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Public Relations

6 Weird Ways to Get a Reporter’s Attention For Your Business

Guest post by Victoria Green

Getting media attention – especially the right kind of attention – is something of an art. Whether you’re a celebrity, a business owner, or a politician, it’s all about finding an angle. And not just that – you have to be able to get a reporter’s attention in the first place. This can be easier said than done.

Bear in mind that reporters and media journalists are solicited hundreds of times a day. Their email inboxes are virtually overflowing. So if you want their attention, you need to go about it in the right way. You need to stand out from the crowd – even if that means taking an unconventional approach.

With this in mind, here are 6 weird ways to get a reporter’s attention. (See also: 9 Steps to Be a Thought Leader — and Become a Media Darling).

Start with Google

Google is an amazing resource to unearth useful information about the reporter, what they cover, and how they like to be approached.

A good place to start your ‘Googleathon’ is social media. See how they interact with others online, and whether they regularly interact with others pitching them ideas. You can also look to their work bio to see if they specify preferences.

There are different schools of thought on the best way to approach a reporter with an idea for a story. They may prefer email, Twitter, or a good old-fashioned phone call. In the unlikely event that they aren’t present on social media, you can defer to phone or email.

HOT TIP: look out for any pet peeves they regularly complain about. Take note as well of the current issues that they’re tweeting or retweeting. See if there’s any common ground you can use to help build a connection. Maybe you have a product that might help? Or maybe you feel the same way about a social issue?

Ultimately, if you already have a feel for the reporter and what s/he likes and dislikes, you have a better chance of reaching out to them successfully.

Weird ways to get media attention. source: pexels

Take a lesson From Tinder

The more I think about it, the more I realize that attempting to reach out and get the attention of a reporter is much like modern dating. Thanks to online dating, we often have a chance to find out about someone before we decide to approach them. When we do decide to make a move, the opening line is critical.

Tinder lines can be hilariously terrible. They can also be downright dull. Mastering the art of a good opener is paramount if you’re serious about looking for love online. And if you’re serious about getting your story picked up by the media, then it’s equally crucial.

‘Hey, how are you?’ is a great way to get ignored by a journalist. It does nothing to spark their curiosity. It lacks creativity and fails to disclose your reason for getting in touch.

Powerful subject lines for an opening email are:

  • Concise
  • Engaging
  • Unambiguous
  • Personalized
  • Value-driven

Remember, your pitch must immediately rouse the reporter’s interest. An effective subject line really is half the challenge. Check out these top 10 email subject line formulas for inspiration. You  may be surprised to learn that in some cases, “profanity f*cking works”.

Journalists also love data — so put your best foot forwards and give them some awesome data for free. Running an ecommerce business? Why not send out some surveys to your customers via social media and email to find out more about their habits? From family life and holidays, to food habits and leisure — there are plenty of useful insights and stories lurking out there.

Play it cool

Yep – the online dating metaphor still stands. When you’re building a relationship with a reporter, timing is important. Journalists are busy people with full schedules, and your clinginess will not be appealing to them.

Be respectful of what the reporter already has on their plate. Realize that when you send them a pitch, they’re probably not going to be able to respond right away – unless you’re very lucky and caught them at exactly the right moment. Give them at least a few days to respond before following up.

If the story is especially time-sensitive, then you need to make this clear when you reach out to them first time around. Conveying urgency is another great way to get a reporter’s attention.

weird ways to get a reporter’s attention. source: pexels

Send them a video

Video is changing how we create and consume news. Journalists know it, and if you can help them source quality video content, then they’re going to be very happy with you indeed. Here in 2017, video content represents 74% of all internet traffic (Source).

So if you want to give your story a boost and make it more likely to hit the headlines, consider sending a video along with your pitch. 4X as many consumers would prefer to watch a video about a product than to read about it – and the same goes for news stories. News publications love video because it encourages readers to stay on the page for longer.

Making a vaguely professional-looking video doesn’t have to be hard. There are lots of great apps out there for making videos, including iMovie, PowerDirector, and LumaFusion.

Be willing to let it go

With time stacked against them, most reporters will probably require a follow-up a few days after you’ve pitched them your story. In most instances, they’ll probably appreciate the reminder — always with added ‘new’ information that’s of value to them — not, “Did you get my email about…”.

However, if you’ve already chased them a couple of times and received nothing but stony silence in return, you might need to try a different approach, angle, or twist on the topic. You can also ask if your pitch might be a better fit with someone else at their organization.

The risk is that you may not necessarily get the answer you’re looking for. But by putting it out there in a gentle way, such as “seems like this wasn’t a perfect fit for you – unless I hear otherwise, I will run a different idea by you soon.

If you are looking to promote something time-sensitive like a product launch or a new ecommerce venture, you are going to have to plan ahead and be mindful of editorial deadlines you can tell them that you’re offering it to them first. And if they pass you can move on to the next top person on your media list. Whether you build a store from the ground up, or invest in a readymade one, make sure that your branding and content is on-point enough to appeal to busy journos. A good pitch from a badly formulated brand may go to waste — so make sure you cover all bases.

Go bananas

Of course, if all else fails, and you really will stop at nothing to get that reporter’s attention, you can try one the following:

  • Hire a banana costume and do a little dance outside their office window
  • Pay a movie theater to play a pre-recorded video of your pitch after the ads at a movie you know they’re going to see (because they posted about it on social media)
  • Accidentally bump into them on the bus while holding a basket of kittens
  • Heroically save them from falling into a pond

Disclaimer: These methods are not tried and tested. I hold no responsibility for them going wrong.

via GIPHY

We need the attention of reporters for all sorts of reasons. Maybe you’re trying to make a story or piece of content go viral. Perhaps you just bought an online business and you want brand coverage. Possibly you’ve found yourself in the public’s bad books, and you need a bit of good publicity. Whatever the reason, it helps to know how to go about it. Hopefully these suggestions have been useful.

Got any other great ideas? Let us know!

Victoria GreeneVictoria Greene: Brand Marketing Consultant and Freelance Writer.

Vicky is a freelance writer and ecommerce marketing consultant. She loves being part of the brand growth hacking process and producing real, measurable results. In her spare time, Vicky shares her knowledge by writing for a variety of digital publications.


8 Things Donald Trump Can Teach Us About Courting Publicity

Guest Post By Victoria Greene

It’s fair to say that America is a fairly divided place right now, with wildly differing ideas about what’s right and wrong. Whatever your views, our blundering, boastful President does seem to have mastered one thing, and that’s showmanship. As he appoints more than a few questionable characters to office, many of us remain distracted by the latest inflammatory statements he’s made on Twitter, or by what’s going on with Celebrity Apprentice. As intelligent entrepreneurs and business owners, here are 8 lessons we can learn from his strengths and weaknesses when it comes to courting publicity.

PR is rooted in positive relationships

Most CEOs respect PR, or at least understand its function. Whatever their feelings towards it, they accept that in positions of high power or visibility, it is necessary. For better or worse, Trump is not most CEOs.

Donald has yet to realize that at the root of PR is a carefully tended network of positive relationships, built on clear and transparent communication. He mistakenly considers himself an ‘expert’ PR person, despite his total lack of tact, sensitivity, or awareness. Let’s not forget, he appointed a hedge fund manager to run his communications office.

For the life of him, Trump cannot seem to hold on to a PR chief, and the reason is quite simple – no self-respecting, professional PR person wants to work for a boss who thinks he can do better, and who will publicly shame you for trying to do your job.

How to apply: Dale Carnegie says in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People: “If You Want to Gather Honey, Don’t Kick Over the Beehive”. In other words, an aggressive approach will get you nowhere. He also says that “Winning friends begins with friendliness” – another simple yet oft forgotten pearl of wisdom. Take a look at this list of the 100 Most Trusted People in America. They are well-liked, charismatic, and many of them are actors. Interestingly, none of them are TV bullies.

Sometimes you need to take an unconventional approach

Some believe that Richard Nixon lost the 1960 presidential race due to his poor TV presence, compared to JFK, who understood the power of the medium. Trump is, of course, no stranger to television, having perhaps more experience with it than any other presidential candidate in history. Throughout his election campaign, he consistently eschewed conventional politics in favor of sensationalism and sound bites, in contrast to Hillary’s more measured approach.

What’s more, while Clinton worked to secure votes across all demographics, Trump lasered in on a specific target audience – white, working class men who had been feeling less represented under the previous Democrat government. In marketing we are often advised to ‘find our niche’, and it seems that the same could be true of politics.

How to apply: There are lots of ways to get unconventional with PR, though it’s no guarantee that just because your campaign is unconventional, it will be a success. From publicity stunts and viral videos, to riding trends and putting out crowdsourcing content, the internet has made it much easier to be imaginative. Check out these Timeless Creative PR Ideas.

If you fake it, you’ll probably get found out

Earlier in Trump’s career, several New York reporters spoke with a John Miller or a John Barron – two supposed PR men who sounded suspiciously like Trump himself. Miller and Barron were particularly insightful, sharing detailed explanations for Trump’s actions and love life, all the while presenting him in the most favorable light possible. You can read the full transcript of one of John Miller’s interviews here.

Of course, these strangely forthcoming sources were none other than Trump himself, and if you read or listen to the interviews, it is startlingly, ridiculously apparent. At one point, he even forgets to speak in the third person. The lesson here? It should go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: don’t pose as your own publicist and expect to get away with it. Oh – and the tan isn’t real either.

How to apply: It’s fairly straightforward really – just be honest and authentic about who you are and what you do. If you don’t fake it in the first place, you don’t get found out. Lance Armstrong was a celebrated road racing cyclist who many people admired, until the doping scandal came out. Likewise, Tonya Harding was a famous figure skater, whose career was left in tatters after she hired a thug to break her rival’s leg. The public hates a cheater, so keep your record squeaky clean.

You must be willing to listen to advice

PR professionals are much like counselors. Their job is to advise the client on the most effective approach to communications, if they want to achieve certain goals. They are a valuable asset to the team, and a smart client will realize the importance of listening to their advice, even if they end up taking a slightly different course of action. A sensible business owner will involve their PR person in all big-picture discussions.

The thing about Trump is, he really doesn’t want anyone’s advice. He wants to do his own thing and he thinks he’s got PR sussed. When Spicer worked at the White House, he griped about his limited access to the President, yet was still blamed when things went wrong.

How to apply: Benjamin Franklin said that “wise men don’t need advice – fools won’t take it”. If you’re attempting to navigate the choppy waters of publicity, it’s better to do it with a legitimate expert at your side. Part of a PR practitioner’s role is to train their clients to effectively face the media, as well as making their client’s reputation as strong as possible. Ultimately, they help to keep you focused and moving towards your goals – with the force of the media on side.

The celebrity phenomenon

Whether your feelings towards Trump are mild or extreme, it can’t be denied that he is something of a sensation. For better or worse (and likely worse), we’ve never had a figure quite like him on America’s political stage. We now live firmly in a culture of celebrity, and Trump – a longstanding TV star and populist bigmouth – is known by everyone. It shouldn’t really come into the equation when you’re running for President – yet it does.

Why? Because with their deity-like status, we listen to what celebrities have to say. So in 21st century America, should we be surprised that a celebrity has managed to become President? It’s wall-to-wall (pun intended) publicity, be it good or bad. Whether you love or despise Trump, he remains a popular topic of conversation – and that’s just what he wants.

