020 – Curtis Sparrer on why celebrity interviews are like a high-performance sport

Curtis Sparrer, principal at Bospar PR in San Francisco, shares terrific insights on why celebrity interviews are like a high-performance sport. He also explains how to set up really successful media engagements, tips on working with celebrities (he’s done award-winning work with George Takei of Star Trek fame), and how to grow trust-based relationships with clients.

020 - Curtis Sparrer on why celebrity interviews are like a high-performance sport


About Curtis:

Curtis Sparrer, principal at Bospar, is one of Business Insider’s “50 Best Public Relations People In The Tech Industry,” and has led PR campaigns for start-ups and big names including 1010data, Apigee, Ebates, FusionOps, PC Tools, On24, PayPal, SOASTA, Tetris and even the alien-hunting SETI Institute. PRWeek has profiled more than a dozen programs led by Curtis as examples of especially innovative and effective techniques with outstanding results. Examples include: “SOASTA campaign out of this world” and “Film festival puts new technology center stage.”

Some of Curtis’ most memorable media coups have included getting a client featured in a Jay Leno opening monologue; another featured in Google’s daily Doodle; one on the cover of Wired and another profiled in a full-length CNN news feature.

Curtis’ PR strategies have been covered in Forbes: “Which PR Coverage Produces The Highest Results? This New Poll May Surprise You.” Adweek has also published his articles “Why Tech Companies Need a Broad Media Strategy,” “How to Make the Client-Agency Relationship Work” and PR Lessons Learned From Donald Trump” among others.

Curtis was previously an Emmy-award winning Executive Producer of KRON-TV, the nation’s largest independent television station. His writing has appeared in a variety of outlets, including the Dallas Morning News. His behind-the-scenes media experience helps his clients attract the attention of the most coveted journalists. Curtis also puts his unparalleled TV training skills to work to personally prepare each of Bospar’s client spokespersons to shine during their many moments in the spotlight.

Curtis’ favorite mantra: “The difference between involvement and commitment is like a ham and eggs breakfast. The chicken was involved. The pig was committed.”


Main Points:

Working with a celebrity or CEO on successful media engagements:

  • Consider what they can and can’t talk about; do a deep dive with them and their management team about those issues before any media interviews.
  • Before an interview, clarify with the journalist what questions will be asked; ask for a written Q&A beforehand; be clear about ground rules; let them know what you want to focus on. Be clear about anything you’d like the journalist to include in the story. Send a follow-up note with thanks and a reminder of the key point(s) you’d like to have included in the story. If your key message isn’t included in the final version of the story, contact the journalist to politely ask that the message be included in that or a future story.
  • Crafting the message:  First, ask celebrities what they are planning to say.
  • Repeat the message: Working it into every interview in several ways helps ensure that key messages are included in the final article.  Use pep talks with spokespeople to help keep them on message and excited to keep delivering the messages.

George Takei and Curtis Sparrer

Why celebrity interviews are like a high-performance sport:

  • For media tours, consider how many engagements is enough versus what is too many.  For a celebrity, after about five interviews, you often have diminishing returns as they get tired.
  • Manage the message and the energy in interviews: For longer interviews or media tours, include refreshments to get their sugar levels/energy up so they can perform. Avoid including dairy products to keep the voice clear. Include long energy foods that won’t lead to a sugar crash; fruits like bananas are great. Check with the talent’s management or agent to information on what they prefer.

Media training:

  • Use recorded media simulations to prepare senior leaders or other spokespeople for their on-camera interviews.
  • Give criticism in private to help them learn and develop their skills without needing to save face in front of their staff.
  • Arrive early to media interviews to give them a chance to get a feel for how the show is flowing.
  • Ask production assistants if they have a copy of the script, because it might have a copy of the questions.
  • Make sure your clients read the news on the day of their interview and give them a run-down on that day’s news in their sector, because they could be asked their opinion on breaking news.  This keeps them from being caught off guard.

Newsjacking:

  • Pay attention to the news for opportunities to give your perspective on breaking stories.  Local news producers are always looking to localize (find the local angle) national or international stories to make them relevant to their local audience.
  • When a story breaks, journalists are trying to figure out what will happen in the future, what people can expect in the next X days.
  • To get coverage that matters to your client’s business, have the CEO give a three-sentence statement, including what this news event means, what people can expect in the future, and why we are an expert to talk about this.

The importance of speed when responding to media:

  • Don’t perfect a statement to death; perfect is the enemy of the good.
  • A good-enough statement on time is far more valuable than a perfect statement that is too late.

