Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Hope Katz Gibbs talks about PR RULES: THE PLAYBOOK, paying it forward, the 8 steps to success, and more

Every writer on the planet knows how important a great publicist, and marketing team are. I call mine at Algonguin "the gods and goddesses" and I know how incredibly lucky I am to have them. But what if you don't have a spectacular team in place? That's where the fabulous Hope Katz Gibbs comes in. Her PR RULES: THE PLAYBOOK, THE ENTREPRENEUR'S GUIDE TO SUPERSIZING YOUR SMALL BUSINESS WITH THE 8 STEPS TO SUCCESS has tips, practical advice, and truly out-of-the-box solutions that anyone who needs promotion will find incredibly helpful. And what I love best about the book is that it's full of heart, too.
Hope has an amazing background. She founded Inkandescent Group LLC, a publishing company dedicated to helping entrepreneurs through public relations, marketing, design, website development, and book publishing. She's also the founder of Inkandescent Public Relations. This public relations / publications / media relations / marketing / website & design agency helps entrepreneurs from around the country increase their visibility through interview published in newspapers and magazines, TV and radio, and by reaching out to their clients through monthly e-newsletters.
And that's not all! She publishes the monthly online magazine Be Inkandescent. In each issue, a high-profile entrepreneur is featured, and more than a dozen columnists share their insights into best practices in their industries. Columns include: book reviews, cooking tips, education, events, fashion, finance, fine art, health care, immigration, insurance, law, leadership, management, medicine, networking, nonprofits, travel, wine, and more. 

And Hope is also working on a new book, Truly Amazing Women Who Are Changing the World.
 I'm thrilled to host Hope here. Thank you so much, Hope.

I love the way this book is structured, which is unlike any other PR book I’ve seen. Not only does it have a gorgeous, playful cover, but also the inside is so easy to use, and no matter where you flip the page, there’s gold. It has real-life hands-on tips and the underlying message is always based on being true to yourself and to your product. It’s filled with personal stories and interviews, too. But what I loved most were all the positive messages in the book, which I feel can be used for living your best life as well as doing your best PR, such as taking time to play, letting people know the real, true you, and more. Can you talk about how you came to have this structure?

Hope: How wonderful of you to say that! When I embarked on this book project three years ago, I knew that I wanted to impart the lessons I’ve learned in the 30 years I’ve been a journalist, publicist, and small business owner. Teaching people just how to get into the news barely scratches the surface of what it means to do PR well – much less grow a business. So we took a broad view and included as much insight as possible to help readers know that like a good life — good PR for your business is the fun stuff. So play with it, and use the Playbook as a guide.

I love your 8 steps, especially pay it forward. Why don’t more people realize how important a step this is? And are there creative ways to do this?

Hope: This step is definitely important, but I want to encourage people to get creative and think twice (three or four times really) before starting a nonprofit. It’s a natural instinct to want to do that, but that would be starting another business — and nonprofits are very tough to manage. Plus, there are 1.5 million nonprofits in the country already — so if you are inclined to donate time and money, find an organization that already is does what you want to do in the philanthropic world, and volunteer.

Indeed, it’s possible to pay it forward in a myriad of ways. For us, we walk the talk through our InkandescentInternships.com program. We just opened an office in Richmond (November 1, 2014) to work with students at Virginia Commonwealth University, which is the number one public arts school in the country. These kids are talented, and five of them are working for us for college credit and a stipend. One of them is going to be our new assistant editor when she graduates in December. That’s a win-win-win — which is another one of our basic tenets of PR Success (we win, the students win, and the world wins).

I also loved that you included Dr. Esther Sternberg’s ways to heal, how dealing with stressful situations can not only make you stronger, but can help you empathize with others and how that can build credibility. Can you talk about this please?

Hope: I met Esther years ago when we were both members of the National Press Club, and she’d just released her first book, “The Balance Within: The Science Connecting Health & Emotions.” It was back in 2000, and she was a researcher at NIH at the time, and I was a freelance writer and mom of two little kids.

Reading her book made me breath a sigh of relief, because her hypothesis — that a healthy spirit will result in a healthy body — dovetailed with what I’d learned back in 1993 when I became a Certified Massage Therapist.

Her subsequent book, “Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Well Being,” investigates whether the world actually makes us sick — whether jarring colors and sounds shake up the healing chemistry in the mind.

These ideas fit perfectly into our approach to thinking about business in a holistic way. We maintain that “entrepreneurs are people, too,” and indeed — small business owners are only successful when they are healthy in mind, body, and spirit. I have long known that the more calm, confident, and comfortable I am in my own skin — the more successful my company will be. That’s true for everyone.

And as Esther points out, stress isn’t always bad — especially if it makes you empathetic to those around you. So here’s how I see the process working:

    The more I can empathize with my clients, their clients, the markets I’m appealing to — as well as our team, vendors, and subcontractors — the more compassionate I can be.

    The more compassion I have, the more tuned up my intuition will be regarding making the right choices … everything from where to advertise to how to pitch a client, to what should be on their website.

    Ultimately making those choices well makes for good decision-making.

    And that builds credibility.

What mistakes do authors make in publicizing themselves?

Hope: I love working with authors, but too many of them don’t have a grasp on the business of books. Unless you have a national bestseller, odds are good that you aren’t going to make a lot of money on your book. Even if you do have a bestseller, the way traditional publishing is set up — you aren’t going to make zillions.

If you self-publish nonfiction book that shows off your expertise, the game is different. If it’s a good book (which, of course, is the key), you will likely break even, or even earn a bit. But the key is to use the book as a marketing tool for your business. There’s more money in selling your services than there is in selling a $10 or $25 book.

No matter if the book is fact or fiction, be authentic about your promotion. Share tidbits from it on social media, spread the word to local reporters, and take as many speaking opportunities as possible to talk about the wisdom you have to share with the world.

You do a fabulous job with this, and thank you for sharing your strategy in our Q&A in the book! See page 35.

When people think about PR, they think about working 90 hours a day and being in high stress. So tell us about the importance of play?

Hope: It’s the number one thing to focus on, I believe. The older I get, the more time I take to play every day. Even when I’m working, I’m having fun. Monthly meetings with my interns are pizza parties. I like having business meetings at happy hour. When I’m in Richmond, I ride my bike to work every day and take a new route when I bike home in the evenings. When I’m stressed, and the weather is nice, I bike to a new place and look up at the sky.

Life is so short, and we spend much of it trying to figure out how to accomplish the things that so often aren’t easy — like building a business, managing a team, writing a book, and having a family. Even though these things are important, if we don’t take time to have fun … what’s the point?

So here’s my challenge to you: Do one fun thing every day this week and post the list to your Facebook page. Then challenge all of your friends to do the same. Let’ start a fun revolution. At the very least, you’ll generate grins and “likes.” That’s pretty fun in itself.

What’s obsessing you now and why?

Hope: Ah, obsession. Just as having more fun is something that I am trying to embrace — letting go of my obsessions is another goal. I must admit that opening an office and buying a house to live in while I’m in Richmond was a pretty fun obsession. And now that I’ve accomplished that goal, I’m really trying to let go, enjoy where I am, and be in the flow. Can staying calm and cool be an obsession?

What question didn’t I ask that I should have?

Hope: Maybe, what is my goal for the book? Because, of course, I want to sell copies. And I want to do PR workshops around the country. And I want to take on clients interested in hiring me as a PR Coach.

But mostly, I want more people to enjoy playing with their PR. Yes, it’s hard work to spread the word about what you do, and it’s hard to make a business grow. But so what? People much smarter than me have told us that everything worth having is worth fighting for. Why not enjoy the ride?

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