Mastering The Media with Susan Harrow – Interview by Rob Anspach
Mastering The Media with Susan Harrow and Rob Anspach
Rob: Hey this is Rob Anspach and welcome back to another edition of E-Heroes. A lot of you guys have problems getting media, media attention or keeping that. Getting your name out there, so I brought on a media expert – Susan Harrow and thank you for being here and thank you for sharing your knowledge.
Susan: Oh so it’s so fun I mean I think now everybody wants their 15 minutes of fame in some way shape or form. There are some people who want to be internet quote unquote internet famous and then some people who want more traditional media. Who want to be on TV or radio, podcasts or print. But I think that now because the internet is so crowded and certainly since Covid it’s even more difficult to stand out. And so many people want to make their mark right.
Whether you’ve always been on the internet or whether you’re new to the internet I think it’s now really necessary to be able to carry yourself well on camera, to be able to communicate via video, because that’s where people want to see you now. Now we can start to see people in person but when we can’t and we can’t travel we want to see you via video.
Rob: I first got on the internet in 1995 when I started my first business and it wasn’t as crowded as it is now and it was so much easier to get attention but it wasn’t until 2012 that I started looking at things and saying okay how do i make my coaching business better, bigger and at one point I had won a media award or a marketing award.
Susan: Oh congratulations!
Rob: …that I had created and I milked that sucker as and I mean I was sending out press releases to newspapers media. I mean magazines everything and now getting right up and it was like 15 minutes of fame I just stretched it out.
Susan: That’s so fascinating. because I mean sometimes people’s videos or whatever go viral and then that’s the end of it but I think there’s a real art to then multiplying your media once you get it like you demonstrate it’s like the more the more you get media the more you get media. So that was a very smart move to start to say, I was placed here and to start to share with everybody where you were placed, with your clients too and your customers too.
They want to know. That elevates you in their eyes as well to have gotten media and placements. It’s a way to really elevate your status in a way that’s been vetted beyond the internet at least with traditional media because you have gone through the gauntlet of people vetting you whether it’s journalists or producers and saying this person is someone who’s to be listened to and paid attention to.
Any Business Can Benefit From Media
Rob: For me it was different I mean I look at some of the local service businesses who they might get a little bit of media attention and they want to be able to stretch it but it’s hard because they’re in that local demographic. They might only have one newspaper that picks them up. How do they share it? How do they get more publicity? Because for me to take my 15 minutes of fame and stretch it globally was one thing, but now say a local plumber, what does he do?
Susan: Well I think it’s really about the angle. It’s not necessarily about the location. It’s about what do you have to say that connects with people’s audiences. Like people all over the country have plumbing problems so if you’ve got an innovative way to solve a plumbing problem or you have an interesting story. Or let’s imagine that you were a plumber and you went and helped all kinds of people for free during Covid because you put on your special apparatus. You went into people’s homes and you helped people keep their homes, for example, that would be a national story because so many people are losing their homes or being booted out for not paying their rent.
So it’s just about thinking in a bigger way and by getting, even if you got national publicity as a plumber, it would increase your local business. Because people would have seen that and oftentimes when I was a publicist because I was a publicist first before I was a media trainer, what I found I know this might sound crazy, but sometimes I had to get national publicity first for my clients before the local media would write them up. So if I got somebody in the New York Times then the San Francisco Chronicle or the San Jose Mercury would go, “Oh that person has been vetted by a higher source and so they must be great and I should probably write about them too and they are local.”
So oftentimes that will happen so sometimes even if you’re local, I would, I mean, I suggest that you start small because managing yourself on media is a practice. So do start small and start with the easiest and the slowest would be newspapers, blogs because you’re writing, right? Then the next is radio and podcast because you’re speaking but it’s longer form like you and I are doing now and then the fastest is most difficult is TV because you just typically have two or three of four or six minutes. And you have to be able to speak in such a way, really fast to get your points out.