Personal branding and networking for PR professionals:

  • Share with your boss what your professional priorities are; helps build your reputation with your coworkers and leadership.
  • On LinkedIn, talk about your core values and why they are important to you; make sure you also live those core values.
  • Don’t depend on building your brand on only one social platform; cross-pollinate content across your social platforms; show your personal side.
  • Brand consistency in developing your personal brand is important, with some exceptions: Authenticity that is not self-promotional (such as sharing photos from your birthday or other important personal event).
  • The biggest turnoff with LinkedIn is that it can be an echo chamber of bragging, so break that up with something other than how great you are professionally.
  • Be willing to talk about your mistakes and the lessons you learned. Failure is the best teacher and we can learn from it.
  • Fail fast, learn from your mistakes, and tell the story as you go.
  • Be willing to be vulnerable; it makes you human. This isn’t appropriate for all CEOs, so it’s important to know your client and what will work for them.
  • Media tours are a great way to bond with your CEO (or other client), because you’ll spend hours with them in the process. This presents opportunities to get to know them better and to identify other PR opportunities for them.
  • Make it a point to attend awards ceremonies and other events that are important to your client. They need to see you as someone who really is in their corner.
  • You want to be seen by your client as the trusted, safe counsel for them.

References from this conversation:

 


Contact Curtis:

office: 415.913.7528 | mobile: 713.240.0485

email: curtis@bospar.com | Twitter: @thatcurtis


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019 – Josh Elledge generates massive publicity on a shoestring budget

Starting his career as a Navy journalist and radio DJ, Josh Elledge built and now runs two very successful businesses:  Savings Angel and Up My Influence.  He has found a highly effective way to generate publicity at very low cost.  In fact, he has created more than $6 million dollars in media coverage for his businesses, essentially for free.  In this episode, Josh shares with us how he did it and he lays out the steps we can take right now to build our authority and promote our own businesses in the same way.

Josh Elledge generated $6 Million in free publicity

About Josh:

Josh Elledge is committed to democratizing PR & influence.  What does that mean?  Read on to find out!

This U.S. Navy veteran launched UpMyInfluence.com to help entrepreneurs attract the perfect audiences and grow their brands without the crazy costs associated with traditional PR companies.  UpMyInfluence’s purpose is to DEMOCRATIZE access to influence.  Josh believes he has a moral imperative to help entrepreneurs serve the world with their collective messages while growing their revenue!

UpMyInfluence was the natural outgrowth of his first startup, SavingsAngel.com, which has grossed more than $6 million in sales with less than $500 in advertising.  He did it all through building authority and serving audiences in the media.

Josh is a weekly TV consumer expert in Orlando, writes a syndicated newspaper column to 1.1 million readers, and regularly appears on more than 75 TV stations across the country.  All told, Josh has appeared in the media more than 2000 times.

Josh loves living in Orlando, FL with his wife and three children.


Josh’s Secrets to Generate Publicity:

Advertising is a tax you  pay for being unremarkable.  If you can focus on serving audiences … then you don’t have to pay for it as much.  If you’re a giving person who loves bringing value, there are a lot of stage you can speak on.

 

 

Exposure is everything.  When he didn’t have money for advertising, he reached out to radio stations, magazines, and newspapers to provide them content that would serve their audience.  The logic is that, if you give value to an audience, that will often result in positive media coverage; even if it doesn’t, you still create the opportunity to grow your network, which can be helpful the future.  This led to him becoming a columnist for his local newspaper, then a syndicated columnist, which led to TV appearances and syndication to 75 markets, with an audience of more than 1 million people.

If you pick one platform and dominate that platform, that’s how you become a social media celebrity.  Media now includes all influencers, including social media celebrities.

The more you can develop your own voice, the more comfortable you’ll be.

Your authority is your most valuable asset, so invest in growing it.  Authority and visibility is like developing muscle mass; you have to work on it.

Companies in the early stages should not be spending much money on PR agencies.

“Spray and pray” pitching is just spamming journalists; take the time to build relationships with journalists.  Focus on what you can do for the journalist first; you can ask for their help later.

Harness the power of relationships to create sustainable collaboration.

PR agencies should make the client the star of the show; the agency should try to remain invisible as they are facilitating the connection between client and media.

Agencies that insist on long-term, iron-clad retainers are just afraid.

The most important thing for us to be doing is growing our business.  That means we need to not just be the business operator, but the business owner; we need to be the face of the business.  Quit trying to grow your business from behind a computer screen; get out on stages.  Get media training.  Take your personal brand seriously.  How do you look online?  What are your indicators of authority?

 

 

Outsource as much of the business operation as possible; invest in growth by bringing in people who can speed up the system.  Hire someone to build your press kit with media clippings, headshots, etc.  Work on LinkedIn or Twitter; focus on one social media platform and outsource management of the rest of your social media.  Bring in an expert to help with strategy, social media management, copywriting, branding.  Pay for an expert; it’s money well spent.

It is the wise CEO who admits that they are not an expert in everything.

What keeps him motivated:  We believe we have a moral obligation to turn thoughtful entrepreneurs into media celebrities so we can increase their authority, influence, and revenue.

When you get to the point where you know that your product or service is going to change lives, then selling will be the easiest thing in the world.

PR professionals also have to eat their own lunch.  What does that mean?  Do public relations for yourself!

What is the best compliment someone can pay Josh?  “I appreciate your authenticity.”

Josh maintains that having a good press kit is essential for business leaders; and he puts his money where his mouth is.  Check out this example of an outstanding press kit.

