The Value of Media Training with Susan Harrow – Interview by Samantha Hartley

Media Training with Susan Harrow and Samantha Hartley

Samantha: Hey it’s Samantha Hartley of the profitable, joyful, consulting podcast. This season we’re talking about management consulting and today, specifically, I wanted to talk about public relations for consultants’ media training and everything you need to know before you get in front of that camera or in that publication. So I have a special guest today, that I’m excited to introduce: That is Susan Harrow of

For the past 31 years, media trainer, marketing strategist and martial artist Susan has helped thousands of CEOs entrepreneurs and business leaders multiply their revenue with media interviews by using messaging effectively through courses and one-on-one consulting and she’s a black belt in Aikido, so watch out for her. Susan, welcome to the podcast.

Susan: I’m so happy to be here. You know, I listen to every single episode of your podcast and I appreciate that I know that there are people out there who may never work with me and who listen and I’m just delighted to be somebody who has gotten the chance to work with you.

Samantha: Let’s start out big picture, we know that PR is public relations and things like this. I don’t want to mess with the basics. I want to hear an example of somebody that you’ve worked with, like a case study of a client and how you took them through the process. So illustrate for us what you do.

Susan’s favorite client and how she went from “geek speak” to “media speak”

Susan: Yeah, I love that! I think my favorite client is Dr. Jeanne Hurlbert and she said she went from geek speak to media speak and I love that because oftentimes we think that the way that we speak naturally is the way that the media wants us to speak, but it’s really like taking war and peace and moving it into haiku. So it really is a separate skill and so when Jeanne came to me she had no PR at all and within three months she was in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Oprah and friends, CNN, on and on and on, so it’s possible for anyone to start to get media nowhere no matter where they are.

The other thing is I always really like to look at, okay so you get in media, lots of times people stop there. Well, I got here but it’s like what did you say to inspire your audience to buy or buy into whatever it is that you have and what came after that. So for her, she got some really big consulting contracts, one was with Tony Robbins. She had already had consulting contracts with the government, she worked on Katrina. She has a research and survey company. But that really expanded her capacity to get these other kinds of contracts.

Now PR doesn’t always do that for everyone, sometimes it’s your reputation or your credibility and later on, maybe you get the big speaking engagement. Or you’re the one that they choose instead of someone else. So it’s not always immediately measurable and I want to make that clear because lots of people say, “Well, I want direct results from PR,” and sometimes that doesn’t happen immediately. But it’s sort of the long looking at PR in the big picture, in the long term how it’s going to affect your reputation, your sales, your credibility. Then, I have one other favorite one if I could?

Samantha:  Absolutely, two stories is great.

How one of her clients was on NBC 5 times, tripled her speaking fees and filled up her courses thanks to PR

Susan:  So first of all, I love that one, that’s really inspiring that due to this kind of publicity she was able to get marquee clients and then that continues because obviously that’s when somebody looks at her website they say oh my gosh she’s been quoted in New York Times or you know for her industry that is super important. So it’s whatever publications are or shows are important to you. The second one that I really love, I mean there’s so many, but the second one that I really love is Dr. JoAnn Dahlkoetter and she is a peak performance coach. I wanted to talk about this because the Olympics just happened, so she was at the Olympics, not this one but a past one, and she was on NBC five times and her speaking fees went from $5000 to $15000, so they tripled!

Then, the other thing about that is that she filled up her courses, and so for those of you who have not just consulting but those signature systems and those uses, this is a great way to do it. And what I loved about what she said is that working with me changed everything so it shifted her whole business and then she said that she was grateful for me to shifting her business and her life, and to me that’s what really great PR does and the difference that media training makes. Make great PR so you actually are an ask you back guest or you do fill your courses, so it has the results that you want and that’s super important to me to have those kind of results.

Samantha: I love that story, it’s super inspiring, I really see that her appearance on NBC like other people would see that and be like oh well obviously like she’s the go-to person.

Susan: So I think she had three or five gold medalist Olympians that she was working with, so that didn’t hurt.