How to apply: So how can you find ways to keep people interested in you? To enjoy the kind of engagement that Trump gets online and in the media, it’s all about being engaging and having a stance or opinion that people relate to. Today’s consumers are discerning about which brands deserve their time and attention. Don’t be afraid to start discussions, and fan the flames to keep them going. Experiment to find out what resonates with your audience, and mix up your timing, language, and use of imagery.

He tells it like (he thinks) it is

Trump doesn’t speak the political tongue. Everybody knows that – just look at his Twitter feed. Instead, he seems to say whatever comes into his head, without much of a filter to speak of. Agree with him or not, you always get the jist of what he’s saying. Some politicians do themselves a disservice when they speak in political jargon, alienating the less articulate voters.

Honestly counts for something in PR, even – or especially – if that honesty is controversial. Trump’s followers love him for his willingness to tackle any subject, in particular those that more seasoned politicians dance around.

Why is this so appealing? Because we value people who give us perspective on things that matter in our culture. In other words, we love someone with a strong opinion. And Trump – well, he is big orange hot air balloon of opinions.

How to apply: We want your perspective on what matters to you and why it’s important to your audience. Your strong opinion about a topic you care about sets you apart from your competitors who may have a different take – and sets you up as a thought leader. News shows are made up of people proffering different opinions on a topic then backing those opinions with facts, research, or other evidence.

Pick an enemy (or several)

Branding experts will often tell you to identify an enemy and position against them. That enemy doesn’t have to be a person, it could be a system, a state of the world, an injustice, or an opinion. The world’s top brands all have distinct enemies – and Trump is a brand too.

At this point, Trump has made many enemies, and he has a habit of calling them out and going after them. Choosing an enemy gives your campaign a focus – it’s the classic scenario of ‘us vs. them’ that galvanizes large groups of people into action. It’s a great tactic for businesses. Is it a good one for politics? It’s certainly been successful at getting Trump into office, but as to the effects on society and the world, it all starts to feel like a dark and dangerous road.

How to apply: So every brand or personality needs an enemy, but that doesn’t have to be a competitor. It could just as easily be an idea. A nutritionist might position processed food corporations as ‘the enemy’. A pro web designer might frame DIY website builders as ‘the enemy’. For an artisan coffee shop, it might be instant coffee. Whether it’s a belief, an assumption, or a rival business, every beloved brand has something to push against and rally behind.

If you don’t have the instinct for it, leave it to the professionals

Anthony Scaramucci has said that Trump has ‘excellent public relations instincts’. So is that true? He certainly represents something different, and something different – especially in politics – is pretty irresistible. But I would argue that overall, Trump’s PR instincts are fumbling at best, and volatile at worst. And they appear to be getting worse. His weeklong assault on his own attorney general in July was apparently ‘all his idea’. Good one.

Trump is used to the selective media exposure granted by his TV lifestyle, but as President, you are on show 24/7. PR decisions are more critical than ever. The best bosses understand their own strengths and weaknesses, but Trump’s inflated view of himself means he won’t listen to others. From a PR perspective, it will be interesting to see where his ego leads him over the course of his time in office.

Trump famously exaggerates, but if you’re looking to implement his tactics into your own business PR campaign, maybe think twice. Exaggeration and dishonesty are no way to do business – and you will be found out eventually. If you’re trying to get more media attention for your business, here are some good guidelines. What we can take away from his success is the importance of picking an enemy, leveraging social channels, being true to yourself, and being memorable. But we can also learn to become better listeners, better bosses, and better people.

Victoria Greene: Brand Marketing Consultant and Freelance Writer. Victoria Greene: Brand Marketing Consultant and Freelance Writer.

Vicky is a freelance writer and ecommerce marketing consultant. She loves following politics and drawing lessons that can be beneficial in other areas. In her spare time, Vicky shares her knowledge by writing for a variety of digital publications.


Failure, Faith and Perseverance

I’m in a tizzy right now. I have an unknown, itchy red rash under my arm. My stomach is upset and bloated. And my office has a giant pile of clothes on a chair I’ve been meaning to take to the consignment store, but haven’t. When I want to shift something, I clean out. But sometimes, the shift doesn’t come soon enough. And stuff piles up.

While I continue to consult with some amazing and talented clients, at the same time I’m also moving into a new direction with my True Shield: Verbal Self-Defense For Girls. So I have a foot in both worlds — which can sometimes be crazy making. Like worried nights pacing and writing at 3:00 am, searching for that roll of sweet tarts I have in the laundry room cupboard for such emergencies.

For one thing, I didn’t really realize that I was a start-up. But that’s what I am. I have a business with no track record for a new idea.

Verbal self-defense for girls

I have all the measurements in place, but have yet to have anyone complete the program. Everyone in the schools and organizations who have purchased it is starting in August or September and while it will take me just 3 months or so to get initial statistics and evidence-based results it will take me about 9 months to get a full picture of all the survey results.

That’s almost a year! Panic. Seems like forever and a day.

Starting something new can be a maddening and discouraging process. I want to chat a bit about the three things about the process, which is often hard to love. Failure, faith, and perseverance. We are often told to embrace the journey. While that is a noble thought, the muck during the journey can weigh you down something fierce.

I just heard an interview with Jessi Klein on Terry Gross’ show Fresh Air talking about getting an Emmy while having a three month-old baby and having to pump breast milk during the ceremony which nicely sums up why embracing the journey is necessary to happiness. “…Having a baby is really hard on a marriage. So things with my husband were just – I’ll just say they were very hard ’cause we were just so tired, and it’s so crazy. And I just suddenly felt very much like, oh, I won this Emmy, and tomorrow I’m getting on a plane and I’m going right back into my own little struggles.

And nothing is really different. Like, this was great but now it is over. And I just have to be back in my sort of currently overweight, milk-laden body and waking up at 2 in the morning and 4 in the morning. And it’s hard. And the Emmy is amazing, but all of this will continue. I think it just brought into very stark relief in the moment what would have been the truth no matter what I was doing. But it was very immediate, which is that this doesn’t really mean anything for your actual happiness or your life.”

the journey is the reward even if it doesn’t feel like it

We think when we get to the big award, reward, end game, whether it’s finishing a book, landing a big deal, selling a bunch of stuff, finding love, that suddenly the world will become rosier and all that ails us will fall away. Yet, happiness often comes on the heels of failure — though rarely soon enough, it seems.

Failure.

You’ve heard the expression “Fail fast.” It’s about trying a bunch of new things and letting go of the ones that don’t work. So first I had to find people to call schools and organizations. I used Upwork and went through about four people before I found the two that consistently got results- i.e. they called the decision makers to set five-minute appointments for me to discuss the program. I failed fast with the callers by starting them all at once on different excel spread sheets for my target markets.

Failure number two. Schools are a hard sell. Most principals, counselors or PE teachers loved the program. Then it had to go to committee. Then through the budgeting process. Guess what? 99% of the schools couldn’t afford my program due to budget cuts or lack of funding. Many said that would have to get independent funding in order to implement the program. So, we moved on to organizations. Organizations totally got the concept and wanted the program. Problem? Funding. They were used to getting most of their programs free as they were mostly funded by other organizations or grants.

Faith.

So, I started researching how to get grants. Getting a grant is a laborious, time-consuming and confusing process. In short you have to make sure your mission is in absolute synch with the grantor, then you typically have to earmark those who will get the funding. Which meant that I had to start getting commitments in writing about which organizations were really keen on using my program so I could list them in the grant.

Another problem with getting grants to fund the people who wanted the program is there are no guarantees that I’ll even get the grant!

So all that work could be for nothing.

I hired an expert for that to make sure that I was on the right track. But, after talking to many of the grantors, they told me that had hesitations about giving money to an unproven program — even though they loved the idea and said would go to bat for me.

Start-up woes

My faith began to flag. Am I really going in the right direction? How many obstacles do I need to go through before I give up? So I turned to my friends. They told me to keep going. They said it was a much needed idea. They said to find a way in. They said hold fast. Today, a man in charge of programing for the Boys & Girls Clubs said he had faith in me and my program and that all girls need it. “Stay in touch. This is a great program.”

Perseverance.

One of the things that I recommend to my clients and course participants when they aren’t getting any traction with the media is to tweak. If you send in a pitch or press release and no one is biting, try a twist. Approach your topic from another angle. Switch up the perspective. Go in the back door— a non-obvious angle that isn’t a direct pitch for your business, book, product, service or cause. Think small and get specific.

What seemed to spark real interest in the contacts I was speaking with is this idea of teens and college girls teaching each other. This is my big dream for my program to become self-sustaining in this way. So my business mentor said, “Let’s approach your course from this angle.” So I did.

I got immediate interest from a Boys & Girls Club that serves an at-risk community and already has volunteers that are groomed in community service through their Keystone program. Perfect.

The head of programming for a department of education said that she thinks she could wrangle 20 girls to train that could then be dispatched back to their schools. Fantastic.

Today, I talked to a man who works in five schools where Opioid addiction is rampant. When I told him about my vision he said, “I can’t believe you just said that. We have those girls at the ready and we’ve been wanting to do something like this the up their self-esteem.” Yes.

Keep your focus on the vision.

By focusing on my original vision, the big dream and bigger mission and slightly shifting the approach, I’m now getting a more enthusiastic response — because it directly taps into the organization’s bigger mission as well.

Am I still discouraged, downtrodden, despairing and weepy? Yes. I cried my eyes out last week, and sobbed on my sweetie’s shoulder, and starting thinking about tossing in the towel. Seriously. On other days, after making calls for hours and not reaching anyone who can make a decision or having people tell me that they get a similar program for free, I feel exhausted and hopeless and have the urge to gorge on cookies.

Then I think about all the time, energy, money and inspiration I put into this. And keep going.

I talked to Susan Kennedy yesterday (SARK) about my plight as she’s an expert in keeping a person’s creative spirits high. The advice she gave me was, “When I’m tempted to deflate in this absence, instead I’m going to fill myself with presence. I’m going to remind myself of my vision and certainty.”

Which all requires discipline and managing what I tell myself. After I bemoaned my plight I told Susan that I did believe that I could already feel that my program was instituted far and wide, helping girls all over the world — and that it had already happened and that I just needed to catch up with it. We talked about the fact that we have no idea how this program has touched people and where it will reach — now and in the future.

Does this mean I won’t have days when I feel it’s all hopeless. No. Like Jessi Klein I’ll still be mired in my own daily struggles, but thank God I don’t have to pump breast milk. When I imagine her life I think I may have gotten off easy. Though it doesn’t feel that way. I just have to get through this next patch, I tell myself. I will remember the discipline of keeping to my vision and certainty. And I invoke the question I’ve told you to ask yourself: “What is my next step?” That is my question. I keep following the answers, wherever they lead.


How to Use Storytelling For Leadership and PR With Dave Ursillo


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How to Use Storytelling For Leadership and PR With Dave Ursillo

Welcome everyone. Our topic today is how to use storytelling for leadership and PR. Our guest is Dave Ursillo. He's a teacher of writing, creativity, yoga and all things self-expression. He's a former politico who once walked in the west wing of the White House and aspired to become a presidential speech writer, which is so fascinating. We were just talking about how to frame questions properly that you learned from being in politics. Then in 2009, disillusioned with the state of politics and questioning his role in the system, Dave quit his job and abandoned his career in public service to live a life of personal leadership, using writing as his vessel for change. That's so beautifully written too, Dave.

Thank you.

I'm obviously reading your bio. It's a story in itself, right?

Absolutely.

