your store on Shopify.com because Shopify stores are designed to increase sales. Plus, Shopify makes it easy to set up a beautiful store and manage it. Shopify.com. Here’s the program.
Hey everyone, my name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart. How does an intern build a PR company on the side and end up representing a hundred clients? Steven Le Vine is the founder of Grapevine PR, a full service lifestyle and entertainment public relations firm. I invited him here to tell the story of how he built his business and where it is today. Steven, welcome.
Steven: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Andrew: I want my audience to get a sense of what you’re able to do for your clients. Can you tell them the story of what you did with Basket Underwear? What is Basket Underwear?
Steven: Sure. Baskets, a very popular American underwear and swimwear brand. They’re based in Boulder, Colorado. And we represented them for a couple of years and really tried to take them, they wanted to sort of expand their market reach from being a niche, mainly a niche brand, to a more mainstream underwear and swimwear brand. So what we did is, you know, it took a little bit of time, you know, because PR is very gradual and if you really have a larger goal in mind it’s going to take a longer approach to get to that goal. But what we did is, Levi Johnston at the time had been in the newspapers a lot and in the media because of Sarah Palin entering the 2008 Presidential Race, or Vice-Presidential Race for her, and so he was kind of attaching himself to her and getting a lot of press at the time.
Andrew: And he was dating her daughter and got her daughter pregnant, right?
Steven: Exactly, Bristol Palin. So he was kind of milking, you know, for what it’s worth, his own PR because of her, which is smart because that’s how you build a name for yourself. But, Playgirl was talking about launching or re-launching their issue, their print edition and they scored him for the cover for the debut or premiere cover issue. So what we did is, you know, because he had a gay following but was also straight so he had the mainstream appeal, it was kind of a cross pollination of both, we said why don’t we go after Levi Johnston to possibly wear Basket Underwear on the cover because that would score, be a big get, as we call it.
So, we went off and did it. No pay. We didn’t offer to pay anything, we simply just offered to provide him, you know, a free product and positioned it in such a way that he understood that, you know, we understood that he’s a straight male but has a gay male following and it ended up happening and about four or five pairs of Basket landed on it, or he wore them, in different photos in the spread. So that ended up, we ended up parlaying that into a kind of Hollywood gossip site. It ended up on the Joy Behar Show and also on the Insider, which is a Hollywood gossip TV magazine. So it ended up making the basket sites shut down for a day because there was so much traffic created by it.
Andrew: I see. So let me ask you something. I am imagining that there’s someone in my audience that has a product that could be just as good a fit for someone like a Levi Johnston or whoever happens to be the new gossip guy.
Andrew: I’m trying to formulate the question as I’m thinking of it. How do they even figure out how to contact him? What if they don’t have you, but they say, I want to call up this guy and get him to wear my underwear or my watch or hold my iPhone app or something. I don’t know.
Steven: It wasn’t easy, to be honest. It took a lot of research. Especially with Levi, because he hasn’t really been established and the people that he’s surrounded himself with were kind of fly by night. I don’t even know if he’s still with them. So I basically scoured the Internet for anything I could find. Email addresses, names and I basically ended up finding it through his old Myspace account of his manager/bodyguard/publicist [laughs] attached to that. I said nothing’s going to happen if I don’t approach him. It doesn’t cost anything, why not just approach them? I sent that email to that email address to them and it turned out that it got to them.
Andrew: So you were just googling around the way anyone else could Google around.
Andrew: You end up on a Myspace page. The way anyone else could end up on a Myspace page or Facebook page or whatever page. You’re contacting them using Myspace messages.
Andrew: And you say what? How do you get this guy’s attention when I’m sure every whack job in the country’s trying to date or condemn him or chat him up and get to know Sarah Palin. How do you stand out in all that?
Steven: Well, I actually approached his handlers.
Andrew: And you figured out who his handler was because of what? How did you know who his handler was?
Steven: I just Googled manager and Levi Johnston and then I would find a name and then I would attach that. It’s really like detective work and you have to do this a lot for PR [??]. But I basically connected the dots until I found who I really believed was his manager and that man’s email address and I emailed him directly. But the way that I made my emails. [??] I really thought about the messaging and the positioning of what I was trying to sell him [??] this idea. I was basically proposing to him that Levi’s going to get just as much out of this as the brand because he is wearing a popular underwear [??] that’s especially popular with the gay male community, which is what he was growing his appeal with. Especially with the Playgirl spread. So basically I sold him on the idea. Now if I had just been a fan that contacted him. I probably wouldn’t have [??].
Andrew: I see. So what you are saying to him, well you’re saying to yourself, this guy’s probably trying to appeal to a bigger audience.
Andrew: He’s clearly not afraid to be associated with gay products or products that other people might think are gay because he’s going to Playgirl magazine, which is being read by gay guys.
Andrew: So I’m going to pitch him on this and I’m going to tell him that he can broaden his appeal within this group and maybe go with us main-stream. And that’s what you pitched and that’s what got the attention and that’s it.
Andrew: All right. So I’ve done a few courses and interviews on Mixergy teaching entrepreneurs how they can get PR for themselves. I’m going to get to your story in a minute, but I’ve got to keep hanging on to this one example of your work for a bit to learn as much as possible from it. I’ve done these courses and I keep saying to my audience, look at what this company is able to do without PR. They basically hire an intern and have them do the same thing and you should be able to get the same kind of results, right? So I’m listening to your story. Now that I’ve got a PR person in front of me, I’ve got to ask him, listening to your story, nothing that you’ve just shared with me would be impossible for an intern to do.
Andrew: But, of course, things always seem easy on the outside. We’re all watching this and we all feel like, I could do his job in a minute. What aren’t we picking up on? What couldn’t an intern do that you did as part of this Levi Johnston Basket underwear campaign?
Steven: With that particular scenario, I think the detective work. Scouring the Internet, finding the contact info, anybody can do it. It’s about finding the right keywords and being persistent enough until you find it. What I feel that I bring to the table or what any knowledgeable, skilled publicist, that’s studied the discipline, publicity, PR, marketing, brings to the table is the positioning of it, the messaging. That’s the critical part. Anybody could, you could dig up media outlets, the contact info for a reporter.
Of course, you have to be very specific. You have to know what the issue is going to be about for a magazine. You have to know what column a reporter covers, or an editor covers. Anybody could really, and intern could that. It’s just very time consuming, but where a publicist really helps is in the positioning and the messaging. They break it down to what the critical elements are, what the most important angle is to what you’re trying to sell. You’re trying to sell an idea, whether it’s to media or to somebody like Levi Johnston or his manager, or another celebrity. You’re really trying to break down messaging and positioning.
