S. 1 Ep. 52 – PR: Public Relations Or Profit Rocket? (It’s Both)

Cece Payne

Cece Payne

Marketing Coordinator at SpeakerFlow - Follow us on social media to stay in the flow!

Cece Payne

Marketing Coordinator at SpeakerFlow - Follow us on social media to stay in the flow!
Technically Speaking S 1 Ep 52 - PR Public Relations or Profit Rocket It's Both with SpeakerFlow and Russell Trahan

In this week’s episode, we’re talking all about PR.

The perfect person for this? Russell Trahan – the founder of PR/PR.

PR/PR is a full-service PR agency for speakers, consultants, and non-fiction authors.

We talk about some of the misconceptions with PR, the benefits, realistic expectations of it, and how to turn it into a profit rocket. 🚀

If you’re interested in getting more media appearances and build your public relations strategy, this is the episode for you!

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✅   Grab a free consultation with Russell: prpr.net

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Read the Transcription 🤓

Taylorr: Welcome to another episode of Technically Speaking, we’re your hosts, Taylorr and Austin and today we are talking about PR. Now public relations can be a true profit rocket for your business. It’ll increase awareness, it’ll increase visibility. It’ll get people to see how much authority you have on your given subject matter expertise. You’ll be able to use your media in your sales process. We could go on and on about how valuable PR is, but rather than listening to us, we thought it would be perfect to bring in Russell Trahan. Now, Russell is the owner of PR/PR, a PR agency that specializes in working with speakers, consultants, and non-fiction authors. Now, I’ve known Russell for a long time, largely because Russell has been a part of the NSA community for nearly two decades. Now, in this episode, we’re talking about some of the misconceptions of PR, the benefits of it, the expectations you should have of it and how to use PR to accelerate the profits in your business. So, if you’re interested in getting more media appearances, increasing your authority and building more visibility for your business, this is the episode for you. As always stick around until the end for some amazing resources and we hope you enjoy this one. And we are live Russell, it has been a long time in the making my friend. Welcome to Technically Speaking. I’m very excited for this episode.

Russell: I am thrilled to be here. Thank you so much for the invitation and your patience getting it arranged, but so very, very happy to be here now.

Austin: Oh, for sure. It’s our pleasure. I think that last time we talked, it was probably pre-mustache. I’m really digging the mustache and it’s a good look for you.

Taylorr: It’s a good look.

Russell: Thank you. I do a bit of community theater on the side and I put this in for a role I had and the director asked me, could I put one in I’m like, well, let’s see what it looks like and even though the play ended in May, I’m kind of digging it too so it’s going to stick around for a while.

Taylorr: It suits you.

Austin: Well, we like to hear.

Taylorr: So, Russell, I just want to kick off with your background really. How did you get into this PR world? I know you’ve been also in the speaker world for a long time and that’s really your niche, the kind of expert category authors as well. How has this journey of PR happened for you?

Russell: Sure. On a personal note, I’ve always done some type of marketing, publicity in meeting and event planning. I used to work for chambers of commerce and downtown business associations and other nonprofits, took a sidestep into the corporate world and that brought me to Orlando, Florida. There’s kind of a mouse house here in Orlando someplace I’ve been told, and that’s when I met Pam Lontos and Pam Lontos is the founder of PR/PR Public Relations. And as a former speaker and author in her own right, she created the agency to serve speakers and consultants and non-fiction authors, kind of wanting to get out of the corporate arena and more into a more boutique agency. You know, something you could maneuver a little faster, it’s more honed and more focused. So, left Disney went to work for PR/PR that was in October of 05. March of 11, Pam came to me and said she wanted to retire, step aside and I want the agency and no brainer, well-branded, well-respected so I’m like, sure. So ever since March of 11, I’ve been at the helm of the agency and we’ve crossed the 20-year line now and still going strong.

Austin: Wow, what a cool story. Obviously, Pam had a huge reputation amongst the NSA people as well. And I love that you gracefully stepped into that role and have created the same persona around yourself as really being the expert and being well-respected amongst the community so it’s an honor every time we get to chat with you since your reputation definitely precedes you, which is very cool.

Russell: Thank you. I appreciate that, NSA is a great organization. I was very fortunate in it that Pam took me to several NSA events while I worked for her, the big summer conventions we would go to together and then she started even sending me to some of the winter conferences by myself. So yeah, when I bought the agency and I just showed up, people were like, where’s Pam? Instead of who’s Russell? It was where’s Pam? And then that transitioned on out. And I got to tell you, NSA is such a great organization, the whole theory of Cavett Roberts, rather than slice the pie thinner, let’s build a bigger pie. If everybody’s better at what they do, then everybody can charge more and make a better living, it’s a great giving organization. So, I love the National Speakers Association and CAPS looking at your cap.