Your bio is even your very first story. We'll talk about that in a minute. When Dave is not writing, he loves to travel abroad. He's been to India twice. He considers coffee an act of artistry. Oh my God, we didn't talk about Bulletproof Coffee, which we'll have to do, which I've had my first cup this morning.

There you go.

He wants to help humans love one another. Find Dave and his 400, Dave, wow, published pieces of writing at DaveUrsillo.com. Gosh Dave, I forgot to ask you one of the cardinal rules. Did I pronounce your name right?

You did. You pronounced it phenomenally. It roughly translates to mean small bear.

But you're a big bear, aren't you? Because you look like you're like 6'8" or something.

I wish. I'm like only 5'9 1/2".

Really?

I'm trying to stretch out that 5'9 1/2" to 5'10".

Oh my God, I thought you were like a giant, honestly. I thought you were at least 6'5" from all your pictures. That must be just …

The beauty of working online is that you can feign extreme height and size and Tony Robbins' stature. No, I'm just a humble 5'10"-ish. I can throw down. I don't do much throwing down but I can throw it down if I need to. At least, I'd like to think so.

BAMD0041 | Storytelling for leadership

Dave Ursillo shares how to use storytelling for leadership and PR.

Good for you. I just want to say to our listeners too, one of the things, if you have a difficult name or anything to pronounce, tell the person ahead of time if they don't ask. I forgot to ask. I usually ask. I assumed I knew how to say it. But then as I was saying it, I'm like, oh my God, I'm hoping that I'm saying it right. If I didn't, that you as the listener should correct me in an instant because there's no shame in that.

Absolutely. You nailed it. I'm glad I didn't have to correct you. I do the same thing too. This is another little tip for listeners, because I do some interviewing myself with different people. Without a fail, if I do butcher something or have to ask them again to pronounce their name correctly, my go to little self-deprecating humor is that with a name like Ursillo, you'd expect me to be better at pronouncing everybody else's name because I would hope that they pronounce it better myself. It breaks the ice when I have that faux pas myself and butcher a name. It does happen.

That's great. We're talking about storytelling for leadership and PR. Storytelling is so hot right now. It's always been hot because it's the way that we pass on tradition from one to another. Oral storytelling. It's had a comeback. I see now, everybody's a storytelling coach. You've been one for quite a while. You've told me that how somebody tells her story or tells his story is someone's first and perhaps best source of PR. I'm curious as to how and also how did you use story to get where you are today?

Absolutely, Susan. It's a great question. Thank you for asking it. It's so true. You've led in by saying that everybody's kind of a storytelling coach nowadays. It's making a big comeback. What I really like to make clear, and I tell this to myself all the time, is I don't, deep in my heart, consider myself to be a storyteller. I consider myself to be a writer and someone who naturally, years ago, gravitated to the art form of story to not only change my life but quite literally save it from ...

You mentioned in my back story, being disillusioned with politics and public service. I was also quite depressed at the time, at this point in my life when I was really, a total crisis of identity. I was young at the time but I was living in this phase of everything that I expected the world to be and my career to be and my life to be was exactly the opposite of what I had hoped. As a result, going through a breakup at the time, nothing was going right.

Somehow, tragically, nothing was wrong. I had a job. This was in 2009, just following the housing crisis and credit crisis. The world was in pretty rough shape economically. I had a job and I had possibilities. I was in a position of privilege and dreading that my life wasn't as good as I had hoped. The crisis was more of the spiritual one. This is where the storytelling came into play, where I knew that, deep in my heart, I was not living the story that I wanted to be telling.

Sometimes that phrase can seem like, the life is meant to be told or witnessed in a shallow sense. Truly, it was more that my soul was so craving purpose and depth and experience that was not being experienced as it was in my life. I decided to leave my job relying upon that the tool that I felt so close to, which was writing, as my own personal means of not only knowing myself but sharing myself.

I believe that writing could be my tool for giving to the world in ways that could make an impact starting today, whereas the world that I was living in, the world that I was leaving in politics and public service, which you could relate to really any industry on a corporate level or just something that doesn't completely jive your heart and soul.

That world was telling me that I needed to wait to make a difference, which was ironic because it's public service. It's supposed to be serving the public and helping people. But I was told that I needed to wait to earn my keep. I was told that I needed to do more to deserve to help people. In my heart, I said, "I'm not going to save the world all on my own but I can't help but feel like I could help one person today." If that's with a blog post then I was intent on doing that.

I left my job, my career and I started to ... Before I really knew it Susan, I was sharing my story because it just seemed so natural for me to be telling other people who may be in the position similar to me that there was hope and that there was a chance and that there was choice.

The circumstances that, whether there was a job that they didn't find fulfilling or there was other circumstances of hardship, like depression or disillusionment, or whatever the circumstances were almost didn't matter. If there was a sense or a source of suffering within that person, I wanted them to know that there's a possibility for change.

BAMD0041 | Storytelling for leadership

Blogging can be an outlet of storytelling for leadership and PR.

On the merit of telling my story and exposing myself and my own beliefs and also my struggles, before I really knew it, I was becoming a storyteller and I was using my story to start to cultivate the life that I wanted to live. In turn, helping others change the story of their lives.

These years later, now over seven years later, I find myself doing what we would call business storytelling work or professional storytelling work. Sometimes people use the term storytelling to mean that they get on stage and they have rehearsed different various stories that they performed.

For me, I get very intimate into the voice and the values that somebody lives by. I help them express where they've been, but more importantly, where they're going or where they wish to go and what they wish to create with others hand in hand to co-create a future that is brighter and healthier and more unified and loving. That's the storytelling that I do now.

Almost by accident Susan, I started to become a storyteller just out of pure necessity. That's the essence that I really want to give to people, is that storytelling isn't necessarily an art form that ought to be mastered before you start telling yours. Story is the most human fundamental art form that has ever existed. It's psychological too.

We tell stories just to make sense of the world, to explain how we began this phone call or the commute into work this morning or how to make the perfect cup of coffee. It's all story because story is just context, it's relevance, it's creating some meaning, it's assigning relevance to otherwise random facts and details.

We're all telling stories all the time. We're telling stories in our head and out loud. When you start to at least just understand how many stories we live and share and experience in marketing and PR and advertising and so on, then I believe it really starts to open your world to the possibility that exists to re-story yourself or to story yourself all over again in the ways that you desire. It's something just as simple as using your words can help you open the door and walk through it.

I think you said you weren't living the story you wanted to live. By using your voice and values and what you want to create for yourself and others, you can change the direction of your life.

Absolutely.

You also were saying that you can re-story yourself by telling the new future, the stories. Is that what you're saying too? You can say, "Okay, this was the story that I was," like you were in the west wing of the White House and that was not serving you. Now, you're going to tell a new story and then tell the story first and then live into it?

Absolutely. It's two fold, Susan. Exactly right. If you look at yourself in the present moment, you can take a journal, take some paper or just sit in thought and meditation and reflect on what are the stories that I'm living right now? What are the stories, when I wake up, I hear in my head? Is it a story of anxiety, of nervousness? If I have to do more, I have to rush, I have to do this XYZ. Is it a story that I'm living my purpose? Is it a story that I'm fractured and I'm un-whole, that I don't feel like I'm living my authentic truth?

These are the things, the narratives, the quiet narratives that we hear in our head. The ego, the narration that we always hear and that affects our physical bodies, that affects the direction, the quality of the decisions that we make, the quality of our relationships. Here and now, in the present moment, you can start to look at the stories that are dictating your reality.

That's what I was doing over seven and a half years ago when I said ... I kind of had this out of body experience, this awakening moment when I realized that I didn't want to keep living the story of, "I'm depressed." I was that thing but I also didn't want to continue to live the story of, "I am depressed and I hate my job and I have to wait five years to start to make a difference."

That was the impetus for me. Quitting my job was small in comparison to the decision to start to change the story. Quitting my job was a facet of how I physically adjusted my life to change the story that I would be living in the future. From that point, when I found the space and the freedom, having quit my job. Not everybody needs to, but whenever you cultivate the physical circumstances to help you create the space, it's almost like you're opening a new journal page and you're saying, "How do I want to fill this space now?"

To me, through a process of deep and long reflections over months and months of just writing for myself and for no one in particular, I started to realize all these pieces that I had been living throughout my life which were, "I'm here to make a difference in some way. I'm here to lead with or without followers. That I don't need politics and public service to validate a calling of leadership within me," but just by writing, starting a blog, starting to publish some of those 400 essays and blog posts.

That's a lot.

BAMD0041 | Storytelling for leadership

By blogging over 400 essays, Dave found how to use storytelling for leadership and PR.

I can start to make a small difference. The co-creative power is once you've made peace with the past, you're starting to adjust the things that have led you to where you are here now today, then you have the freedom, the choice, the creative ability to say, "How do I want to live and what do I want to bring other people into relationship with me and what does that look like, what does it feel like?"

That's what we all do all the time. When we're doing the work that we do, whether it's purely independently as a self-employed creative or an entrepreneur or a coach or if it's being a part of a bigger entity. We're still considering what is our relationship to the future that we're creating.

Story, just literally writing it out or talking it out, is a way where it starts to become less ephemeral and intangible and starts to feel more real. I believe in the power of that. Just by putting words onto paper, something truly magical begins to happen. For me, it's like the universe starts to birth this reality along with you when you start to take action to make it real in your life.

I love the phrase, "Change your writing, change your life." That's a book, right?

Yeah.

When I train people, media train, typically we do it orally and I write it down because they don't necessarily ... It's such a different process, writing down a story than it is speaking a story. It's using a different part of the brain. Both are completely valid. Is your process on storytelling for leadership and PR when you say ... I'm going to ask you a couple of questions about this. The first one, is the process for you and how you teach, to write the story first? Because you're so prolific in that regard.

It's a great question. I actually have used it with my storytelling for leadership clients. My story clients I work with both in partnership with a storytelling company and on my own. Just so you have some background, you mentioned the kind of people I work with, conscientious creatives but very driven professionals, very high achieving professionals who are on the cutting edge of innovation and doing something very new and different that doesn't have a name.

Also, coaches who are living their leadership. They've been in a certain place in their life and now they're trying to take where they've been and share that with others to help those in a similar position. I actually have used both sides of the approach Susan, where sometimes I'll prompt people into writing their story first as a benchmark.

Sometimes we start with just a purely oral conversation. Lately, it's been the oral conversation is what starts and then we complement the oral exploration with writing and writing to finesse things out. There's quite literally a back and forth between spoken and written. We have this dual approach to get the story just right.

Ultimately, when we're working online and we're dealing with different bios, we're mostly dealing with ... Although the Internet more and more has different mediums of experiencing, from audio to video. I always find that written is the passive evergreen source of developing relationships with people.

The about me page, for example. It's great to have some audio or video on there. To me, the written word is such an intimate form of experiencing one's soul and it's so chosen, which is why I really fell in love with written word. I don't want to get too far off from your question here.

But to consider, just for a moment as you listen, you the listener, the difference of being spoken at in video or audio form or even just by someone in person, versus the medium of willfully choosing to engage and entertain the ideas in written form on a piece of paper.

The reason that I first gravitated to writing when I was younger, I was in junior high and high school, was that I always felt, as a natural introvert, I felt very almost repressed when somebody spoke at me in a way that I couldn't choose to avoid. Conversely, written word was a purely invitational form of dialogue. I felt expansive when I wrote and when I read. When I was with random authority issues that I had as a kid and still to this day ...