Andrew: So the messages, how do I get this one person to feel, in this case Levi, how do I get him to feel that this is the right move for him, and how do I explain to Basket Underwear that the vision that I have is to take their underwear, that’s now associated with the gay population, and move it more mainstream? Those are the kinds of things that you need to have, that somebody who is fresh on the job wouldn’t be able to come up with on their own. The creativity.
Steven: Exactly. It’s also really about the goals. When I speak to a lot of prospective clients, whether it’s on the phone or in a meeting, the one question that I find is the most important to ask them is the one that, a lot of times, goes without, unless I ask it, it goes without being answered. It’s, ‘What are your goals? Are you trying to just bring awareness to your brand, or to your personality, or are you trying to drive sales, or drive traffic to your website, or drive attendance to an event, or industry credit?
Do you want to just gain or cement your legacy within your industry? Are you trying to build industry credit?’ That’s always the biggest part. That’s, I think, where a publicist comes in. It’s really directing and managing and driving the campaign and where you want to go, and taking you there. Because, otherwise, you can go in all different directions, and you might not solidify the real meaning of your brand, and your direction.
Andrew: I see. I see, because I might come to you and say, ‘Hey. My competitors are in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. All their homepages have logos from those media outlets, and others. I should be on there if they are, because I’m a better company than they are, and I can see that it helps my business to be in those places. Get me in there.’ What you would say is, ‘Andrew, get you in there for what? It’s part of what bigger vision? What’s the story that you want me to tell?’ Then, you’d help coach out of me that message in the story.
Andrew: How do you do that? How do you get me, who has no interest in telling a story, who has no interest in appealing my business to a mainstream audience, to figure out what that angle is, and how to package it to the New York Times, or how to package it to whatever blog, or how to package it to Levi Johnston? I can’t believe I’m talking so much about this Levi Johnston guy.
Steven: I do that a lot, too. A couple years later…
Andrew: The Basket Underwear connection helped him. He’s finally on Mixergy in some way. Seriously speaking, how do you get me to understand and to formulate my own story?
Steven: Sometimes that’s also where a publicist comes in. He may not be able to pull it out of you. For you, you’re living your life, you’re running your brand. You may not know what’s special about your brand. What I always say, and I also say this to clients that may be in the same arena or industry. Let’s say I’m working with one underwear brand. I may talk another underwear brand, and they may say, “Well, you’re really repping a competitor.” What I would say is, “Every brand, and every personality has its own DNA, just like a person has its own DNA,” so you’re always going to have a certain story. You’re always going to have an interesting story, whether it has to do with you, or concerning your brand, or about what your brand represents. Every brand has its own DNA, so chances are, there’s always going to be something.
Andrew: How do you find out? How do you figure out? If I were the Basket Underwear entrepreneur, I’d say, “Steven, I got to get more people to buy underwear. I hear that PR is cheaper than buying ads, and frankly, no one’s paying attention to the ads I’m buying online. I can’t afford television anyway. Here are a few bucks. Go promote it.” You go, “Listen, Basket Underwear, don’t be a basket case. You got to focus. What do you want me to make the message about?” and they go, “I don’t give a rat’s ass, whatever message that gets people to buy my underwear.” Now, you’re going to have this mentality. You have to focus me. How do you do it?
Steven: I start by, I call it data mining. Basically, I just mine for information to find what your stories are. Do you create, do you have a certain type of underwear that you’ve created, or swimwear that’s made with a certain type of material? For instance, the brand Basket also had a green-washed, well actually green-washed is not the right word. It’s a green, organic line of cotton underwear. So what we did with that is we got that in the New York Times Green section. So, if we hadn’t come in I don’t think necessarily he may have known, but another client may have not put two and two together of what the angles are, the essential angles and where to go with them and how to position them. So, it’s all about data buying.
Andrew: All right. So, let’s suppose I didn’t have you in my life.
Andrew: But I had a friend of mine in my life and we were going to coach each other through this process. We might sit down with a piece of paper, each one of us, and say, what’s special about your business?
Andrew: And it might be if we’re a basket of underwear, it might be what’s special about our business is this new special fabric that we use. What’s special about our business is, maybe another goal point would be, we manufacture in Detroit.
Andrew: Where, you know, there’s no business right now. Where it’s suffering. What’s special about us is that we used to be software programmers and now we’re getting into the physical goods world. So you put all those things down and then for each one of them you might say, who the hell cares about this? Well, if it’s about the fabric, the New York Times cares about it. If it’s about Detroit being the production, well then the Detroit press would care about this. And so on and so forth. Alright, out of all those options, now I could go in a bunch of different directions.
Andrew: How do I figure out what’s the right direction for me? Is it based on who has the biggest audience? Do I go in all directions at once? Is it something else? What do I do with that?
Steven: You look for who’s going to influence your target demographic or your target market the most. So, let’s say, you know, let’s say maybe you are Detroit based and most of your sales come from the Detroit area, you’re going to want to target those Detroit local newspapers, those magazines, those broadcasts outlets, radio outlets. You want to target that audience because you know that that’s going to drive sales. But, that’s only for sales. If your goal is to earn industry credibility, then you’re going to want to target trade press.
So you’re going to want to steer clear of that, go after more of the messaging that has to do with, you know, your vertical markets, and has to do with the industry itself because that’s what’s going to earn you more industry credibility. So you look at your goals and you match them up with where your demographic is and that market and how you want to approach targeting that market.
Andrew: I see. One of the demographics, one of the targets that you said that I might want to go after is industry press.
Andrew: I always wonder about this. I feel like the big reason why someone wants to do an interview on Mixergy and maybe get into TechCrunch is not so much because it’s part of an overall strategy for the, but it’s because that’s the magazine and this Mixergy is the one program that they listen to. And they want to be on the place that their listening to and that their friends are listening to. Now, frankly to me it’s great, it helps me, but it doesn’t sound like it’s a real reason to do press, to do marketing.
Andrew: So that means to me that I might be missing something. Because you’re saying that they should maybe target industry people. Why? What’s a reason to target the industry beyond the vanity?
Steven: I’ll give you a perfect example. Somebody that I’m going to be working with soon who is a major fashion designer. To put it, you know, to summarize it all, you know, together, he has such a huge following within his own fashion industry, he just, you know, he’s had documentaries about him, he knows everybody working for Vogue, Vanity Fair, they all know who he is but he’s not a household name. So, what that’s doing, you know, in his case, he’s only focused on his industry. So he has, he can basically, he has a solidified name within his industry.
Andrew: OK. What’s the benefit to him of having a solidified name in the industry? The industry can only buy so many pairs of pants, you know. And frankly, they probably don’t even buy it; they just get it for free.
Steven: Right. Well, I always, my thing is if you’re going to go after industry press, trade press you also have to go after what’s going to drive your sales because…
Andrew: So then what’s the motivation for going after trade?
Steven: There’s no motivation for going after trade if you’re solely going after trade. But there is…
Andrew: But if you’re going broader, that’s a slice of your time spent on getting the trade media to pay attention to you. What’s the benefit of that?
