Transcription of Make It Happen Radio Show with Peter Shankman on PR, Marketing & Why NICE Companies Finish First

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Click if you’d like to download and listen the show. Original air date: March 25, 2013

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Michelle: Today on the show, we have expert Peter Shankman who is the founder of Help A Reporter Out, also known as HARO. He was one of the first people that I ever followed on Twitter when I signed up in the fall of 2008. HARO is the largest free resource repository for journalists in the world. He is also the founder and CEO of the Geek Factory, a 15-year-old marketing, branding and PR company that’s based in New York City with clients worldwide. His PR and social media clients have included American Express, Sprint, The U.S. Department of Defense, the Royal Bank of Canada, Snapple, Walt Disney World, Discovery Networks and so many more. He is also the author of Can We Do That? which has been named as one of the six must read PR books by PR channel, a book I’ve also read and highly recommend for PR especially for entrepreneurs who are looking to make a big splash and find creative ways to do that.

His next book, Customer Service: New Rules for a Social Media World, are all about really making sure that you are putting the right things out there and helping you really make connections with your clients. He has a new book coming out on April 2 that we’ll be talking about on the show today in a little bit that I’m looking forward to reading when it comes out on April 2 called Nice Companies Finish First: Why Cutthroat Management is Over, and Collaboration is In. I’m looking forward to talking to him about that as well. He’s a frequent speaker and has presented at such venues as Southwest, BlogWorld, The Public Relations Society of America and so many others. I was lucky enough to see him here in Salt Lake City where he spoke at the Social Media Club for Salt Lake City just a few weeks ago, and was a great experience.
Peter’s just as real as he is online as he is in person, and that’s one of the reasons why I was drawn to him to have him be on the show. So, Peter, welcome.
Peter:        Thank you. It’s great to be here.
Michelle:    I’m so excited to have you. Thank you so much for being with us. I’m sure we’ll talk about a number of conversations today but one of the things I want to talk about first is public relations in terms of the things you’ve seen change over the last few years and how you feel like even small businesses can make a mark using public relations, and simple things they can do today to kind of get started in that area if it’s not a source of strength for them.
Peter:    Yes, I mean no. The funny thing about PR and this is what kills me. The concept of PR from like PR firms and the way it’s described hasn’t changed in 50 years, when sadly everything else in the world has. The problem with that of course, is that you wind up a little bit behind the times. I have the belief that PR no longer stands for public relations. PR stands for personal recommendation and the basis behind that is that 50 years ago you communicated with the world, if you were a company you communicated with the world by taking out ads, you know the Mad Men era, by getting articles in the newspaper. When you did that, these people would believe what you were posting, because that’s the only way they knew how. We’ve moved today into the world of personal recommendations.
Peter Shankman & Michelle McCulloughEveryone’s connected, everyone can upload any experience they have, positive and negative, immediately. I can give you tons of examples of how those experiences when shared with your own network actually drive new customers and revenue to the company. It’s not so much a ‘Hey, let me tell you awesome how everything is about us,’ but rather, ‘Hey, let me do something cool for you and I’ll let you tell everyone how awesome we are.’
Michelle:    Right, and I love that. I think that’s a great definition for PR. My educational background is in PR, though I’m a college dropout, but when I was looking trying to decide I’m I going to do marketing, or advertising, or PR, PR was the only one that didn’t make me take accounting class, so I went for that. I loved it and thought it was great, and one of the things I tell my clients right now or even like I’m speaking at an entrepreneur event I’ll ask the question, how many of you would love a whole bunch of free public relations for your business. Every hand goes up, like everybody wants media, everyone wants to be on the cover of a magazine or featured on a top blog, but I also feel like with the social media age we all have the opportunity to be the media ourselves, and put out blog posts, and put out good content, newsworthy stories in a way that’s not sales-y than we have ever really had the opportunity before. Do you agree with that principle, and what are something that people can do with their own media outlets to make sure that they are getting that personal recommendation flowing in a way that they can even control and kind of manage?