We can talk about that.

Being spoken at or commanded or told to do something or respond to something, I really disengaged from it. That's why I had this admitted bias towards written word. To answer your question, I really believe that in conversation, you can stumble upon things because you're in a relationship to the story in this collaborative, constructive way with one another.

In writing, that's more of an intimate form. It's more you enable someone, you empower somebody to fall into their story in a way that's like a communion with self and with spirit and with source energy. There's two beautiful ways of getting deeper into the truth of what the story is. I believe that both forms really help you get there.

It's so interesting because you're right, they're so different. I like that you mentioned that it's an invitation. Somebody chooses to read it. It's their choice whether they want to continue or not as they're reading it. They're feeling you through those words on paper, which is completely different sometimes. It shouldn't be, but oftentimes there's a disconnect between someone reading you on paper, in your bio or your about me, and then what they feel or what they get when you're either speaking or on video and making those things a congruent.

Absolutely. I think that there's room for both of them. Nowadays, everything is trending towards video. I don't have any statistics off the top of my head but the world is all going video. Facebook's algorithm rewards you for using video.

Now, there's Facebook live where you're recording videos live. All the mediums that we're using in PR and in marketing nowadays are gearing towards video especially. Podcasting is getting bigger and bigger than ever.

I hope you're not going to knock that since we're on one.

BAMD0041 | Storytelling for leadership

Storytelling for leadership and PR can be accomplished by podcasting.

Absolutely not. In fact, I'm playing with the idea of starting my own. I use video for my different E-courses and for my writers group. I believe in really mixing up the mediums. I love engaging people in different ways. To me, I'll always have that special place writing has in my heart. Like you said, I think the perfect way to put is as these mediums change and become more popular and more effective for attention spans and the ways that trends work, I still believe that there's a very important place for the writing.

Like you said, for it to be congruent with everything else that's being conveyed in audio and video form is very special because it speaks to a certain segment of potential customers and clients who require perhaps maybe a longer term relationship based approach. Building that emotional trust and emotional rapport.

It's like chicken and the egg where am I partial to writing stories for my clients because it's effective in its own way or because my clients tend to be these types of people who all share similar values, which is that it takes a lot of trust and patience and very low pressure form of developing a business relationship?

For example, just this past week, I landed a new member of my online writers group, the Literati Writers, who has been on my waiting list and considering joining for probably sixteen months. I don't gear all of my marketing towards converting someone who's going to be on my waiting list for sixteen months.

But it's an interesting example of even though the world is moving so fast, I think there's still a place for the slow and for the slow to be very effective in cultivating profound change. Ideally, right Susan. Ideally, the work that we do can last a lifetime.

I think people, maybe they're interested in you at that time but they're not ready.

Exactly, you never know.

They need to be cultivated along. Maybe they need to read your 400 pieces before they realize that they too can, before they join your Literati Writers

I don't think we can second guess people's internal process or what happens. Part of the importance of that and the importance of what you're saying is giving them the opportunity to go at their own pace in storytelling for leadership.

Whether it's reading you're writing or writing their own writing and finding their own rhythm for that. Maybe somebody reads one piece of yours and wants join your LiteratiWriters.comAnother one, this guy, this person has sixteen months of doing whatever's that internal process.

I want to let everybody know, you can read some of Dave's 400 published pieces at DaveUrsillo.com and join his LiteratiWriters.com group. The home of his positivity infused online writers group.

BAMD0041 | Storytelling for leadership

Storytelling for leadership and PR involves a change in your mindset.

The other question I wanted to ask you that you mentioned, which I think is so important in terms of storytelling for leadership and PR. I know that the popular term is mindset. What you're calling the stories that are dictating your reality that you have in your head. How do you go about shifting those negative stories that people have in every aspect of their life? Whether it's holding them back from one obstacle or holding them back from a whole career.

For you, you said you were depressed and then you started locating the stories that you were telling yourself to say, "One of my stories is I've got to wait five years to make a difference. But no, I don't think that's true." How do you start to locate those stories that are holding you back and then how do you shift them into a new story?

Fantastic question. For me, this is where the ability to write the stories out and to see them being birthed by your hand into physical form becomes so powerful. For me Susan, when I had quit my job, I was trying to make sense of everything. There's only so much that I think your brain, that your mindset as you termed, that your awareness can hold the space for at one given time. When you have too many stories and narratives ...

Just think for a moment, if you will, of all the different titles, for example, that we might come by on any given day. All the different labels that we own or that are assigned to us by other's expectations and assumptions. From being human, male or female or both, gender association to race and religion to what is your job title, are you a mother or a father, are you a partner or a wife or a husband, are you a child or a son, do you have children?

This is actually an exercise that I do in my storytelling for leadership workshops. You can run upwards of 80 to 100 on any given day of all the different titles that you assign to yourself and that are assigned to you. When you start by looking at the number of titles that are assigned to you, all those different titles can hold maybe one to five different stories to them of how you came to be this and what is it right now and what is the potential for it in the future.

I say that just to say the number of stories that we're expecting to hold and maintain in our poor little brains is enormous. The act of examining which stories are dominating your thoughts and your mindset and your heart space, I think is really important. Meditation and things like this are beautiful but they still reside in the mind. The ability to just reflect on that in written form is where I believe you begin to develop a relationship to see how malleable the stories ultimately are.

Although they feel very much dictated to us a lot of the time, there's a lot of stories we feel like we can't escape, when you do put pen to paper ... You don't have to be a writer. You don't have to be a member of my writers group just to say, "This is the story that I'm feeling or experiencing. I am depressed but do I really have to be?" Then you realize that the stories in our heads and in our hearts are just as malleable or editable, if you will, as when we write them on paper or we type them out on the computer.

Ultimately, a story is a choice. When you sit down to start to examine and say maybe the three stories that are really dictating how you feel everyday and how you perceive yourself, this is where you start. If you never expressed it then you have nothing to build upon or to edit or to change.

Just the act of writing them and observing them, you can literally put a match to that paper and light it on fire and say, "I'm starting over." Or you can start to take a red pen and start to edit, speaking metaphorically now. Or you could literally light something on fire if you really want to. I wouldn't stop you as long as you're being safe about it.

I can't believe you added that.

Just for the sake of liability. Just observing the stories in written form physically affirms to you that you have the ability to change them. If you are in a space of writing or creative self-expression or coaching, start to notice where you find your stories, oral or written, going. Do you find yourself continually going back to a story of a few years ago?

I will never forget this one conversation I had Susan, where I asked somebody, this was a few years ago. I just had met somebody who was a friend of a friend. We were sitting down for coffee. It was like a meet and greet sort of thing. I said, "Tell me about yourself. What are you doing these days that's getting you really excited?" She said, "Two years ago, I had this really bad breakup." She went on for about 40 minutes talking about two years ago. I stopped her after the 40 minutes. I was really waiting for her to bring it home for those 40 minutes.

I just very gently said, "Do you realize that the question was, what's exciting you nowadays? In other words, what are you looking forward to? What are you co-creating for your future, your short term future with the people with whom you work and other people around you?"

Her instinct was to go back to two years. She had to set the stage for right now two years prior. That told me, as a writer and as a storyteller and as a story coach, that there was still a lot of her own story that she could not yet rationalize. She hadn't brought it up to speed. I encouraged her to sit down on her own and to work all of these out as much as she could so that when somebody asked her again, "What are you doing right now?" she didn't need to preface it with a two year run up.

That's the type of thing where we're in a space of service or giving, that we need to be extra cognizant and extra aware of where our heads are and where our hearts are. Because if we're still working out things in the recent past or the distant past, which is completely fine and completely normal, it risks bogging others down whom we're trying to serve and help.

That's just an added caveat of presumably if you're in PR, you're doing something, you're creating something, you're helping others do that and bringing people along to help create a future and do something special in the here and now. It's just a matter of being extra cognizant of where your mind is and where your heart is and where the stories are holding you back from. If they are holding you back then you're not living as much as you can in the moment and doing as much as you can with the time that you have.

I think that's so true. That woman's story from two years ago was so fresh that it was dominating, what you're saying is that it was dominating her complete reality. She couldn't even get to the happiness part without telling you all of the sadness that was holding her down. It sounds like the happiness part, what was really juicing her, wasn't really even available at that moment for her to articulate.

BAMD0041 | Storytelling for leadership

Consider which part of the storytelling for leadership and PR is karmic, a past story orientation; and which is dharmic or future story orientation

It's all based on the story. A lot of the story work that I do and the story work that I've done for myself ... I break it down, the yogi in me breaks it down, as which part of the story is karmic or is it a past story orientation, and which is dharmic or future story orientation? In the philosophy of yoga, as well as in Hinduism, as well as Buddhism, all the new age-y stuff that we latch onto and also apply to our own lives today, regardless of religious denomination ...

Wait. Which part of the story is karmic, which is past? Which part is dharmic?

The philosophy of karma is that it's things that you're carrying from the past or things that you need to learn to heal yourself. Healing yourself of the past stuff so that you can be fully healed here and now. Dharmic or dharma is another belief around your destiny, your faith, your purpose in this lifetime. These things are independent from one another but they're also really entwined when you think about it.

For the example of this woman who I'd asked basically what is the dharmic story that she's living right now. What is her purpose? What is her passion? What's lighting her up? What is she doing these days? She instantly went back into, "These are my wounds that I'm still trying to heal and overcome." It was almost like she was telling me passively that she couldn't be fully in her mission because she was still holding on to wounds and pains of her past.

A lot of the storytelling for leadership and PR work that I'll do is simply noticing, when I have a new client, where does their instinct take them? Does it go into their future story orientation of, I see a vision where people who are young mothers, they've just given birth to their children, their young child, they want to get back on the health track but they're feeling really bogged down by expectations, by this presumption that they're going to have to be not only very tired but look tired and not have time for themselves.

Not only be tired but look tired.

Right. The coach says, "I want to change that by giving them the resources that they need to find fifteen minutes of healthful living so that they can ... yada, yada, yada." I'm just literally making this up off the top of my head. That's a future story orientation. I can see, this person has a very vested stake in creating a future for ideal clients.

Then I can go into clients ... Let's call her Samantha. "Samantha, why do you care so much about this person?" Chances are very good that she has lived a similar story. I take her back into her past story orientation, her karmic story. Chances are very good, not always necessarily, but there's a good chance that she's lived this story herself or she's experienced it firsthand.

That's really where we get the meat and potatoes of the story to complement what vision she has for somebody, which is to say, "I want this for you because I've lived it myself. These are things that I've experienced and so on and so forth." These two sides of the story really interplay quite a bit. It comes down to being your own story as your own form of PR is to examine your relationship between past and future story orientation.

It can feel a little bit like a seesaw. Some days you're living in the past, some days the future. It's all about just finding the threads that you can pull into the center where you are here and now so that you can keep doing what you do so well and sharing where you've been, what you've done and also what your vision is for the future for people, for your ideal clients, your ideal customers, your readers, etc. So that you can just keep living here and now and doing the best work that you can.

It can feel, at times, overwhelming. It's really just about asking yourself, "Where do I want to move forward with my ideal people and how can I bring some of those threads of the past with me to help people understand it and resonate with it and learn from it?" It all ties itself together in the here and now where you can tell a very short story ... 

What you Susan, read for me to introduce me, of dreaming of being a presidential speech writer someday. You can see the roots of my writing passion and also the vision that I used to have for myself but feeling disillusioned and now I added depressed. It was the impetus for me to leave and to try to do my own thing and be a leader in my own life using writing as my tool and vessel.