Steven: If you just go after that, basically you’re solidifying your industry credibility. People within your industry who might, let’s say for instance, you know, you take a tech company and they may get, you know, a client or a company that comes to them for whatever reason. Maybe to build a, you know, a program for them, and it’s not up to where they would normally take on that business. They then can refer you; they can then can refer that company to you because maybe you do take on. Maybe you don’t have a specific niche.
Andrew: I see. OK. You get referral business. If someone in the audience is listening and saying, hey, this client isn’t right for me but I did read about this guy on Mashable, on TechCrunch, I saw him on Mixergy. You know another reason why people tell me that they do these interviews, in private they say Andrew, the reason I want to do this Mixergy interview is for M and A reasons. At some point, I might want to sell my business and I understand that if my potential buyers are watching in the audience then they get to know me over a longer period of time and it makes the conversation easier. I also imagine that it’s great for partnerships, that if you see someone here who potentially you could partner up with, you get to know them a little bit in the motivation and it’s easier to reach out.
Andrew: All right, so there are reasons to do the press. You just, you’re saying it shouldn’t be the sole reason for doing it. It shouldn’t be your only press. It needs to be thought out; it needs to be a part of a much bigger pie.
Steven: Exactly. It’s with supplementary support but that’s, yes, that’s about it.
Andrew: All right. What we’ve now done is we’ve bullet pointed what’s special about us; we’ve asked ourselves who’s the media that’s going to care about it; we’ve maybe prioritized this list of bullet points and media based on who has the biggest chunk of our target demographic.
Andrew: I want to know what to do next. But before I do, let me ask you this. I have a tendency to break everything down into systems and bullet points and, you know, you’ve seen me do this here and you saw me do it before the interview. Am I by, am I capturing the process properly by breaking it down this way? You know, not a hundred percent but properly, or am I inflicting my own need for order on a process that’s just not this organized and I’m doing a disservice to my audience?
Steven: When it comes to PR?
Andrew: Yeah. How am I breaking down your process? Am I doing it justice by breaking it down or am I doing it damage by breaking it down?
Steven: No. Absolutely. I mean, a lot of PR is throwing things up against the wall which works in a way but the better strategy would be to be more organized and strategic and targeted. So, absolutely, you never want to suffocate something by, you know, breaking it down into too many parts. There always has to be room for wiggle room, but it does help to be organized and targeted because that’s where I think a lot of brands fail that don’t have a publicist or whatever market, you know, somebody doing marketing on staff or hired because they don’t know sort of the direction so they really are just throwing things up against the wall to see if they stick.
Andrew: OK. I got my list now. It’s time for me to move. What, where do I get started? What do I do next?
Steven: So, the next thing would be. Well, I guess it depends on has the press initiative, have the press efforts started? If they haven’t, you’re going to want to start going after those outlets and finding out, you know, which ones you want to target and how to do that but once you’re done with that then you want to start actually going after them. What I usually do is, I usually come up with a wish list, or have the client come up with a wish list of bigger outlets that they really want to go after.
If they have a legitimately big breaking story, such as they’ve just signed somebody to their company, or I mean, it really could be anything as long as it’s big and you haven’t shared it yet. I usually like to go after the larger outlets first. Top down approach or top tier outlets, with an exclusive story. So, let’s say you just signed an actor, a famous actor, an A-list actor to your cast; you’re going to want to go after either Variety or Hollywood Reporter with an exclusive. Because what you do is, you’re maximizing you’re opportunities to get press by starting at the top and working down. If you go after everybody, the big outlets might not take interest in it first and, you know, you might end up shooting your strategy in the foot because you’ll get less exposure than you would have generated.
Andrew: Gotcha. So, prioritize them from biggest to smallest.
Andrew: Give the priority to and the potential exclusive to the biggest guys and then go down the list. I think we might have skipped a step. I was having a conversation with Stella Fame of Fee Fighters, she does their PR.
Andrew: And I asked her, how do you know who to go after? And she said, Andrew, I didn’t even put together a list, but I knew I needed a media list, I forget what you called it. What do you guys call it? What’s the lingo?
Steven: Media list.
Andrew: Media list, alright, easy enough I should have remembered it. She said, I needed a media list but I’m too busy to put it together because I’m running my business. She went to O-Desk and she said, I basically need forty outlets that cover this topic.
Andrew: Give me the name of the reporter at the outlet, the e-mail address because it’s going to be available somewhere on the website and lists, I’m sorry, and links to at least two articles that are related to this topic so that I can read up about them.
Andrew: Essentially, that’s what she did. She’s a novice at PR, she’s just doing it in her start up.
Andrew: Is she doing it right, or is there a more professional way, that she’s missing impact, because she’s not tapping into?
Steven: There’s two ways to go about it. The one way is to do a lot of research and go through, let’s take a newspaper for example. Let’s say it’s the New York Times. There’s a lot of reporters there, and then there’s managers, and then there’s managing, and then there’s deputy editors. There are a lot of people working. It’s not just one small magazine or blog where there are a couple of people working. So you really need to be highly focused in finding who they are. That’s when, the flip side of that is to pay for a service like Vocus or Cision. It can be extremely expensive, it’s literally a few thousand dollars for an annual subscription, so if you don’t have that budget then you really do have to do the first method. But what those do is they break it down. You type in any type of industry, any type of story, and it will pull all those editors that will cover that.
Now, the only downside is, they’re updated as often as those outlets are updated. But a lot of reporters and editors are constantly moving. So, you’re really…My personal, particular strategy is to do more intensive research based on looking up the articles and seeing who is writing about those, and then targeting those people. Because those are pretty much the two…
Andrew: I see. The way that she talked about, could end up…I think I might have lost your connection. Are you still there?
Steven: …ways to go about it.
Andrew: There we go. So, the way that I talked about, could end up getting you on the exact same list, both David Pogue of the New York Times, and Nick Bilton of the New York Times, they’re both tech reporters at the New York Times, but they each really cover different things. If you send one story to David Pogue, and the exact same story to Nick Bilton, you’re going to get a different reaction.
David Pogue covers personal technology, and does a lot of reviews, I’m letting your video catch up, that’s why I’m talking so long, and I think Nick Bilton talks about more of what’s going on in the news and in the industry. The other way that Stella showed, could get them all on the same list, and then you have to go through and figure out who’s the right person and who’s not.
Andrew: The higher end solution was to go to Cision, right?
Steven: Right, exactly.
Andrew: With Cision, what would I type in if I wanted to find someone to review my new web app, or my new iPhone app?
