The world of content creation has always been a competitive industry. From speakers to writers and everyone in between that is publishing, it can be tough to stand out and get your message across to those who need it. This episode’s guest, Pam Perry, is all about helping mentors, authors, speakers, and entrepreneurs build a platform. As a PR guru, award-winning communications professional, and publisher of Speakers Magazine, she joins Dr. Diane Hamilton to tell us all kinds of tips on how to become published, be an author and speaker, and go beyond. She talks about the struggles many speakers face in this time of pandemic and the alternative ways they can get booked. Pam also shares her take on the difference between publicity, positioning, and branding and then breaks down the things we should and should not do in terms of marketing. Get yourself out there to the right people and share your message as Pam guides you with more insights and tips in this conversation.
I’m so glad you joined us because we have Pam Perry here. She is known as a PR guru and the Publisher of Speakers Magazine. She can tell speakers all kinds of tips of how to become published, how to be an author and speak and go beyond. I’m very interested to talk to her.
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How To Get Published, Speak, And Go Beyond With Pam Perry
I am here with Pam Perry, who is an award-winning communications professional and Publisher of Speakers Magazine. She teaches and mentors authors, speakers, and entrepreneurs how to build a platform. You’ve seen her clients on everything from CNN to Oprah Magazine. You are everywhere, Pam. It’s so nice to have you here.
Thank you, Diane, for having me. I’m excited.
I’m excited to chat. I’ve had so many Hall of Fame speakers on my show that speaking comes up quite a bit. I want to get a background on you and how you got into this line and why speaking and why Speakers Magazine?
One of the things is that speakers have to have a message and they can’t speak everywhere all the time. Most likely, I always tell all of my speakers to write books, but initially I was doing PR for authors. Authors in order to sell books had to speak, so they go hand in hand, the authors and speakers. I was the publicist for many years, and I worked with a lot of the publishing houses. What I found is that in order for these books to sell, I was not only getting them PR and traditional media, but I was also booking them to speak. That’s where the whole author-speaker things. I primarily work with those that were mission-oriented, those that were Christian authors. I worked with a lot of the Christian houses. From there, that included some pastors and things like that, but what I found is that a lot of them, if they weren’t speaking in churches, that knew them, they had to find out how to get known in order to get on these stages.
That’s where the Speakers Magazine came about in order for people to know about them before they even read their book or even knew about them from someone telling about them. Speakers Magazine became what I say that PR vehicle for them to get known. That’s where it came from for authors and speakers to be seen in a light that typically they wouldn’t be seen because people were always going after, “The major speakers,” the Tony Robbins, the Les Brown. These were the people that I don’t say they were B list, but they definitely weren’t the A list, but they were good anyway. That’s where Speakers Magazine came in, where they can show their books, they can show their speaking reels and get known in a different light to a different audience.People do need that interaction. We really do need that human energy in our spaces. Click To Tweet
Who’s reading it other than speakers? I’m curious because I could see speakers get a lot from it, but who else?
What it is, is primarily African-Americans who are looking for speakers for their conferences. They may be a lot of pastors, churches or women’s ministries. They are people who are looking for conference speakers and anyone who is putting together any kind of events they want to keynote. Primarily my list goes out to about 85,000 people online. It’s a lot of African-Americans who are looking for inspiration, motivational speakers that they typically would not know of any other way. Those are primarily the ones, and so we’ve put them in Essence and Ebony. A lot of the black media, they get the publication as well.
Willie Jolley was on my show and he was incredible. Everybody wants to have Willie Jolley speak, but like you said, not everybody can be Les Brown, Willie Jolley, Zig Ziglar or whatever. The people who have that outgoing presence of almost that preacher-like quality. Do you differentiate the rah-rah type of speakers from the more educational speakers? How do people know what people offer as a speaker?
In the magazine, I asked them to put in besides their bio and then also their speaking topics. What are their speaking topics, whether they’re a leadership speaker, career speaker or youth speaker? This will happen because I’m a publicist and I help them with their branding. A lot of them will put so many different things to say, “How was your speaking going?” “Not that good.” I said, “Let me tell you what I see. It’s because you’re a little bit too wide, you haven’t narrowed it down. You’re all over the place.” I take them through a program. I have a program called Ready Set Go Speak. This shows them how to define their brand. I said, “You can’t be everything to everybody. When I look at you, I don’t know what you’re going to speak on because you’re trying to do everything. You’re speaking on how to start a nonprofit, how to do a beauty pageant, and how to help this. I don’t know if you’re going to be good at any of it because it’s too many things.” I tell people, “What is it that you want to hone in on?”