The other thing is that we we just started talking about sort of offline is that one of the things that people don’t realize is that in order to make publicity work for you, you really need to have your messaging down. You really need to know what you want to say, and have that connect to the audience. So you want to have your stories and statistics and facts and vignettes already set in some way to know that you’re going to weave that into the conversation so you get the results that you want. It’s really thinking about, lots of times people would say, “oh I want publicity. But I would say: “But what do you want it to do for you? How do you want to grow your business? How do you want to direct your business?”
I remember somebody came to me and asking to be a client she’s like I got a write up in the San Francisco Chronicle and I got 100 phone calls. And I said but how many of those people turned into clients? She said, “One.” I said, “Well that’s not a good average. So whatever you were saying wasn’t driving in the right kind of person to call you up because you don’t want 100 phone calls and only get one client.” Especially if you’re talking about your plumber right, you want all of those phone calls to be relevant or all of those visits to your website to be relevant to whatever your offer is whatever you’re selling.
The Power of a Signature Story
Rob: I liked how you you brought up share your story because that was the first chapter of my very first book. I think people’s story is is the most powerful thing that they can do. But they have to kind of polish it to a point where it’s not so interesting but it’s the media wants to share it.
Susan: Well you need to have, it’s not just your story, I mean the first question that you’re going to be asked is why do you do what you do? Or why did you write your book? So you need to have an answer for that. And that’s when you really want to think about what your signature story is. What is the story that brought you to where you are today. Sometimes it’s a story and I mean you can have lots of lots of different signature stories, I have like four different signature stories. One of my stories is that I have a course called True Shield: Verbal Self-Defense or Girls and that’s so girls 12 to 24 can protect themselves. Know what to say and how to act in any of the 10 most dangerous or difficult situations.
A story for that is not my same story as me as a media trainer it’s a story of me seeing a bully pinning down one of my artistic friends and beating him up in a big crowd around them and me going and yanking him off and everybody scattering and me saying: why are you watching this like? And being the protector of people who couldn’t protect themselves. Then training people now today on how to use verbal self-defense before they have to use physical self-defense. I’m a black belt in Aikido so I believe that we want to have ourselves both physically trained but also verbally trained.
So I was shouting at him and then yanked him off and then said to everybody like what are you looking at, get away and then became like the protector of those people who are the artists or the people who can’t speak for themselves and that also connects with what I’m doing today with people in media. It’s not that people can’t speak for themselves but how do you speak for yourself in the way that is most connected to people. That is going to also be something that’s going to be advantageous for you. I mean where that meeting point is like to serve your audience and to serve yourself and by serving yourself you’re serving more people does that make sense.
Rob: Yeah it does. And in fact, a lot of the publicity that I get from my books isn’t in the newspaper, it’s not a magazine, it’s on social media. A lot of my early books were focused on social media and I used that not to sell my books but to get people to sell my books. How I did that is every time someone bought a book I would ask them take a picture of the book. With them holding it. I have thousands of these pictures and every time I post the picture – Hey this is this is Angela with my book and I’ll have a link and people will go buy the book and and it’s ….
Susan: That’s such a great strategy. I love that, I love that strategy.
Rob: …. they sell my book for me. They also tell their friends about it and I’ve had media companies call me and they say hey we saw that picture of Angela with the book, can we write a story about you. It was funny because in the one town council in Argyll, Texas, every single town council member bought one of my books. In fact, it was Lessons from the Dojo, we talked about karate. This one, even though it sounds karate-ish, martial artist, every single page is a new lesson.
So it’s 101 kick butt ways to improve your life, business and relationships, and that book actually broke it down so that you’d start off with a no belt. You read a few chapters and become yellow belt and green belt and you work your way up to mastery. It wasn’t as big of a seller as my new books but it was one of the books that I was most proud of because I think it connected to people more.
Susan: I love that you have that strategy of getting other people to sell your books because that’s really having people evangelize you. And now with social media, because it’s such a visual media, that’s a great way. I mean I see a lot of authors doing that now on Instagram and you did it when it was new. Now it’s more of a quote-unquote strategy that people use to tag each other on the media and that can be really an effective arm of one of the things that you do to publicize yourself. Even if you wrote up the copy that people could post and modify it themselves you’re doing some of the work for them but I think that’s that’s wonderful.