Steven: You would type in ‘social media web apps’. You’d basically narrow it down by keyword, and I believe you could put in as many keywords as you want, but obviously, you don’t want to put too many in because you might not get a good result. But you could really narrow it down. Let’s say you just want to go after broadcast outlets. You can just narrow it down to broadcast outlets, or a certain city, or a certain newspaper. You can really narrow it down to who you want to go after, and it will provide you with a list of those reporters or producers.
Andrew: Got it. All right. So now we have our list. We have it organized based on dream target, and so-so also ran. It’s time for us to start contacting them.
Andrew: Before we contact them, what do we need to have ready in order to contact them?
Steven: Your messaging.
Andrew: My messaging. How do have your messaging ready? What do you do to prepare it?
Steven: It basically depends on who you’re going after. This is again where the publicist comes in handy, but, again, it’s something that anybody can learn. You have to look at who that reporter, let’s say you’re, again, you’re taking your newspaper reporter. Or, let’s take a magazine editor. There are so many different sections to it. You’re going to want to first find the editorial calendar for that year. What that is, basically, it’s usually used for advertising, but it’s a publicist’s tool.
So, what you’re going to do is you’re going to find their advertising packet, which usually has a rate sheet, and everything, it has their editorial calendar in it. It breaks down, for a magazine, per month, or per issue, what each issue is going to be themed, what it’s going to be about, and what sections, stories they’re going to cover. It’s not very specific, but it’s specific enough that, let’s say you’re a web app creator. And let’s say you’re targeting Ad Week. And Ad Week has a specific issue coming out in October, and October is about web apps.
Your chances are that you’re going to want to go after that issue, because you have the best chances of getting it in there. Let’s say there’s, within each magazine, there’s a certain column, that’s run by a certain reporter, and that column is new, fresh. It covers the latest web apps, or the latest technology. That’s who you’re going to want to go after because you’re making it so specific and you’re going after the right reporter, editor, that they can’t possibly turn you down if you have a good story and a good product.
Andrew: I see. All right. So magazines do plan that far ahead. Newspapers, I’m sure are not that far ahead . . .
Andrew: . . . but also have some distance that they can look forward. You want to target your message to them. You said that we need to craft our message or to prepare our messaging.
Andrew: How do we do that? Is it just coming up with once sentence that describes who we are or do you mean something more detailed than that?
Steven: You can do many different ways. The good thing is to keep it concise. It doesn’t have to be short, but you also don’t want it to be lengthy. You can do it two different ways. You can have a press release ready, which I usually recommend press releases for blogs because they like a lot of content creation. They don’t want to write a lot of things, they just want to paste them onto their website, their blog. Whereas a report doesn’t want you to send them, they don’t necessarily want to just copy and paste what you send them. They want to actually send a reporter out or a writer. Assign a writer to actually cover it or to interview you.
So what you want to do is figure out what your tactics are. Are your tactics going to be a press release or are they going to be a pitch letter? A pitch letter is more of a proposition, a proposal of what your story is going to be about and where you can see it. Is it going to be in a particular section? A particular month? What’s the most important facet, aspect of your story? Whereas that’s similar to a press release, but a press release is much more.
Andrew: It’s written like an article, where a pitch letter is written like a letter.
Andrew: If I Google ‘pitch letter,’ will I be able to come up with some?
Steven: You should, yeah.
Andrew: Can I see any of yours or is this private stuff?
Steven: Oh absolutely. I can share it with anybody.
Andrew: All right. So if people ask you for a pitch letter, you’ll be happy to share one of your pitch letters with them?
Steven: Yeah I’ll share anything. I have a lot of transparency. The only thing that I would advise, is a lot of pitch letters are going to be different, depending on which outlet you’re going after. So you’re not always going to have one pitch letter for all outlets. It’s going to change depending on the audience and depending on the section of the magazine.
Andrew: OK. Fair enough. What else do I need to know? Press release.
Andrew: If I go to guru.com or Elance and all those places. Look at how I just keep belittling the whole industry by saying I could just go and outsource it. But you know what, I want to break things down to the most basic levels . . .
Andrew: . . . of going and using freelancers. Even though I know in my audience, there are a lot of people hire full PR agencies.
Andrew: Because I feel if you understand the basics of it, you can clearly expand on it and make better.
Andrew: But if all you’re presented is the top, high end, you don’t know how to find simpler solutions for it.
Andrew: So if I were to go to Elance or Guru and say, create a press release for me.
Andrew: What am I asking for to get the right kind of press release? What am I looking for once I get it, to let me know that this is good versus a bad press release?
Steven: Absolutely. First thing is obviously spelling and grammar. That’s a big mistake, a big no-no, that I see in a lot of poorly written press releases because they want to know that what you’re sending them shows that you can write. Otherwise they’re going to look at it and think that you have no credibility, you’re kind of a fly by night company, or you’re an amateur. They’re not going to think that this is somebody to take seriously. So you want to make sure absolutely that your spelling and your grammar is intact. Once you do that, you want to make sure it’s not too long. I usually try to stay on one and a half pages. I don’t like to go farther than that, because then it becomes too long.
You really want it to be written like a newspaper article. You want it to be interesting. You want it to have the most important facts at the top, but also have an interesting hook. You don’t want it to be too bland. You don’t want it to be too out there and out of the box, because nobody’s going to understand what your messaging is, what your story is. So it’s kind of one of those things, like Goldilocks, it has to be little of everything. It has to be the right blend or it’s not necessarily going to work.
Andrew: All right. So now you’ve got this thing.
Andrew: You’re ready to send it out. You send out either a pitch letter or the press release. I guess you could reach most people now by email. So you include it in the email.
Andrew: Include a note or two, a sentence or two in the note on top of it?
Steven: Absolutely. So what I do is I have a subject. You could either put Release and then what the press release is about or something even catchier. But you want to make it short enough that it fits within the email box, the header. And what we usually do, is put a couple of sentences showing that you’re proposing the story to them, that it’s for consideration. That you’re not shoving it down their throat. You’re not just randomly sending it to them. It’s directed at them, and you know what it’s for, and then maybe just share a sentence about what the press release really is about, what the story is really about, which is usually what the first paragraph or the first sentence of the press release is about. It’s usually going to mirror that. And that’s pretty much it.
And the thing that you want to realize is sometimes if you attach the press release, it can end up in their spam folder and they may not even get it. So what I usually do is I like to paste in an email to guarantee that they got it. And keep a hard copy that I can send them, but chances are they won’t need that.
And follow-ups are essential. You’re always going to want to follow-up to make sure that they actually got it and it’s not floating in cyberspace.
Andrew: All right. We clearly are going down a certain path here with this interview. And I want to continue down this path and …
Andrew: … figure out what the next steps are. Got a note here to find out about persistence and how persistent you can be, but let me take a step away from this, if you don’t mind, and ask you a question. To me, listening to this kind of interview or reading a book that takes this format, the how-to format …
Andrew: … to me, it’s interesting. But I’m watching television and I don’t see this on every channel. I don’t see it on any channel.
