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What To Expect When Hiring A PR Firm with Erin Saxton
I’m excited to have a special guest. I want to remind you to go over to www.PromoteProfitPublishQuiz.com and find out where your platform skills are at before you launch a book, product or service. My guest is Erin Saxton. Erin Saxton is a Global Director, media spokesperson, a brand developer, and public relations as well as a producer. She has a lot of hats on. Erin Saxton founded her firm, Eleven Communications, in response to the industry need for new marketing, strategic yet multifaceted, precise communications.
Erin is best known for her connections and expertise in taking an idea and joining that idea with an instrumental plan and team to consult, connect and direct the plan forward. Eleven Communications continues her track record of successfully having campaigns that hit the mark and stay on top. She’s a multi-Emmy-nominated TV producer and has long been on the receiving end of PR pitches, having worked on shows that include The View, Barbara Walters Specials and Good Morning America. Through that extensive experience, she carved a niche for consulting on and executing effective PR and marketing campaigns.
On leaving The View, Saxton launched her own marketing agency aptly named the Idea Network and ran the company successfully for several years. At the Idea Network, Erin led the national media strategy for notables like Jack Canfield who at last count sold over 500 million books. In July 2011, she merged companies with Kodak’s former Chief Executive Officer, Jeffrey Hayzlett. Together they have grown into TallGrass Public Relations. With her launch of full-service integrated communications and consulting agency, she’s now back on her own. Her knowledge extends across B2B and B2C markets. She is actively involved in associations and events delivering keynote addresses as an expert in her field to audiences around the country.
She is known to have a proven track record delivering repeated successes to her client, whether medium to small businesses or corporations. Her client roster is the who’s who of blue-chip companies, thought leaders, CEO, experts and inventors. She’s worked with all of them placing clients and their products on leading platforms like Ellen, the Today Show, Tonight Show. Erin’s insider perspective and extensive professional network efforts afford clients the leverage to achieve their professional goals. You and I talked about you coming on and talking a little bit about expectations when hiring a PR firm. We hear much about, “I hired this firm and I expect to be in every major magazine and on every single channel and it hasn’t happened.”
PR costs a ton of money. The people that are doing PR, if done well, are earning every single cent of that campaign because it’s telemarketing, it’s smile and dial. You can’t have any ego in it. When you’re the person calling, you’re selling it. You have to have thick skin or you have to have great contacts. I don’t have a thick skin, but I do have great contacts and it’s the only way I survived once I left Barbara. Oddly enough, you also need a thick skin to be in the media. I still didn’t have a thick skin. It’s because I was like, “I need everyone to like me.” I was like Rose on Golden Girls. I wanted to be Blanche Devereaux. After my divorce, I was. I was like, “I need everyone to like me and this and that.” I’m still a little bit like that to the point where I needed to start to answer your question. I needed to start managing expectations because first taking on clients, I was like, “I’ll call my friends this, this and this.” Within an hour they had the Today Show, they had Ellen and something else, all my best friends. It was a great client. Jack Canfield was like Oprah and this and that.
Everybody else thought I would be getting them the same results. Out of the ten national shows, I got them to national placements and they were like, “When are we doing the eight more?” I was like, “What?” They were like, “You’re pitching ten obviously. You’re getting ten.” I was about to think maybe you’re going to send me a nice Harry and David pear tray for Christmas because I knocked it out of the park. The silence over the phone when they were told, “Honestly, because of booking complications and booking wars or whatever, two out of ten, we might be done.” I was mad at myself because I didn’t manage their expectations correctly. Instead of being psyched and thinking I was amazing, which I needed that at the time more than the paycheck. I’m fine with the paycheck and I’m okay if you don’t all like me.