A lot of times, if they have a book, I say, “That is your main message, that’s your signature talk, that’s your signature book. That is what people are going to know you from and so let’s break that down and that is your area.” The thing is when people feel like if they limit their target market, they’re going to limit their opportunities, and it’s the opposite. The more you target the audience, the more opportunities you’ll get. You can expand from that once you’re known in a certain area, but at the beginning, you’re all over the place and I can’t book you.
That’s tough. I’ve seen that happen and as we’ve talked before, I teach marketing. We teach students when you’re selling your product, if you do the shotgun approach, you’re spending a lot of money, time, effort, and you’re not reaching your demographic that you want to reach. You have to think about that as a speaker. I have a lot of friends who are speakers and everybody gets approached to be on speaking websites and being represented by certain bureaus and all that. As you were talking about this, a friend of mine had said to me, she doesn’t want to be on those speaker sites because they all want Daymond John.
They go for the brand name.
How do you get out of that? I know Daymond’s working a lot because I was on a stage on an event where he was. I see him everywhere. Daymond is great, but he can’t be everywhere. How do you compete with that when people are going to these sites and they’re seeing these big names? How do you stand out?
That’s one of the thing too, because if you re-engineer or just construct how Daymond became Daymond, you can do the same type of thing. He has a brand that’s all his own. He started with something and he built on it. He built his platform. He did his book. He figured his secret sauce. He figured out the magic that he has. Every speaker has that one thing. I always tell the speaker, “Look at Daymond John. Where did he start? At FUBU and went into this and that. It was all about image and branding and fashion. What is it in your background? Let’s look at what’s in your toolbox, let’s polish it up, and that’s what we put forward, the best foot forward, your best photos, your best speaking reel. Are you humorous because Daymond is not humorous, so maybe you are? What is it that is about you that is going to make you sparkle and shine? It’s okay, not everybody’s going to love you, but the people who love you are going to love you and recommend you.” I tell people, “What is it that’s different?”
“My background, I was this, or I have a lot of degrees and I graduated from high school with a GED, and now I have a PhD.” I said, “That’s unique. Let’s rock with this.” All my life, I was 100 pounds overweight, now I’m a health coach. What is it that’s going to ignite your audience based on something that is intrinsically you and no one else? What is it that is your secret sauce?” When people look at Daymond, or Les Brown, or Willie Jolley, they try to compete against them, but they can’t compete against them because it’s only one of them. At a certain point of time, like Les Brown can sing, so what does Les have? Les was a radio DJ. He has a great voice. “What is it that is different about you? That one thing that you can find is going to make you that person.”
For example, I have a speaker who wants to be like a motivational-inspirational speaker, and there are a lot of those types of people, but what’s different about her is that she can take words, make them poems and make them into almost raps. She has movement that goes with that, where she is like extemporaneous dancing. That’s unique, different, and natural what she does. Before that, she was a teacher of elementary school kids, so she has this over the top way that elementary school teachers have, where they capture the audience. That is the unique way that she does things.
I said, “For your download, what I like you to do is to have an audio of your best affirmations. Instead of a PDF download or this is a book, I said, ‘I want you to do your affirmations on audio,’” because she’s stellar at that and she did. I remember seeing her being booked as an opening keynote and she extemporaneously did a rap and it’s standing ovation, and I was like, “That is you. You’re not going to be a flat-footed Tony Robbins, Les Brown, but you’re different from the standpoint of that. That’s your flow.” I tried to help people understand what’s unique about them and how to build that brand out.Any publicity is not good publicity if it doesn't reach your target audience. Click To Tweet
You bring up some interesting things and it brings to mind that we all have a background of things that make our experience unique. I had Vernice Armour on the show. She’s the first black female combat pilot. She has an amazing backstory because she was a police officer and she’s a woman of color and all the things that she’s got, everything that’s in the news. She’s got this background to speak on some of the most important topics that are huge. She was inspirational to me as I was speaking to her, and it’s a time where they’re looking for much more diverse speakers. I imagine you’re getting a lot more connections.
In my show, I have a very diverse group of people I try to interview because it’s important to get different aspects of everybody’s experience in the business world. I imagine you’re getting much more people contacting you in the last years because everybody’s trying to be more diverse, but because of COVID, speaking has been a challenge. Everybody’s having to do it virtually. Are people frustrated? What do you see for that higher demand, but yet less demand because you can’t travel?
The whole thing is everybody has to be their own TV producer. They have to have this whole set up. You talk about Vernice, the first time I saw her in person, she was on stage, she came out in her flag girl suit and then she had the video. The video shows her in a helicopter and in the combat fight gear. It was surreal in terms of when she was overseas and when she was actually in combat. That part you can visually see, so think, “We can’t see her in person, so she has to maybe come on and then she has to switch to that video. She then has to come back.” A lot of speakers don’t know how to do that if they’re working from home on their own because you don’t have the IT team there.