Samantha: That doesn’t hurt, right exactly!

Susan: You know that’s part of her credibility, that’s part of the credibility package that the media is looking for. How are you credible in your field? What have you done that’s made you stand out? That makes you already somebody that they want to interview.

How to develop something newsworthy to say

Samantha: Well it’s interesting because in the first example you’re talking about all these publications that she got in I’m like that says to me: she has something newsworthy to say. So what is that, what does that require to be newsworthy?

Susan: I think that’s that is the really the first thing to look at. Do you have something that meets the media’s needs and meets their audience needs? It’s not just your audience, but it’s the media’s audience. What we’re looking for first in a in a client and what I’m looking for, and I work with PR firms because they do the booking and I do the media training, so they book on those particular venues and then I media train people to their initial messaging and then also to those particular venues. So they can be not only a great ask you back guest, but then again working on how do you want to grow your business.

So the first thing that we look at: Is it topical? Is there something going on in the culture today? Is there a trend or a topic or a newsjack, a newsjack is something that’s just happening – like today – that that we can then jump on and marry to what’s going on in the media? So we are looking for: Can you talk about things that are relevant – today it would be parenting, education, mom stress, right so those are some really super-hot topics today. That maybe are not going to be hot tomorrow but once you establish yourself as an expert then you have that relationship with the media.

So when that topic comes up again in another trend or another roll through you’re already connected and have a relationship with the media. That’s how you start to establish becoming a trusted source and a good guest.

Samantha: I love this idea of being an ask you back guest because a PR seems so fleeting. Like they call you and it happened once and will it ever happen again. Like how would you know? And I think cultivating the idea of being an ask you back guest is exciting.

Susan: It’s not only exciting but you know that when you are on a TV show, first, it’s a test, it’s an audition, and if you don’t do well you’re not going to get asked back. So it’s super important to have those sound bites or messages down and also to know how to handle yourself. Now, there’s so many panels, we’re on Zoom a lot, but sometimes even if you’re on a zoom panel you still need to manage that.

I had one client, she was a lawyer so she was used to interrupting people but we knew she was going to be on a panel and it was on I think was Fox and I said, “You know you need to jump in with something super interesting right away because then they’ll spend more time on you.” So it’s always best to be first, and then you can take the floor for as long as you want. Then if somebody else is saying something and you want to jump in, you need to know how to interrupt and that was not so easy, so we role played that a number of times. When she was on the show and she had some difficulty jumping in, oh yes even though she’s a lawyer, and we practiced. She said, “Oh my God that was so hard, it’s an intimidating environment.”

Yeah! It’s intimidating, so it does take a lot of practice, but she did it and she was asked back and then she said, “It’s not going to happen to me again.” We practiced it again you know just to get used to it and then the next time she was on, jump in, jump in, jump in, and she got a lot of air time. Yay!

What media training is and how to speak to the media (because it doesn’t come naturally to most people)

Samantha: Okay so what I hear you doing here is: this is media training! Because I feel like you introduced me to that term and I don’t know that I was aware of exactly what that meant, but it’s like when you get your shot, don’t blow it. So what exactly are you doing with media training?

Susan: So I listen to the way that someone speaks naturally and start to shape those into stories. And you know sound bites are stories, statistics, facts, vignettes, acronyms, so they’re really a variety of all of those things. You want to be able to integrate them seamlessly into the conversation so the sound bites are your messages are not necessarily the conversation itself but how do you weave those in gracefully no matter what somebody asks so you’ll be able to transition to that information. So I mean you warned me that you were going to ask me about a story first, the media is not going to warn you to whatever question they ask, you need to jump in on a story. And I media train people for like Terry Gross’ Fresh Air and it’s like we know she’s going to ask – you need to jump in with a story when she asks you know your first question you need to be ready and you can kind of hear when people are.