Back in the day, if somebody is being displeased, I was having real parental issues. I went to therapy for it at Landmark. I was like, “This is getting in the way of everything. I’m sorry.” Now I tell everybody for the past many years that you can expect 0% to 10% return on pitching because I don’t ever want to be paid hourly. If I charge $500 an hour, that is my rate in theory. It’s obnoxious and high. If I imagine for that one call for Jack Canfield, I got Oprah and the Today Show in 45 minutes, I’m not even getting $500 and I got two national placements. Luckily, I never charged by the hour. I now say 10% of return on booking, 0% to 10%. I’m not sure. Sometimes, I’m more at 5%. In other words, any agency, they could probably cover that spread. If I’m pitching a hundred shows, maybe we’ll get you on ten. They might be little cable shows. That’s a nicer way to manage their expectations. The zero is in there too. Out of 100 shows, you’re still maybe only going to get two when they might still be little mini cable shows. You have to know that.
What training does it take? If you look at my audience with their books and their products and services, they have this expectation they will get on that show and talk and it would be amazing. It’s a short clip and they need to be trained. Is that accurate?
Unlike what I’m doing, everybody should be media trained. My brand isn’t short sound bites. You don’t hang out with me because you like quick conversations and moments. That’s not my brand. I’m okay with that. I give great phone and great TV. I’m old now. I’m to the point where you want to let her talk. I’m like the George Burns of whatever. When you get on TV, if you’re sitting across from whomever, you want to come out of the gate with eight seconds. My first eight seconds with you, I asked you if I was wearing too much perfume. That tells your audience, “This woman will say anything on camera and she’s a wacko.” I listened to a diatribe of her bio. She’s probably smart too. I may have to stick around because I don’t know what this chick’s going to do next.
They could stalk you to find out what perfume you wear.Talking in simple sound bites is key. Click To Tweet
Either way, but that’s building a following. I’ll do anything to build my platform. Talking in simple sound bites is key.
Can you give us an example of that?
I talked in a simple sound bite and you were like, “I’m uncomfortable with this. I need Erin to give me more.” You need to figure out what you want to do. What do we want your audience to do that are reading this? I don’t know because I’m a giver and I’m here to impart knowledge, but we want them to sign up for something. We want them to listen to more of your podcasts. We want them to enroll in your programs and by you, then they get to me. We want to help people find their lane. Just because you’re getting interviewed by someone finally, you still have to remember why you want to be interviewed. It’s past the narcissistic point of, “I want to be famous,” which I’m not judging. I would like to be famous too. I wear that with a great shade of lipstick and you’re fine. Past that, you still need to sell something or give them something.
Even Kardashians are tweeting and she’s getting a zillion dollars per tweet. You’ve got to figure out what your end game and it’s all in the strategy. All the work is getting done before you even get on that camera. When you get on the camera, when you get on the show, you have to stay on point. I look like I’m all over the place, but I know where I’m taking you. I’m crazy about it that you don’t know. I would rather entertain you first and teach you something, tie for first than I make a dollar or get a follower. You have to realize what your brand is.
Do you have workshops? How long does it take to train someone for these media appearances?
There are two things. There’s how to pitch the media and what to do once you get booked. We can help with both. How to pitch the media. You need to figure out what your neuro story is. Why are you doing it beyond the whole getting famous thing? Why are you doing this? Why did you create this product? Why did you come up with this book? How are you differentiating yourself amongst everybody else that did something? There’s not much uniqueness in the world these days, sadly. One of the things I would love to invite everyone to do is get over yourself.
Gone are the days where you’re like, “I created this thing.” I’m not saying it’s not done, but the technology these days, there are such little nuances of the invention that the toaster or the loaf of bread or the Pet Rock, those are few and far between now. There’s a good chance we’re all, I included, are coming out with a product or a process that is a different shade of lipstick. Let’s be honest. The first thing is truly getting over ourselves. Find out what we are doing. Find out intuitively who needs to do that with us versus somebody else with a different tribe and let’s get them going.
For me, I created a product called Mastering the Media. I was doing a Facebook group. We all jumped on these recorded Zoom calls and it’s crusty. The info is good. I even put slides up and I’m structured and we break it down into six weeks. It’s not professionally shot. Coming from a TV producer, it’s crap, but it’s good. If you want to be a voyeur and peek into my consulting six-week program would do, I recorded it and I sell it for $297. I make no bones about it. There’s almost like, “This looks like garbage.” It does because it wasn’t supposed to be glamorous. It was like, “I’m giving some good stuff.” Behind the scenes my teammates were going, “We need to hit record.” We went back. We recorded a few once we knew what we were doing.