That’s the part that’s so frustrating for them because they don’t know how to edit, how to do the lighting, how do I pick the right mic, it’s not set up right, or it’s not connected. They have all these technology things that are holding them back or making them scared because they can’t do it right. They don’t want to like, “Hit a button and go on Zoom, they want to make it more multimedia.” That’s where they’re finding that, “I’m going to need a little bit more help because everybody has to have their own almost in-home studio.” You have to have someone on speed dial that is like a TV producer to make it stand out, that’s the whole different thing for people. They can still deliver everything the way they normally would, but it has to look different. When you’re speaking on a platform on the stage, you’re going to have everybody who’s behind the scenes with you, so you don’t have to worry about it. Now, you’re going to do everything and that’s where they’re finding.
Are you finding that companies are thinking, “Now that you don’t have to travel, we’re not going to pay you as much?” I’m on a lot of speaker groups where people are complaining and a lot of people are looking for people to do things for free. Are you finding out that’s the case? How do you avoid that?
A lot of times it’s not so much about the travel, sometimes they believe in eat to travel like, “I’m going to pay you this, but the travel and the hotel is on you.” They’re still getting the same thing that they normally would get to do the presentation. What they’re doing now is maybe adding a little bit more to that. Let’s say for instance you’re speaking to someone and everyone now gets an eBook or everyone gets online follow-up the following month. They’re adding more but they’re still getting the same fee because it’s solving the same problem even though it’s virtual. They can’t look like, “It’s just one Zoom,” but it looks like they put in some effort that they look like they’re from the in-home studio that they put in the extra time and the money for that.
It is about positioning and branding that they can still get the same fee, but they’ve got to put in a little bit more extra effort than, “I’m popping up on Zoom and I’m in a bubble here. I’m talking.” They’re adding more and maybe adding a little bit more follow-up or a little bit more online courses, maybe say, “I’ll speak but also you’ll have access to my online course.” They’re still doing in there a little bit more negotiating because it’s a new terrain for everyone. I did have one client that said they want me to do three series of webinars for free and it was for a non-profit and I said, “If you’re going to do it for free, do you have an opportunity to either one, get the email addresses of everyone who attends, so that you can follow up and market to them or can you mark it in the presentation?”
She says, “I don’t know, I didn’t ask.” I said, “That’s going to be important because if you’re doing three webinars for free and you don’t have access, how are you going to make any money? It’s one or two things.” She’s going to go and ask that question, but as I said, it’s new for everyone. Hopefully in 2022, everything will be back to “normal,” where we’re going on stages and doing that type of thing, because people do need that interaction. We do need that human energy in our spaces. I’ll be glad when that does happen, but until then, people have to navigate online a little bit more creatively than they had to. They can’t put their head in the sand anymore.
It’s tough. I’ve had a lot of Hall of Fame speakers who told me that the first 100 talks they gave were free. Sometimes you have the beginning of your experience where you’re giving away a lot more than you’re getting. It seems to me that a lot of people are asking for free stuff now more than ever. I probably get 3 or 4 people a day asking me to be on something. When I ask them what their budget is, “Are you not going to do it for free?” I think there are a lot of people doing it for free. That’s the problem. You’re up against other people who are doing it. Do you think that it’s ever okay to do it for free even if they won’t give you the contacts?
I do think it’s okay to do it for free and you have to pick and choose which ones you think or which platform it is. For instance, if AARP, which is a large organization says, “We’d like you to do it for free.” Of course, you’ll do it for free because that’s a big brand, but if it’s like something where they’re brand new and you’re more or less like almost a brand name, and they want you to do it for free, I’m bringing a lot of value to you. I am against people paying. Now that has been a thing of lately.
I haven’t heard of that. Paying to be a speaker?
Yes. People are paying to be a speaker. You want to apply, you have this thing, and they have 30 women on here. Even on Clubhouse, you’ll apply to be a speaker or you could be a moderator on Clubhouse, and they’re paying $200, $50, whatever. Sometimes as high as $750 to pay to be on these stages, and what they’re paying for is the ego of it. The ego marketing of you’ll be on the flyer, you’ll be on the website beyond this. I’m thinking that should be anything. If you’re going to be the speaker anyway, you’re going to do that because you want people to come to the event.
Are they trying to build their platform? I’ve seen the places where they go, “Do you want to be on Fox? You want to be on this and we’ll run you on a midnight commercial somewhere, then you can say you were on Fox.” I’ve seen people pay for that but they’re paying for regular events where they’re giving the talk.