Just in a few sentences, you who's listening, can have a pretty healthy little understanding. If you did some digging, you did some exploring around those concepts, you can probably figure out that I'm pretty service minded, service oriented. That I'm independent, that I also would want to take it upon myself to create something.

These are all little clues and things that we can use through our language to help us understand when we're resonating with somebody, if they're one of your "people", someone in your tribe or if they're living a different mindset or mentality.

What you're saying too, when you're examining your past and you're pulling these threads through, some people want to discard those painful pasts. What you're saying is that that's informing your future and to keep that in there and make the connection between what your pain or what you've left behind to where you are today. Because that's the whole story.

There's a big movement, "Be vulnerable and show your pain." There's, I think, a graceful way to do it where you're not miring someone in your pain and you're just showing it to them and saying, "Here's where we connect." Do you know what I mean? I think there's a real different between bringing somebody down from the pain of your story versus showing it to them, opening yourself up to show it to them to say, "We're really the same inside and here's why and here's how far I've come and you can too."

Absolutely. It's all about how you tell it. Here's how I can tell, when I'm reading somebody's bio or about me page, I can tell what they've done wrong. Wrong, relatively speaking, like you're saying, you don't want somebody visiting your about me page for example and feeling like they're being pulled into the dark hole from whence you have emerged years prior.

When people use language like saying, "I'm still a work in progress." That doesn't need to be said. That's a disclaimer around somebody's imperfections that is spoken from a place of guilt or shame. It's subtly plants a seed of doubt in the person who's reading it. It's one of those things that I try to encourage people to avoid saying.

You don't need to air out your guilt and your shame and your fear. But you can show someone a very deliberate path from which you have emerged and express it from a place of confidence so that the story of pain or suffering no longer has power over you.

When I talk about depression, I don't want someone to feel depressed when they're reading my story. I want them to know how much the depression was an impetus that sprung me to new heights, that challenged me to go forward. I still would want them to know, this is what depression feels like. If someone's reading it who, for example, is suffering from depression, I'll write in a different way of saying, "I know what you're going through, here's how I can imagine your feeling."

The point is, you can use the suffering, the hardships, the trials, the questions, the doubts to frame up why. Why you are where you are today. When you can explain to somebody why you have a personal stake in what you're doing, what you're trying to do, what you're striving for and what you believe, you don't need any other explanation. Frankly, you don't need many other credentials to validate what you're striving to do.

I had no credentials in doing what I was striving to do. I was a 23-year-old aspiring author who had mediocre writing skills but was hell-bent on doing something with them to serve people. The story that I told then was a lot different from the story that I tell now because I've had seven plus years of experience writing and rewriting and rewriting and also just living. The story changes as we change. It's always a very malleable and changing thing, the stories that we live and the stories that we tell.

I knew that if I shared how much I cared about what I cared about, that people who validated that, the underbelly of passion and consideration and determination, that those are the people I wanted to work with anyway.

Those are the people that I wanted to be my tribe. I didn't want people to look at my subscriber account and my Facebook likes and to take that as validation for what I had to say. I wanted them to feel just how emotionally invested I was, how much I was bleeding into my computer screen for them to feel cared for.

If I can make them feel that, then nothing else mattered. I knew that I was developing trust with them. That's what I value most. That's how I live and that's how I try to tell stories and how I try to create work, where people feel so cared for through the impersonal medium of as I flick my computer.

The computer, this medium which does bring us together but is not human. I think our biology is very confused by the contrast of connecting two people through such an impersonal medium like technology. That's something that's accessible to everybody.

You can't feign how much you care. When you package that and share it in your own unique ways and with poise and grace and confidence, then you have enough at your fingertips, I believe. I've lived it so I can I guess prove it in one limited case study, to say that that's enough for you to start to garnish your own PR and to get attention in all the right ways that honor you and what you believe.

BAMD0041 | Storytelling for leadership

Dave Ursillo guides people on storytelling for leadership and PR through his Literati Writers group.

I like that you say you can't feign how much you care. It's also not about stating it. It's about how you're telling your story. I also like what you said about the validation isn't how many people you have in your Facebook page. It's really when they're looking to someone like you help them tell their story, it is about how much you care and how you've helped others to get to the place that you got to yourself.

Absolutely. I completely believe that, Susan. In a digital world that we keep our faces in, which is such an amazing tool for doing more of the work that we love to do. I have clients who have ranged from the Philippines and Australia and New Zealand to Northern Europe to South Africa and everywhere in between. It's absolutely amazing. I would never be able to do it otherwise.

I think it's really important to remember that even though we're in this digital world of numbers and conversion rates and funnels and marketing, that you can still bring a ton of heart into it. One of my friends, Jacob Sokol, who's a life coach and just an awesome guy, says, "Follow your heart but bring your head with you." There's space for you to bring an abundance of passion and care and consideration and also to have the mental aspect of how do I make this work. It's important to have these two in relationship with one another.

Bring all the care that you can when you're making that evergreen funnel. Bring the amount of passion that another human being deserves when you're telling them a story of overcoming and not just trying to get them to sign up for your newsletter. There's a really beautiful space to finesse ... You mentioned I said coffee is an artistry to me.

Make this an artful thing, whatever it is that you're creating and however you're trying to serve. Make it artful so that it honors you, so that it feels good. So that the journey that you're on right now doesn't feel excruciating, like you're just striving for an outcome or an end goal.

You're in the experience. A cycle of vinyasa, as we would say in yoga, of really intentionally placing things, from words to products to Skype calls, and really making it rewarding. That will have a broader effect. It's the stuff of loving relationships. It's the stuff of bringing communities together. Even though you may be playing in Mail Chimp or in Gmail, it does have an effect that's broader because I believe that how you do anything is how do everything.

Making room for the heart space to market yourself and to reach out to people and to serve people will be necessarily how you carry yourself in everyday life. When you're driving in rush hour or ordering your coffee from your local café or raising your kids or whatever the case may be.

I think that's really true. I think you've expressed it in the word, infused. That as you're writing and as you're going through all of this daily process, whether it's your storytelling or what you're offering somebody, that you are, in part of that process, then you are infusing it with your good intentions and your care for the other person. Not just for yourself, the outcome of the funnel and that sort of thing.

Let me get back for one minute to examining the three stories that are driving you. Because I think that's really an important point in being able to move forward with your future vision. I know for myself, an example, I'm training in Aikido and I'm really a dork. Very awkward and clumsy on the mat.

One of my values is to be graceful and elegant. To have me not do that on the mat and be so awkward is very painful. I remember walking out the door and then I say, "I'm off to dork out on the mat." My sweetie saying, "I don't think that language is helpful to you."

Just to be able to examine that myself, I thought in that moment, I said, "I am continuing to practice to be graceful and proficient on the mat." Now, I'm a black belt. I'm still not graceful. Now, I'm starting to teach Aikido to the beginners. That's a whole new experience that's not yet graceful either, that's very awkward. I'm at the beginning of something, at this age of 59. Beginning at something like that is really challenging too because it's a different type of teaching.

To start to frame that, like when I came last night after teaching, it's like, "How did it go?" I'm like, "Well, it went okay. I really learned from the senior teacher after me how to break things down even more specifically and more understandably. That, I'm going to take to my next teaching." Instead of beating myself up like, "Oh my God, I did an awful job." Do you know what I mean?

Absolutely. You will believe the stories that you tell yourself and the stories that you tell others. If you tell yourself, "I'm not a good yoga teacher." Why wouldn't some part of you, subconscious, your soul, be listening to that and start to abide by it? If you tell friends in passing, "I'm undateable. I'll never find a relationship." How open will you be to possibility when somebody walks into your life if you're constantly telling yourself that this thing cannot happen?

It's so basic. It's so simple. That's why it takes so much discipline Susan, to observe the stories that we're telling ourselves. There's so many different options for how to get into ... For me, things like movement and writing, movement as in yoga, help disrupt the stories, the ongoing narratives. What we call in yoga, Samsara or Samskara, which are mental grooves of the mind.

I haven't heard of Samskara. Is that a real word? Samskara versus Samsara?

It's a variation of how you pronounce the same word.

That's really funny. Like you're scarring yourself with your past.

Yeah, basically. It translates to mean mental grooves of the mind or mental grooves. Tracks of the mind that basically, the groves that you imprint upon yourself based on your thoughts. Giving yourself the opportunity in writing or journaling, in yoga, running, walking, being outside, being in nature, doing something that you love, is a great way to disrupt these ongoing tracks of the mind.

Once you disrupt them, then you see the potential for rewriting the story, for telling yourself a different story. For you Susan, it was your partner who was able to reflect back to you, "I don't think that that's a good story that you want to be telling yourself." The ability to just be cognizant and aware creates this world of potential. All that you really need to do is start listening to the stories.

Listen to the ones that you're repeating to yourself. That was a common one for me on the mat. I'm so awkward. I remember something super painful. I'll never forget this, that one of the guys, we were sitting, standing around sensei's desk. I was trying to get a little shot glass out of a cardboard, the cardboard thing that held it. I ripped it by accident. This one guy said to me, "Just like your Aikido." I was stunned and hurt. I've ripped this, not gotten it out gracefully, just like my Aikido.

How you do anything is how you do everything. We're expressing the same stories in different unique ways all the time. The more that you can thread your awareness of them into just knowing that it's all you ...

Not to let others reinforce that, that's what I'm saying. That reinforced my own story about my own Aikido. I just have to say, even though I don't know that I've let that go, it's something that burned into my mind. On the other hand, I'm continually training to what we call Shugyo, which disciplined training toward enlightenment, no matter how far off it is. That continual training is what you're saying in examining your mind and then putting it down in writing and refining it. Putting it into your future on paper.

BAMD0041 | Storytelling for leadership

Storytelling for leadership and PR is a story journey, much like learning yoga or Aikido.

It's all a process and it's all one of refinement. The journey that we're on, let alone the story journey, is not linear. It's cyclical. It's repeating. It's a journey of depth, of getting deeper into the truth and to the essence of what we want to be living and how we want to be living it. Basically, just about everything in their life can reflect the stories.

Like you mentioned Susan, there's other people who reinforce those stories to you. You might have an old friend who tells you that you're the one who's undateable just based on ha-ha or this is what we've always joked about. You have to be aware of the stories that others impress upon you as well and question if you want those stories in your life at all. Because your energy, it's your story. You have permission to cut out what doesn't serve you and to welcome in what does.

I think that's true. You also mentioned using movement to shift the story. Using yogic movement or any kind of movement. Aikido is the same thing. We're using movement to move the energy but also to move the stories and to create new neural pathways, when you were talking about those mental grooves. I think yoga, any kind of physical movement, is instrumental in shifting those grooves.

Absolutely, because movement, as you mentioned, shifts energy. When we shift energy, transformation occurs. On the mental plane, when we're shifting energy and moving energy as we move our bodies, we're disrupting, like I was talking about, the Samsara, the Samskara. The mental grooves of the mind, the narratives that the ego is entrenched in and doesn't see any other way around because it's so comfortable in those stories.

Our minds get very comfortable with what is known. That's the scary part of changing your story, is that the mind, the human mind, we call it the lizard brain or the monkey mind or all these different terms that are given to this lower state, the animal state of acknowledging ourselves. The mind is always going to feel more comfortable with what is known than what is unknown.