It’s up there on a teachable platform. One day, I’ll make it better. Right now, that’s what it is. There are two parts. The harder part is how you are going to position who you are to this group of people, but this group of people watches all these different media and they listen and they’re not all watching the same thing. You could be appropriate for many different people. When you call the Today Show, you’ve got to talk the Today Show language. When you call CNN, it’s different. When you call Good Housekeeping, it’s a different language. It’s the same message. You are who you are at the core, but it’s how you deliver the message.
CNN, Factor, Vendetta, maybe politics. Don’t go too right wing. Today Show tied into a back to school study or whatever. If you are a book and you want to tie it into a current event and you’re with a publisher, you’re going to get in trouble, in theory, if you don’t call the book producer. A chick like me, I’ll back door that all the time because I’ll call our friends who are producers. I won’t lead with the book pitch, though I want the book. That’s my goal. As long as the author of that book is an expert and can talk about great stuff, and then they’ll be like, “Coming back, she’s the author,” but I’m not leading with it. It’s not like I’m trying to get it on a bestseller campaign or if I am, they don’t think I am. It’s the sleight of hand. I do some talks about the dark art of marketing. I try to have some fun with it, but that’s what it is. I want this to be plugged, but I’m going to scream out here you don’t see me getting this involved. Not every PR person thinks that way because they’ve never been in the media. I know how to get things in.You are who you are at the core and it’s the same message, but how you deliver the message is what makes the difference. Click To Tweet
I want to make a point here about something you said about the program is not polished. That’s another expectation I’m going to share. We all look at the media as this glamorous place, this glamorous thing. I have been on ad shoots where we have spent two or three completely boring, tedious, awful days shooting a commercial. I can tell you that from the reel side of it, it’s not glamorous at all. The fact that you shared that it’s rough and dirty, a lot of that business is that way. You’re getting the authentic thing there.
I am okay with doing that because as your audience has learned with me now, I like to have fun. I like to have a good time, but I take what I say when I get into tip mode seriously. I know what’s going on. It’s hard enough as it is. I’m tired of the fake and the false. I wore lipstick, but I’m fine with not. I want everybody to be real because we’re working hard on our stuff. We’re all parents, spouses, daughters, brothers, sisters, neighbors and whatever. Whoever you are, pet lovers. We all have many things going on in our lives that if we all wait until we look perfect, it’s never going to happen for me.
I thought if I can help people, I’ll just put it up there. You don’t have to email me saying it looks like crud. That’s the point. I wanted to get it out in my brain. The managing of expectations is important because we are working. A lot of us have two jobs and we take what we’ve earned here and we spend it here. We’re realizing we’re limited. We don’t know how to market. We don’t know how to digital market. We don’t know what you do. We don’t know how you do it. I’m in our audience right now. I need Juliet or I need Erin or I need whatever.
I’m going to take what I’ve worked hard for and I’m going to make that investment. That doesn’t mean, ladies and gentlemen, that you’re off the hook. It means you’ve hired help. That doesn’t mean you’ve hired Superman or Houdini. It doesn’t mean there’s a guarantee because you’ve now second mortgaged your house and I cannot believe I hear people do that. They tell themselves this fairy tale like, “I’m going to take a second, third mortgage. I’m going to dip into my kids’ college fund because I believe so much in this book.” Stop it. That’s awful. I’m not even saying you’re a bad parent. I’m saying you’re a dodo head because there’s no guarantee. Why do that? I spend money like a crazy person.
Physically, I’m not responsible. For me to say it, that’s a warning. Don’t go and hire these people and they’re going to try their best. All intents and purposes, the people you’re hiring, the Juliets, the Erins, the Seans, the Theresas. They’re all good people, in theory. Some of them aren’t. In earnest, no one wants to take your money and fail in theory. I hope you’re all vetting out the people you try to hire. You should then go to a casino and not even put it on red or black because it’s never that cut or dry. Take $100,000 and put it on number thirteen and we’ll see what happens.
