Raj Girn: My goal is to provide you with a high-level understanding of what PR specialists are doing today to get traction for their clients in a series entitled Today’s The Best Public Relations Strategies to Create Business Growth Online. To help me do this my guest today is the co-founder of Otter PR, Jay Feldman.
Otter PR is an international media relations firm located in Florida, which has worked with many top thought leaders, experts and companies like Bitcoin of America to launch viral media campaigns and help them grow that public profile across all media channels. Jay himself is an osteopathic medical doctor, investor and serial entrepreneur who, in addition to owning multiple seven-figure businesses, is the host of the popular ‘Mentors Collective’ podcast. And he’s been featured in ‘Business Insider,’ entrepreneur.com and ‘International Business Times,’ to name a few.
Here is Part One of our conversation:
Please welcome to the show the multitalented Jay Feldman. Sweetheart, what a pleasure to have you on the show.
Jay Feldman: Raj, thank you so much for that introduction. Very excited to be here with you today and talk about public relations and the media and hoping to offer a lot of value for your audience. So thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to get into it with you today.
Brilliant. So let’s just jump right in. I want to start by just kind of prefacing my first question to you. The public relations field has changed drastically with the advent of new media and social media, as we know, being added to traditional media platforms as a way of getting awareness to the public. There are now infinite opportunities to be seen, heard and recognized. And this accessibility has made hiring a publicist more affordable today, thus closing the gap on who gets to become a household name, which was once only for entertainment personalities, sports stars, politicians and corporations.
The diversification of available platforms has resulted in the democratization of public reach. And this is what I want to really tap in to today in your expertise so that everyone watching, listening and reading this can understand truly how viable this opportunity is and accessible that it is for business growth. My first question for you, Jay, is for the uninitiated, what are the benefits of hiring a publicist to handle your brand awareness campaign?
Sure. And this is just a preface. I am one of the co-founders of Otter PR. We are a medium-sized public relations agency. We specialize in getting companies and thought leaders like yourself organic coverage across all media channels. And like you said, media has changed drastically since our parents were in business or trying to become subject-matter experts. People used to consume media on TV. There were several channels, and they would read magazines, and they would read newspapers. Now, like you said, media is everywhere. It surrounds us. The forms of media are different. We’ve got social media right now. What we’re doing on this podcast is media. There’s so much opportunity to reach new audiences and utilizing other people’s media channels.
Now, a lot of us control our own media channels such as this, such as social media. So the benefit in hiring a publicist, whether you are a thought leader, whether you’re a company, whether you’re a startup, is kind of twofold. And I get into this multiple times a day on sales calls and marketing strategies and things like that. So essentially it comes down to two things. You’ve got traffic. You want to get in front of new audiences and drive people to your company. You can either pay for it or you can get organically placed in front of their audiences using something like PR, utilizing those media channels. That’s exactly what this is.
The second benefit to doing PR is you get to borrow authority from that other media channel. For example, you mentioned that I was featured in ‘Business Insider.’ ‘Business Insider’ has built nearly 100 years of trust and authority with their readers, with their audience. People immediately know what that is. As soon as you see my name alongside ‘Business Insider,’ you automatically have a rapport with it because you associate the two. The same thing is to be said with doing a podcast interview with a leading expert in their field, they’re asking you questions on your expertise. Now you’re all of a sudden framed as an expert. There’s no other form of marketing that can say the same. It drives organic traffic ideally forever. And it also helps build that social proof, that authority and that trust by borrowing it from established institutions.
“The second benefit to doing PR is you get to borrow authority from that other media channel.” ~Jay Feldman
Absolutely, and it’s really interesting that that was what you wanted to lead with today, because another thing that a lot of people don’t quite get right or perhaps they don’t really understand how it works is how do you put together a good strategy in today’s world, bearing in mind that there are so many different channels that you can go to. Like what would be the basic architecture that someone would need to know about good PR strategy?
That’s a great question and it’s one that we get often. I do want to start by saying that just like marketing, not every PR strategy is going to be one-size-fits-all. Your strategy coming to me as a thought leader, trying to, whether it drives the audience to your social channels or your podcast or into your courses, is going to be drastically different than, like you mentioned, Bitcoin of America, one of our more corporate clients. Their strategy is going to be very different. So it’s catered specifically for that person, what their goals are and where I think they’ll get the most out of PR.
So from a thought leader perspective, what are your goals that are going to drive people to your platforms, your channels, make them followers of you, make them want to consume more of you and eventually purchase your books, purchase your courses, purchase your all-encompassing events? Whereas the goal for something like Bitcoin of America might be to raise money, it might be generate more B2B clients. So the goals are very different. It’s very important to have that contextualized when you’re talking about a strategy and the media platforms that we pitch are also very different, depending on that strategy. So for you, I wouldn’t necessarily pitch TV news at all, for example, whereas Bitcoin of America has gone viral in the news. So that worked very well for them.