They’ll pull out a little badge and sometimes, a lot on Instagram or Facebook call for speakers. You have all these aspiring speakers who want to speak and they’ll call for speakers, and you fill out all this application. They’ll interview you and at the end of the interview and the application, they’ll then say, “It’s this amount of money.” At this point they’ve made it seem like it’s such a big deal to be accepted and it’s not. It’s not that you’re accepted, you’re paying for it. I think that’s deceptive. Even if you’re going to speak on our stage, apply, we like you. In addition, if you want some extra things, if you want a video, then this is extra. Charge me for the tools or the things that you’re going to give me, the packaging. Don’t charge me to speak on the platform. That cheapens it to me. I don’t like that. Even on Clubhouse, people do that, people pay to be a moderator on Clubhouse.Ego marketing is when you're just doing things just to be seen when you don't really have any strategy. Click To Tweet
Clubhouse is so new that I haven’t spent enough time to see that thing. Now you’re making me curious, I’m going to get back on it again.
We’re on Clubhouse. It would be just like us.
I haven’t done it. I chat so much with my show and everything else I do that I’m thinking more chatting. I haven’t spent a lot of time on it, but it’s got some interesting things. People have always heard good publicity and they want to be seen somehow. I think you can get people who will try about anything, but there’s a difference between publicity, positioning and branding. I’d like to know your take on how you differentiate those.
Any publicity is not good publicity if it doesn’t reach your target audience, I always say that. You want to start out with a plan, a strategy, some ideas, so I can be in some tabloid like, “See me in some tabloid and it’s not good because the tabloid’s job is trashy.” That’s not good publicity. I can say, “I was in the National Inquirer,” and it’s like, “You were?” That’s not bragging. I would say that you’ve got to make sure that it’s positioned right and it aligns with your brand. You do want to make sure that it’s in the right spot. In terms of branding, it’s consistency. What do people say about who you are? What is it consistent? For me, I don’t say this about myself, but other people say this about me consistently. I did even realize like, “Why is this a thing?” They say that I am a PR guru, “What does that mean?” To me, my brain thinks like that’s old, but then someone has said, “No, they don’t think that’s old. They think that’s wise.” I’m like, “PR wisdom, I get it.”
To me, it sounds old. I’m like, “I have been in it for many years, so that’s okay.” That’s part of the brand is a PR guru, so PamPerryPR.com because the word PR is in there, and so as PR guru. There’s branding, there is positioning. Positioning is aligning yourself with a consistent audience, a tribe or different events, those are positioning things. You will never see Daymond John at an event that’s off-kilter. You won’t maybe see him at a skiing event, just an example. You won’t see him there. You’ll see him maybe at fashion week. It’s positioning. He’ll be on the red carpet or he’ll be at the NAACP Image Awards.
He’s going to choose where he goes, based on how he wants to be perceived, where he’s positioned. I always tell people, “Position yourself in such a way where people will understand your brand. They’re going to get to know you a little bit better and deeper by showing up in certain places or being positioned in a spot where people will get you.” That’s where the people with the eyes and the ears, and the eyeballs are on you there,” versus like, “You’re so random. I can’t get your brand. You’re showing up everywhere. I can’t pinpoint you because you’re so random.” I always tell people, make sure that you understand your positioning, your branding, that then equates into the publicity that you’re going to get eventually.
We talked a little before the show and I thought it was interesting. I was a curiosity expert and my focus has always been behaviors. For me, I started with emotional intelligence because I wrote my dissertation on that, and then I got very interested in curiosity and perception. It crosses in many ways into many different fields. Daymond John and I spoke at a cybersecurity event. To be good at cybersecurity, you have to ask questions and be curious. How do you limit it or make it so focused? If it does fold off into different areas and it touches on these other areas, I should say.
It goes off into other areas, but with you, Diane, it always goes back to the same thing. No matter what area you’re in, you’re always going back to the same thing. I always say this to people, “If you go into a party and you’re chit-chatting with people, typically I walk away from you and walk back. You’re maybe with a different group of people, but you’re still talking about the same thing, just in a different type of way, because that’s your bin. That’s the way you’re going to do it.” With me, no matter where I am, I can’t be at someone’s wedding or whatever at different places, it’s always going to go back to automatically you leave the room, come back, and I’m talking about branding, PR and marketing, or how are you getting this message out?
“You should probably write a book,” over and over again, because that’s your bin. You see that as such a natural way that your brain is wired. It can be in different areas, but it always comes back to the same way that you have that bend or your lane of genius. Your lane of genius is emotional intelligence, I love that as the topic then you’re curious. Like we were saying, you could have also been an investigative reporter or editor of a website, or you could have been the people that are investigators, or you could have been part of the CIA or any of those types. It does take just regular people that they want on their team. You can add a different perspective to that.