Peter:    The key thing is to understand that if you are a business, if you are a customer-facing business whatever you do good or bad, is going to be talked about. It’s as simple as, go on and look on Twitter for tweets about an airline, any airline in the past hour. What you wind up seeing is all these people who are either complaining about how the flight was late. Every once in a while you get a good one that says, “Hey, my flight was on time,” or “Hey, I got upgraded. This is awesome.” The problem is, is that the majority of them are, “Hey, this airline sucks,” “Hey, I’m three hours late,” “Hey, they bumped me off the flight.”
People always talking about you, and what I think a lot of companies don’t realize is that they have the power to determine whether the people talking about them are talking positively or negatively. If they just look at that from a customer service point of view, they find that half their marketing doesn’t even need to be done. Before they go out and they spend $500,000 on a media budget, or they hire a $10,000-a-month PR firm they need to understand that there are tons of ways to get free publicity, things like Help A Reporter Out, obviously, and they’ve felt that that media will always need you and you can always get in the press. Again, a lot of what PR is coming down to now is the fact that you do small little things for your customers. Look, we are a society that expects to be treated like crap. Let’s just get that out there right now.
We go to McDonald’s, we order a diet Coke, you expect them to give us a regular Coke because you know what? At six bucks an hour, what do they care? We go to a dry cleaner’s, because they say our stuff’s going to be ready at Thursday 10am it’s not ready until Friday at 1pm. We expect, in this society, to be treated like crap. Treat your customers one level above crap. It doesn’t even have to be good. It doesn’t even have to be good. Just one level above crap and they’ll be amazed by it. Treat them well. Do something fun! Go out of their way, go out of way … a perfect example is you know a Holiday Inn you expect maybe my room will be available because I made a reservation, maybe they won’t have cancelled it. Imagine if you walked in and they say, “Welcome, Mr. so and so. Here’s a hot towel. You must have been traveling for a long time. Here’s a hot towel to make you feel better.” There service has calmed us. [Inaudible 0:10:33]. What would it cost them to keep a bunch of hot towels there, to give you one, and let you wash your wash as you’re checking in. you’d be amazed by that.
I was at Ritz Carlton in Dubai about a month ago and I come back to my room after a full day of meetings, I’m exhausted, and I see a note on my bathroom counter. “Mr. Shankman, we saw you left your toothpaste out on the counter, and we noticed that you were running low. I’ve taken the liberty to go to the store and replace your tube with a new bottle of Crest. No charge because we know you have a busy schedule.” I was floored by that. It cost them what? 39 cents? Well, 500 likes later, because of course, I took a photo of it, 500 likes later, 56 shares I find out from the PR team that they can trace back two reservations they got that day from that photo. Reservations at the Ritz Carlton are not cheap. You are looking at they probably made 2,500, three grand, 4,000, 5,000 off a 39-cent tube of toothpaste. Let’s face it.
If the PR you are doing, and the marketing you are doing doesn’t tie back to revenue, you are doing it wrong.
Michelle:    Totally, and so many people that are out there and spinning their wheels, and clients that are calling me wanting marketing help, and I’m like what are you doing right now and they are like, “I spend lots of time on Facebook,” and I love that we have at our finger tips like now more than ever. When I was in college we didn’t have the internet. We were talking about all sorts of traditional media and so now we have lots of things that we can do that are free and inexpensive but they do take your time. I agree with you that that litmus test for marketing success really has to be, and PR success isn’t making you money. Are you using your customer service to really help you turn clients into raving fans, and really it’s got to be about more than just the things that you are doing and the results you are getting.
We are going to take a break. We’ve got Peter Shankman with us, and when we get back from the break we are going to be talking more about public relations, and we’ll also be talking about his new book coming out. Stay with us. We’ll be right back in about two minutes.
[Commercial Break 0:12:31]
Michelle:    Welcome back to Make It Happen Radio. This is Michelle McCullough. We have on our show today public relations expert Peter Shankman, and we are having a great conversation about all things public relations and customer service. In this segment I want to talk specifically about businesses and how you can really make a big splash in public relations and get other companies to do the promotion for you. I’ve read Peter’s book, “Can We Do That?”, which is all about outrageous PR stunts that work. I know that a lot of small businesses think, “I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to reach out to the media and some of them do it wrong, and some of them pester the media”. My question for you is what would you suggest for any businesses, large or small, in order to really make some outrageous stunts so that other people are interested in finding the newsworthy things about your business.