The whole point of doing media is to grow your business or brand

So then the process after that is: we create those sound bites. We create those messages and then we practice them in the real situation. First slowly, and then we speed up to what the pitch and the pace would be. Radio and podcasts are slower, broadcast is faster, print media is a little bit different, but you need to still be really quotable. So I train people how to listen to see if they’re being quoted and quoted accurately. The other part of that is making that a seamless conversation and then being able to handle any kind of question, anything that happens. So we handle your worst-case scenarios and the worst kind of personalities for you too, so any kind of personality, any kind of stuck point. We’re going to practice all of those so it’s super, super easy when that happens because you’ve already experienced it. So it’s not like you freeze and you get like, oh my God, I’m caught off guard with a question I didn’t expect. We can always transition to the information that you want your audience to know and that’s what you’re there for.

You’re there to give your audience something really special that only you can give and that’s the whole point of doing media.

Samantha: I love it and also preparing for it. I love that amount of practice and rehearsal and role playing that’s happening with that because I feel like people see people go on TV and think wow they speak so fluently and then when they try it and they are terrible at it they feel like oh there’s something wrong with me. When it’s like this doesn’t always come naturally to everybody right it doesn’t come naturally to most of people.

Susan: People think, oh speakers, it’s really easy. No, because commanding a stage and speaking is not the same thing as not controlling the conversation during a media interview. The only thing that you can control is yourself. You master yourself so you can master the media. You’re not mastering anyone else or any situation because lots of times it changes and sometimes even with the guests that I had media trained a long time ago on Oprah we had planned the whole segment and at the last second they go you know what we need—she was taping for three days —we need to go in a different direction.

She calls me up on a Saturday like oh my god we need like a whole new set of sound bites because we’re going in a whole new direction. But really what I want my clients to do eventually is to be able to do that on their own. Like once we’ve established that and somebody changes direction, eventually I want you to do that yourself. You know you still know how to create those with those templates and those kind of and it’s not all templated because not all stories are fluid but with those kind of templates with basic templates you’ll be able to do that on the spot eventually but with practice.

How to develop your sound bites for a media interview

Samantha: I hear using the term soundbite and I love the idea of sound bites and I want to make sure that I am thinking of the same thing as you are. So how would you define a sound bite and when you’re prepping someone to go on TV with a specific set of sound bites what does that mean?

Susan: So those are just your key messages. Your critical messages. It’s just that they’re highly condensed. That’s what I meant when I said the statistics, facts, all of those are all sound bites, so when you’re speaking you want to have a lot of that at the ready. And it’s not about being a robot, I want to be clear because sometimes you’re going to need to say this in many different ways especially if you’re doing a lot of different interviews. We really want you to be fluid and be able to say the same thing in many different ways so it’s not about the memorization it’s about the practice of fluidity and it is about: plan, prepare and practice, so you can be free to be spontaneous.

Samantha: Perfect, I love it! I know what it sounds like when you can hear a bunch of people have had talking points and then they say the same thing in the exact same way and you’re like wow everybody’s on message but it’s kind of more like they’re robots than that they are aligned with the brain. That loses trust and is boring, you can see through it.

Susan: Yeah you can see through it. One of my friends, she had interviewed somebody for a podcast, a very famous person, who will go nameless and she was so disappointed because she had heard her on an interview and then she went to hear her at a book signing and she said exactly the same things and she said she lost respect for her.

Samantha: So yeah, right, you want to feel that people have there have ideas and that at least some of this as you’re saying is spontaneous. In that sense like how do I stay on brand and on message and still sound spontaneous?

How to create relevancy for your work

Susan: Are there certain things that you always say a certain way? Yes, and no! I think one of the most important things is to be always looking for new stories and always looking for things that are happening in the news so that you can create relevancy. So when I talked about the topics today if I did another interview in a week I might have a new topic to talk about. Or a new story in it and tell it a different way. Something has happened with a new client for example and so you can use that story. Always be on the lookout, it’s not just your experiences and your expertise or your clients, you’re looking at research, you’re looking at things that are going on in the culture today that you can relate to whatever’s going on in your business. Does that make sense?