Rob: I think the problem though is social media is oversaturated and I like social media for the connection and the engagement but I think people are still gravitating towards magazines, they’re going towards the news.
Susan: Well magazines and newspapers and print and TV still have more gravitas than social media. Plus things in social media, yes they can be accessed later, but they’re much more ephemeral. I mean if you’re in a hard copy magazine like I have the only course on getting into O magazine, Oprah’s Magazine and so now she’s gotten more digital so there’s more place for people. Hard copy is only four times a year, but it’s still more prestigious to get into the hard copy. I don’t know yet the results yet for the digital because it’s a platform that they’re expanding but what I can say is there’s more opportunity for people and then that’s is a quicker share that once you’re in that you can easily put it in your E-zine and up on all of your social media to increase that reach right. So there’s the shareability factor. So they each have their advantages.
How Susan Became a Media Trainer
Rob: How did you get started? I mean it’s not something you just snapped your finger I’m gonna do publicity.
Susan: I was in high tech sales at some startups and I had been an English major focused on Shakespeare. That’s a great degree, it was a very practical degree to have! I was always in taking writing classes because I’ve been a writer since forever. I was in a special class, a very small class with this woman who who was the publicist for The North Face and I just thought, wow, that’s a great melding of my writing and being able to speak. I mean since I was in sales I could speak pretty fluently and so I asked her if I could tail her. I said can I just come over and see what you do and so I did.
Then she started just having me do everything, so it sort of baptism by fire she just said get on the phone and book them and I’m like well I don’t even know what to say. So can I listen to you first and I listened to her and then I just got on the phone. I was used to getting on the phone because of sales, but I got on the phone and started making bookings. And I booked the North Face’s Telluride Festival and then she had another client who was Missy Park of Title Nine Sports who was only a two person in a warehouse at that time. And I got her in the Wall Street Journal and all these other kind of places and now she’s one of the top retailers in the country of women’s sports clothes. So her publicity really moved from the two people to this big company in a top company. But part of that was this publicity strategy and the gal would just have me start to do everything, like start to interview clients.
Then when I had my own clients, when I started my own firm, what I found was that I got all of these great publicity placements and then what happened was… nothing. So I might get somebody in the New York Times, I might get somebody on Larry King Live, on Oprah and then nothing happened. I’m like and they were like hey Susan. I’m like well I did my job, you’re hiring me to book you on these places and they said but doesn’t have any effect on my business or selling my book.
Then I started listening to the way that they spoke and I said well you’re not saying the kinds of things that are going to inspire people to buy or be interested in you or get connected with you. And then I started working with them as I was a publicist on how to really get your messaging down so it would have that kind of impact and then I saw an immediate shift.
I loved it so much I started making the transition to just doing that and having other people, so when people are launching a book or a business or a product or a cause, those companies, those PR companies of those people come to me to media train them so they’re happy with their PR results because it makes them happy. Like the publicity firm looks like well I booked you and then they go well how many books did it sell or how many products or how many programs or my new whatever right and so that’s the sort of missing link between the two.
Rob: Yeah, the the the last four books that I wrote are all in the Rob Versus series and they’re very sarcastic books…
Susan: On what?
Rob: They’re called Rob Verses. So the the first book was Rob Versus the Scammers, and then Rob Versus Hanity, and the last one Rob Versus the Entitled. They are my sarcastic adventures dealing with scammers, lousy customer service, time wasters, fraudsters. I call them rejection marketing or repulsive marketing. The funny thing is the people who like horror and sarcasm will buy the books and hire me the people who don’t like sarcasm, they’ll read the book and say oh this is horrible. I don’t like it. I don’t get you. Good! I don’t want you as a customer.
Find Your Ideal Clients
Susan: Well do you want to tell the story of how we came to be because it was sort of one of those things that was pretty funny.
Rob: Everybody that knows me and has read my books knows that I have a love-hate relationship with LinkedIn. I get these pitches all day long and and you sent me one.
Susan: I sent you a 48 second video.
Rob: I’m like do I want to watch this? What’s it about?
Susan: Did you watch it?