Peter:    First off, a stunt for the sake of a stunt is pointless. If you are doing a stunt to say, “Hey, we are doing this to create fun.” It’s kind of pointless. You want to have a stunt that has legs. You want to do a stunt that actually benefits people. You want to do a stunt that gets people talking. It’s one thing to do something, you know, The Red Bull flight from space is an example. Obviously that’s not something that most small businesses can afford, but not only was it this incredible world record-setting jump, and as a sky diver I love that. It also provided content that Red Bull can use for the next, like, 50 years. They could post anything about that. They could show it to commercials what they are doing constantly plus it allowed a lot of people to really learn about space and learn about how aerodynamics work and they taught a lot of kids the stuff that’s being used in classrooms now.
They did a stunt that had many, many legs, and that’s really what you want to do. You want to be able to create something that has tons and tons of legs. The first rule for doing any kind of stunt: figure out who your audience is, and figure out what they like. The biggest problem I see is that companies do things that really don’t … they say, “This sounds cool,” but they really don’t ask, “Does this affect? Does this help their audience? Is this something the audience wants to see?” Figure out what your audience likes, what they think is great and how you can use that stuff to grow your audience.
Finally the recommendation in terms of a stunt maybe that, focus not on building a bigger audience but focus on the audience you have. If you focus on the audience you have that will build your audience by default because if you are able to focus on the audience you have and make the people who like you already, if you reward them for liking you they are going to tell other people. The biggest problem I see with people on Facebook and Twitter and things like that is … “Hey, the next 25 people that sign up, we’ll reach 1,000 followers. We’ll give the 1,000th follower a prize.” Well, what about the other 999 that you had? You are basically just dissing them entirely. Always focus on your audience.
Michelle:    I think that’s great advice and I also think that’s great marketing and business advice as well. It’s not just about the target market and the people that you want to attract but really think about your current customer profile because in a lot of cases those might be very different ad who you are actually attracting might be different than who you think that you want to attract, and being true and honest. Honestly my favorite thing in the whole wide world is walking into a place that knows who I am even if they don’t know my name. Like the gas station on the corner that I go to they are always like, “Hey, how are doing?” like they remember me because I was there two days ago.
Peter:    Yes.
Michelle:    Little simple things like that I think make the biggest difference but then in some of these PR stunts and the things that you can do in terms of events, or promotions, or things like that is just a matter of like you said, appreciation can go a long way. Customer appreciation is done classily and with an edge. It’s not just about the customer appreciation, and calling it something flat but doing something big that says, “Hey, listen. We appreciate your business. We know that you have a lot of choices. We know that there’s a lot of competitors but we know that you picked us and we really appreciate it.” Because I think that the gratitude in that sense goes a long way like a thank you, a simple thank you means a lot because nobody does it any more.
Peter:    Question I’ve getting. Goes back to what I said in the first part. You don’t have to be awesome. You just have to be one percent ahead of everyone else.
Michelle:    Right and I love what you said about when you travelled you always have a bunch of note cards because it’s not just about the big things you do it can also be about the little things, the customers you thank, the people that you reach out to. Just little tiny things like you talked about the hotel, and I remember going to the hotel once and checking in, and they were like, “How are you doing?” I said, “Great. Today’s my birthday. I’m travelling on business.” I went out to dinner and came back, and there was a bouquet of balloons. They didn’t need to do that but it was just one little thing that made me feel noticed, and appreciated and now I always stay at the Marriot. There’s no question, hands down.
Peter:    Yes, I mean the same thing. A perfect example, I do a lot of work for NASA. They sent me a flight suit for my baby, my upcoming kid. I’m like how awesome is that? They actually reached out. I’m a huge NASA fan anyway. Start with hotels. They’ve reached out. Basically if you are giving loyalty to a company they greatest thing you can do as a company is to say, “Thanks,” and to say, “Hey, you know what? Here’s something extra special for you because we know you have a lot of choices,” and you are right. It is about saying thank you and as I start but United Airlines is an example. I fly million miles a year on United. That’s a lot of miles. One of their global hosts, the people that deal with the high frequent travelers like me saw that I mentioned to them I was flying to London or something. I mentioned to one of them at the airport, “Yes, my parents are going to London next week. They looked up my parents and when they got on the plane, they said, “Hey, we know that your son is a frequent flyer. We want to thank you for using United as well. We hope you have a great flight.” My parent were over the moon with that.