As you’re talking about all this branding, positioning and all this, when you write a book or when you’re a speaker, whatever, mostly I found out when I wanted to write my first book, the biggest word you heard from everybody was your platform, “What’s your platform?” Platform was such a huge thing, and platform is how many people care about what you do or are following you. Who’s going to buy your book? Who’s going to be interested in you? That was before a lot of these social media sites and things. Now it’s a lot easier to get a following than back in the day when it took a lot of different things to get noticed. There’s a lot of marketing involved. There’s a lot of connecting involved and you talk about ego marketing. What are some things we should do or shouldn’t do?
When I say ego marketing, meaning you’re doing things to be seen when you don’t have any strategy. You’re so excited about the dopamine of seeing your picture or seeing a video, or being seen. It’s a rush that it’s almost high school when people get the likes. They’ll post something on Facebook, and then five minutes later, they’re looking to see who liked it. They post something on Instagram five minutes later who liked it. Instead of being consistent with the content, and it doesn’t matter because you’re being consistent of sharing that message to a particular audience who’s going to care. Not that everybody’s going to like it and care, but what is that messaging about?
A lot of times, I know we should look at our analytics and all that, but I’m saying, it’s a difference of wanting it or needing it for your own ego to see that, “My TikTok went viral.” What does that have to do with anything? You were cooking dinner or you were petting a cat. How is that selling anything for you? A lot of this because of the social media, you could have access to people immediately responding to whatever you do. People who have a natural tendency to want to be liked, and so when you have that like button, it’s a good and a bad thing. Now, it’s like, “I want to be liked,” and then it becomes a point where, “I need to be liked.”
You’re then hung up in this social media, and then it goes back into this business cycle of, “Why didn’t I get enough likes for that? Let me do something else.” You’re getting to the point of that’s what social media was to build relationships, and social media marketing is an end point of a call to action of marketing. Something that is going to sell and move the needle for your business, not about liking. I find that people will go through the expense of a million dollars’ worth of photo, makeup stylist and all of this to look like something so that they can get a lot of likes versus, “I’m going to do this photoshoot, this is what it is. I want to make sure that my business is on point, that I’m selling, that I’m serving the people that I need to serve versus I want to look like Beyoncé. I got my hair blowing in the wind and this and that.” It’s gotten to this point now. I feel bad for people who are introverts or people who are not into this whole style Vogue look, and they’re like, “I want to be a consultant. I’m a CPA and I help people with their accounting. Now you’re saying that I have to be this, do this, and do a video.”
There’s a certain amount of stuff people have to do, and it’s tough. When you were saying that, I’m thinking of Susan Cain who wrote Quiet, who wrote all about introverts and how successful she’s been. She definitely doesn’t do all that type of thing to be a success. She had a great message. There’s a market for that, but it’s harder sometimes to get noticed unless you have a very unusual message.
It’s harder to get noticed.
They see that Kim Kardashian makes $500,000 every time she makes a post and they think, “I want that.” There’s one Kim Kardashian that was able to figure out whatever it is she does, and no one else is probably ever going to get that same exposure. Would you even want to? The money would be nice, but is that what you want? People have to think about what they’re going to talk about, and what they’re going to speak about, and what they’d like their message to be throughout all this. You have this Ready Set Go Speak you’ve mentioned before. What is that?
It’s a process. It’s a roadmap to success. The Ready phase is all about your strategy and the mindset. Getting rid of any imposter syndrome and knowing what you stand for. Like I said, your secret sauce, so you’re not comparing yourself to other people, but you know exactly who it is that your brand stands for. You’re defining it and designing it. You’re putting together your whole marketing plan and PR plan. What is it that you want to do? That is probably the hardest part because people are like, “I know what it is. I just want to get out there.” No, let’s sit here for a little bit because once we get out there, if you don’t have the right mindset, the imposter syndrome will come and bite you in the behind, and then you will run back to your corner. Let’s make sure that you’re walking in your calling.
The Set phase, the people love that part. That’s where you get the sizzle reels and that’s when you get the press in. That’s when you do the whole photoshoots and the website. That’s the tool. That’s the set phase. The Goal phase is like you’re pitching. You’ve got all your stuff together, you’ve got your plan, and you have the tools, so you’re pitching. You’re trying to figure out what radio, TV, print, podcasts, and things that you’re going to show up and do and pitch. The Speak phase is where you’re doing it. You’re delivering the signature speech. You’re doing the webinars. You’re doing all the talking points in the media. That’s it. The hardest part is getting people to sit in that ready phase because quite frankly, people think they’re more ready than they are.
I would think the hard part would be the Go phase. Don’t you think? A lot of people, their hardest time is with the go part.