So in talking about strategy, it’s going to vary from person to person, from company to company. But a good media strategy generally has an ROI in mind. You want to figure out what that goal is, and then figure out what media channels are going to get that goal for you. Do you want to reach your audience directly, a specific type of person? For example, do we target industry-specific magazines or do we target generalized news publications like ‘Forbes’ where everyone reads ‘Forbes,’ whereas they might not read ‘Artificial Intelligence Daily.’ It’s a very specific thing for a very specific goal. So I would hate to give you an answer that’s a blanket statement. So let’s just go with thought leader. I want to talk about a thought leader because those are pretty much the same strategies all around. And I love pitching them and I love helping them.
“A good media strategy generally has an ROI in mind. You want to figure out what that goal is, and then figure out what media channels are going to get that goal for you.” ~Jay Feldman
What we like to do for our thought leader clients is, one, focus on digital. And in digital I mean feature articles on that person. So a feature article serves a couple of purposes. Their names are in the title. So it’s so optimized to rank on Google when someone searches for them, which is an instant authority builder to drive some organic traffic and it helps with verification. We also like to get them contributing to media outlets, not just featured in them, not just mentioned in them, but actually writing, contributing their expertise to those outlets and outlets like ‘Forbes’ and ‘Entrepreneur’ have really good programs to allow contributors. I write for ‘Entrepreneur’ every week. I get a lot of great traffic from it and a lot of our clients do as well.
Another really popular and powerful media strategy for our thought leaders is getting them booked on podcasts like this. I expect your listeners to hear what I’m saying and maybe want to learn a little bit more about our PR company and want to talk to me, and that’s a great lead funnel. And there’s no reason why everyone shouldn’t have a podcast strategy. Someone who’s pitching to podcast hosts and knows what those hosts are looking for is very important too. The next most important thing, especially as thought leaders evolve, is getting those bigger and more authoritative opportunities like getting on stage, speaking, or even getting interviewed on a TV segment. So that, I think, makes a very good overall PR strategy. I think you can get a lot of ROI from that, and I think you can close a lot of new clients, especially with the podcast and with the contributorship strategy.
Oh, my gosh, absolutely. It kind of begs a ton of other questions. But let me take you in this direction next, Jay. How does good PR help to elevate the brand’s credibility with the public? Let’s kind of really hone in on that, because this marketing strategy, the sales strategy, this client retention strategy and PR is a specific strategy also. So just let me ask you that again. How does good PR help to elevate a brand’s credibility with the public?
Great question. And in a couple of ways. I think we touched on this a little bit earlier, borrowing credibility from that publication. But it goes one step further. Because especially for yourself and for subject-matter experts in various subjects. Who calls them a subject-matter expert? What makes them an expert? It’s the communication of that outlook about them as an expert, mentioning them, asking them questions on their expertise, interviewing them on their expertise that helps them build authority, when people are put into that light, where they are looked at as an expert, trusted as an expert. And the only way to do that is the media. That’s how you build authority.
PR is used today to create a public profile for pretty much all types of brands — you know this you worked with so many — business, charity, political, social, religious and personal. There are numerous reasons why brands incorporate PR strategy today and what I found to be the main ones are people-driven PR strategies and company business related ones. So I want to ask you this. Is there a difference between the two when you go to market? And I know you’ve already said there’s no blanket way of creating PR strategy. But if you were to look at people brands versus company brands, are there any benchmarks you can share in terms of how PR strategy may be different for one versus the other?
Sure. And I will also preface with this. With most of the companies that we work with, a big part of that strategy incorporates their spokesperson, their CEO, because there’s generally a reason that they started that company and people are working with them. It’s typically because they have the expertise to have started a company around it. In that’s generally where we’re most successful in getting PR for that company is around their spokesperson. And addition, most of the PR opportunities that we have for that company directly involve the spokesperson. They’re the ones being interviewed. They’re the ones asking questions.
But in general, if we’re talking about running PR for a personal brand or PR for a company, the big difference there is going to be is this company doing anything that’s really game-changing and interesting. Usually, the answer is no. When the answer is no, the plan doesn’t change much. We run the PR campaign for their CEO, for their founder, for their spokesperson, not about the company. However, when we do have a really interesting company who’s innovating, such as Bitcoin of America, such as Deep Sentinel, who we’ve worked with, that’s really got ground-breaking technology, a really cool new idea for an app. They’re really giving back. Charities and non-profits are great as well.
“In general, if we’re talking about running PR for a personal brand or PR for a company the big difference there is going to be is this company doing anything that’s really game-changing and interesting.” ~Jay Feldman.
If we can get journalists and reporters interested in what the company’s doing, not just the CEO, then that changes the PR strategy. But in general and most of the work that we do is around the thought leader, the brains behind the company, the spokesperson, the CEO. That’s what people are interested in. People are rarely interested in companies unless that company is really the change in the game, which is more rare than you think.
Absolutely. And it’s interesting, you just said something that I want to make sure that people hone in on. And this is the whole idea of using PR to help humanize your company. I think that’s a key factor here that I’d like everyone to take away. Is there anything you want to add to that Jay?