Michelle:    Simple, little things that go a long way and you know what? That’s just kind of stuff that also spreads. I got a call after I made a purchase from GO Daddy who I don’t super love but then they called and gave me a personal phone call and I was like that’s top notch.
Peter:    Yes, no question about it.
Michelle:    Just little simple things like that can go a long way and I went on and talked about it and then I was doing PR for them by saying, “Hey, that’s great customer service,” and that’s how they are getting more traction and more things in that department. On the same subject of public relations here I also want to talk about when you were talking at the Social Media Club you also talked about using video and integrating video in the things that you do. Can you talk a little bit about how a company can simply put out some videos that will help them with press and marketing?
Peter:    Yes, I think the key thing about using video is that video is a great way to share everything. People love to watch videos. We all have the ability watch on any device now and creating fun little videos. They don’t have to be anything big. They don’t even have huge production values. Go out and buy a $150 Go Pro camera attached to the side of your truck as you delivering and show your route. Something as simple as that can be fun. You never know where you are going to get awesome video. I carry Go Pros with me everywhere I go. You never know what’s going to be the next thing that you want to see. Every sky dive I do, I take video of it, I post it online. People like that stuff and it really does help to grow your brand.
I know of a food truck in Philly that actually keeps the Go Pro live to record reactions of people when they try new food. If there’s something they’ve just made, and if it’s really good they post that, and they have this collection of what they … I forget the term they use but collection of like the best happy faces from people trying something they really, really like. Something like that. It’s really simple to do really easy, and it’s not expensive at all and the processing video has gone down tremendously. You upload a video on YouTube or Vimeo they’ll automatically stabilize it for you without any work. It really is an easy way to do it. You never know what’s going to blow up.
I created a video a couple years ago after I did an Iron Man. I created a video about a conversation between someone training for an Iron Man and someone not for an Iron Man and how the person not training just could not imagine ever doing that, what’s the hell’s wrong with you and all this. It was really funny, posted it online for some friends. Two days later I look and it has over 40,000 viewers because Lance Armstrong found it and tweeted it. The thing has over 1.3 million views, added bonus I’ve made like I think four grand in revenue from YouTube’s ad sales. Video is a very, very easy way to get your message out there, and it’s interactive and people like to see it.
Michelle:    Right and we talked about as we did in the first segment about how companies have these opportunities and they really want all this press but they really can control it and do it themselves. You have your own TV channel on YouTube, and companies Aura Brush and other things that have just decided to take that into their own hands and just by being proactive in their public relations and their promotions has helped them expand their brand. Now everyone’s promoting those crazy toothbrush commercials. Blame Tech and their videos. Video can really be an easy way to ease into the market place in terms of getting yourself out there and it’s something that you can control and that’s I also think one of the great benefits of social media and technology that we have today is you can control those things.
Peter:    No doubt.
Michelle:    Okay, I think we are going to head to break here in just a couple of minutes but before we do that I want to ask you one other question about what are some of the things that you see people do online that just make you cringe that if you could go like on a 12-city tour you would just please, please stop doing that.
Peter:    Unless the place you are checking into on Foursquare has celebrities, is on fire or is in space there’s no need to connect to Twitter and Facebook about it.
Michelle:    Okay.
Peter:    That’s number one. Chances are we probably don’t care that you are having a salad for lunch and when you post anything on any social channel ask yourself, are you posting it to hear yourself talk or are you posting it because it’s beneficial for your audience. If it’s the later do it, if it’s the former ask yourself if you really want to and finally don’t post drunk. Nothing good ever comes of that.
Michelle:    Put your phone away, right. I think those are great advice and I think that you kind of touch on here a little bit of where the personal brand and the corporate brand intersect, and how you are your brand and everything that you do even if you have a personal Twitter account, or a personal Facebook account and how all those things intersect.
So, we are going to go to a break in just a minute and before we do, just for those of you who would like to connect with Peter, he has a great website called If you have never participated in HARO, Help a Reporter Out, I recommend that you sign up for those alerts so that you can figure out how to be an expert and sign up for some of the things. Like, there are journalists out there looking for people to answer their questions, and that’s one of the things I love about HARO. We haven’t really been able to jump into that yet specifically, but HARO is a great place to start to get your feet wet. That’s how I got on and Forbes. People that were looking for answers from experts that I was able to answer those things and it got me some great publicity and exposure that way.