Samantha: It totally makes sense and I love the idea that this is what we should be doing: pay attention to things that are up and are happening and evolving. So you should always be kind of connecting what your message is with what’s going on around you and I feel like this just brings like a little level of consciousness to it so that you’re aware that you’re doing it and then you can put it into practice.

Susan: I heard this great interview with this woman who I just thought had such a great concept of how to equalize pay. I didn’t hear any of it on the interview. I’m like I don’t even know what you do! So when you want to get your message out, to it’s for the benefit of all beings right, you really want people to know what you do so they can spread the word and engage with you, whatever your goals are.

The most important things you need to do before you even reach out to the media

So I just want to recap, this what are the most important things that we need to do before we even reach out to the media: so the most important thing is first to have those messages down, because people do things back ass-words, they reach out to the media and then they have their oh you know what moment when the media calls. And then they’re caught with their pants down. And one of the other reasons why that’s so important is because what you say now you can never take back. It’s on the internet forever and it’s catalogued so everybody can reference it and we’ve seen people’s careers come down for that. Now it’s ever more important for your brand and your business to be able to speak succinctly and well about what it is you do so that’s number one.

The second thing when you are pitching the media, you want to pitch something that is super relevant to them and their audience. I can say that a lot and then people still don’t get it because they’re talking about themselves, but it’s not about it’s about you, but it’s about where your skills and your topic meets the media’s needs so it’s really about them and their audience.

Samantha: What’s the client that you’ve had that you who was trying to pitch something but they couldn’t really connect it to like what other people wanted and how to how to make it relevant?

Susan: I don’t know that it wasn’t relevant but one of my clients is an NLP practitioner and he has some other higher level MER program [Mental and Emotional Release® is a clinically researched approach to help you release stress, anxiety, fear and other negative emotions] which helps veterans and people with trauma. It was very effective in getting over trauma and had been proven in countries like Russia and Czechoslovakia. We liken that to what like yoga was 20 years ago. It was really hard to explain. It’s like when Deepak Chopra, and who we couldn’t hardly even understand him when he was talking about what yoga is when he wrote his first book and started becoming known. So what we did with that is you make a bridge from the past of what somebody knows to the future for what they don’t know.

Samantha: Yeah that’s awesome I love that idea. So one of your skills is helping people build that bridge and make things relevant and understandable.

Susan: And I think that’s a source of imposter syndrome too, I have a very talented client who, a man! I know we sometimes talk about men….

Samantha: They’re very confident

Susan: But he did but I shared with him and I can’t share his exact information because you know who he is, but he’s very successful, has a multi-million-dollar business and he’s his topic is not 100 percent related to his business. And I said well let’s take all of these skills that you have in running your business and show how it’s going to be connected to running this new business which you’re just creating and let’s create that bridge. And then that helped him get over it. He’s like, oh yeah I do have those skills. I don’t need to be in Imposter Syndrome, I’m just feeling a little insecure because it’s new. And you have a whole you had a whole thing on doing something new. Which I loved. You had a whole podcast on new, it’s like well wait a minute this doesn’t feel comfortable, no because it’s new.

Samantha: Yeah, why should it? But you know that part of you is irrational.

Susan: Media interviews are new for most people so no matter how skilled you are when it feels uncomfortable that’s okay. I said to you I still get nervous of doing podcasts the nerves don’t stop me, it’s just creating that into excitement shifting it into excitement but it’s not like it necessarily goes away we try to make it go away it’s just the way it is.

How to navigate the media landscape in accordance with your media appearance goals

Samantha: I feel like it’s a feeling that’s like I want to be sure I do a good job and so I’m going to kind of like raise my awareness on my energy level to make sure I do that. So when we’re looking like now at the media landscape and I feel like one big huge player is podcasts and also online TV shows. How do you feel like this changes the work that you do or how your clients should regard those like our podcasts and other than like the huge ones and YouTube TV shows are those as valid as like Fox News and NBC and ABC and CBS or like how do you navigate that playing field?