That’s why the Ready phase is the hardest, because if they know exactly what their plan is, the Go phase is easy because they have made the list. They know what they want to target, what they’re going to say, and they have that surety and that’s okay. If they zoom through that Ready phase and not defining everything about what it is that they want to talk about it and what they bring to the world, they will be shy about the Go phase. Many times I said, “I’ll send it to people who are in the community. Go and pitch them.”
The next week I said, “How did it go?” “I didn’t pitch them.” “Why?” “I don’t know. I didn’t think I was ready.” “Let’s go back to the Ready phase. You weren’t ready. What is stopping you?” I tap someone that talks to them about what the imposter syndrome is about. You can do this. This is what you were built for. Let’s stand in it. What happens is people compare, they look at other people and what they’re doing, “My website isn’t as good as theirs.” I said, “It doesn’t matter. You’re pitching you to that one outlet. They’re not comparing to, they’re just looking at you. Put your best foot forward.”
The main things media look for is interesting because I have gone to events in New York where they tried to teach you how to do a one sheet or different things that as a radio show host, what they taught was not at all what I want. I’m curious what you think. Is there an overall one sheet people should have? I could tell you what I would want, but I’m curious what you think other people want.
They do want a one sheet, but they want story ideas. I had someone tell me, “This is what my book is about,” and they start telling me, I said, “That’s great, but I needed in context. What does it have to do with now? You’re talking about it takes this type of mentality. Give me some media hook or angle. What are we talking about in terms of the news cycle? How does that fit and who is it fitting for?” If you tell me directly what this book is about, me as a producer, I’ve got to figure out how am I going to make this fit, and what does this have to do with anything?
That’s important for television shows and if you want to be in news. I think that’s critical what’s the headline here. For podcasts, it can be different. Sometimes people send me pitchy things that are not what I’m looking for. I’m looking for more what their book is. I want their bio, I want their picture, but I’d like to see the questions they’d like to be asked. I like to see the kinds of things and that tells me if this is the thing that would be interesting for my show. Very often, you don’t get the people pitching questions and things like that or the bullets. These are the ten things I could talk about. I’m not looking for catchy headlines because my show is different. It’s a business show. I get a lot of people who contact me, saying, “I’d like to be on your show because I have a diet book or something,” My book has nothing to do with anything I’m talking about here. What research do you suggest people do?
Research is everything. It’s so easy to do it online. When I started over many years ago doing a lot of PR for authors, we had to have these big fat books or the national pitch book. We’d have to go through the book, and we’d have to read what they’re looking for, how they want to be pitching us. It was so hard. Now, you can Google what it is, look at the publication, look up the podcast, look up the newspaper, and see what kind of stories that they’re writing and follow them on Twitter. Some of those things, it’s so easy to do. Follow the writer on Twitter, follow the producer on Twitter. See what kind of stories they’re pitching. Look on LinkedIn. Those are some of the simple things, but research is everything because when you’re pitching them, you’re pitching them what you can bring to their audience. If you don’t know their audience, it’s a waste of time. You don’t know their audience, so why would it even fit? That’s one of the main things. When you said people send you questions, that’s good because now you know how the show would sound. You can turn the show idea along with questions.
I noticed you had some things that you suggested on your website and one of them was formerly known as ScheduleOnce, now it’s OnceHub. I use that a lot for when people sign up for my show, and one thing I do is ask them to send in questions if they haven’t already suggested some. I never go through a list of questions. I like it to guide me to the things that they like to talk about. Usually, my conversations with people are generic and organic. It’s like if you met somebody at a bar or you’re waiting to go to eat dinner, you’re sitting there and talking, and you’re like, “What do you do? It’s nice to get to know you.” It’s interesting to me that people who send me the least useful information tend to be people who have their own podcasts, which I find very fascinating.
The PR people get it the most obviously, but I was surprised. Everybody does their shows differently though. Maybe they send the things that they’d want to have, so I look at it and I find it interesting as far as that goes. I know you give a lot of resources to people. I was looking at your site and there are so many of these I agree with. As I mentioned, your calendar tool is important. I use Canva and all these things. You have this website, PamPerryPR.com. How do you work? Is it a long-term contract? How do you work with people?
Initially, if people have a book, then they would hire me for a launch of a book. Now, I’m working on a brand for Chicken Soup for the Soul. Their book is coming out later this year and the book is called Chicken Soup for the Soul: I’m Speaking Now. It’s 101 stories by African-American women because Kamala Harris says, “I’m speaking now,” so that was that whole thing. It’s about them making sure that their voice is heard. They would hire me for that. Now, obviously the book is launching, so they want me before the book. When people have a book, I’m hired almost like a hitman because we get the media hits for the book. Usually, it’s at least 3 months or 4 months before the book is out so that we can develop all the tools, the prestige, the hooks, the angles and develop media lists and all of that. If they are wanting ongoing PR, then they join the Ready Set Go Speak and it’s like, “I am your monthly retainer for your PR marketing needs. I help guide you. I give you media leads and coach you.”