Also like we mentioned Peter’s book is coming out on April 4. It’s awesome. You can pre-order it right now on and you can just search for Peter Shankman or also such for Nice Companies Finish First.
When we get back from the break we are going to talk a little bit more about social media with Peter Shankman. Stay with us.
[Commercial Break 0:27:27]
Michelle:    Welcome back. We are in the second half of Make It Happen radio. I am Michelle McCullough. Again, if you have ways that you’d like to reach out, if you are having insights or things that you’d love to share. We’d love to have you tweet with us. You can use the hash tag #MichelleRadio. Also, of course I’m sure that you know that you can get Peter Shankman on Twitter. He’s @PeterShankman so you reach out to him and share any insights or things that give him credit for that as well.
We’ve been talking a little bit about social media, and about self-promotion. I love Peter’s definition for self promotion, which is self-promotion is getting other people to want to do the promotion for you. That’s what we’ve been talking about today whether you are using traditional media channels or if you are using social media that can also be key but also in the subject of social media where personal brands and corporate brands intersect I’d love to get your insights on some things that you think people could be doing, and opportunities that they are not taking advantage of in social media that more people should.
Peter:    Sure. First off, one quick correction. Good self-promotion is getting people to want to do your promotion for you. Bad self-promotion is going out there and saying, “Hey, I’m awesome.” The story I always hewn a guy’s at a bar if goes up to a girl sitting at the bar and says, “You don’t know me but I’m awesome.” The girl’s probably going to throw a drink in his face and go back to talking her friend but if you are sitting there just on his iPad playing Angry Birds or whatever and her friend whom she’s known for 30 years goes up to her and says, “Oh my god. Michelle, that’s Peter Shankman. You should totally go talk to him.” Then that’s good self-promotion.
Michelle:    Excellent.
Peter:    Again, it comes down from knowing your audience and doing great things that make other people want to talk about you. In terms of social, it comes down to some of the same thing. You want to be able to share what you are doing that helps people do their jobs better. Once a month I post on Facebook and Twitter. I just did it yesterday. “Hey, what are you working on? How can I help?” simple question and then I spent the next two hours responding to anyone who asks. I’ll give them ideas, I’ll brainstorm with them, whatever but the concept of self-promotion, “Hey, look at my website. I’m doing this great thin. Look at this.” That’s not so great. You want to be able to give people stuff on social that they could use, that benefits them, that helps them that they want to share.
Michelle:    I also like your concept on social media that it’s not just about promoting all of the things that you are doing that the concept of needing to be a finder and being a new source yourself and find things that are worth sharing, so that people come to you as a new source not just for things about you and your business but also as they see you as either an expert in the industry or someone who is on top of things, and that it’s not just about promoting you all the time but really being a person who collects the good information, and then shares it.
Peter:    I’ll give you a good example. Just this morning NASA sent off a video. They did a time lapse from the International Space Station. They post on Vimeo this morning. I posted on Facebook. I’m like, “Time lapse from space. It’s really amazing.” I posted it about an hour ago 32 shares already. Those 32 people who thought my content was good enough that they wanted to share it. That’s really the best PR you can get. I posted something that other people are willing to share with their audience because they believe in it. That’s the best compliment you can get.
Michelle:    Right and I think with social media now more than ever before we can also do better evaluation about the things that people are interested in because we can track shares, we can track retweets, we can track likes. You can also pattern things, and say, “They liked this. I want to find more of these things,” and “They didn’t like this so that wasn’t as very well received.” You can customize information that you find and that you share based of off the interest that other people are showing you based of what you post.
Peter:    No question about it.
Michelle:    We talked a little bit about HARO and it’s something that you created five years ago, six years ago.
Peter:    HARO started … I launched as a Facebook group in 2007, moved over to the web in 2008.
Michelle:    Right. I think I was pretty new in those days. I reached out to you for advertising on those emails and at the time they were like 400 bucks or something and I’m sure now they are like billions or something.
Peter:    The HARO ads are a little more expensive now, yes.