What's unknown is always going to feel uncomfortable or threatening or vulnerable. Even if we know in our conscious minds that where we want to go is good and healthy and positive, it's still unknown and it still intimidates us and scares us. The mind is really good at keeping this semblance of harmony with what is simply known and comfortable and certain.

Even something small, like going to a yoga class or going for a walk, being in nature, gardening as we were talking about before we started our interview Susan, just communing with tags that make you very present and physical and embodied, in your body or embodied. You give yourself a window of opportunity to see the truth and feel the truth beyond that your mind is telling you is comfortable and safe because it is known and certain.

You can shift. Sometimes if I'm crabby, I'll just go out and sniff flowers or cut off the dead leaves just to be out in nature and the hear the birds, just do things like that. I have a blue jay that comes when I call to get his peanut. It's so fun. He'll sit on the tree, "Hey, where's my peanut?" It's just sometimes that five minutes or even 30 minutes can shift your mindset. Just doing something a little bit different and then come back and just shift that.

You got to give yourself the chance. Give yourself the chance to just think anew and feel anew and be renewed. Suddenly, you discover all this room of possibility that's always been there. You just got to risk yourself into it, I guess.

We've been talking about a lot of great story telling things and ways to tell your story and how to get the negative stories out of your head. What about some of the things that people may be doing wrong with their storytelling for leadership and PR that they don't know? We mentioned one thing, which was don't say, "I'm a work in progress," because we know that. Or don't blurt out, "I'm being vulnerable here."

That's to me, one of the worst things you can do. It's like saying, "Honestly or I'm being honest now or I'm telling you the truth now." It's like, what have you been doing before? What other kinds of things do people typically do incorrectly in their storytelling that they could shift so the tell a story that really reflects them and really inspires other people to connect with them and co-create with them?

Right off the top of my head Susan, there's either not committing yourself to labels or titles. That's a very common one. We know that you're an enlightened yogi, new age philosopher and you don't subscribe to the fact that your soul can be contained within a title, like writer or coach. But for your reader, it's ever important for them to be able to place who you are and what you're claiming to be and what you're trying to do instantly upon meeting you.

It's just one of those things where I was joking and being efficacious. If somebody really feels uncomfortable with assigning a label to themselves because they're like, "I'm not just these things. I'm not just a PR coach. I'm not just in marketing." We know that. Like you were mentioning Susan, you don't need to disclaim that you're more than these things. We can assume it.

Just as when you're meeting somebody for the first time and somebody says, "What do you do?" You give them some nuggets of information that they can chew on to understand and start to place you.

Oftentimes, when people feel really reluctant to give themselves their titles, it makes the readers feel uncommitted to you because they feel like you're not committing to them, you're not giving them the trust that they deserve to know more about who you are and what you do.

On the other hand, there is another trend, which people in a self-help or personal development or coaching space do. It's tongue and cheek but I also find that it's really unhelpful if have limited real estate for describing yourself. I usually use two to three titles to help a reader triangulate who you are and what you do.

I can use some variation of writer or author. I'll mention being a yogi or a yoga teacher and I'll mention either running an online writers group or being a business storyteller so that people have this triangulation around me. They see that I write, that some of the work that I do involves business storytelling and that I also happen to be a yogi or a yoga teacher.

There's an understanding that there's a holistic approach to the ways in which I do things or there's some essence of spirituality or whatever you define yoga as. The other way of doing that is creating a title like happiness lover or joy-ologist or catalyst.

I like joy-ologist.

It's nice, it's really nice but unless you're really onboard with that ...

Do you mind if I take that? Because that's one of core values too, is to spread joy. I haven't thought about calling myself a joy-ologist but I love that.

It's fine and it can reflect what you do, but I would rather Susan, rather than saying you're a joy-ologist, say some of the relatable tiles that I understand and then to say, "Susan is XYZ who is intent on spreading joy to people through her work." Almost you can just shift, you can get away from the title maybe isn't so self-explanatory and using the economy of your language in such a way where you can reflect more deliberately and also ...

I can use it in the triangle ... Not all by itself. It's like, "I work with people to double or triple their business using soundbites effectively in publicity, and in that process I'm a joy-ologist."

But you have to explain that too.

I do it with joy because sometimes people think it's such a painful process to move from private to public person.

BAMD0041 | Storytelling for leadership

Moving from private to public storytelling for leadership and PR can be a difficult shift.

See, I love how you just explained it. That's perfect. That's why I almost askew people away from using titles that they know what they mean but others don't. It's fun but it's one of those questions where your reader, your perspective client or customer, how are they interpreting that and what does it mean to them?

One of the greatest adages in all of communications is, it's not what you say that matters, it's what people hear. Ultimately, that's what we're trying to do. It's difficult because you don't know how people are defining these different words and phrases. We're trying to give people the best semblance of bridging what we're saying to what they're hearing. Those are a couple of things with titles. It can be tricky but it can also be a lot of fun when you nerd out about it like you and I do. Like we are doing right here and now.

It was fun just to play with it, to shift that. I think it's different saying it versus writing it too. In that kind of conversation, I can transition or I can say use the startle. Joy-ologist is like, "Wait a minute. I don't know what that means." Just to shift the attention. You're like, "Wait a minute, what does that mean?" Then you can have the conversation, "What it means is ..." Shifting that pain to pleasure, blah blah blah. I think this different. That was really fun to just play with that. Is there anything I haven't asked you that you wanted to add?

No, I think we've covered a lot of ground. I certainly hope for you, the listener, that's it been helpful and engaging. We've given you plenty to chew on and different things to try out. Just remember, it is a journey. You shouldn't know everything based on the extent of this one call. I trust that these things that I've told you are things that I wish that I had learned a little bit more quickly. I learned them mostly on my own, out of my own stubbornness, trying to figure it out on my own for way too long. If I had had them early on, I think it would have been much a great help.

I also would like to extend that I'm more than available to chat with you if you do have any questions. You can find me, as Susan mentioned, at DaveUrsillo.com. My online writers group is the Literati Writers, which you can find at LiteratiWriters.com if you'd like to get into a three month expansive, spacious, creative experience that is lately guided, mostly self-guided, but includes premium writing prompts.

It's basically an online space that is protected for you to explore your self-expression to write more, to learn how to write better through some yogic principles and a chakra guided E-course. Also more importantly, non-judgments, no criticism, no fear of trolling or anything. It's a place where you can express yourself and feel safe.

Do you jump into that place? You jump in and then ...

Yeah, I write myself.

You have group calls and things like that in there?

Exactly.

That's DaveUrsillo.com and LiteratiWriters.com where you can connect with Dave and share in his enthusiasm and creating your different stories and maybe get some good yogic tips about shifting your Samsara.

There you go. Exactly right.

Thank you so much for being our guest today, Dave. This is great information on storytelling for leadership. A totally different view on storytelling I think, really from deep inside. To not just crafting a story but getting to the essence of your past and really envisioning your future. Right?

Yeah, absolutely. That's exactly right. A story is a soulful process. To me and to those of you who want to be experiencing a soulful rewarding journey through your work and how you're creating change, then story is one way to start to tap into that and to really keep yourself authentic and aligned to the values that are motivating the actions and the work and how you show up in the world.

Thank you so much. I so appreciate that. Thank you, Dave.

Thank you, Susan. Appreciate the time.

About Dave Ursillo

Dave Ursillo is a teacher of writing, creativity, yoga and all things self-expression. He's a former politico who once walked in the west wing of the White House and aspired to become a presidential speech writer. Then in 2009, disillusioned with the state of politics and questioning his role in the system, Dave quit his job and abandoned his career in public service to live a life of personal leadership, using writing as his vessel for change. Today, Dave works with conscientious creatives, innovative professionals, heart centered self-starters and everyday yogis who wish to live, serve and thrive at the crossroads of self-knowledge and self-expression. He's published five books and been published six more. He's led writing, creativity and yoga workshops in eight countries.

He's the founder of the Literati Writers, a private membership writing community, which teaches writers of all levels how to stop struggling and start loving their writing at LiteratiWriters.com, that's the home of his positivity infused online writing group. When Dave is not writing, he loves to travel abroad. He's been to India twice. He considers coffee an act of artistry and wants to help humans love one another. Find Dave and his 400 published pieces of writing at DaveUrsillo.com.

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Take Dave’s Literati Writer’s E-Course to explore your self-expression to write more and better through yogic principles and a chakra guidance.

Media Training Tips for CEOs

Media Training Tips for Entrepreneurs, Authors, Coaches, Consultants, CEOs

Are you enjoying the Podcast? Then I invite you to hop on over to iTunes to subscribe, rate + review it. Here’s a quick video on how to do a podcast review on iTunes. (It’s simple if you follow these directions). Note: It can take up to 24 hours to show up on my Podcast. You're welcome to send this to anyone you think it would delight. May good fortune always follow you!

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Susan Harrow Podcast

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Podcast Reviews
  • A geniune way to build your business
    August 26, 2016 by Siriusjane from United States

    Loved this podcast. I found it very helpful and informative. Susan has a very open, friendly, riveting approach to promoting one's business and self. Her sharp insights and her real-life examples and guests can really help a business going from a start-up to a viral presence. I recommend this highly if you want to get your message out there with a genuine approach. Even the poetry speaks to the importants of our words. Check out all the episodes.

  • Invigorate Your Message!
    August 24, 2016 by Michele L. Plunkett from United States

    Winsome wisdom evokes and embodies the expertise of Susan Harrow; ensuring enlivening opportunities and outcomes through her podcasts and programs! Grow your business and income with the stellar style of Susan's endearing and enriching coaching! Susan Harrow Media Coaching and Marketing Strategies provide vitalizing results to invigorate your message when you implement her training!

  • Excited!
    August 24, 2016 by Delia McCabe from Australia

    Love Susan's work - her book and emails and short eBooks are all filled with enthusiasm and sparkle! So excited to be able to listen to her too now!

  • Susan makes publicity doable, authentic, + fun! !
    August 15, 2016 by SherryBelul from United States

    I'm thrilled to see that Susan Harrow is doing this podcast! I've taken a number of Susan's courses and I just love how warm, accessible, and doable her work is. Susan is an amazing trainer who is knowledgable about *all* aspects of publicity and media training, but she never overwhelms us with too much at once. She makes everything bite sized. (Sound-bite sized!) This podcast is no exception. You'll love the stories she tells to illustrate he points because they help make the information memorable. And she gives simple things to practice with. If you want to grow your business, I highly recommend this podcast. Not only will you love the training, I know you will love Susan's generous heart + authentic teaching style.

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The Top 7 Tips to Getting on TV

By Guest Blogger Gina Rubinstein

Every time you turn on the radio or TV, you see a so-called expert being interviewed. The Today Show, CNN, Talk Radio, local morning shows and all the rest rely on these experts to give background and insight on the hot topics of the day.  For these experts, the result of being on TV or radio is that their BOOK SALES SOAR, they become an IN-DEMAND SPEAKERS, and one media booking leads to more.

This can be you.

As a TV producer, I can tell you from experience that we are always on the hunt for guests and experts who shine.  Actually, we are desperate to find smart and funny people.

In my career, I’ve cast thousands of people for talk shows and other types of reality TV, and said “No” to many thousands more.  I’ve coached many authors and speakers who were looking to promote themselves and their products on TV so they could do the best job possible.  As the one you must get past, the one who says “Yes” or “No,” I can tell you what you need to get booked AND THE MISTAKES THAT CAN TORPEDO OPPORTUNITIES.