Andrew: I don’t see people say, “Hey did you hear that how to, hour-long interview? That was frickin phenomenal!”
Andrew: So somehow I’m out of step with the world. And I’m OK being a little out of step, but I feel that maybe you’ve got this understanding of what we’re doing here in this interview, but you also have an understanding of what people like.
Andrew: How am I off? Help me understand how the way that I’m presenting this information is getting less than extreme enthusiasm. What am I missing? Am I not making it fun enough? Am I not dressing this up enough? What do you think?
Steven: “How to” is very mechanical.
Steven: It’s important to show people how to do things, but you also want to teach them and show them why they want to do it and what makes it interesting, so it’s always a mix of both. If you just tell the story, if you just make it interesting, they’re not going to understand how to do it. So you want to always show them how to do something. So I think it’s a good approach if somebody’s at a very basic level.
Let’s take PR, and they want to learn how to do PR, and they have never done it before and they just created a start up company, they’re going to want to find out the theory, the fundamentals of how PR works. That’s where it’s good. It’s good at the very bottom basic level. But once you get there, they’re going to want to know why am I doing this? What’s the benefit of it? How does it work? How does it translate into what I want?
Andrew: Still, so you’re saying, put more “why” in there …
Andrew: … and by the way, don’t worry about it. Even though we’re breaking the wall here and letting people in to see what’s going on behind (________). You’re still reaching a big audience with Mixergy and there’s still a very hungry crowd of people who want to learn this business how to stuff. But I’m curious. I feel that somehow the way that I’m presenting it isn’t going to go beyond where I am right now. And even looking at Inc magazine or the Wall Street Journal, they’re both appealing to very business people. The kind of people who might read a book like made to stick and learn how to communicate their story in a memorable way. Those magazines aren’t running how to articles. Those magazines aren’t going step by step into what to do to whatever.
Andrew: What is it? Is it that it needs to be, are they spinning it a certain way because I believe, I could be wrong, I believe that people love learning things, and especially things they can implement into their business and see results with.
Andrew: Am I wrong? Tell me.
Steven: Two things. A lot of what those publications are focusing on is success. Which people that are reading it, want to either hear success stories or the second part of it is they want to feel that they’re lives either are mirroring that or can mirror it. They want to relate. They want to either say, “Oh, look at what that person did. Look at what they did with that brand. I want to do that.” So it’s inspiration.
And the second part is, “Wow, look at all these success stories.” So I’m happy that I did what I’m doing and that I’m successful and all these other people are successful. They want to be able to relate to a story. To a human interest element.
Andrew: OK. And you’re reminding me of something that I haven’t done much in this interview. We’re now 38 minutes into the conversation after editing. It might be 30. I don’t know where the audience is exactly, but the last time I asked you for an example was right after I intro’d you and we talked about Basket underwear . . .
Andrew: . . . and throughout I didn’t ask you. One of the reasons I didn’t ask is, I don’t know if you’re prepared to give me a quick example. I’m worried about putting you on the spot. How do I get that you feel okay with it. If I ask you about any one of these steps, let’s talk about persistence then. You now know the message.
Andrew: You now know the product you’re going to use to convey the message to a reporter and you even know who the reporter is, it’s time for you to send the email out, you send it out. Give me an example of how you followed up with someone and were persistence but not smothering.
Steven: Exactly. A lot of mistakes that people make even public professional publicist, is to 1) [??] the editor, 2) make them feel that they’re obligated to run your story. What you want to do is you want to make it so that your kindly following up, they know you’re going to follow up they realize it and a lot of people don’t follow up. Chances are – I get most of my successful hits for clients after the follow up. I can send out a press release or a pitch letter to media and not hear anything, I can send it out to hundreds of editors and bloggers, I don’t hear anything. When I usually do start hearing back is on the follow ups because they know the people that aren’t persistent aren’t really serious about what they’re doing.
What I usually do is a nice short sentence of; Dear so -and-so, Hi so-and-so, either just wanted to make sure you got this and see if there’s any possible interest and thank you. That’s all it takes. If you send them something too long there just going to toss it in the trash and if you make it sound like you just sent it out and you want to find out if they got it, they get that all the time. They really want to know.
The other part of it is to say, by the way, if you like I have some photos I can send you. I have some imagery, I have some video content. You really want to make it seem – you want them to realize that you have their best interest in mind, that you’re trying to help them to help you.
Andrew: I see. So it’s not, hey did you get my email? It’s not, how much will you run me?
Steven: Absolutely not.
Andrew: It’s would a photo help. I think I have a chart that will help illuminate this. I got this video would that help, that kind of thing.
Steven: Right. So what you’re trying to do is give them . . .
Andrew: Give me an example of how you did that. Maybe this is one of the reasons I’m not giving enough examples in my interviews. I shouldn’t say, give me an example. Actually through trail and error I found that if I say, give me an example I put people on the spot and it pops up they somehow come up with examples, but you never know. Give me an example then, Steven.
Steven: Of following up with somebody?
Andrew: Yeah. Was there someone you had to get to do something and you needed to be persistent and that’s what did it? Help illuminate this tactic with the listeners.
Steven: I have a perfect example, prior to starting Grape Vine but at the first PR firm, our first PR job that I had while I was starting Grape Vine, I [??] the Wall Street Journal for one of their clients, which was real estate related. Now Wall Street Journal’s not easy feed. It’s very difficult and normally the vice president’s at that company [??] it’s just very difficult. So what I did, I had to follow up with them for close to a couple months.
Initially, I sent them the pitch, the press release on what the story was about, which basically had to do with, to sum it up, a 25 year journey of a residential developer trying to build a complex in a spot in upstate New York that was supposed to have a renaissance and did it for 25 years and all those pieces came together at the end of 25 years including the residential developer being able to build that building. Perfect story for the Wall Street Journal, but they’re busy they’re writing all their content, they’re not copying and pasting, they’re backed up with only the most current news that they want to cover.
I first sent them the press release and the pitch thinking I’ll probably not hear back from them, it’s the Wall Street Journal, but I followed up again, a week later, and they wrote back and they said, “Yes, this actually sounds like an interesting story” but then didn’t really say anything after that. So I waited another week or two and followed up kindly, “Just wanted to follow up and see if there is still interest in this story, I’d be happy to set you up with some interviews with the president or vice president of the developer, the company.” Kept going on after that and once they actually did the interview, you don’t hear anything back. It’s a long process but it needs to be persistent but also kind to who you’re working with otherwise they’re not going to take any interest in wanting to work with you . . .
Andrew: All right. I see this process from beginning to end.
Andrew: Let’s get a little more creative right now.
Andrew: With Basket Underwear, the example you gave me earlier, you didn’t just go and pitch a press release. You came up with a unique way to highlight what these, what this pair of underwear looks like and who might be interested in it.