Rob: I eventually did watch it. I usually don’t, I don’t watch unsolicited videos, I don’t watch, I don’t read.
Susan: But it’s not unsolicited because you’re in my network. I sent it to you so I didn’t just send it to you and this was an experiment that I was doing and…
Rob: A lot of times what I do is when I connect with somebody I send them a what I call a non-pitch video, Hey how you doing, I love what you’re doing and I don’t tell them to check my link out. I just transcribed it, it’s a 15 second video with the transcription below and I have picked up so many clients just from that non-pitch video. People love it! So when I get these, when I get these videos from even connections I just put a question mark where I put why should I watch it or something that kind of repels them or makes them respond and sometimes it works, sometimes….
Susan: Yeah, so you wrote me a kind of a snotty response. Mine was about looking for five experts, people who really want to be thought leaders that you might know in your network and connected to. You go: did you even did you even look at my profile: Obviously, I’m having an assistant do it and you go: did you even look at my profile? Well, I must have looked at it one time because we got connected and I’m like yeah I have looked at your profile I think you’re the perfect person and you’re like no I’m not and so we started a conversation that way. I thought it was pretty funny and…
Rob: I’ll do this back and forth to people and and some of them will immediately unfriend me but I have 8 000…
Susan: Those aren’t your people.
Rob: No, but I have thousands of people. I think it’s up to eight or nine thousand connections on LinkedIn and then I maxed out on on Facebook already and it’s just one way to to to shove them away. And if they want to come back, if they want to have whether or not an argument with me or they want to pursue it then we end up having these brilliant podcasts where then I can use their skills to educate my listeners and and hopefully they get work out of it but….
Susan: Well that’s a time that’s a time-tested PR strategy too, being controversial, rubbing people the wrong way if you have the personality for it which you obviously do.
Rob: And if the conversation goes lengthy it ends up in my books as stories and people just read the books and they’re like these are hilarious. I used to write these brilliant books and that would teach people you know the art of social media copywriting, podcasting, now I just share stories. I’ve gotten more business from the Rob Versus sarcastic series than I have on any other stuff that I’ve written and people don’t know how to take me.
Tells Stories That Your Audience Will Connect With
Susan: I’m glad you brought up stories because I think that that’s something, I mean there’s a lot being spoken about on the internet about storytelling and and I think that there’s certain kind of stories that draw in your audience and one of them is telling a case study or success story about one of your clients. I was just talking to my mentor the other day and I was telling her one of my clients, I worked with him to make his book a best seller and then I booked a $50k speaking engagement for him.
She goes, oh my god, I need you to tell that story on the podcast. I go: you usually tell that story but she said that’s I mean it’s a very short story and one of the ways that we got his book to be where I got his book to be a New York Times bestseller is was on a Christian radio station. Which was really like, he was Christian but, there was so much influence on that. So thinking about not only where your audience is, but who are the big influencers in your audience, like you were talking about your evangelist, well that person on the Christian radio station loved the book told everybody to go out and buy it and they did. It was like it happened just like that.
So those are the kinds of things you can’t necessarily predict that but I think that you can start to strategize that and when we look at where do you want to go and who do you want to reach, we’re looking at how can you go there the fastest. Where does joy and profit meet? So you can have the results that you want and it is you and your presence.
So I’m media training a woman right now, we just finished up, who’s going after a six million dollars in venture capital. Her pitch deck is really good, as are her points, but it’s really her leadership presence that is going to make some of the difference between whether she’s going to get that money or not.
Because they’re looking at are you the right person to lead this company and when we look at you when you’re on video or on TV. We’re looking at do we like you, do we trust you? All of those things. It’s also are you the kind of person that I want to engage with? Are you the person who I want to be my coach or buy a product from and your values. All of that needs to come out in a couple of quick stories and to be able to create that kind of engagement and now we have to create it even quicker. But it’s really your presence and the essence of you that’s doing the quote-unquote selling and I mean that in a nice way, because it’s us wanting to feel good.