Yeah and it’s especially relevant in 2021 and this past decade, having a company with a face has been a non-negotiable. If you have a company without a face, I just think you’re going to face a lot of challenges and trust and rapport with your clients. You’re going to face a lot of trouble marketing and you’re not going to be a good potential client to work with someone like me. I would rarely take on a company who does not have a spokesperson who isn’t doing something really ground-breaking. And typically those ground-breaking companies also have a pretty ground-breaking spokesperson. So for those of you who want to be the man behind the curtain, it’s possible, sure, you can do it. But if you’re listening to this episode and you want to do that this strategy is probably not going to work very well for you.
For someone looking to add PR strategy to that go-to-market strategy. What’s the process that your company takes them through? Because you just kind of slightly touched upon that. But let’s go there now, Jay.
Sure. So imagine you were a new sales prospect that I was talking to. What is the process for how we actually get that media coverage for you? And we like to take on clients who already have a successful business. It makes the relationship much easier. You know what you’re selling, you know who you are. And that makes our job a lot easier as well. As soon as you come on with us, we do intake and intake is figuring out who you are, who your brand is, what you believe in, and what story can we possibly pull out of that, that the media is actually going to be interested in hearing. And that’s something that I try and pull out during our sales calls, too, because it’s very hard for us to do our job if there’s not a story that we think we can run with.
If you’re not doing something that the media is going to find interesting, that people can relate to, it’s going to be very hard to work with you. So that’s step one. Is there something to work with? Step two, make sure that everything that you’re doing is aligned and objective. So make sure that you’re communicating your message correctly on your website, your social media. Make sure that you know who your client is, who your ideal audiences. And then figure out who in our media network, because we’re a team of about 35. We’ve got publicists who have been in the industry 20+ years who are really tied into the journalists and reporters across the world at different top-ranking media outlets.
So whose conversation can you slide into to get some really good, easy wins upfront? And that’s all week one. It’s kind of who are we, and who are we going to start pitching to? And then week two, it’s all about pitching new audiences and talking to these reporters and journalists. So we figure out who the audience is. We write that pitch, get that pitch approved, and that pitch is: Here’s Raj. Here’s what she has to offer. Here’s the audience that she’s bringing to the table. Here’s questions that she can answer and here’s what she’s doing. And we’re not just trying to get something out of these reporters or journalists. We’re trying to give them something. And that’s really the way that we have to look at it and the way that we’ve been very successful after that. It’s usually just hitting the ground running with opportunities, scheduling and using prior opportunities to launch into new opportunities.
And those opportunities can span across all of the media channels. And you never know what is going to come across your desk and when. Sometimes we’ve got really amazing success stories in the first two weeks. Sometimes it takes three months to really break through the glass ceiling. But if you’ve got a good story generally and a good publicist and good and reasonable connections to utilize, it’s just a matter of time. And PR is one of those things where it’s harder to track our why. It’s harder to see what goes on behind the scenes. There’s a lot of factors out of our control. But again, it’s one of those things if you keep hitting it, eventually you’re going to break through, you’re going to land, clients are going to land that one big opportunity where the one person hears you and it jumps you into the next opportunity. So it really is an exciting form of marketing that we love.
“PR is one of those things where it’s harder to track our why. It’s harder to see what goes on behind the scenes. There’s a lot of factors out of our control” ~Jay Feldman
So for anyone that hasn’t gotten it from what you just said, Jay, how is your company different from other companies that are servicing the same sectors with PR? Like what do you guys do that maybe is a little bit more innovative, diverse? There’s a lot of PR companies out there that generally have the same kind of benchmarks. So, just can you share that a little bit with everyone?
I would love to. And I kind of got my foot in the door with PR back living in New York City, working with some of the bigger firms, seeing how they operate and what they do. And the traditional PR agency, for those of you who have looked into it, generally do very long-term contracts. They generally charge $10,000 to $20,000 per month and generally don’t guarantee anything. And it’s a broken old system. They’re pitching to print. They’re pitching to local TV, and they don’t even think about the new media. So I think what makes us so different, and I think it’s what makes us being relatively new, we’re only two years old. Such a powerful and strong thing is because we were born in an age where the media is how it is now. And that’s how we treat our clients.
We do everything month to month. So we have full trust there. And the client is free to leave it any time. We do a structured system where most of our clients get to work with two publicists, not just one. One of them who’s got a ton of experience and then a junior publicist who’s going to be working more directly with you. And that allows us to charge significantly less than the bigger companies and do a better job because you get more one-on-one time. You get to utilize those same connections. And we also offer those guarantees that traditional agencies never do. And it’s funny when I tell a seasoned publicist that we do guarantee it’s like, “No, you can’t do guarantees.” I’m not going to take a client who doesn’t have a good story that I’m not confident I can get coverage for. And if I can’t, one month, the next month’s free. It’s really not that hard to offer a guarantee.
And so far it’s been a really powerful system in attracting new clients and growing at a great pace. And I think we operate much differently than other companies. We pitch all mediums. We get a lot of help from speaking bookers and TV bookers and a lot of different podcast hosts. And we’ve been fortunate with some of the relationships we’ve been able to build. The editor-in-chief at Entrepreneur.com is connected with us. We’re connected with a lot of great TV channels and contributors. So we’re not the only ones doing it. Sure. But I like to think that we’re doing it better and more efficiently.