Andrew: When you come up with these ideas, and you finally get that action that you’re going for. In this case, you got the guy to wear the underwear. Is it easy then to take that story and pitch that?
Steven: The story itself?
Andrew: Yeah, the story itself, to say to bloggers, to say to other reporters, hey, Levi Johnston, you know the big shoot that he just did for Playgirl, he happens to be wearing this pair of underwear and you should know that and this is the background on that underwear, it used to be worn just by gay guys but now it’s worn by the rest of the population.
Steven: Right. My favorite thing actually to do is to do that. To milk one story to get even more coverage, to exploit it to maximize it. So with that particular story, we already, we had those photos that were leaked. So what we did with those is we took those and then put together a little press release and sent it to all the Hollywood blogs, everybody from Perez Hilton to, you know, just some of the other Hollywood gossip sites. Giving them the content, giving them the story and giving them the, you know, the visuals.
So what they did is now they have content. They have a great news story, they have something that’s hot, they know they’re going to get visitors to their site, they absolutely ran that. And from that one story that was big, you maximized it by getting it in, you know, dozens of other outfits.
Andrew: I see. What do you call this kind of PR where you get somebody to wear your clients’ underwear? It’s not just product placement, there’s some kind of out of the box thinking that you go through to come up with these ideas. I want to understand that thinking, but first give it a name. What is this?
Steven: Well, it’s definitely not product placement because you’re not paying them. Product placement would be more like advertising, where you’re actually paying them. This is just, you know, out of the box thinking. It’s, actually I have to be honest, I don’t know what it would be called, but you know.
Andrew: OK. Well, it’s basically out of the box thinking.
Andrew: If I wanted to come up with it, give me some examples of it and then maybe we can break down the process that you go through to come up with an idea like that. Because if I even had a watch, I wouldn’t think, hey, I should go and get. Well, maybe know I would think how do I go get a celebrity to go wear it in whatever underwear shoot but that’s not really creative thinking. That’s not coming up with anything new, that’s just taking your exact idea and superimposing it, or superimposing my product on it.
What other ideas have you had or what other ideas do you admire or you worked with people? Let’s go as closely to you as possible. What other ideas have you had like that and which ones have you worked with that have come. One of the problems with doing interviews the way that I do is that I can’t friggin’ edit it. You know if I was writing and I saw that a line went too long, I could go back and edit it.
Steven: Edit it, right.
Andrew: When I see sometimes that my question goes on too long, I don’t yet know how to cut it off and just bring it home. And I know that Charlie Rose used to even have this issue. He used to go on and on and on and on with the question to the point where there was a Saturday Night Live bit about it and now he’s quick. So I don’t know how to bring it home, but I think you get my point. Give me some examples, if you don’t mind.
Steven: Sure. There are ones that have worked successfully for us is the film makers that we represent. We’ve had musicians that we represent as well and underwear brands and other types of products. So, what we’ve done with is, here’s a film that’s going to get, you know, it’s going to reach a certain audience. It’s an Indy film, why don’t you, do you want to put together a soundtrack. Well, here we have musicians that either could perform songs during the movie or for the soundtrack company. Or maybe, their coming out of the pool in a certain film, here’s swimwear that they could wear and it’s also.
So it is product placement, but it’s really all about earned media exposure. You know, you’re not paying them. I mean, sometimes they will ask, you know, you to pay them, but most of the time, their happy to get product. You know, their getting product that they can display in their film making, you know, that’s going to bring in that built in audience of that brand. So, it all kind of works together, it’s all about, I guess it would be more so cross pollination. Cross branding, cross marketing. That’s really what it’s about.
Andrew: I see. So what’s going on in the world that I could take my product and make it a part of it? Who’s getting some cameras put on them, whose getting some reporters paying attention to them? Great, I want to find a way to put my stuff into their hands and put it within their shots. You told me a story earlier, before the interview started about a niche film director who you worked with who had a script.
Andrew: Now a script is not something that you can give to a girl who’s popping out of a hot tub and make sure it gets attention that way. What do you do that’s out of the box to help someone like this guy?
Steven: It was I guess more of a creative, it was about persistence and finding the right messaging and making it as appealing as possible and making these bigger, larger outlets like the Hollywood Reporter and Variety notice that this person is creating a name. So what this particular strategy was about is what I call the snowball approach, you start off, let’s say the person doesn’t really have a name, they don’t really have a product but they have a goal in mind and they want to get somewhere.
You start off at the lowest possible press that you can find. Obviously it’s going to be something that’s not going to hurt your image, whatever image you have at that point, but you start off at blogs, they’re hungry for content, they’ll be happy to run it. You start off at smaller local, regional newspapers and areas that they’re based in. You basically build from the ground up. It’s really a grass roots approach.
Andrew: You build up the reputation of the film director at that point?
Andrew: How many people can we get to him, we’ll start off small and we’ll build, build, build.
Andrew: I see. Is there anything out of the box that you can do with this kind of person?
Steven: It all depends on, with this particular story, it was really looking at whatever angels that we had, they weren’t really that appealing but they were interesting in certain ways to appeal to certain outlets, media outlets. What we basically did was we, with that it was [??] credibility, it was about getting as much press as possible so that we could go to the bigger outlets and say this guy, this film maker, this script has been covered by such and such, and such and such. As you work up you get bigger magazines and bigger outlets.
Then the bigger ones want to jump on that. It was also about some maybe not so PR, not so, PR focus things that we helped out with such as, telling them who might be good to cast. Now that’s not necessarily the job of a publicist but we were helping out, we were really heavily involved and it turns out that that persona that we thought would be appealing as a cast attachment was. That was able to generate the Hollywood Reporter and Variety to pick it up.
Andrew: They picked it up because of the person who was attached?
Andrew: I see. I recognize that as Hollywood lingo, you guys always talk about, at least the guys who mock you guys in the movies say, this guy’s attached.
Steven: There was also another actor, which at the time there was a strike with SAG and there weren’t many, I don’t know exactly as far as all the industry terms and how it really worked, I don’t really understand that part of it, but basically what it was, was the film’s production company, which was what this film maker had founded had found a way to still make this film happen, if you were to go into production even despite the SAG strike.
There were only a couple of film production companies that had enacted in this or joined on to what this initiative was and that was an appealing trend story, so from that we also got the Hollywood Reporter and Variety and I think the Associated Press and Fox News to all pick up on this because it was another interesting story. It’s all about milking really anything you can find, making it appealing and making sure you’re thinking outside of the box in terms of not just the stories that you’re coming up with from things that you’ve already done or who you are, but actually going out and doing things that will also create story content.
Andrew: Like what? What could I go and do right now that might make interesting story content?