The Ready Set Go Speak, is at any point in time, you can come in and come out. There’s a brand accelerator course in there. There are resources as well as templates. That saves me time and saves them money because everything is all in that course. If they want a one-on-one consultation, we can do that as well, because sometimes, maybe they need someone to listen to them. It’s like, “What’s the best way I should position myself and pitch? What is the plan I should have and what type of release should I be writing on a regular basis?” We put that together, so it depends. The only thing that is probably the most structured is The Ready Set Go Speak program. Typically, everything else is by proposal, depending on what it is. I did a book for Juanita Rasmus, and her book was called Learning to Be. We did for about six months for her book.
She became part of book clubs for TD Jakes’ daughter. She was in Psychology Today and Christianity Today. Those are the types of things, but it took a little bit longer for her to get in certain spots. She already had a TED Talk so she had a brand developed. When I work with people one-on-one, they already have a brand developed, that way I can pitch them. If they don’t have a brand developed like certain things, then they go on the Ready Set Go Speak and they develop the brand. They can then grow out of that and I can work with them on one-on-one.
First of all, Mark Victor Hansen was on, the Chicken Soup for the Soul original guy. People have high hopes of having PR people get them. I’m sure everybody wants to be on Oprah but we’re not all Meghan Markle. What do you tell people who say, “Can you get me an interview with Oprah or get me on the Today Show?” What is that conversation like?
We’ll go back to the basics here. I said, “Do you realize that those types of shows aren’t “pitch,” because they don’t need content? They have producers that are proactively looking for the brand.” We don’t pitch the big shows. It’s their producers’ job to find the biggest brands that will give them the best audience reaction and numbers. I explain to them what they’re looking for from a journalist standpoint. I interviewed journalists for them to tell regular people what we’re looking for. People would think, “If I can only get on Good Morning America.” I said, “The media is not looking to make you famous. They want you basically to already have a little bit of fame, then you go on their show.”
When Ellen was doing her show and she had the viral videos, that’s because the videos went viral. That’s why because they had a lot of eyeballs on it. I tell people, you start local and you do well. You kill it at that stage. You go regional, then you go national, but you treat every interview that you have local. I don’t care if it’s at a local high school or a local TV station or the local radio station, you’re treating it like it is Oprah. You’re going to get better with time and media begets media. It does. How long will it take? It depends on how much time you’re putting into it.
If I have someone who has been on 30 podcasts within a month, they were working it. At this point in time, now they are getting speaking engagements on a regular basis in their inbox. Why? They felt like they were seen everywhere but they’re just bubbling up at this point. Now, they’re getting a little bit more known because they are on a regular basis. She’s doing the same type of interview on every single show, it talks about her seven steps of healing over and over, so she’s been on some national shows. She has been asked to be on some good stages. It’s working, but she works it like it’s a job. You can’t say, “I have a book coming out, I’d like to be on Oprah.” Let’s start at the beginning, let’s look at your real target audience and let’s get on your top ten list of your target audience.The ready phase is the hardest because if you really know exactly what your plan is, the go phase is easy. Click To Tweet
In your local area, let’s get on your ABC, NBC and CBS. How do you fit there? You’re not going to be on the news because you didn’t kill anybody. Where are you going to fit? They can’t even tell me. I said, “You need to study it and come back. Is it the weekend? Do they have a morning segment? Show me where you see yourself fitting,” and then that makes them understand that they have to understand that program. If it’s a radio show, “Tell me the talk show. What is the name of the show? Call in as a caller. Maybe you need to do that first so you can get the producer’s name.” I give them little tricks. “If it’s a newspaper, what section? Is it the business? Is it the lifestyle? Is it a different section? Let me know. You have to study it. If it’s the black newspaper, who is the editor? Who’s the publisher?” All these things, when they say, “I want to be on Oprah,” I said, “You don’t even know what’s in your backyard. Why would Oprah put you on her show if you haven’t even been on your local TV station?”
They are backward in a way because they think that this is what it takes, but it’s such a long process. Some people hit it big early out of luck, some of it is timing. How much do you think is timing though?
Let’s say for instance, they are coming out the gate and they get it on Oprah. I will better believe that they’re probably not going to be foundationally set up for the amount of publicity and the amount of business they would get based on itself, that they wouldn’t even be ready for it. I would tell people, “You’re not ready for it. Once you get on the show and you bomb, you can’t get on anything else ever again because you’re going to be too embarrassed.” It was like, “I was horrible.” We’re telling people to understand that this is a process that you get to the pinnacle when you’re ready. I’m telling you if you were to go on a major publication or get into New York Times and you were saying the wrong thing and it’s printed, it’s there forever and you sound stupid.