What’s the other end of it? We’ve covered the booking.
Clearly, you can do it yourself, but you have to trust it. When you’re ready to be on camera, then that’s called media training. I have a lot of great friends that do that professionally. You can sit on video, you can do mock interviews. One good interview gets you a lot. This is what we can talk about. I have been approached by a book publisher to do interviews with their authors. It’s a small paid thing. This isn’t a plug. I don’t want any business from them. I’m sharing with you what publishers are now starting to do. They know I’ve done thousands of interviews and they’re like, “You’ve done this for Barbara. I’m saying do it for us. We’ll pay you per author or the author will pay. You’re going to look at that and maybe read their book. Come up with interviews, questions. You’re going to take the best interview parts. You’re going to talk to them. You’re going to film an interview. They’ll come to your in-home studio, which I have one, or we’ll do a split screen. We’re going to media train them first and we’re going to have a ta-da interview. My PR people can take that interview and get a bigger fish with this bait.”
Your first interview is important or having one interview that’s good because not everybody knows how to ask questions that will make you look good, which will sell your book, which will get you then on the Today Show. The importance of media training when you finally do get that booking, whether it’s on a video podcast, like our stuff we all do or the Today Show or local is you need to look the part, dress, sound the part. You need to speak the part and there are stages to it. Right down to mirroring the host what they’re wearing. A guy was on Anderson Cooper and I noticed Anderson has a tie on, the other guest has a tie on and the other guy had no tie, sport coat and the shirt. His makeup looked weird, which isn’t his fault. Somebody airbrushed it and I could see because of the angle. I saw him pale here and orange here. I couldn’t stop looking between that and the no tie. I’m not sure I heard what he said.
I’ve been noticing that. I won’t say what channel I listened to, but funky hair like, “What did you do to her hair?” You’re focusing on that hair and like, “Can I reach out and fix it for you instead of listening to what you’re saying?”
I’m friends with a lot of the makeup people on shows. A great friend of mine works at Good Morning America. What I know to be true, and this could have happened here is they have on a different shirt and they don’t want to get it. They put it on, but then the whole line is different. People are not thinking. In a show like that where you’re in DC or you’re in New York and whatever, it’s not a spa day. They’re like, “You’re going in.” It’s because they’re there to help enhance who you already are, you have to go what you think is makeup ready and then they take it to the next level. If you’re wearing a tiny print, know it’s going to jump on camera. We’re not even talking about what you’re going to say. We’re talking all this about how you look, which sounds crazy, but it’s true. It’s a factor.One good interview gets you a lot. Click To Tweet
I want to know how early you have to go in to get your eyelash refill.
You get maintenance every two weeks.
I know that because I have mine done. It looks like they redo their eyelashes every day.
They probably do. On the daytime talk shows, they probably have eyelash as I do, but then they put on strips like it’s Betty Boop sometimes there. Everybody does it differently. We should book Elena George on your show to talk about doing makeup for on-camera appearances for your audience.
This has been helpful. I want to hear more about your Mastery Media Program. Where can people get it? What is it all about? I want you to speak about it.
I love it because it’s genuine. I love it because it’s not expensive. I love it because everybody can follow along and learn at their own pace. It’s raw. In the video, I’ll say, “Everybody submit your homework to me by Thursday.” I’m not checking homework anymore. I’m doing that. Somebody signed up for the class and they were calling me. They were like, “I’m on Thursday’s call. Where is everyone?” I was like, “That’s a recording. I’m not doing it.” That’s me learning. That’s me setting up my own expectations like everyone knew because I put on a little banner. I’m human too. I love it. We do six modules. Each one is an hour plus long. There are question and answers on Thursdays that were videotaped.
This group of people, I love them. There’s a product manufacturer. There was a plus-sized model in there. There’s a journal book creator. It’s eclectic of a group. You had left brains, right brains. Maybe no brains. They brought a diverse think tank to the table. I like it a lot. It’s MasteringTheMedia101.com. Anybody can reach out to me and send me a message on Facebook, Erin Saxton is that. Everybody can reach out to me normally or through your show. Let’s start bringing traffic through yours and then you can send them to me. I’ll make you an affiliate.