Michelle:    Yes but they’ve also changed and grown, and you know that you’ve kind of changed, and grown a little bit, and you had sold HARO. What’s next for Peter Shankman and what things are you opening yourself up for, for the future.
Peter:    Like I said I talked about this earlier. I really believe that the future of PR and the future of marketing really comes down to these experiences. I believe that experience is the new current scene, and so from that I’m in the process of starting a new agency that is going to help companies big and small learn how to create these moments that are shareable, that people want to share, that allow them to grow and increase their revenue.
Michelle:    I love that. I think that’s sounds very exacting. Talk a little bit about your book that’s coming out. It’s a lot more about companies in general and collaboration. What was the big inspiration for the book and how did it come about for you?
Peter:     The concept of Nice Companies Finish First is really a simple belief. I did a lot of research into these companies. I always companies that are nice to me that I like, that do nice things for me I want to do more business with them. It basically can to a lot conclusion, “Hey, if you have this business that’s treating me nicely obviously I want to go back to it. I’m giving them my money. I wonder if they are making more money.” The more research I did, the more I found that companies that were nice, that there were these nine rules of nice whether it’s good stewardship, or treating their environment well, or treating their customers well, their employees well, or giving their employees the freedom to do nice things. Whatever it is they are actually making more money and so as I started researching these companies and talking more we found this out, and that was the impetus of the books and it’s out on April 2.
I’m really excited for it. I think it’s going to be a spectacular help to people, and some of the reviews we are getting I’m just looking because they sent me the book yesterday. I’m having the first copy in my hand.
Michelle:    Awesome.
Peter:    The book list, it’s an excellent thought provoking book for a new generation of leaders. I mean you can’t get better than that. I’m really happy to see this.
Michelle:    Awesome and I think that leadership is key and this is a great principle. Following on the same conversation that we’ve been talking about in terms of customer service and the little that you can do, even the one percent better that you can do to separate yourself from the competition that makes you look like you care more and that it’s not just about the money for your company, and then the money ultimately follows for that.
Peter:    That’s the thing. Everything that I’ve done has really been along the lines of how can I help you. Well, HARO was started because I wanted to help some friends who were reporters and [inaudible 0:37:40] resources and from there it just totally grew up.
Michelle:    I love it. For those of you who are close to New York and a huge fan of Peter he has offered ten people free tickets to his book launch party, which will be on April 4. If you are close to New York send an email to and the first ten people that do that will get on the guest list for that absolutely fabulous event. I wish I was going to be there. If I could come that would be so awesome but that’s available for those of you who are close to round about and nearby. If you are not, of course again, you can get the book on Amazon and before we go to the break I do want to ask the other questions about … this is along the same subject with a little bit of a stretch for it but I know you are good for it and thinking on the fly.
I wanted you to talk a little bit about people who are interested in writing books, and suggestions you would have about coming up with concepts and really writing a book that will people will read, because one of the things that I like about your book is that I can tell that it’s something that you are passionate about and you’ve done a lot of research about. It’s not just putting a book out for book’s sake. What good advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Peter:    Best advice I can give you, write about what you are passionate. Write about what you love. Let the passion of what you love shine through in the writing. Amazon allows you to self-publish now almost for free and I think [inaudible 0:39:02] will make tons of money from it but it really has to be about your writing because you want to share something with the world not just because you want to make money. Very few book authors make money but it is a great way to get your name out there. It’s a great way to get credibility for speaking gigs and things like that. I’m a big believer in the power of just writing what you like to write because you find it interesting. Even if you write hundreds of books and you never sell one, writing is one of the most cathartic things in the world.
Michelle:    Totally. I also love that you write in lots of outlets that you have like a blog, and you have Twitter, and Facebook, and other social media as well. You are kind of turning a lot of content. What are some of the things that you do? I know that it’s easy for you because writing is your focus, and it can be easy for other companies. How do you keep up on the constant churn of content and how do you make it look so easy? How do you do it?
Peter:    Thank you. I don’t know how easy it is but I do know that one of the first things, one of the things I do more than anything else I get up ridiculously early morning, and I’m a huge believe in getting up early, and I get up early, go to the gym, whatever. Then when I come back I’m still up early enough that my phone hasn’t started ringing yet. My email hasn’t started coming in yet so I’m able to browse like the top ten websites out there and find out what’s going on in the news, fashion, sports, entertainment, business and those give me ideas all throughout the day.