Austin: Yeah. Represent, that’s right.

Taylorr: Yeah. We agree. 

Austin: Well, the foundations and these are the principles that the NSA is based on, they really are lived, especially by the members. I think that’s one of the coolest things about the association. It’s an association with true values that are respected and followed and understood and it’s predicated on these amazing figures that shaped the organization up until this point. Very cool.

Russell: Definitely. Yeah, and quick shout out to Ed Rigsbee and the Cigar PEG…

Taylorr: Yeah, oh yeah.

Russell: Philanthropy through fun. These guys live it and the hundreds of thousands of dollars that they donated to their fellow speakers. I sign up as a beneficiary every year, just within the organization that supports the value so much as well. The Cigar PEG is so much fun.

Austin: Yeah, for sure. Well shout out for sure to the Cigar PEG crew. 

Taylorr: So, to segue us into the conversation of PR, I think that there’s a lot of misconceptions I think about PR in the world, and so I’m wondering just right out of the gates, would you be willing to help unpack some of those common misconceptions that you see?

Russell: Yeah. Please, please. I’m more than happy to. One of the most frustrating things is I get a call from somebody who’s interested in PR and one of the first things they say to me is, oh, I hired this PR firm and I spent thousands of dollars and I got nothing for it and then I’ve got to undo that. And so, I would be happy to, let’s dive into them.

Austin: Yeah. So why do you think that is? And we’ve heard it too, I hired some PR agency, it didn’t work. I spent all this money, it was a giant waste of time and I get it because as a business owner, you do need to be able to connect the value and so on but I don’t think that’s always the full picture. So why do you think that that misconception specifically has come to be?

Russell: Sure. Well, that one in particular, I think one of the main issues is people hire agencies that don’t understand them, don’t understand their product, don’t understand their service. A lot of times also the agencies may not know your target market. At PR/PR we work exclusively with speakers, consultants and non-fiction authors, but then within that arena, we work best with those that want national name recognition in front of a business audience. So, you may have a really terrific book about biblical money management, but I’m not the right agency for you because the media relations I have, aren’t going to be interested in learning about that. 

Now, if you can talk about biblical business management practices that I can get you in Forbes, Entrepreneur and some business and industry and trade journals, but it’s most important to hire an agency that A, understands you and your business model, your product, your service, and then B, understand your target market. Do they have the media relations in the media where your target market already is? Who is your target market? Where are they? What podcasts do they listen to? What magazines do they read? And is the person you’re hiring; can they get you into those things? And that’s part of probably one of the biggest waste of money is hiring agency that just doesn’t know you or your market.

Taylorr: Yeah. That makes perfect sense. I think too people often try and tie an immediate ROI to PR where they’re kind of like any other marketing activity where if I run ads, I can expect this return on investment. If I do social media, I can expect this. Do you speak to that a little bit? Like what should be our expectations be around PR and how it relates to the revenue that it might drive us?

Russell: Sure. Lightening doesn’t always strike the first time. Quite frankly, it doesn’t. Sometimes it can take a while. Kind of a rule of thumb I use with my clients as I’m talking to them to try to feel out are they ready for me? Are they ready for any agency? And basically, whatever you spend on publicity, you should be able to recoup that in one sale. So, for speakers, they should look at spending about what they get for one speech. That way when they’re doing the publicity and they get the booking, they get the gig, they get the consulting contract, whatever they would charge for that should equal what they spent on the whole campaign. Now, whether that campaign is six months, nine months, a year, that varies depending on the type of media they’re going after. 

A lot of magazines worked months out. If I get you interviewed in Forbes or Entrepreneur, unless it’s the online version, to be in the print magazine is going to take four to six months. In the trade and industry magazines most editors work sixty to ninety days out. Back last spring I had a client, I pitched out his article in February and it appeared in the May issue of a trade magazine. Well, that led to a speaking engagement next summer. He’s going to be speaking to that association in July of ’22, because by the time the article came out in May, they’d already had all their so well, they probably weren’t even planning convention this summer. But so, that’s like a fourteen-to-sixteen-month lead time between the return and the investment.