Steven: Let’s say, maybe you’re doing a new segment or – actually here’s a better one, maybe you’ve just aligned with another media outlet. Let’s say you just aligned with Entrepreneur or Fast Company to now syndicate your content. From that we would go after some, maybe that would be more focused on industry trades again because they care about what’s going on in the industry, maybe going after some of the other business magazines or Ad Week or Ad Age and telling them, sending out a press release saying that, Mixergy just signed with Fast Company to now show that segment or that content on their . . .
Andrew: I see.
Steven: . . . yeah, so it’s thinking outside the box and what you’re doing and then turning that into an appealing story angle.
Andrew: All right. Maybe I can toss things out and say, Harvey [Weinstein] is attached to consider being, I don’t know.
Steven: Obviously that’s something else where that comes back to bite you if you make things up.
Andrew: Oh really? What is he going to do to me? If he comes and does something to me, Harvey Weinstein yells at Andrew, that could be a great story, too.
Steven: Right. That could be another story is having a major celebrity entrepreneur come on your show, then you send that out to the blogs. There’s a lot of different things you could do, it’s just thinking outside the box and trying to come up with interesting angles.
Andrew: I’m not sure how much of this you noticed, but we started out the interview with me promising one story to the audience and then I shifted to another.
Andrew: Let’s go back a bit about how you got here and then I don’t know what. Then maybe I’ll do a pitch for my premium program, get people to buy from me, get a little more revenue and grow the tribe and we find a way for people to connect with you. So you started this thing as an intern on the side?
Andrew: For who? Who was your first client?
Steven: My first client was actually a jazz lounge singer who had an album out, but wasn’t really an established singer. She’s very talented, but she was trying to really start up her musical career, so with her I learned a lot. I already had fundamentals of PR down from studying in college, but from there I really learned how to have a hands-on approach. I really learned it by doing it. So she was my first client. That was when it was called Grapevine Promotions.
Andrew: I’ve talked to a lot of entrepreneurs here about how they started their software-based business or Internet-based business and a lot of times it was, oh, I was just trying something out and then boom, I got a check for $100,000 or $10,000 and that’s why I got hooked. I always meant for it to be a side business, but this thing was kicking out so much cash I had to focus full time.
Andrew: That’s not the only story that I hear, but it’s one. I understand in that case. I can’t imagine that in this case that you either got so much money from promoting this person or that you got so much satisfaction that you said, I’m changing the world here, I’ve got to continue. What was it then about the space that made you connect with it and continue?
Steven: It was just the feeling that I was actually doing something, that I was a part of something bigger, that it was me driving it. Obviously it has to do with the client’s talent as well, but it was me actually driving this. I was the one in full control. I liked that. I liked knowing that I was actually making something happen. I was creating a rapport.
Andrew: Was there one thing that happened that made you especially feel I am driving this, I’m no longer someone’s intern, I’m someone’s savior here, I’m somebody’s helper, director?
Steven: Not so much with her, because with her I think I was doing a lot more of the logistical work to help her, even though I was still doing it myself and realizing that I liked this independence. I guess what really did it for me was I had put it on hold just for a couple of months and I went to work for a major PR firm that was real estate related, which is what I was discussing, and I guess I felt, while I was working for corporate America, I know it’s for a lot of people, but for me I just felt that I was an ant in a colony and that I really wasn’t making much of an impact.
I was getting press for clients no doubt about it, I was getting Wall Street Journal, but I still felt that I’m still a number. That’s fine, I think a lot of people like that, they like the structure. For me, I like the flexibility, I like knowing that I can make my decisions. I can accept responsibility when they’re bad. I can enjoy the successes when they’re good. I like that it’s me. I guess to think about one particular client that made me feel this, it’s really any time, whether I get them in the local newspaper and they get to show their family, that means a lot to them so it means a lot to me.
Or getting a big gig like The Wall Street Journal, or Hollywood Reporter or The Basket or any of the others. It’s exciting. You know that it wouldn’t have happened if you didn’t drive that to happen, that you can enjoy that success. I just like knowing that it’s because of me and I’m not just a number.
Andrew: I get that. I think the way that I asked that question really didn’t come out right and I’m thinking, I don’t see any frustration in Steven’s face with me. I don’t know if the audience is going to pick up on it or not. Do I address it? I say screw it, I’m going to call myself out, that was not the right way to ask that question. Were you bothered by that? You didn’t seem bothered.
Steven: No, I was excited to [??].
Andrew: All right. Ari, who researched you, told me that eventually you landed on the front page of a major newspaper and then the company you worked for basically asked you to leave, right? Or stop?
Andrew: What was the newspaper?
Steven: It was the Asbury Park Press. It was the second largest in New Jersey and the largest in that particular area of central New Jersey. I knew what I was doing. [laughs] I knew, I kind of planned it out. Part of it was accidental. When everything started to take off, I didn’t really know it what was happening. I was so shocked that this business was actually starting to bloom. Meanwhile I was working at this real estate PR firm, but by the time that I knew it was starting to come out, I had already kind of known, instinctually that they were going to find out.
They were going to see this and that was going to be an excuse for me to finally to be able to leave and go off and do what I really wanted to do. That’s exactly what happened. You know, it landed on the front page of the business section. A week later or a couple days later they called me in the office. This was September of 2007 and they said they were flabbergasted. They were just surprised because I was an assistant account executive. I mean this just didn’t happen. [laughs] And they asked me if this was true. I said absolutely and they said, well we don’t know how to tell you this, but we’re not going to be able to work here and do this on the side, it’s competition.
And I first said, well I’m not taking on the same types of clients as you do, it’s different. They said, well it doesn’t matter, because you could potentially. I understood that. I knew what was going to happen. They said, well you can give it up and stay here or you can leave and keep doing what you’re doing. I said, well I build this company up, it’s like my baby. I built this up for the past few months, if I gave it up I would never be able to forgive myself and they understood. They were very understanding of that. They were surprised.
I think they didn’t expect it to happen, but they also, I think, appreciated it in some way because they’re not used to that. It also was a big relief for me off my shoulders.
Andrew: What was the article about?
Steven: That particular one, which was when we originally started Grapevine, it was an LGBT, it was a gay focused company. A PR firm, which was called on of the first PR firms to specialize in this. There were some other, but they’re very specific. So this was mainly about how local Freehold, New Jersey young man started his own company and what its particular niche was about. So it’s basically a business success story.
Andrew: So you weren’t yet a big business success.
Andrew: Right? You were a young entrepreneur, but there are tons of young entrepreneurs.
Andrew: And still, you got on the cover of this newspaper. It was your business that was profiled. Why? What can we learn about the way that that happened to you and bring it back to our story? What was it? Was it that they were interested in gay stories at the time or what was it?