I could review my Twitter stream from all my friends in Europe and Asia who’ve been up posting all day and you start off the day with this information and I truly believe information is power. The more you can get it the better. I really focus early on the morning on getting that information first thing, and then figuring out what I want to do with it, how I’m going to use it. One of my blog posts just comes from experiences I have on a regular basis. My most recent post talks about how Verizon blew a huge with me because they wanted to charge $20.40 a megabyte for data roaming in Dubai, and they come out and say, “Hey, okay, we’ll charge your 300 bucks for flat rate or whatever,” I’d have totally would have done it but $20.40 a megabyte, screw that. Just when I landed in Dubai I went to a local store, bought a Chrome, bought a SIM card done, and they probably blew a lot of money there.
Had I gone with Verizon it would have cost me something like $31,000 for a week. You’ve got to be kidding me. I talk about these are how companies need to evolve.
Michelle:    Excellent and I love hearing about other people and their success expert tips, and things that they are doing to manage things. It’s funny because almost everyone says, “I get up early. I do other things and I get stuff done before sun starts streaming, and things start to happen.” Do you have any other success tips that you would recommend for people in terms of time management or growth that help you make it happen in your life?
Peter:    Again, getting up early rocks. I do try to shut off my phone and my devices when I go to bed. Bed time is for bed. I’m a bigger believer in working out. You can’t work out. You can live your little life. What do the Greeks say? You can’t focus on others until you focus on yourself. I’m a big believer in trying to keep my self healthy. Does not work as well as I like to. When I live in the greatest pizza town in the world, no, not so much but I try and I think at the end of the day you are really creating your own environment that works for you and the last thing is I’m a big believer. Someone asked me if I could wish … the things I’d wish for most is let my daughter not worry about what other people think of her. Let her worry about what she thinks of herself.
Michelle:    I love that. We’ll be back with Peter Shankman right after the break.
[Commercial Break 0:42:36]
Michelle:    Welcome back to Make It Happen Radio. I am excited as we move into this last segment of the show. Time always goes by so quickly especially when there’s such great information and content for us to share. Peter I want to ask you. We talked before the break. We were talking a little bit about the things that matters most to you, and the success tips, and how your frame has changed a little bit as you have a new little one on the way. What are some of the things you want to say about that in terms of … or the things that you would do differently or change as you move into the future with the future with this new chapter in life?
Peter:    Good question. I spent a lot of my time, and I guess to some extent I still do as much as I try not to do. I spent a lot of the time like I said worrying about what other people think of me and I’ve wasted so many freaking hours worrying about what people who I have never met, who I’m never going to meet. They something online and “My god. I’m so upset. I can’t believe they said that. How can they think that?” You know these people don’t know me. They have no idea who I am and you have to learn to let it go, and I think one of the best piece of advice I could give is just if you don’t have haters you are not doing enough to change the status quo. You want to have haters. It’s great to have haters.
Haters means that you are making a difference, that you are making a change that you are doing something that people notice and when HARO was sold haters came out of the woodwork. “You know, Peter just fell into this and now he’s making money and what kind of crap is that?” You know what? I changed the way publicity is done and journalism is done in this country, and I own that. I have helped a ton of people with it and I’m really cool about that.
I think that you have to learn that the haters just don’t matter, but never dismiss them. Listen to their arguments. If they are stupid, dismiss them. If they have a point, and it’s something you might want to change, go for it. But I think that the ability to be able to see what people are thinking about you in real time is actually a benefit but don’t read too much into it. There are people out there who are assholes, they are always going to be assholes. Ignore them and just live your life.
Michelle:    Right. I think that’s awesome. I think that fear can really be a huge … be like really take people into paralysis and some people don’t things because they are afraid of what people say, and then some people stop doing them because people do say those things. I think as one of the hardest parts about entrepreneurship, and in business, and sometimes that can be super lonely in terms of all the people who, you know, you feel like you have the support system and then something falls out of the woodwork but I think that’s one reason I love being rooted and why? What’s your purpose? What’s your goal? Times have evolved and change. HARO’s great and it doesn’t mean that you can’t open yourself up for something new and I think that we all have to be willing and hopefully celebrate that that can happen for all of us that times evolve, that we evolve, that we change, that we grow, and hopefully we are learning that as a business too.