We’re running fast that we have an expectation also that, “It will work out,” and it will because we’re friends. We need to slow down and we also need to manage our expectations truly. Everybody, don’t try for the Today Show right away because what could happen? You could get on, which I know is great, but if you’re not ready, then you’re going to blow that one chance and they’re not going to book you multiple times. Don’t tell yourself a fairy tale. You’re not going to go on, and then they fall in love with you and you’re going to be this recurring guest.
One time I was with Barbara Walters, prior to Aaron Spelling passing away. That was a long time ago. It was the days of Melrose Place. I was the youngest one on Barbara’s production staff and I was sitting in Aaron Spelling’s office and there was a picture of Tori Spelling as a little girl. I was thinking, “Aaron, you know you want me on the show. I’m about to say something awesome and you’re going to be like, ‘Barbara, I can’t see anybody. I love this girl. She’s cute. She’s 22 years old.’” That man didn’t even look at me. I don’t want to shock you and ruin the ending, but I’m 48. This was when I was 22. I’m sure he’s not calling me.
Fast forward the next day, we were there to interview Heather Locklear. I’m in Heather’s kitchen with her then-husband, Richie Sambora. Richie and I are both from New Jersey and I happened to be on the boardwalk when Bon Jovi was creating their first music video. We were all kids, so were they. We were all there and I was like, “Who’re these dorks making this video?” It turns out it was Bon Jovi. I was telling Sambora the story and I was telling Heather like, “Honestly, you missed out.” She was like, “What happened?” I was like, “I was right there. I could have been your chunky younger cousin on Melrose Place and from college or something.” Aaron Spelling was short sided at this moment that you’ve lost out Heather, and Richie, you did too.
Erin, thank you much. It’s always fun chatting with you and having it go all over the place.
Truly, I am here to help. Anybody who needs me, call you and call me or whatever. We’ll get it done for you.
You can find her on Facebook. Thank you.
- Eleven Communications
- Idea Network
- TallGrass Public Relations
- Erin Saxton – Facebook page
About Erin Saxton
Erin Saxton founded her firm, eleven Communications, in response to an industry need for a new kind of marketing: strategic yet multi-faceted precision communications. Saxton is best known for her connections and expertise in taking an idea and joining that idea with an instrumental plan and team to consult, connect, and direct the plan forward. eleven Communications continues her track record of successfully having a campaign hit the mark—and stay at the top.
A multi Emmy-nominated TV producer, Ms. Saxton has long been on the receiving end of PR pitches, having worked on shows that include The View, Barbara Walters Specials, and Good Morning America. Through that extensive experience, she carved a niche for consulting on and executing effective PR and Marketing campaigns. On leaving The View, Saxton launched her own marketing agency, aptly named The Idea Network, and ran the company successfully for 12 years. At The Idea Network, Erin led the national media strategy for notables like Jack Canfield, who at last count has sold 500 million books.
In July of 2011, Saxton merged companies with Kodak’s former Chief Marketing Officer, Jeffrey Hayzlett; together, Saxton and Hayzlett grew Tallgrass Public Relations.
With her recent launch of a full service integrated communications and consulting agency, Saxton is now back on her own. Her knowledge extends across B2B and B2C markets, and she is actively involved in associations and events, delivering keynote addresses as an expert in her field to business audiences around the country. Known to have a proven track record of delivering repeated successes to her clients, whether small-to-medium businesses or corporations, her client roster is a who’s who of blue-chip companies, thought leaders, CEO’s, experts and inventors. She has worked with them all—placing clients and their products on leading media platforms like Ellen, The Today Show, and The Tonight Show. Saxton’s insider perspective and extensive professional network afford clients the leverage to achieve their professional goals in the global marketplace.
Four-time Emmy Nominated Television Producer
Leading Women Entrepreneurs & Business Owner of 2011 – New Jersey Monthly Magazine
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