People who are making us feel good on some level and being able to know that they’re, I hate that word vulnerability, I just think it’s been so overdone, but it’s more about, I think it’s more about connecting and being relatable, than it is about being vulnerable. You don’t have to share your dirtiest laundry. It’s not about that. It’s about sharing a story and an experience in your life that is really affecting to another person. I think that would be more accurate. Can we just wipe out the word vulnerability and transparency off the face of the earth Rob, can we?
$50,000 for an Aspirin and Intriguing Headlines To Grab Attention
Rob: One of the stories I like to share is how hospitals will bill you fifty dollars for an Aspirin right?
Susan: That happened to my dad yes.
Rob: I have my Aspirin story it’s a fifty thousand dollar bill and I was actually …
Susan: Fifty thousand dollars for an Aspirin?
Rob: Yeah! So I was in San Francisco at an event and I had my backpack with me and I had some aspirin in it and someone said hey does anybody have an Aspirin, have a headache. I said sure and I threw them the bottle and they took I guess a pill or two out and threw it back to me. Later that day we connected, we started talking and they ended up hiring me for a $50,000 job and if it wasn’t for that Aspirin I wouldn’t have gotten a job.
Susan: Because you’re a good guy.
Rob: I mean I am a good guy.
Susan: I think that we can connect in so many different ways and that some of those are you can meet people anywhere and get clients anywhere.
Rob: I then share that story out to other people and I tell them look sometimes you can use a situation to make yourself money and it’s not that you’re you’re trying to make money, it’s that you’re trying to build up that trust or that authority and that money making comes afterwards. But you can use it in your publicity. You can use it in your marketing and people are like wow what, you charge $50 000 for an Aspirin and then I go into the story I tell people and they’re like okay!
Susan: That’s great because that’s like an intriguing headline. I thought you were going somewhere else with it so you surprised me and so that’s part of the surprise and delight. What can you say to surprise and delight? I have a client right now too, she’s just turned 16 so she’s 15. She has a foundation to teach girls to code and diversity in all areas and she’s got sort of this big vision about not just girls learning to code but really being comfortable in the workplace and getting more opportunities in the workplace and gender equality and all of that and she’s got all these big ideas she’s like 16.
I just love that and I love the fact that she said I don’t care about money and I don’t care about fame and how unusual that is in today’s society? She is going to go really far because she’s got a really strong deep intention and a real willingness and the ability to really grow this foundation in a big way. I mean just doing things like teaching. I like that she’s teaching the girls to code and then she’s teaching the volunteers to teach the girls to code. And she started a wisdom club because she loved Socrates at school and I thought I love these kind of stories about people who really, they’re not doing it for the money and they’re not doing it for the recognition, they’re doing it because they really love something and because it’s meaningful to them and they want to contribute in some way, shape or form. So it’s not about like the bottom line. I mean those are my favorite kinds of clients and people.
Media Done Right But Wrong
Rob: Yeah, when I had my first business, which was a carpet cleaning business, back in the 90s, I would always look at my competition to see what they were doing and I was like they were lousy at cleaning carpets or even lousy at pleasing customers but they were getting media. Every single day they were in newspapers, they were in magazines, they were on radio, and so they were getting the exposure. They were getting clients calling them all the time and I’m like this is crazy they’re terrible at what they do but yet because they’re getting the media people believe them and so…
When Is The Right Time To Approach The Media?
Susan: But that’s not the kind of company that’s going to last because people do find that out and they’re going to put reviews up on Yelp. So that’s like short-term thinking. In the US I think we have very short-term thinking versus in Europe and Japan. You’re really looking at the bigger picture so if you’re not delivering the quality that you’re promising all of that publicity eventually is going to be for naught. That’s like the video going viral. That’s good, oh I got a record contract, but you never heard of that person ever again because they sang one song that people related to right? So it’s really not about getting that 15 minutes of fame, it’s really about getting a lifetime of meaningful, I think, meaningful visibility so I think that’s that’s really the key.
Rob: So before they get the media or or even hire you to help them with the media, they really should hire you to polish their story, to go over everything, so when they start getting calls, everything’s clicking on all the cylinders.