Susan: It’s not about rating them as better or worse. It’s really what do you want to accomplish with your PR, publicity plan, and what is the best mix because sometimes what happens with like a podcast or an online TV show is there can be a more direct route to sales. If it’s a very targeted audience because an audience on you know CNN or MSNBC may not be as targeted as a mommy blog or a or a business blog right? Where all of those people could be your buyers. So I think it’s really looking at what do you want to accomplish? Are you building your reputation, are you really looking to score sales, whatever that is and then having a mix of those which are going to get you there. Because you probably want those multiple layers. Do want the respect, so you do get prestige wise obviously it’s going to be more prestigious to be in the New York Times and then on a news show or a late night TV show or whatever that is for you than it is to a podcast that other people haven’t heard of that doesn’t have name recognition even if it’s got name recognition in your industry.

What traditional media is great for versus what podcasts and online TV shows are great for

Samantha: It reminds me of the like the difference between publishing with an official publisher and then self-publishing your book like it used to be there was one way to do it and not the other and there’s still merit in publishing with an official publisher in that that’s huge brand credibility and a lot of times self-publishing is more profitable and maybe the more direct route to your audience as you’re suggesting so I really like thinking of them in those ways but unlike in book publishing I think what you’re saying is like that traditional media is really good for brand credibility and brand equity and then the other things maybe you know they may build the equity with your audience and you’re definitely going to see.

Susan: That’s a great definition I love that you that you asked that because one woman on LinkedIn said well I’m a digital marketer, I’m successful there, why do I need PR? And I said because nobody knows you. Do you want to be nationally known? She was like an interior designer. I’m like would you want to be nationally known as an interior designer or do you want to just stay in the little internet world because the internet world isn’t the whole world. I know sometimes we think that it is but the internet world is a very small world too even though it’s a big world yeah well.

Samantha: It feels big to us because we’re a part of it and I met you officially virtually I had known you for many, many years and you to me are internet famous. I think for a lot of people they want to be niche famous and maybe they want to be anonymous on the national level. But there’s plenty of people who are like no I don’t I have a big mission and I want to be internet famous and I want to be nationally known in my field, so that’s, as you’re saying that’s what official media can do for you.

Susan: I think the other part of that too is sometimes people talk about social media, which is completely valid now, and is a great big world, but sometimes that that kind of fame is instant and fleeting. So you have you have something that goes viral but it doesn’t build your brand in a big way. It may have given you a tiny push but unless that’s a really pivotal point of your brand, it may just be something that was fleeting fame versus lasting fame. Do you want to really build your business and brand? Then that’s a combination of PR, traditionally and digitally? And I think that they can be married nicely together.

Samantha: And that makes a lot of sense and I also realize that a lot of the people who are influencers or viral don’t know how to monetize that or haven’t monetized that and so I want the consultants and my audience to pay attention to this. What big business I mean what big media can do for you and then what these other things can do for you and you have to have your act together from a sales and business model standpoint so you know how to take advantage of that when it comes along. Just as you’re saying be prepared when you have a media opportunity and my very limited experience is when the media comes calling it’s like later today at like 5 p.m. or something like that, it’s usually instant. You have to be ready and you just need to be prepared.

Susan: And that’s why you need to have your messaging down. That’s not the time to try to get your messaging right and tight. The other thing that I want to say about that is that there is a larger credibility from being on those national shows to anyone who wants those bigger consulting contracts or they’re also looking at just establishing themselves in a bigger way in the business. In the quote-unquote business realm or whatever realm, I’m saying business, but I mean music, entertainment, all of that, the whole realm. That is a different kind of credibility than something going viral on the internet that maybe nobody’s seen and somebody saw and it was really exciting for a minute.

Susan’s big dream for her business

Samantha: And you hope it gets picked up in the actual media but it doesn’t always. Susan what is your big dream?