I always talk about a lot of our author clients. You may run an article over the summer, some CEO may see it and decide to buy copies of your book for all of their executives for Christmas presents. So even though the article may run in August, you may not get the book sales until November and by November, are you really going to be able to tie it directly back to that article? So there a lot of that ROI can A, come months later and B, you may not even realize, oh, why all of a sudden have I sold, fifty books on this one day in mid-November and have no idea that it ties back to the article you ran in August.

Austin: Yeah. That makes sense. I mean, it’s sort of similar in lot of ways to… actually, I think this is probably more of a generalization than it needs to be, but like a billboard. You can put a billboard out there and people will see it, it’s really difficult to say the billboard is the thing that drove the business and yet…

Russell: Sure.

Austin: Organizations spend billions of dollars on billboards every single year. They do it for a reason.

Russell: Yup.

Austin: So, with this specific potential issue where the direct correlation between the campaign and then the ROI, let’s say, how would you coach one of your clients through the measuring process of determining whether or not it was successful?

Russell: Sure. Well, I think a lot of it depends on what they’re going after. So many of our clients go after so many different results that varies so much. We had a client that wanted to build up an audience for his radio show. So, every time I mentioned him, I never mentioned that he was a speaker because he wanted to build his radio show so every time I mentioned him, I would talk about his radio show. He saw an increase, he was with me for several years, saw an increase in an audience so he attributed because he wasn’t doing much else so he contributed back. I had a client was a consultant. And I know that she got business from her publicity just because every time somebody called, she would always ask, she’d have her staff follow up. How did you hear from us? How were you referred to us?

One of my favorites is one of my longtime clients who’s been with me for years now. She signed up to build her speaking business, but kind of an unexpected bonus is her SEO just went through the roof. She said she had never gotten a call before and when asked, how did you find me? They said, oh, I was just googling and your name came up and she’d been in business for years before that so although she didn’t immediately get a direct response, hey, I saw your name in my trade journal, I want to hire you for a speaking engagement. She realized that with all of the placements I’d been getting her and everything being online these days, even when it’s in print, it’s got the digital archive, she saw this SEO return so she stayed with me for years just to keep that SEO up. So, a lot of it really depends on what are they looking to promote and being very specific and very clear in that. How do you want the media to position you? Are you a speaker? Are you a consultant? Are you an author of? And then start tracking from there, how you’re positioning yourself.

Austin: Yeah.

Taylorr: Yeah. Very, very tactical. I love that you outlined that. And this actually brings up a point of why I love PR so much is because there are so many different content channels that we can tap into…

Russell: Oh yeah

Taylorr: That some of the goals that we might have in mind for PR don’t necessarily need to be tied to revenue. It can be about SEO. It can be about growing our audience size. It can be a specific campaign about a new thing you’ve created…

Russell: Oh yeah.

Taylorr: It is an evolution that doesn’t need to always tell maybe the same story or the same promotion as you continue to use it. So that means it can be very multifaceted in the goals that you might have. So, one of the things that I hear often about PR is people immediately jump to maybe content syndication with PR where you’re publishing on Forbes, Entrepreneur Inc, those types of things, maybe going into print magazines and most people’s knowledge of PR almost stops there as far as the content channels that we can tap into. So, I’m curious from your perspective, what are the content channels that we have available for us in PR?

Russell: Sure.

Taylorr: Especially now that we’re obviously living in such a digital age.

Russell: Yeah. And there are many, but I’m going to kind of shift it back a little bit because it’s really about where your target market already is. It’s not about the channels that you want to put out on because that doesn’t matter. You may love blogging. You may blog every day and you love writing and you think you’ve got the most beautiful blog in the world. But if nobody finds it, if nobody reads it, it doesn’t matter. Maybe you need to find out, okay, what blogs are my target market already reading and then go guest blog on one. What podcasts are they listening to? What social media groups are they a member of? Or are they on LinkedIn? Are they on Twitter? Where is your target market? And then go to that channel and position yourself there. So, they’ll see you, rather than try to hope they find you, go out and draw them back to you through whatever channel they are using.

Austin: Oh man, I love that you just said that. That takes all the guesswork out of it too, right? We’re not just…

Russell: Yeah.

Austin: Taking shots into the dark. Let’s do some research, let’s uncover where our people are at and then let’s go get after it.