Susan: The time to start is now. For anybody because you need this for any kind of, you need this to do a video on your on your website, to set up your website, for your branding, but really specifically for media, before you even contact the media you want to know what you’re going to say and what your key messages are because you want to know the kind of results that you want in every area. Because then we’re going to construct those stories like if you want more speaking or you want more, you want another book deal, or whatever that it is you want, to be a spokesperson, you want to be a commentator on CNBC, or whatever that is that you want, but the kind of end results that you want, those we’re going to reverse engineer and figure out what you’re going to say to inspire that that kind of audience and for your future vision.
So we’re really looking at how do you want to grow personally professionally, physically, financially, emotionally because PR can give you all of that. It can connect you to people it, can get you in contact with partnerships and sponsorships and as well as driving direct business. That’s what I love too and right now I’ve got one of my clients who, I love these kind of thought leaders, who is looking to industrialize hemp and we’re just launching his book and he’s starting to do media because that’s going to change the economic, energy, and the environment, and the whole way that we preserve our land, and our people, and our resources now, so it’s really as we’re moving into this new era that’s going to be super important.
But it’s much more long-term thinking, but I love those kind of like really big ideas where it’s going to create social change on some level that’s really it’s going to really move the dial in a big way. Whether it’s you know, I love to have like a mix of like chocolate clients, like somebody who’s got a really fantastic snack or chocolate or something, like really beautiful, with the people who are socially conscious and maybe feeding the world, or solving sexual slavery, or solving some of the big problems. Like some of the tech firms, I’m super interested in tech right now because there’s so many innovations that can solve problems that go much faster than the government or traditional means can do. I think some of our brightest minds are in tech or startups now so that’s of super interest to me to media train those people who’ve got these innovative products or services that can shift things.
Education right now, I’ve been talking to companies and education because like we’re not we’re going to be learning in different ways and nobody wants to sit in front of a computer 24/7. yeah certainly certainly not our poor kids right who should be like learning outdoors or doing having these great experiences.
Begin Your Successful PR Journey Now!
Rob: I always tell people, if you want to be the celebrity or the authority in your niche, you have to get media. You have to get that exposure! You have to learn to tell your story and get out there and do podcasts and and write books. And maybe a plumber’s not going to write a book but he can get on podcasts and people are going to say wow I saw you on the news or I saw you do this. So they need to go to you and where do they go? Do they go to a website? Do they go to Facebook where?
Susan: Go to PRsecrets.com like public relations secrets dot com and I have lots of free things there. You can start with the hundred word email to get the media to call you. Or go to my blog and there’s lots of different free, I actually have a page of free things that you can get. Courses and pdfs and whatever it is, wherever you are on your publicity journey, we’ve got something for you for free!
Rob: Nice and so that’s what makes Susan great, she’s willing to put up with my sarcasm and get past the the LinkedIn crap that I make people jump through, but she’s willing to educate people and share her super powers and she’ll teach you guys the art of of getting media and that’s what you need so please go to prsecrets.com and I thank you and we’ll see you guys on the next episode. Adios!
Rob Anspach is an experienced Social Media Strategist, SEO Expert, Author, Corporate Ghostwriter, Speaker and Trust Creator who can transform and monetize your brand. He’s the author of “Social Media Debunked“, “Share: 27 Ways To Boost Your Social Media Experience, Build Trust and Attract Followers” and “Lessons From The Dojo: 101 Ways To Improve Your Life, Business and Relationships“, “Rob Versus The Scammers: Protecting The World Against Fraud, Nuisance Calls and Downright Phony Scams“,”Rob Versus The Morons: Overcoming Idiotic Customers With Wit, Sarcasm and a Take No Bullshit Attitude” and the coauthor of “Optimize This: How Two Carpet Cleaners Consistently Beat Web Designers On The Search Engines“, “The #AskDrA Book Series: Easy & Practical Answers To Enjoying Life As A New Sleever“, “No Experience Necessary: Social Media For The Boomers, Gen X-ers & The Over 50 Entrepreneur” and “Power Guesting: Insider Secrets To Profit From Being A Great Podcasting Guest.” and contributor to “The Wise Guys Copywriting Handbook“.
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