Here are the top 7 tips to getting booked on TV:

1. Be authentic: So many people try to be what they think is “right” and come across stilted and rehearsed instead.  I coached my client Judy Carter on how to be authentic and within 30 seconds of being on TV with Marie Osmond, Marie sat on her lap because she liked her so much.

06-1

2. Connect your expertise to a current hot topic.  In order to get the attention of mass media, you need to build a bridge from your expertise to what’s hot in the news. A client of mine who wrote a book on parenting got onto a show about legalizing marijuana because she had advice for parents who want to say “yes” to pot for themselves and “no” to pot for their kids.

3.  Have a compelling elevator pitch – In three or four sentences I need to know who you are, why I should listen to you, what problem you’re going to solve, how if affects me and what fresh ideas you have as solutions. A client of mine found herself in an elevator with a radio producer, gave her pitch, and by the time the elevator got to her floor she was booked on the producer’s show.

glasses-and-pen-on-a-newspaper

4. Talk in sound bites: In our ADD, double latte culture, no one has the time or interest to listen to someone who rambles on or goes off on tangents. In order to be media presence you need to express yourself concisely, in a few short, punchy sentences.

5. Make your points using compelling stories: Your stories give your message the one thing that facts can’t — heart. You need to emotionally connect with audiences and these stories are the way.

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6. Work in your best credentials in a clever way: Nothing is more boring that an arrogant name-dropper. But, it’s important for the audience to know your credentials. I teach my clients to reveal their credentials in anecdotes that enhance who they are in a natural, unforced way.

 7. Have a hot sizzle reel:  90% of the sizzle reels I see have bad audio, are too long, and don’t showcase the expert’s personality immediately. A sizzle reel should be short (3 minutes max, and shorter is better), and should present you as an attractive person who’s an expert in their field and can reach people’s hearts as well as minds. I’ve produced several sizzle reels for clients and all have gotten TV and radio appearances as a result.

Gina Rubinstein is a Los Angeles-based media coach who helps her clients grow their business through the media. For more info go to here. For a free evaluation, please fill out this short questionnaire.


Escape the Time for Money Trap by Launching Your First (or second) Product

By Guest Blogger Danny Iny

Too many of us fall into the trap of trading time for money.

You may have already launched a product—but had disappointing results. Or you may have created a product that got some traction, but didn’t get the kind of success you’d hoped. Or, you haven’t developed a product yet, but you feel pretty sure you’d like one especially since….

Coaches, consultants, speakers, freelancers… all of us are in the same boat of working for an hourly wage.

Now, for some of us, the hourly wage can be very attractive; if it’s a cage, then it’s one made of gold, and studded with diamonds.

But still, it’s a cage; if we don’t work, then we don’t earn – which means that in some ways, we never get to take a real break and get off that treadmill without a gnawing fear in the back of our minds about what our business will look like when we get back.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way…

Your First (or second) Product: The Secret to Scalable Revenue

There’s a way to escape the time for money paradigm, and it lies within your first digital product.

As freelancers, we often find ourselves daydreaming of that perfect situation where we can walk away from our business for a few days without everything falling apart.

We think about what it would be like to create something that creates huge impact, making the world a better place.

And we think about how wonderful it would be to create that something once, and how easy it would be if it worked behind the scenes, even when we weren’t there.

We dream of vacations on white sandy beaches, holding drinks with tiny umbrellas and laughing with friends as the breeze gently sweeps across the beachfront.

All the while our business hums away quietly in the background, leaving us free to enjoy life.

But as much as we dream of this lifestyle, it’s not something we know how to create.

We aren’t sure how to scale our business outside the bounds of trading more time, or possibly the same time for more money.

You may have thought about building a product, but don’t know how to balance the time you’ll take building it with the money that you won’t be making in the meantime.

It’s a vicious cycle.

What if I told you that there’s a way for you to get paid to create your first product, while virtually guaranteeing that it will be successful?

There is, and when you implement the strategy, you will build a product that scales with ease, and it may not even matter if you’re there to deliver it, once it’s automated.

But wait…

If Products Are So Great, Why Don’t More People Build Them?

It’s a legitimate question.

Up until now, product creation has been fraught with danger.

Using the standard model of product creation, an entrepreneur might spend months of their time and a serious amount of money slaving away to create what they are sure will be a groundbreaking new product.

The entrepreneur has spent enough time interacting with their audience to know exactly which of their great new ideas will be the best to build out.

They know their audience better than anyone else, after all.

But in the end, most entrepreneurs creating new products will have their offering met with a lukewarm reception, or even worse: silence.

CREATE A PRODUCT BLUEPRINT

CREATE A PRODUCT BLUEPRINT

The opportunity cost is too high for most people, and for those intrepid enough to break into product creation, failure can be painful and costly.

The problem here is that entrepreneurs base their product creation on an assumption.

And they not only start with an assumption, but they either use faulty reasoning to validate their ideas or don’t validate them at all.

So how do you avoid the assumption trap and create something that your audience really wants, and at scale?

You take a little lesson from the technology industry.

Rapid Prototyping for Training Products

Now that you know why so many others have failed before you, how can you avoid the same fate?

Start by listening to your audience, and using what they tell you to quickly and profitably validate that they want what you’re going to build.

By listening, we don’t mean just skimming over what they say, picking and choosing which pieces seem to validate the ideas you have.

It’s about meeting your client or customer’s deepest needs. You want to figure out what problems they are having, and the exact language that they use to describe that problem.

How do you find out that information?

1. Listen and Validate

The first step is to find out what your audience wants, and quickly test to see if they really want it.

There are several ways that you can listen to your audience that will help you discover what they would pay you to create for them.

  • Listen to the questions that your audience sends to you via email. What are they asking for?
  • How do they respond to your blog posts? Which posts are they sharing or talking about most on social media?
  • The same thing applies to your emails and newsletters: which emails result in a lot of enthusiastic responses or questions?
  • You can also “eavesdrop” on conversations on social media to find out which topics are the most discussed.
  • Or, you can review comments left on blog posts and forums around the web. What questions are people asking repeatedly?

2. Dig Deeper with Surveys and Interviews

To dig deeper into the problems your audience is facing, you can create a simple survey, asking what their biggest challenge is.

And then, to gather additional information, you can conduct informational interviews with members of your audience or the people who responded to your survey.

These interviews can be conducted over the phone or by video chat. During the interviews, you can go in depth about the topic and the problem they are having.

3. Analyze Your Data

When you have finished your eavesdropping, surveys, conversations and interviews, you should have gathered a lot of data.

Your next step is to analyze the information you collected, looking for patterns and repetition of problem language.

If you have enough data points, and your audience really cares, you have likely just uncovered a problem that your audience is practically begging you to teach them how to fix!

4. Sell a Pilot Version

Finally, you need to validate that your audience will take out their wallets and pay you for the solution to their problem.

The best way to validate your product is to sell a pilot version of the course.

After the pilot, you can then use the outline and student feedback to build out your full product.

The process outlined above means that you will get paid, ahead of time, for creating a scalable product for your audience.

What’s even better is that this post includes both a case study about exactly how this works, and templates that will help you to create this success for yourself!

Case Study: The Course Builder’s Laboratory

At Firepole Marketing, we used this exact model of product creation as we built our soon-to-be-launched program, Course Builder’s Laboratory.

In our case, we had audience members and students in our Audience Business Masterclass come straight out and ask us to solve a problem for them.

We looked at all of the requests that came in and found there was a real pattern.

There were different ways that our audience asked for it, but in the end everyone wanted to know how to teach effectively online, and how to sell their own digital courses.

Then, rather than taking those requests and just building the final product, we used the process we describe in this post to validate that our audience would actually pay for the course.

We ran an initial pilot program called Course Builder’s Bootcamp; these live weekly calls went over what we thought the biggest pain points in terms of building and selling online courses would be. This program lasted six weeks in total.

We received some amazing feedback from the students, and were able to make smart choices about how to build out the final product in a valuable way.

We also ran a second pilot to gain more insight: a higher end in-person weekend in Montreal called Course Builders LIVE. We decided to run the additional pilot because the eventual course we were thinking of building was going to be HUGE.

CREATE PASSIVE STREAMS OF INCOME

This in-person pilot was a much smaller group, and allowed for a very intensive, hands-on experience for the students.

We were able to see places in the pilot curriculum where students were asking lots of similar questions, requesting additional features, or getting stuck – so we could fix them for the final version.

Through the two pilots, we were able to really refine the course material for the ultimate product. And we made about $70,000 while we were at it.

How to Do it Yourself, Starting Today

Following the process outlined in this post, you can easily create your first product.

Start by listening to your audience, analyzing the data you gather, and validating the problem that you think they are having.

Then, sell a pilot version of the product.

When you reach out to your audience, you will want to use the same language they use to describe the problem your pilot solves.

If having sales conversations isn’t your strong suit, we have created a set of free templates that will walk you, step by step, through how to get started creating and selling your pilot.

Then, once you’ve sold your pilot, you will deliver the content and gather feedback from your students.

Afterwards, you will use the basic outline of the course material and any student feedback to create your final product.

This final product is your key to scalable revenue.

So, does it feel like it’s time to break out of the hourly wage cage?

Then let’s get started!

We just have one favor to ask of you: send us a postcard from your next vacation!

Danny Iny is the co-founder of Firepole Marketing, and creator of the Course Builder’s Laboratory. For a limited time, he’s giving away a comprehensive “Done For You” swipe kit of email templates that you can copy-and-paste to sell your own pilot course


8 Website Conversion Trends Could Transform Your Business in 2015

By Guest Blogger Marisa Murgatroyd

Blink your eyes three times.

That’s 1 second — the amount of time it takes for 10 new websites to hit the internet. (That’s 86,400 new sites each day!)

Holy Christmas! How do you compete against that?

It’s actually easy.

  1. First, stop following the latest & greatest “web design” trend articles that get put out every year. Web designers can tell you what’s new & what looks good, but they’re rarely experts in what works to CONVERT traffic into results online.
  2. Second, implement these 8 new conversion trends I’ve identified. (By sticking to whatconverts, you’re guaranteed that you’ll get a return on your investment.)

Here they are, starting with the MOST important one of all. The one trend to rule them all.

1. The World Has Gone Mobile.

Last year, mobile, cell & tablet internet usage surpassed desktop for the first time — up to 67% of people are now visiting you with a small(er) screen.

So what”, you ask? Well – think about it this way young Padawan.

If YOUR site looks craptastic on smaller screens, what do you think up to 67% of your visitors are going to do?

That’s right — they’re going to hit the back button as fast as their fat fingers can find it.

Without a great mobile experience, all of the hard work you’ve done up until now (and money you’ve spent) will be for nothing because you could be losing up to 67% of your traffic INSTANTLY.

No, I’m not trying to make you feel bad here right off that bat. On the contrary. Take this as a great opportunity to get out ahead of this huge trend and bring in a bunch of new business that are currently visiting you on their tablets from their couch.

Quick plug: I’ve got more information about how to do just that in my upcoming trainings on Jan 14 and 15. It’s free to attend and you can get more info here.

OK – so moving on to the next trends.

2. Big, gorgeous, full-width graphics and videos!

Global internet speeds have increased 2-3x in the last few years, bringing with it demand for more episodes of The Walking Dead, along with demand for more “eye candy”.

This means designers are now featuring large photos, graphics and videos that stretch full-width across a web page – expanding to fill an extra large monitor or shrinking down to fit a small handheld device.