Russell: Yeah. A lot of it honestly is putting yourself aside, putting your ego aside, you may have the best book on earth and your mother may love you, but the media and your market doesn’t care. You’ve got to approach them the way they want to be approached and get their attention that way so it’s all about that target market and how to be in front of them, not about my book sell yourself without saying a word I get a lot of clients’ books, a lot of new speakers and a lot of new authors and they’re on the cover, and I’m like, okay, guess what? They don’t know who you are unless you’re Tony Robbins or Tiger Woods or somebody like that, your face does not belong on the cover. Put something that’s going to hook your audience on the cover. Think past yourself, put your own ego aside and think through to your audience.

Austin: Well, that’s such a practical tip too. for those of you that are listening to this, I hope that sunk in for you. And I think that applies… we’re talking specifically about PR right now, but that exact same principle applies to pretty much any marketing channel that you ever broke…

Russell: Yeah.

Taylorr: Down. Every sales channel you ever broke down. It’s all the same thing, we have to build a genuine relationship with somebody, which means that we have to go to the people that are best suited for a relationship to be developed with and it doesn’t matter what medium we’re doing that through. But on the note of mediums, I’m really curious about how you look at social media as it plays a role in PR. Because I think a lot of people think of social media as their PR, it’s the way to get to the masses. And I’m sure it’s a practical, relevant, medium to be going through so from your angle as a PR expert, where do you think it fits into things?

Russell: It’s one of those necessary evils. Not that I think it’s evil, but it’s one of those everybody’s there so you’re going to be there. Facebook and I read the while ago, if Facebook was a country, it would be the third largest country on earth by population. But the main demographic of that country would be women ages 25 to 34, which is great if that’s your target market. But if it’s not your target market, you’re still going to be there because everybody’s there but you may not want to spend a lot of time, energy and effort there. Twitter is the same way. You talk about relationships; Twitter is one of the best ways to build relationships. I often ask people this when I go out and speak on publicity to different groups, I’ll say, okay, who here is on Twitter? And everybody raises their hand, good. Who here is connected with somebody else in this room? Almost everybody raises their hand. And I’m like, okay, who here has their target market? Who here has somebody who’s going to hire them in this room? And not a lot of people raise their hand. I’m like, then why are you connected with them? You should be connected with the people that can hire you. You should be building those relationships.

This is one of the craziest things, but I love it, it’s a great story. We have one of our clients who was a workplace bullying expert. Not that he knew how to do it really well, he was trying to prevent it. But he was a workplace bullying expert and of all things on Twitter, we had connected with Lady Gaga because she talks about anti-bullying and her little monsters. And we were very selective, whenever she would do something about bullying, we would take our client’s account and retweet and comment and so we were building that relationship and building that following and sure enough, it turns out that another one of Lady Gaga’s followers was a columnist for Entrepreneur Magazine and when she saw our client constantly retweet and comment about bullying, she looked him up, saw his profile and asked to interview him and he got a nice spread in Entrepreneur Magazine from Twitter by following Lady Gaga. These days, most business though is going to come from LinkedIn. I’m a little disappointed. It seems like lately it’s just turned into a big meat market of salespeople. Most of the messages I get on LinkedIn are, hey, I saw your profile, it looks like we have things in common, let’s connect. And…

Austin: Yeah.

Russell: Turns out they’re going to want to sell me life insurance. If you work it right then LinkedIn can really be useful. I had a client who got a consulting contract off of LinkedIn and it actually came through her alumni group. And she’s in Oklahoma, she was a member of the university alumni group that she went to, she posted that her article was placed in some trade magazine that I gotten her and a guy who had a company in Boston that went to the same university that she did, not at the same time, they were years apart, but he saw what she posted, liked the article and ended up hiring her to consult. Otherwise, Oklahoma and Boston may not connect and definitely different years, even though at the same university probably wouldn’t connect. But because they had that connection on LinkedIn, she got a nice consulting gig out of it. So…

Austin: I love that. 

Taylorr: Heck yeah.

Russell: That’s where you really want to focus your efforts is LinkedIn and within the groups where you can position yourself in front of people who can hire you.

Taylorr: Right. 

Austin: You know, this is so crazy to me because when people think about PR, I think a lot of the time they’re talking about putting content out there…

Russell: Yeah.

Austin: That’s the thing that they’re doing, but we’ll go back to the Lady Gaga example that you have that was not creating content and sharing it via social media that was engaging…

Russell: Yes.

Austin: Via social media and then letting that engagement create the trust that allowed the article to be created out of it. So that’s another really poignant tip right there that I think people need to pay attention to, that the PR its beyond just content is what it sounds like. It’s about developing the relationships on a public platform.

