Do you know the difference between marketing and PR (aka Public Relations)? Small businesses often don't think PR is something that can be used to grow their brands but it can actually be a valuable tool to have in your marketing toolbox. In this episode, I'm talking to Lauren Cockerell, President of Kwedar & Co., a PR & marketing firm. She's here to demystify the world of PR and marketing for us. These two are like the yin and yang of business functions - different yet crucially connected. And who better to guide us through this maze than Lauren? Her insights on how marketing aids sales and PR bolsters management are invaluable.
We dive into the realm where PR and marketing meet. Ever wondered how to cozy up to Gen Z? Lauren shares her wisdom on that and more. Discover how to find your business niche and pitch to publications in a way that they can't resist. We even take a deep dive into the power of reputation in PR and marketing, and the many ways B2B enterprises can leverage PR for growth.
The second half of the episode is a gold mine! We discuss third-party endorsements and the incredible atmosphere they create for your marketing activities. Plus, Lauren also doles out actionable advice on a PR-focused task that can accelerate business growth. Whether you’re a business rookie or in the midst of change, don’t miss out on these strategies to authentically grow your brand.
Lauren is President of Kwedar & Co., a PR/marketing firm that provides the strategy and execution business owners need to achieve balance and sustainably take their businesses to the next level. As a one-stop shop for strategic communications, we help entrepreneurs enjoy growing their businesses and feel confident in the direction they’re headed.
Lauren is also the Board Chair of the Foundation for the Young Women's Leadership Academy of Fort Worth, empowering the next generation of women leaders.
Visit www.kwedarco.com/book-consultation for a free consultation to see if Lauren can help your business scale and grow.
Go to https://betterhelp.com/strategy for 10% off your first month of therapy with BetterHelp and get matched with a therapist who will listen and help.
Part of the Boundless Audio Podcast Network
One thing that I talk a lot about on this podcast is the balance between self-care and business, and that's because if we don't take care of ourselves, we won't be able to effectively run our businesses. We can't ignore the conversations that happen around being a business owner and how that affects our stress levels and mental health. I've seen firsthand how running a business can put a strain on our mental health and what happens if there's no one to talk to. That can help. If you've reached a point where you might be feeling stressed, anxious, depressed or overwhelmed, then my sponsor, betterhelp, is here to help you. Betterhelp offers licensed therapists who are trained to listen and help you. You can talk to your therapist in a private online environment at your own convenience and with a broad range of expertise and BetterHelp's 20,000 plus therapist network, you can find access to help that may not otherwise be available in your area and request a new therapist at no additional charge. Anytime, simply fill out a questionnaire to help assess your specific needs and get matched with the therapist in under 48 hours. Schedule secure video and phone sessions. Plus, you can exchange unlimited messages, and everything you share is completely confidential. Join the 2 million plus people who have taken charge of their mental health with an experienced BetterHelp therapist. Get 10% off your first month at betterhelpcom slash strategy. That's better. H-e-l-p dot com slash strategy. Welcome to strategy for creatives Business minus the bullshit. Whether you're new in business or find yourself in a season of change, get ready to build a strategy, create an action plan and crush those goals. I'm Sasha, host of strategy for creatives, and I help female lab businesses grow their brands in authentic, measurable and meaningful ways, without the stress. There's no sugarcoating here. I'm serving up real tips and actionable steps you can take to help get you organized, get off the path to burnout and grow your brand like a boss. So go ahead, pull up a chair, grab a notepad and let's talk business. Welcome to another episode of strategy for creatives business minus the bullshit. I, of course, am your host, sasha, and today we are going to be talking about PR and marketing. What the difference is, because, I'll be honest, I don't really know the difference too much. I have somewhat of an idea, and so, to help us along with this conversation, we have a guest today, lauren Cockrell, who is owner of Quidar and Co. I hope I said that right. We practiced this before, but she is president of Quidar and Co, which is a PR marketing firm that provides strategy and execution for business owners that wants to achieve a balance and sustainability take to their business or take their business to the next level. So it's a one stop shop for strategic communication, and they help entrepreneurs enjoy growing their business and feel confident in the direction they're headed. I also like that she is board chair of the foundation for the Young Women's Leadership Academy of Fort Worth, and so she's empowering the next generation of women leaders, which I can always get behind. So, lauren, welcome, thank you.Speaker 2:
Sasha, I'm really excited to be here. I love the concept for the podcast. I love no bullshit.Speaker 1:
That's kind of my old motto. I just feel like sometimes we sugarcoat things too, much and it's tough love on this show.Speaker 2:
Yeah, which is probably ironic because I'm sure for some people are like oh you do PR, you're full of bullshit.Speaker 1:
I can see that PR has a reputation for just being a spin machine. And how do you make anything sound good? Right, yeah. So let's kind of talk about that. I really want to know, because I alluded to it, what is the difference between PR and marketing, Because I do think people tend to think they're similar and they are. They're both in the same vein, but I know they're different.Speaker 2:
And they certainly can overlap. I like to think about it as marketing is a function of sales. So we're selling widgets, we're selling services, we're getting butts in seats. Anything that we do in marketing is generally to support the sales function we want. We're trying to boost revenue through marketing efforts. No campaign, social media, ads all that good stuff falls under the marketing umbrella. Direct sales, phone calls all that good stuff. When we think about PR, it certainly can play in that product launches, things of that nature. But we really like to think about it in terms of PR as a function of management. Where is the business going? What is the leadership vision? For instance, a lot of the news announcements we do are executive announcements, new hires, someone taking on a new role in leadership, maybe it's an acquisition. So things that aren't necessarily directly affecting the bottom line are sales, but they are important for reputation, development or sustenance. That's more on the PR side. Sometimes it's keeping things bottom. We're joking about bullshit, so sometimes it's fixing an issue or trying to minimize damage. For I guess you can take that however you want, but if we like to protect the innocent and try to minimize damage and things like that, sometimes it's keeping people out of the paper, like we say. So that's a good way to think about it. They work well together. I don't like to keep them in silos. I like for everybody to be. If we're doing a product launch, we want news announcements to fit all the social and the email content and ads and all that. We don't want anyone because actually the brand gets damaged when it feels like there's two voices speaking on behalf of a company. So they definitely need to work together, but sometimes they might have slightly different priorities.Speaker 1:
That makes a lot of sense. I think people have a very this is I don't know why. Well, I do know why, but I feel like people have a negative connotation, almost, of PR, because it is. You know, the phrase is always there's no such thing as bad press, right so? And that's always used in a negative context, like we can take something negative that's happening to you or your business especially a lot of celebrities and spin it in a way that makes you look good. But there's good uses for PR. Yes, yes, it's not just for the bad stuff.Speaker 2:
Right and you know, I think, I think if you're a business owner listening to this, I wouldn't necessarily use there's no such thing as bad PR as your PR strategy. If your bread pit, maybe that can work for you. You know, as long as you're being talked about, you're being irrelevant. But if you're trying to run a business, yeah, bad PR really could kill you. You know people aren't gonna wanna do business with someone that they feel like has violated their values, for instance. You know, especially the generation that's coming up and has spending power they wanna do business with people who treat their employees and their customers in the world with kindness and so yeah, that's a big thing.Speaker 1:
I've been seeing a lot of like a lot of Instagram and TikTok stories about just the way to appeal to Gen Z and through, specifically, PR is they want to make sure that people that they are buying from, that it aligns with their values and that it's not just like a talking point that they are actually doing these things. So I guess PR could be used to kind of showcase how businesses are doing that.Speaker 2:
Yeah, I would say about 40% of the paid gigs that I have are really internal communications and making sure that the people who work within companies understand that leadership vision and they understand the culture and the values so that those team members feel good about the places that they work, that they can. Obviously it's in the news like we're all the workers. Well, it's cheaper to keep the good team rather than go recruit new people for sure, and so your internal audience is often just as important, if not more so, than your external audience, depending on what you're focused on.Speaker 1:
Yeah, that's a very good point. So I wanna ask when you are, when you're in a smaller business, or when you're, I think, when you have a smaller business, we tend to focus more on the marketing. So what are some, I guess, easy ways to get started dipping your toe into the PR field with your business? Because I think, I do think, some business owners think we have to be at a certain level of business before it makes sense or before we should start those types of activities.Speaker 2:
Absolutely so. It used to be that there was one newspaper, one TV channel, one radio station and everyone's competing for the same airwaves. There's pluses and minuses to the fractured channels that we have now. I mean, there's Um 10 million podcasts, which is great. It's like you know it. Really the democratization of information has a lot of beautiful qualities. It makes my job a little harder at times. However, what's interesting is that there are, there's a, there's a pond for every fish, more or less. So, you know, depending on the type of business you have, there's probably a niche blog or magazine or something like that. So if you start to think through, if you break it down like you do with your marketing, if you think about your audience and where are they, and okay, so if everyone's reading a magazine about being a woman entrepreneur or something like that, and you have some really great content to share, like you have cracked the code on being a working mom or whatever it is that, yes, you could share that with just your audience. You could also go to that publication and say, hey, I feel like I have a really unique perspective that your readership could benefit from, and that's what you really have to think about when you're thinking about the lens of PR. It's not just what, what benefits me as the business owner or my direct clientele. It's how are you going to help the magazine, the blog, the influencer, the TV channel, how are they going to make money?Speaker 1:
It's the value proposition. Yes, exactly what do you get from using me?Speaker 2:
Yeah, exactly it's. How are you going to help that reporter get more clicks so that they get more money and are more successful? So it's a little bit of a different degree when you think about it, but once you get used to processing your news and information in that slightly different lens, it gets a lot easier. So, yeah, I mean you can offer it's like a blog content, but offering an opinion piece or offering you know three guest columns. People are so hungry for content. I mean reporters and journalists and all that they're. I mean they're running ragged and I don't want to circle back to that in a minute. But so if you show up with beautifully written content or beautifully produced video or something like that that they can run for free more or less, and it will boost their bottom line, then they're going to be really interested in having that conversation. So that's one way. If you think about just news, like if you've been in business, for you want to celebrate your one year anniversary as a business, that's great. There's really more marketing. You know, run a sale or whatever. If it's a sale is not generally news. However, unless it's a groundbreaking sale that applies to everyone. We're giving away buy one, get one, luxury cars. I think a lot of people are going to want to know about that If it's 20% off or to your anniversary, you know that's the sale. So just you know, thinking about who gives a shit. If it's just you and your mom, then you know, put it on the blog. If it's well, you know a community of people can really benefit from this information, then it's time to think about reaching out to your publication of choice.Speaker 1:
That's cool, so you did. You mentioned something about reporters being run ragged and it ties into a little bit of where I was trying to go with this. But when it's time to outsource, to find someone to do your PR because I know there was a website I used to use back when I sold products I don't really look at it too much, but it's helpful reporter out. It's Harrow. I don't know how you say it, but that's Harrow, harrow, whatever. Where it's essentially reporters. They put all of the different things that they're looking for and you can pick whatever your niche is if it's travel, if it's business or whatever and they'll say they're looking for products or stories about moms or you know things like that and you can submit your stuff that way, which I, now that I think about it, I guess is a form of doing your own type of PR, right, 100%. So when do you think it's that differentiation should start? When I like I don't need to do this myself. It's probably better for me to outsource this to someone else.Speaker 2:
Yeah. So I would say if you've got the gift of gab a little bit, where you feel really comfortable, and you've maybe had a little bit of media training, you know the rules of the road basically and you feel like you can be really responsive to deadlines, if you have the temperament for the follow-up. That was one of the things I wanted to circle back to. I have a number of really great reporter relationships. They are so tired. I mean we have like objectively exciting news to share for our clients and it is taking us so much effort to break through right now. I mean the other day I sent out I mean that's not some news this summer and I was doing just one last lap. I mean I followed up like three times, like okay, I've gotten coverage in four out of the six publications I was looking to get for this one client and I circle back to one. I was like I really feel like, oh, I get fit, but you know, I know it's been a month, let me know. If you're not interested, I'll stop following up. He's like, oh, no, I am interested. And then they just run it and you're like, well, okay, but you know, I mean you have to have that forward. I mean someone's paying me to do that. I don't necessarily do that for myself. I'm much more of a helper. I want to. You know I'd rather take care of other people's problems on my own. But yeah, I mean, I think if you're a busy business owner, like we all are, you're just you're much more focused on serving the client, serving the business and all that. It's harder to take that time for yourself to do that business self-care. So if you have a little bit more money than time, you can probably find some way to outsource it a little bit. Plus, honestly, sasha, I mean you might have experienced this, maybe not. Sometimes what you don't know could hurt you in the PR world. If you've never done it before, you might wanna read some books or watch some courses or something like that, just to get a better sense for what is appropriate, how to connect with people. I mean things that I learned in basic training when I first started out over 20 years ago. So I do this day in and day out. But if you don't, then it can be a little scary, and it probably should be a little scary, because once the toothpaste is out of the tube, you don't have to put it back in, yeah you can't put it back in. It's not your website. I mean, PR is convincing someone else to talk about your company and if maybe you don't have your message down, right. I mean we are meticulous in how we communicate because we know, once it's gone, it's gone.Speaker 1:
So that actually is a good point. I didn't think about that because we don't tend to look at our businesses that way, and if we can say, hey, talk about my business, and somebody else who comes and is like, oh, their business looks like a shit show, let me just put that out there instead, and that's the messaging that's gonna go out there instead of what we want to go out there. So that actually makes a lot of sense. And I think, too, what you pointed out is you know people right, Like you have those connections already. I'm a very big proponent of outsourcing things, especially when it's outside of our zone of genius, which some PR for me is, and I think it's for most people it's more of a specialized form of marketing and talking about business and having those connections, not having to spend the time trying to make those connections, you know, giving it to someone who can say, oh, I know such and such who works at this and lose outlet or that publication, and this would be a perfect story for them. Like, I'm sure it's very easy for you if you have a client who's like I have this and you can like yep, I have like three or four people that I can pitch this to. Definitely that makes perfect sense yeah.Speaker 2:
Yeah, and it changes too. I mean, if it's been a few years since you've done it or a year, I mean there was, there were a number of reliable contacts I had here in our local market who retired or went totally different careers or went to another outlet or something like that, and I'm talking they were with their company for 20 years, type of stuff. Wow, they're long relationships. It's like well, nevermind, thanks.Speaker 1:
I guess I'll find somebody else. Yeah, that would, that's yeah, that would be tough. I spent so much time. Now you're like I gotta start all over again. Try and get a relationship.Speaker 2:
I mean I like people and I like helping people, and so I do get to help the journalist. I take a lot of pride in getting their questions answered, making sure that the interview goes really well. Being a part of the interview, if I can, so that because I have the insider knowledge of the client too and I'm seeing it from the outsider perspective of oh, don't forget to talk about this really important thing that you haven't mentioned yet I'm sort of behind the scenes pulling the strings a little bit. Getting the artwork that they need and helping them feel really good about the work that they're doing is very exciting. I'm helping my client and helping this person who's doing great work, which I think journalism is the fourth estate of our democracy. It's really important that we have free press, so I wanna support that as well.Speaker 1:
I know I've read a lot. Just, journalists in general are very receptive to any sort of insight and help that you can get them to write something that they are trying to write. So it's beneficial when you have that relationship with them or you have someone on your team who has that relationship who can help with that Absolutely.Speaker 2:
I mean I really I love it when we can have dialogue with the writer or reporter, but sometimes they just run and releases. I mean they just like copy and paste, boom, it's on the website or in print or whatever and I'm like, well, you're welcome, I made your job really easy. I'm like, okay, we did great, we wrote it so well. They didn't feel like they could approve a five, they just posted it.Speaker 1:
So I guess, just to kind of, I'll ask two more questions and really they'll tie into each other, but you've touched on it a little bit. But what do you really think is the ultimate way that PR can help grow your business? Because I do think, like you mentioned at the beginning, marketing is more of that. Sales push right and so we don't tend to think about PR as something that is going to help grow a business. It's just gonna. It'll help keep our business talked about how does? It help grow a business.Speaker 2:
It's definitely a longer Tail strategy. It's yeah, it's a couple, so a couple things one. When it's done right, it bolsters your reputation. So say something challenging happens, say someone gets hurt physically or or emotionally or whatever, or say something breaks, or. And if you have a strong reputation, you get such a much wider birth and People really give you the benefit of doubt they might like God, you know. It just doesn't sound like them. Everything that I've seen. They seem like a strong, good company that cares about their people and their product. You know, I don't know if that's true or or let's hear what they have to say. If you don't have that reputation, people are much quicker to jump on that.Speaker 1:
Yeah, they're getting theirs, you know, and which you know I Get, and sometimes it's painful and sometimes I'm right there with my pitchfork. So, and then also, what with PR? So say you're, say you're doing your, your marketing strategy, you're pumping out the content. And they also have this other engine that's going with earned media. So One of my clients I've had since late 2019, we for they were like we're B2B, I don't even know how we would use PR. I'm like, yeah, I feel about a strategy for you. So we look at every Avenue and marketing and PR for their business and kind of map out a few things and then finally this summer We've been doing a lot of work together but finally the summer we're ready to take it from outside their four walls and look at earn media, start doing actual Outbound PR campaigns for the first time in over 85 years of their business. Wow, and all of a sudden they are everywhere. I mean they're just papering the town in their industry and people are seeing that. I mean, they're smaller than you know. I would say they're, you know, mid-range when it comes to the competition, but they are nipping at everyone's heels and people are taking notice of that and it's like, oh man, I'm hearing about them all the time. They must be doing some really cool stuff and it just it really. It's one of those things where the rising tide lifts all boats and it just makes an environment in which it is much easier to do business. Sales conversations go quick, more quickly.Speaker 1:
I heard about you close to the clothes. Yeah, faster.Speaker 2:
So it's. It's like you're creating, like I said, a warmer environment in general. Your it's things. Cold conversations aren't as cold. That's a big hope.Speaker 1:
No because when you have that atmosphere of like oh, I've heard of you already. Yeah, and or you know, maybe I've heard of you, so now I'm gonna go look you up and that makes me want to like be more interested in what is it that you do so that, when I do get a sales call, I feel more comfortable about talking? to you and moving forward, as opposed to just I've never heard of this people. I randomly found them on Google or they showed up on my Instagram or something like that, and I don't know and we'll see, and then I do a discovery cause kind of like oh Well, you know, let me get back to you. It just I like that, you put it like that helps warm up that environment, said makes it makes the marketing activities then Easier. It makes them go smoother as opposed to just slogging along. Yeah, yeah.Speaker 2:
Well, when you do marketing or advertising, you're talking about yourself, and so you kind of have to take that with a grain of salt a little bit. You know I'm speaking on behalf of myself. When, when, when it's PR, it's that influencer Sort of like in, we call it, we call it influentials, it's it's that third-party endorsement of you know this person is using. I mean, reportage is not supposed to be opinion, but you know it's it's. It's meeting some editorial requirements, hopefully. And so you know, depending on what school of thought you come from, an article has three to ten times more Value in someone's mind than an ad, and if may I be off color for a moment, okay, so advertising is like walking around saying like I'm really good in bed, I'm really good in bed. Pr is like saying like oh sorry, I heard you're really good in bed.Speaker 1:
But that we actually I had this conversation with a guest that I had on the show earlier People are more likely to do business with you when they hear about your business from other people Versus you just talking about it for yourself. Like I can say all day, I'm the best business strategist there is out there and people are like, yeah, okay, you know, maybe she is, maybe she isn't. But if somebody else tells them like, oh, sasha's a really good business strategist, oh well, let me go look into her because I need that and so and so, said she looks good, so that, yeah, I think that's a fair. Now I appreciate that. I guess I always like to leave listeners with kind of action items that they can Do in their business, something concrete that they can do. So if there's one thing that a person can do in their business that is PR focused, what would you suggest that would be?Speaker 2:
Yeah. So I think, just to take it in bite sizes, I would go ahead and think about One story that you can tell that will affect more than just your channels. You know what? What do you have? What knowledge do you have to share? What expertise do you have to share Is is that going to be in the form of an opinion piece or a column, or is it an actual news announcement, where you're, you know, doing a new course or something like that, that you can, even if you know if you feel a little intimidated by doing a formal news release, at least be thinking about like what's a? You know a paragraph or two that you can write. That's really tight. That will capture the attention of your Audience. So then you're going to go, you're going to think through all right, who, who's, who's what, what, what is my tenant audience reading or watching or listening to? And then finding One to five outlets and going on their website. Go there about page, go to their contact page and find the right person. So don't, if you're a restaurant, don't send your news to the politics reporter. Be thoughtful about your time or anyone else's. If you can't find their address, you can go to something like hunterio, and that's a website where you can find a reporter's email address. You can create a free account, and so I've been able to find a couple addresses that way. Then send them a great pitch. If you're lucky or you try really hard, then if you get that end result of the coverage, make sure that you then amplify it, make sure that you put it on your website. You've seen plenty of websites with those examples, as seen in Yep. Then put it on your blog, put it on your social media, send it on email. A you're doing that proof of life. This happened, Yay, that's exciting. Your audience will be happy for you. B when you send it out on social media and you tag the reporter and the outlet, you are helping them. They will be much more likely to want to work with you again if you help them amplify their news story. I've heard it straight from the journalists themselves. They love it and they said that if you don't share, yeah, you guys crash that back.Speaker 1:
Yeah, it's a reciprocal, it's a very reciprocal relationship.Speaker 2:
I've heard that they won't work with you again if they keep covering you and you don't share it with your audience.Speaker 1:
Well, because why? Why would they yeah?Speaker 2:
exactly, exactly.Speaker 1:
Well, I appreciate all of the tips and advice. I learned a couple of things too, because I think PR is just such a mystery of a world for a lot of people. So if you are interested in learning more about Lauren and her company, it's queerdarkocom. You can do queerdarkocom. It's a book-consultation, and she and her company are small business champions and they are happy to have free consultations with listeners to see if they can help you grow and scale your business through PR. So I will make sure that I leave all of that in the show notes. Lauren, thank you so much for being on the show today.Speaker 2:
Thank you, sasha, I had a great time.Speaker 1:
Thank you. Are you ready to up level your business? Join the five-day Be your Own CEO Challenge. All the details are available on the website at wwwby-sashacom. If you like what you heard, make sure you write and review. It really helps other people find the show and, of course, follow and subscribe on your favorite podcast platforms. Want to follow me on social? I'm on Instagram and Facebook at Strategy by Sasha. Make sure you tune in next Tuesday for more business tips.