The upside for you is that these large image areas grab your visitor’s full attention helping them focus on the thing you want them to do.

3. Modular Organization of Pages

It’s easier to scroll down a page on mobile devices then it is to click a small button. Web pages are getting longer and making greater use of full-width graphics and backgrounds to organize the page into “modules” that focus visitor’s attention on one concept at a time.

In case you’re wondering, your “So What” factor is this…

Many of us were taught to think about websites one page at a time. But website structure is evolving along with the technology, and we need to start thinking about them one section or module at a time.

(More on that in my upcoming free webinar! Woot!)

4. Sticky Nav. (AKA navigation…)

As pages are getting longer, it takes more time to scroll from the top to the bottom of the page, where the site navigation is usually featured.

Enter the “sticky nav”.

By minimizing the top navigation and allowing it to “stick” to the top of the page as a visitor scrolls, they now have access to the most important pages on your site at any moment in time.

5. Modals, pop-ups & “microinteractions.”

As we’ve already seen, pages are getting longer while attention is getting shorter.

This means it’s become more important to direct your visitors to thet one single action you want them to take at any given time — such as signing up for your email list or scheduling a free call.

For example, a single extra large button in your top banner launches a modal or pop-over focusing your visitors attention exclusively on inputting their name and email address.

Or a well-timed pop-up directs your audience to do the same.

6. Less text, bolder type

Just like it’s predecessor, the newspaper, people scan rather than read when they’re online, often consuming 30% or less of the text on any given page.

Up until now, smart designers have made use of bullet points, numbered lists, headlines, short paragraphs and other ways to chop text up into smaller and smaller pieces.

Now designers are using typography itself to draw attention to the handful of headlines & content that’s truly important.

Google Fonts plus low-to-no-cost type libraries are allowing businesses to craft custom font palettes that allow them to treat content like design – grabbing attention and pulling the reader in – while reducing the amount of text on a page for greater consumption.

7. Cleaner, fresher, flatter, simpler

Websites used to be jammed pixel-by-pixel with textures, graphics, tables and animations.

But the 80s are gone and these dense designs don’t convert well for seamless browsing on smaller screens.

The best sites coming online today make use of the full length (vertical scrolling) and width of the page (full page-width graphics & backgrounds) to create more spacious, modular designs that work on every screen and device.

They’re also making greater use of space and color to create cleaner, fresher designs.

8. Live chat

Only scammers still bury their contact information — social media has created a culture of transparency and accessibility where people demand conversations with businesses before making a purchasing decision.

Easy live chat technology now allows and encourages visitors to interact with business owners the exact moment they have a question, which skyrockets conversion.

MORE GOODIES:

Download Marisa’s 3 Highest Converting Home Pages (Yours Free!) 

PLUS: Jan 14 and 15 Marisa will give a live training on how to apply the ideas above and more to YOUR website.

Join Marisa free to learn the details, plus she’ll show you how you can actually have other people do all the work for you, leaving you free to concentrate on what you do best. (How cool is that?)

(Sign up for her webinar on January 14-15 and download your website templates now)


Earn 7 Figures in 2015: Ask yourself this one question

abundance

Photo Credit: Stuck in Customs


Words matter.

In just a few words David Neagle, Million Dollar Income Acceleration Mentor, changed my mind.

David was my guest on a complimentary teleseminar about how to make a quantum leap to earn 7 figures. In the teleseminar, he offered a free evaluation and consulting session so I thought I’d better go through it so I would know exactly what it was like and how valuable it really was before I promoted it.

I got more than I bargained for.

I couldn’t really imagine how I could earn a million dollars this year. I wanted to believe I could, but logically and emotionally I couldn’t make the leap. Especially not when I looked at the notion on paper.

One of my goals is to do a bit less consulting so I can concentrate on a big project. But where to find the extra hours in a day?

David didn’t even need to address this topic. The advice he gave me set me in motion to begin revamping the consulting I already do and the products I already have.

Instead of advising me to do more, he advised me to do less–with more effect. I jumped into action and worked into the wee hours of the morning several nights in a row to do everything he recommended–consolidate, eliminate, and expand. This included my product line, my media coaching packages, and my strategic marketing planning sessions–like brainstorming with publicity firms to develop angles, ideas, pitches and segments for their clients. I’m still doing that. It’s an ongoing process to refine my current offerings and to delete what doesn’t serve me or my audience any more.

This principle of reworking what I already have resonated with me as it’s exactly like creating a soundbite. I listen to how you speak naturally, then train you to say more with less words. You have all the knowledge inside you, you just may not know how to package it. I can easily do it for other people. Not so easy for myself! We all need other eyes and perspectives on our work as we’re often too close to it to be able to see all the other options.

Happiness

Photo Credit: Crazy Luca 69

One of my gifts is being able find hidden revenue streams that may be staring you in the face. My other superpower is to find your Joyspot(tm), the place where joy and profit meet. Many times what comes easiest to us we ignore. Other times a simple re-packaging or repositioning is all that’s required to turn a failure into a success.  So if you would like to explore making 6-7 figures (and finding YOUR Joyspot(tm) in 2015 I have one opening for a long-term client and one short term one. I’d love to help you find what makes you come alive. Tell me a bit about what your aspirations here. I’ll connect if I think we’re a good match and that I know in my bones I can help.


STOP. Do not pitch the media until you do… this. [Free checklist]

 

At some point, pretty much every business owner dreams of getting featured in the media.

How do I get on TV?

How do I get on TV?
Photo by Jason Kristofer

From a quick one-line mention in a local blog…

to a glamorous booking on The Today Show…

media attention feels amazing!

But in my experience, many people jump the gun and try to get booked in the media before they’re truly ready.

They spend countless hours writing pitches and press releases (or guest posts for online magazines and blogs)… when they don’t even have the basic business essentials (like a website, a mailing list, or enticing product descriptions) in place.

That’s kind of like inviting 500 people to the grand opening of your cake shop… except, oops. You don’t actually have anything to feed them. It’s a huge waste of time and energy for you — and a big disappointment for the people that you want to serve. (“Wait, I thought there was going to be cake!”)

If you’re taking action to get yourself booked in the media… terrific.

But I’d recommend pressing PAUSE until you’ve completed the following checklist — which will help you to determine if you’re actually ready for media exposure or not.

Before you pitch yourself to the media, whether it’s a local blog, a national radio show, an international trade journal, or anything in between…

Make sure that…

1. You have a website.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but even in this day and age, many business owners… don’t! You don’t have to be a computer genius to put together a simple site using About.Me or Squarespace. Both are designed for tech-phobic people. If you can handle Facebook, you can handle these tools, too.

2. Your website clearly states who you are, what you do, and what people should do next… if they want to learn more about you.

You wouldn’t invite people to your home and then slam the door in their face. You’d usher them inside, show them where to hang their coats, and then guide them into the living room and give them snacks. Your website needs to make people feel welcome and show them where to go, first, whether that’s your About page, your Blog, your Shop, or your mailing list. Speaking of which, make sure that…

3. You have a mailing list.

If you made an amazing new friend at a dinner party, you’d ask for their phone number, or email address, right? You wouldn’t want them to slip away… you’d want to stay in touch!

You want to stay in touch with new clients and customers, too. Use a simple platform like MailChimp to put a mailing list sign-up form on your website. Feeling overwhelmed by the technical stuff? Hire a geek on Fiverr or Elance to do it for you. It’s well worth the (minimal) cost.

4. You have a FREE offering, a treat, a surprise, or something for people to enjoy.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a psychologist, a dog trainer, a painter or a politician. Give your new website visitors SOMETHING to read, watch, listen to, think about, or peruse. Give them a reason to stay, explore, and get to know you and your work a bit better. If you don’t have anything for people to dig into to, they won’t stick around for long.

Again, to use the cake shop metaphor, that’s like throwing a grand opening party… and then forgetting to serve up the treats.

Creating an opt-in offer

Creating an opt-in offer
Photo by A. Pagliaricci

5. You have a PAID offering, product, service or book for people to enjoy. (And it’s easy to find.)

The whole point of getting featured in the media is to inspire your audience, make an impact… and, of course, make some money!

If your current products and services are completely confusing, tricky to purchase, poorly described, or buried deep in the belly of your website where they’re nearly impossible to find, that’s a problem.

6. You have a bio — or About page — that shows your credentials — but also reflects your natural voice and personality.

Many business owners agonize over writing a bio, but it doesn’t have to be a dreadful experience. To take some of the pressure off, remember that your bio doesn’t have to say EVERYTHING about you. It just has to share enough information to make your reader feel intrigued and excited about your work. Think: “Coming Attractions.” Not: “Feature Presentation.”

How to write a bio

How to write a bio
Photo by Sinéad McKeown

So… how’d you do?

If you passed this pre-media checklist with flying colors, congratulations! Pitching the media will be a smart use of your time, because you’ve already laid the groundwork in advance.

You’re ready to welcome new, curious customers into your website, or blog, or wherever you do business. You’re ready to entertain them, inspire them, and of course… sell your work!

If you didn’t do so hot on this checklist, don’t despair.

Help is on the way. 🙂

Starting in January 2015, I’m swinging open the doors to The Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul™ Membership Club.

Inside this club, you’ll learn how to get booked in the media, but also — and more importantly — how to prepare for your time in the media so that your hard work pays off.

Everything listed in the checklist, above? We’re covering that. And so much more.

The club is just $25 a month.

Because learning how to bring your products, your services and your message to a bigger audience shouldn’t come with a 5-digit price tag.

You can register now and stay as long as you like.

The club is ongoing, and there is absolutely no penalty if you choose to end your membership.

And be sure to check out the charter membership as that will go away before we start.

Learn more and sign up here.

See you in the clubhouse.


Are Workshops, Retreats, and Seminars a Dying Trend?

Seminars. Everyone seems to be giving them. You can find seminars on The Psychology of Kundalini Yoga. Leadership Development. Legal Training. Binge Eating. The Vegan Lifestyle. Hot Monogamy,.How to Create Your Own App. Become a Mommy Blogger. Make a Million in Online Marketing. You name it, someone is giving it.

Are you?

If yes, keep reading.

If no…

perhaps there is a workshop inside you that haven’t figured out how to package and sell. You have knowledge to share. And sharing it in an event seminar or workshop would get your word out in a big way.

Here’s how.

Callan Rush FBCreate your own workshop, retreat, seminar and speak from the stage

The buzz is that live events such as workshops, retreats and seminars are more difficult to fill…

and its getting harder to sell from the stage, which is making any these types of live events much less effective than they used to be.

I’m not sure if this is true or not.

The debate continues. But what I do know is that Callan Rush, who leads more than 30 events a year, and who built a $7-figure business, has has just published a new report called:

“The Live Event Revolution: What’s Working Now With Live Workshops, Retreats & Seminars … And What’s Doomed to Fail!”

Feel free to pick up your free copy here…

Callan Rush Report DeadWealth through workshops Callan Rush

She’ll fill you in on the trends and truth of what’s happening now so you can decide for yourself whether this is something you want to pursue to broaden your career—or not.

Because… speaking is how the experts became authorities.

When you get on stage and speak what you know to be true, from experience and/or research, you establish authority and leadership more effectively than anything else. (In conjunction with publicity, of course!)

It’s the ONE core strategy behind every great mentor and luminary.

So if you have any inkling that you might like to speak, get your free report here from Callan Rush, the world’s foremost authority on filling, designing and profiting from workshops, retreats and seminars.