Susan: Thank you for asking me that. So my big dream is to be working with millionaires and billionaires who really have the capacity to change some of the world’s most important problems. So sexual slavery, food insecurity, and you know gender, but also I think civil, that’s you know just to all of us getting along, that’s really important to me, to treat all people well. And the reason why I want to work with them is because they don’t need to go through the laws in the political system in order to implement change. They have have the influence and they have the money to be able to change something boom on a dime and so that is my big dream, because they have that capacity to change things in such a big way. And why I bring this up too and recommend that everybody say this in their media interviews is because you never know who is listening and when you say what your future dream is, what you want, then people can identify that and come and contact you.

So I do want to mention Tom Steyer in case he’s listening to your podcast because I would love to work with him and by the way you know if you haven’t noticed climate change is in the news like every single day and I know it’s hot where you are and it’s hot and cold where I am so it’s especially relevant right now. But it’s people like him too who are big thinkers and women who have the capacity, some people have built dot com companies and sold them and now are looking for their next project and their next love, their next sort of passion, so mention it in every media interview because you never know where that’s going to go or who that’s going to find and that’s what I love about PR is that’s sort of the mystery of PR we like well we want instant results but also this can bring like when you talk about mindset a lot try this is part of your deepest intention this is part of your big mindset to have those ideas out there. Eventually, I can’t wait for the day to call you and say Tom Steyer has finally called me.

Samantha: I will put in the word, I mean you never know who you know, who knows him. But I think also when you say your why, I felt your heart open and I felt us get a glimpse into who you are and what you really are like beyond your expertise. What you know, how you want to contribute in the world  and I feel like that’s, from a brand standpoint, they always start with why and all the blah blah and I’m like yeah but the big dream is kind of a why but it’s also connecting to a thing that that is maybe some people would look at it and say well that’s unrealistic or whatever but I think as you’re saying when you get that out there, it stretches your potential beyond what your potential would have been without thinking in those really big terms. So it’s like what is your big dream: I don’t know like what’s the crazy big idea and then we hear that from you and I feel like I don’t know that doesn’t sound so unlikely to me I think Tom Steyer could use you.

Susan: I think he could too. I already have millionaire clients so if there’s a stepping stone to that. Like one of my clients is looking to industrialize hemp. That is going to revolutionize the economy the energy and the environment. When we look at what we need now and where energy is going and the climate and everything, this can affect it all so it so that’s really important to me to help him move forward with that agenda.

Samantha: Awesome. I just love it so Susan where can people find out more about you and is there a certain program that you would like to share?

Susan: So and we are in the middle of rebranding we’re almost done so there will be a program called the Zen of Fame Your Genius Gone ViralTM up there for those of you who would like to take a course or you can work with me one-on-one personally. There’s lots of free things there and I suggest everybody start with the 100 Word Email that can get the media to call you to learn how to be succinct and pitch the media quickly. There’s a lot of other free things on for you.

Samantha: I’ll put all of Susan’s social links in the show notes but Susan’s LinkedIn is amazing she shares PR tips in these short wonderful videos and at least follow her if not connect with her so that you can see these videos because they’re super informative and really interesting and I think when you watch them what happens for me Susan is I feel like oh I do that sometimes and oh let me let me watch can I be more succinct as you’re saying and  can I bring a story in here and how to make this more relevant for my audience. So I super love those tips that you share.

Thank you, thank you and thank you for all you have shared with us today. And on behalf of Susan and me I’m wishing everyone a profitable and joyful consultancy and maybe a little fame and PR as well.

Susan: Me too! Bye.

Samantha: We’ll see you next time thanks for watching please like this video subscribe to the channel and click the bell to get video updates.

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Hi, I'm Susan

Hi, I'm Susan

I’m a media coach, martial artist + marketing strategist who helps you communicate your values, mission + message during media interviews to multiply your revenue while building your brand + business. I believe that you don’t need to brag, beg or whore yourself to get the publicity you want. Nor do you need to be an axe murderer, a shamed sports star, or be involved in a sex scandal. There is another way…

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