That we are evolving, that we are changing, that we are growing, and that the things that worked ten years ago aren’t going to work today and the things that worked today may not work in even ten months. It’s just a matter of keeping up and staying up with that. Are there things that you’ve done that you would recommend to aspiring entrepreneurs in terms of keeping up with the industry without getting held back by the industry?
Peter:    You are always going to have people that you admire. Listen to those people, see what they have to say. Try to get five minutes with them but on the flipside you are always going to have a lot of people that tell you no and a lot of the reason they are telling you no is because they are scared to try it themselves. “How can you possibly do this if I can’t do this?” Don’t listen to them. Do what you do. If you have a belief that something you are doing is work, do it. I have seen so many ideas die not because they are bad ideas but because the person who had the idea was told by one other people that it will never work and they listened to them.
Everyone tells you to have a backup plan for when you fail. My advice is have a backup plan for when you succeed. Know what happens when that thing you do does take off are you going to be ready to take it to the next level? Never walk away from your idea just because one person says it’s a bad idea.
Michelle:    Totally and I also like the principle that I heard from Brenda Brushard that says, “Never let your small business make you small minded.” I think that in this space, especially in this space of PR that we have to get outside of thinking, “Well, a company isn’t going to want to do anything with me because I’m just a new business or I’m a small business,” and sometimes they love those newbie stories, those new things coming on and not making assumptions. I think that in the business world it’s really easy to make assumptions like they won’t cover that or they won’t be interested or they are not going to like this even before we put stuff out there and really, we all have the ability to broadcast and there are a lot of things out. See what sticks.
You talk about that to in your book about doing things that stick that people will remember, that people will want to be part of again but then also that leads to another question and a good conversation to have is I think that consistency is really key in the public relations game, and being consistent in your efforts. Do you have any recommendations for people who have tried some things, this worked, this didn’t? What are some other ways to stay consistent in terms of your public relations and marketing efforts?
Peter:    Keep trying different things. The number key is listening to what your heart is. If you do something and your audience like it do more things like that. It sounds incredibly basic but some of the people don’t do it. You want to be able to do things that your audience. Again, having an audience is a privilege. It’s not a right. It’s just like wearing spandex. Wearing spandex isn’t a privilege for most people … it’s a privilege for most people not a right. There are very few people who have a right to wear spandex in this country and having a company is the same thing. Understanding your audience. Having an audience is a privilege, and you want to be able to give the audience what they want, and they’ll tell you, and if they like what you are doing give them more.
Michelle:    Awesome. Do you have any other tips as we close out our show today? We have just about five minute left. What are some other things that you could recommend like if you could go in and say, “Hey, listen? These are the things that you should really be doing. These are the things that you shouldn’t.” Are there things that we haven’t talked about that come to mind in that category?
Peter:    Be transparent as humanly possible. People like transparency. They like to purchase from companies that they believe are honest and open. Be relevant to your audience like I mentioned. Be brief. We have a very short attention span. We live in a world of short attention span theater now. We have 2.7 seconds to reach our audience, uh, squirrel, you know. We want to be able to utilize that briefness to make it work for us, and then finally do things that make your audience want to remember you. Say hi on a regular basis, talk to them, things like that.
Michelle:    Do you feel like there are magic numbers in terms of how many times you should a day on Twitter if you are a person or a business or how many times you should post on Facebook or is it more about the organic conversation of making sure that you have something to say before you do it.
Peter:    Regular audience dear god they’ll tell you how you want to … how they want to get their information and they’ll tell you if you are giving it them … if you are giving them too many. Sometimes if I post too much I see my follower numbers go down. Okay, that’s too much.
Michelle:    Okay, also in the social media conversation. Is there a social media outlet that you think is underused that people should utilize more because they have their favorites, or do you have a favorite social media outlet in terms of building your brand?

Michelle has been called “The Melissa McCarthy of marketing” because she is both informational AND entertaining when she presents.  She’s a sought after marketing and social media speaker. To learn more about having Michelle at your upcoming event or conference go here:

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