 


 

Inspired to take action?  Josh can help; all you have to do is reach out to him.  Here’s how:

Contact Josh:

  Twitter:  @joshelledge
  Josh.Elledge on Instagram
  Up My Influence on Instagram

Special offers from Josh:

Other resources:

  Podcast Movement 2019 in Orlando

 

I’ve learned a lot from Josh and have implemented many of his tips.  I hope you learned a lot, as well.  If you enjoy this podcast and find value in it, please share it with a friend.  Here’s the iTunes link.

Thanks to Jennifer Sanchis of PRIME Research in Oxford, England, for the kind words and recommendations!  Check out her blog.

Also thanks to Dwayne Alexander, who runs both Alexander PR and The Content Place for his kind words and feedback all the way from Auckland, New Zealand!

That’s it for this episode.  Now, go out and do something really good in the world!

 

011 – Why PR and Marketing might become synonymous – Doreen Clark of SmartBug Media

Episode 011 - Doreen Clark

Doreen Clark, Director of Public Relations at SmartBug Media, shares some of her secrets to generating great press coverage, coaching executives to communicate more effectively, and the intertwining of PR and Marketing.

Media relations:

According to Doreen, public relations is a powerful tool and that we should, “Communicate in a way that is not just beneficial for us, but also for the people we’re reaching out to.” This forms a trifecta of solid media relations that comes together when we understand and communicate:

  • What our audience needs to learn,
  • The information reporters need to know to cover the story, and
  • What we want to deliver for our company or client.

She notes that, for media relations professionals, it’s easy to deliver the facts that journalists need. But journalists also need us to offer an opinion, because that helps them craft stories with perspective and emotion.

Media training:

Doreen has trained a lot of senior executives to be better spokespeople for their organizations. When she provides media training for senior executives, some of the key lessons include:

Coaching leaders on speaking to the common person, by using language they can understand. Executives are used to speaking with other experts in their industry; they frequently use jargon and technical language that the man on the street might not understand. Shifting their focus to be able to communicate with those who are not experts in their industry takes work, but helps them be much better communicators.

Helping executives learn to speak in soundbites during interviews. Long-winded, detailed explanations allow the speaker to be precise, but they run the risk of losing control of the messages that will come through in the final news report. Making the information digestible by giving clear, but concise quotes, helps ensure their most important messages are included in the story.

Everyone is a spokesperson:

In an age of social media and 24-hour news cycles, everyone connected to an organization essentially is a spokesperson. Having a strategic plan, in which everybody knows their role and what they are expected to do, is key to success in public relations. Doreen also recommends that we identify the subject matter experts in our organization, train them to be effective spokespeople, and that will lead to more opportunities to engage the media. It’s important for communication in an organization to be “by all, for all” and not just downward from managers.

Working with freelance writers:

When asked what she is most excited about, Doreen said that working with freelance writers has become a secret weapon. Her force-multiplier tip is to build relationships with freelance writers. It’s common for them to write for many different media outlets, both online and off. These relationships can help us get more coverage, if they are willing to share the work they do for us with their contacts in these outlets.

Merging PR and marketing:

Looking into the future, Doreen expects that “Public relations and marketing will become even more intertwined and might become synonymous.” She sees a blurring of the lines already, with paid advertising taking the form of earned editorial coverage. She sees a future in which PR will have more pay-to-play coverage, as advertising does now. While such changes could present signification challenges for those currently working in both PR and marketing, it could have certain beneficial effects, as it will drive improvements on both sides. For example, she notes that, “PR measurement tools are getting better and will eventually be on par with marketing measurement.” “

Doreen also sees a future in which podcasts and videos that are engaging, but brief, will become more important. After all, journalists need things to write about and to share as examples within their articles.

Lesson learned:

When asked what she knows now that would have been good to know when starting her career, Doreen said, “You don’t have to be everything to everyone; hone your craft; it’s okay to specialize.”

Quotable quotes:

“If you really pay attention, you can become an expert in anything.”

“Relationships are everything.”

“Stay up to date on your craft; you have to always be a learner.”

“PR is necessary, 100%.”

“PR is about elevating reputation and building credibility.”

“When you decide to do PR, make sure you’re starting from a strategic perspective.”


Contact Doreen:

If you are the Founder, CEO, or Marketing Director of a company that is looking to add public relations to enhance your 2018 goals, contact Doreen at dclark@smartbugmedia.com or connect with her on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/doreenclark

About Doreen:

Doreen Clark is the Director of Public Relations at SmartBug Media.  She has worked in PR and communications for more than a decade, on both the agency and the corporate side, and across multiple industries.

Doreen has created strategic plans to increase visibility, build credibility, and promote thought leadership through targeted media relations.  She also is  a member of the Forbes communications council, and a contributing writer for Huffington Post.

About SmartBug Media:

SmartBug is a leading intelligent inbound marketing agency that assists businesses in generating leads; increasing awareness; and building brand loyalty through inbound marketing, digital strategy, design, marketing automation and Public Relations.

SmartBug is a certified “Great Place to Work,” an Inc. 5000 company, and is the winner of 36 MarCom awards in 2017 alone.


Some of the resources Doreen uses:

Cision‘s database of media contacts.

CoverageBook saves time in compiling media reporting.

HubSpot to identify which articles have created the most traction based on links within the article.


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