We’re saying that media training could have helped that or starting in a market that was not a New York market, but maybe market number 200 and work there. You then can look and say, “I was on that TV show in Alabama. I didn’t look that good or I didn’t sound that good. I’m glad it was in Alabama and not on the Today Show. The first thing I said, “People think they’re more ready than they are.” I had someone I booked and I booked them on a podcast. I have to call them, but they were horrible. She sent me back, she says, “I think it went good.” I say she was horrible from the standpoint that she challenged the host. The host asked her, “What did you say?” She said, “You should have been taking notes.” I’m like, “What? Oh no, she didn’t say that.” The host said, “I’m not taking notes because I’m talking to you.” Now they go on tit for tat.
I had a guy asked me if I knew who he was. He thought he was very famous. He probably is. It was in sports and I don’t follow his sport. He said it in a respectful, kind of funny, playful way. I don’t know if I’ve had anybody do that though what you’re talking about. That’s pretty bad. It takes an emotional intelligence back to do some of this stuff and realize that you have to be respectful. The people who surprised me the most are people who get demanding and you’re doing this for them for free. They’re getting exposure for free. They’re like, “Why am I not the first one? Why can’t you make me do it by myself in this?” They start demanding certain parts of what they would like it to be. You can’t do that because I don’t know if they see it as somebody doing it for them and they’re getting free exposure in some ways.
It’s an entitlement attitude. It all goes back to ego marketing that I was talking about. People feel that at certain point in time, because of social media and everything, it seems so easy and accessible that it’s what they need. It is a lot harder now than it ever has been.
Is it any worse with younger generations versus older generations? Is everybody equally as bad as figuring that out?
I think everybody’s just as bad. Everybody is diva at this point. Being an old school publicist, before when I used to work with clients, they were grateful. They were gracious. Whatever we did, was like, “Thank you so much,” but now everyone is a diva because they look at it and they see that it’s everywhere that, “Such and such was on this person and they were on that and this and that. I see them online and they have thousands of views on their show.” I’d say that social media has made some monsters. This is funny, “I want to get a viral video so I can go on TikTok and I can show up on Ellen or I’m going to go viral with this whole word.” I want to assassinate that word.
“I want to be Charles Barkley tomorrow,” kind of thing. It’s the same thinking that it took a lot of work. It took a lot of things to get people where they are and that’s tough. I don’t think people are as patient as they need to be sometimes. I was interested in everything that you’re working on and I was excited to have you on the show. I know we covered a lot of ground and a lot of people want to know how they could find out more. I’m sure they’re looking for speakers or maybe they want to be a speaker, how can they find you, Pam?
They can find everything at PamPerryPR.com. My podcast and blog is there. They can download the video that I talk about, the 7 things that the media want in order to be a good guest. That is important because it’s natural for you and I, it’s like, “These are the things that people need,” but then if you’ve never been in this field, it’s like, “What do they want?” I even explained what is a good bio? I don’t want your bio to sound like an obituary. It needs to have a little bit more excitement to it. Some people when they write a bio, they don’t know what a good bio sounds like and it sounds like an obituary. “I was born in.” We’re all born so you can lose those words. The website is the best place to find everything, even the magazine.
I hope everybody takes some time to explore your site, Pam. This was so much fun. Thank you so much for being on the show.
Thank you, Diane. I enjoyed talking with you. This was fun. It felt like therapy.
I’d like to thank Pam for being my guest. We get so many great guests on the show. If you’ve missed an episode or two out of the 1,100 or more people I’ve interviewed, you can find them at DrDianeHamilton.com. There’s a wealth of information there. I hope you enjoyed this episode and I hope you join us for the next episode of Take The Lead radio.
- Speakers Magazine
- Willie Jolley – Previous Episode
- Ready Set Go Speak
- Vernice Armour – Previous Episode
- Chicken Soup for the Soul
- Chicken Soup for the Soul: I’m Speaking Now
- Learning to Be
- Mark Victor Hansen – Previous Episode
About Pam Perry
Pam Perry is an award-winning communications professional and publisher of Speakers Magazine. She teaches and mentors authors, speakers and entrepreneurs how to build a platform and attract major media and clients. After working with Pam, her clients have been featured on CNN, TBN, The Word Network, Radio One, Oprah Magazine, Tom Joyner Morning Show, Essence, Ebony, Black Enterprise, PBS – and many other major media outlets. Her clients have been offered major publishing contracts, created successful full-time careers as “authorpreneurs” earning six-figures.
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