Steven: I think that was a big part of it. The advocate also wrote about Grapevine saying that we were perhaps the first firm to specifically specialize in the LGBT market. So I think that was really appealing to them to know that I didn’t just start a business, but that I had such a vision, I guess, for it that it was so different from any other PR firms that were out there especially at that time doing that. So I think that’s really what it comes back to is finding your niche. Finding what your particular DNA is, what your story is that’s so interesting that media just cannot turn it down, because that’s what readers want to hear.
Andrew: All right. Starting tomorrow, Mixergy interviews are only with gay entrepreneurs. Somebody tell a newspaper.
Andrew: I got to get people to notice. All right. Out of curiosity.
Andrew: Do you ever feel like everybody else is the man because of you and you have to be hidden? Does that bother you at all?
Steven: In what way?
Andrew: In the way that you’re helping other people build their reputations, get a lot of publicity for themselves.
Andrew: And, you know, get bigger and bigger. But what about you?
Steven: Well it’s two things. I mean I can also publicize myself. So I’m not lacking at getting publicity, but if I weren’t, no. Because that’s why I love to do this. I love to help brands. I love to help build brands up and make the mainstream, or whatever their audience is, aware of them and what they’re doing. Because they do have interesting stories and they should be out there. So for me it’s just as fulfilling to get press for them as it is for me because I am helping share there story with their audience.
Andrew: I was trying to figure out why you would want to interview here, and I think someone in your company reached out to me, though I could be wrong, but I’m trying to figure out, is it that they are trying to go after technology companies and maybe by getting Steven’s story out there people will sign up. Is something else is going on? Are they trying to get some other article that was written about Steven off the front page of Google search results and Andrew’s result will pop up on top and knock that other one to page two. What was it?
Steven: For Grapevine?
Andrew: For Steven and Grapevine. Why do a [??] interview? I usually get hit up for interviews by Tech entrepreneur who want to reach out to their friends or impress their investors.
Steven: For me I just want to be able to help anyone, especially younger people just out of college, in this economy who feel that they can’t find a job.
Andrew: but what else is it? I understand that we are all trying to help others, but beyond it we also need to help ourselves, frankly it just business hours and you have to care about business right now.
Steven: Right. For me it’s all about documenting my story to help others. And it honestly does help to drive business but it also helps with credibility in case if someone is looking to signing with grapevine and they hear my story and hear my successes, then they may be more inclined to go with me. It’s really a mix of a lot of things but it is just really fulfilling that’s why I like to do it for other people and other brands.
Andrew: OK. I told you earlier that I would be promoting something, I’ll quickly promote it and then I’ll ask you a final question and we will find out how people can connect with you also. So here’s what I’m going to say. If you’re already a Mixergy premium member we talked about a few topics here that you have courses on that are going to give you way more detail then I could ever fit into an interview.
The first is the PR Start Ups course by Stella Fayman of FeeFighter. She shows you a computer screen, she starts out by say ‘I’m an amateur, I hired a PR agency and it didn’t work out for me. I decided to take PR into my own hands, and I will walk you through the process of getting press step by step.” And she shows you step by step, including that press list that I mentioned earlier, right now your screen and you can see the email addresses that she got, you can see how she followed up and so on. That’s available if you are a premium member on Mixergy.com/premium.
And also, we talked about Cision, and Mark Brooks of Portland Brooks brought up his Cision account and showed how to find reports quickly and get press. And then he did the same thing with other tools to speed up the process of building up his company, like how he organizes meetings quickly, how he makes sure his employees are doing what they need to do and so on. That course is called Automation Tools, you can see it on your computer screen and follow along as he walks you through step by step. It’s all on Mixergy.com/premium, if you’re a premium member it doesn’t cost you anything, if not, I hope you sign up for Mixergy.com/premium so you can get access to those.
OK, Steven. A lot of times people are grateful to me for filling their heads up with tactics and actionable information and so on but are also upset with me because it’s just overwhelming and they don’t know what to do to get started. What is one tip you can give that hungry entrepreneur who’s stuck with us for an hour who wants to see a little press mentioned to get the ball rolling. What’s the one thing they can do? …say thank you. I always tell people if you’re listening, if you’re watching, go and send a thank you note. So how can people connect with you and show their appreciation?
Steven: Sure. Well you can absolutely go to my website which is www.ThePRGrapevine.com. That’s T-H-E-P-R and grapevine like heard it through the grapevine. You can email me. My email address is on there. It’s steven.levine (L-E-V-I-N-E) @theprgrapevine.com. You can find me on Facebook. You can find me on Tumblr. There’s no lack of social media networks that are available. You can also call me at (323) 386-2300 ext. 1 or even on my cell phone (323) 229-1888.
Andrew: You’re leaving your cell phone in this interview? In the transcript?
Steven: I’m totally…
Andrew: And I know that’s your cell phone because I reached out earlier because I looked at your cell phone number to see if you were in California and I was going to ask you a whole bunch of questions about what it’s like to be in California where everyone’s making it so big. Anyway, I never got around to that. So you really did give your cell phone is what I’m trying to get at.
Steven: Absolutely. Yep.
Andrew: Let me tell people a quick story. I had a guy on who I was going to interview a few minutes before you were on. Well, I finished an interview in the few minutes before you were on and one of the things that I did in preparation for the interview was I searched my inbox for his name. Not only did I get anything that other people told me about him but I saw this old email that he sent me a long, long time ago thanking me and then also offering me a little bit of advice on Mixergy. That made for…
I forgot all about it but when I got on Skype with him it made for a much more interesting conversation. It gave me the need to really go out of my way to do a good job for him as an interviewer. If he ever reached out to me and I searched my inbox for other email from him and I saw that our conversation started a long time ago with him just saying thank you, then of course I would pay better attention to him and I would go out of my way to help him out.
All of that is to say is this – you may never need anything from Steven, but if you do and he goes in his inbox to search for your email or he uses one of those tools that tells him what else you emailed him about in the past, wouldn’t it be nicer to have that first point of contact be a thank you for teaching me, Steven? That’s all I say. Don’t do it for me. I get nothing out of it. Do it for yourself because when you thank people you are going to feel good about it number one and number two you’re going to establish a relationship that I believe will pay off in the future. But even if I’m wrong, believe me you’ll feel good about it. Right, Steven?
Steven: I totally agree. There’s no lack of gratitude that you can always show people by saying thank you or for anything.
Andrew: It’s nothing. You just go thank you and that’s it. You don’t even have to write a body to an email. You say thank you and that’s it.
Steven: You’re just putting more positivity out in the world.
Steven: There’s no reason at all.
Andrew: See, you’re going for the good stuff. You’re saying good positivity. My angle first was here’s a selfish benefit you’re going to get and by the way it might also be good. I’ve got to loosen up and learn to be nicer. Put positivity out in the world, people.
Andrew: All right. Steven from ThePRGrapevine.com. Thanks for doing this interview.
Steven: Thank you for having me. Thank you all. Bye.
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