Russell: Definitely, especially in social media these days. It is so easy to build that relationship, not only with your target market, but the media that writes to them. I will emphasize just like I talked earlier about where most trade industry magazines work sixty to ninety days out, print edition sometimes work four to six months out. We had a client that wanted to get into the Wall Street Journal. We’d already gotten him in dozens of trading industry magazines. We’d already gotten him in Forbes and Entrepreneur. The one we hadn’t been able to land yet was the Wall Street Journal. We found a columnist that wrote on his topic on more than one occasion so we’re trying to build that relationship with her and her column came out on Monday and every Monday we would send her an email, hey, loved your column, this sounded great, this sounded great. Our client can talk about this, our client can offer you this information and this went on literally every week for twelve weeks.

Crickets from her, radio silence, never a peep and my agent was just like, really, again, Russell? I’m like, again. Send something, find something in that column, build that relationship. After twelve weeks, all of a sudden out of the blue, we get an email back. Hey, this sounds interesting, I’d like to talk to your client. When we looked down, she was responding to the second one we had sent. We’re on week twelve, nothing from her for twelve weeks. All of a sudden, she pops up and responds to week two that we’d sent. So have patience, don’t expect miracles overnight, build those relationships and eventually it’ll come through for you.

Taylorr: Amen. If there’s anything to take away from this episode, you guys, it is that comment right there, patience, consistency, it’s staying top of mind or doing nothing else aside from providing value and staying top of mind. And you don’t need to do it in a salesy way, you can do it in a way that provides value that shows them that you respect their time, their space, who they are in the world and it will work out every single time. So, Russell, thank you for the super practical advice there. One last question we’d like to ask something super tactical here. So, if someone’s looking to dabble in PR themselves, just to get started, see if they can muster up some action, where would you encourage them to start?

Russell: As an agent? Or like a do-it-yourself client?

Taylorr: I would say like a do it yourself or somebody who is like, I’m going to try this out for a second.

Russell: Yeah. Covering what I’ve already covered a little bit, but first of all, know who your target market is. Whose pain can you solve? And who’s going to pay you to solve their pain. Know who your target market is. Know where they are, covered that already. Also think about how to approach them, how to reach out to them. A lot of people think, oh, I want to pitch a business magazine. All business magazines are the same, I’m going to say the same pitch to all business magazines. But if you look at three of the top 10 business magazines out there, Forbes, that’s kind of blue chip, board room, old money magazine. Then you’ve got Entrepreneur. The name says who their target market is, who reads them. And then Wired, they want new, now, next. So, one pitch to those three magazines wouldn’t get you the same results. You want to customize the pitch for the target market. And then yeah, build that frequency and repetition, stay at it. Like you said, don’t be salesy. Everybody loves to buy but nobody wants to be sold.

Taylorr: Yup.

Russell: Build that relationship. That R O R, that return on relationship and just stay with it, don’t give up. So many people quit. God I’ve been doing this for six months and I haven’t gotten anything. You know what? You might get three speaking engagements the seventh month. If you just keep going.

Taylorr: Heck yeah. I love that advice. Super, super practical. Thank you so much for sharing that. So, Russell, someone wants to get in touch to get help with their PR strategy. What’s the best way people can contact you?

Russell: Best way is through my website prpr.net. My staff always says I sound like I’m pitching an Italian restaurant when I often say that’s Papa Romeo, Papa Romeo dot N E T. But yeah, prpr.net. There’s a contact request form, it comes straight into me, consultations are always free. Happy to sit down and chat with you half-hour, forty-five minutes. Let’s talk about you, your target market, if we’re even the right agency to help you, or can I refer you on to somebody else that might be able to help you.

Taylorr: Alright. Well, we’ll make sure those links are in the show notes. And hey, if you liked this episode, don’t forget to rate it, like it, subscribe to it and if you want more awesome resources like this, go to speakerflow.com/resources. Thank you so much for chiming in. I just wanted to take a second to thank our sponsor Auxbus. Auxbus is the all-in-one suite of tools you need to run your podcast and it’s actually what we run here at Speaker Flow for Technically Speaking. It makes planning podcasts simple; it makes recording podcasts simple; it even makes publishing podcasts to the masses simple and quite honestly, Technically Speaking wouldn’t be up as soon as it is without Auxbus. Thank you so much Auxbus. And if you are interested in checking Auxbus out, whether you’re starting a podcast or you have one currently get our special offer auxbus.com/speakerflow, or click the link below in our show notes.

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