Episode 150: Helena Bouchez on Becoming a Recognized Marketing Expert
Learn to be unique, visible and great as a recognized marketing expert. If you want to establish your authority as a thought leader, there are very specific steps you can take to cement yourself as the expert in any niche.
Find out from expertise PR expert Helena Bouchez how to develop your positioning and cultivate your character. Build your platform to get known for something unique. Learn the 10 most important channels to consider when you want to become considered the expert in your field and increase your visibility. And find out what Helena says are the things YOU must do to allow her to make you a success.
Suz and Helena go through the steps to positioning yourself to get good speaking opportunities, how to pitch yourself to a conference programmer and some organizational tips to stay on top of the schedules for leading conferences and speaker submissions.
Susan Bratton: Welcome to DishyMix. I’m your host, Susan Bratton. And on today’s show we’re going to talk about expertise public relations. If you want to be a web celebrity, a real life celebrity, someone that is a go-to person for a particular area of expertise, I have just the woman to help make you unique, visible and great. We’re going to talk about becoming a recognized marketing expert with Helena Bouchez. Helena is a communications professional. She has her own expertise public relations firm, and she works exclusively with thought leaders in the marketing industry. And so she’s actually put together an entire process, almost a checklist of what you need to understand and do and how to go about doing it and how much time it takes so that you could go from being someone that a few people know to someone that everybody thinks of about a particular area of expertise. So lets welcome Helena to the show. Welcome.
Helena Bouchez: Hi. Welcome. Thank you for having me.
Susan Bratton: It’s my pleasure. You and I met, you’ve been a long-time DishyMix listener, haven’t you?
Helena Bouchez: Yes. Yes, indeed I have. It’s great stuff.
Susan Bratton: I remember one time I was talking about something on a show a couple of years ago and you posted a comment on a blog post about it, and we started exploring the world of the speakers bureau and speakers and speaking platforms, and you and I have kind of had an ongoing conversation over email and in person. We got to finally meet at AdTech New York last November. And I really like how you’ve positioned yourself in the marketplace as being this expertise PR expert. I’m fascinated by that. And I want to also mention your website. Just tell everyone your URL so right away they’ll be able to come and find you ‘cause your blog and the information you have on there is awesome.
Helena Bouchez: Great. My URL is helenabcommunications – it’s h-e-l-e-n-a, the letter b and the word communications – dot com (helenabcommunications.com).
Susan Bratton: So lets start out with this notion of expertise PR. Can you give me an example? When you talk about someone who is this idea of unique, visible and great, give me some examples of people that you think have done a really good job.
Helena Bouchez: Well I know a few people that have done a marvelous job, but this one is Bob Baker who is a music marketing person. He has a site called The Buzz Factor. And he has specialized in helping musicians create a buzz in the market to use all of the tools available to them and he’s written several books. He’s ubiquitous. He teaches at Berkeley I believe now. And he has truly become the guy to go to if you have a band whose name you want to get out, if you have a band you want to get attention.
Susan Bratton: Anybody else come to mind? I was always thinking about Tim Ferris as a guy that does a really good job. Seth Godin, known for his marketing expertise, whose carved out this kind of, it’s kind of like combination of maybe personality and expertise, you know?
Helena Bouchez: Absolutely. In fact, I saw Tim Ferris yesterday at the 140 Conference.
Susan Bratton: Oh yeah, how was that 140 Conference?
Helena Bouchez: It was great. There were such a diverse group of characters there, and it was definitely a relief from some of the presentation formats, of some of the other stuff that I’ve been to recently. But, you know, I hated Tim Ferris’s book, The Four Hour Work Week, but I love him. I mean, he was, he’s so smart. And it’s so apparent from the ways that he comports himself that he is, he knows exactly what he’s doing, he knows exactly how to promote books. And I was riveted to, he basically owned the panel he was on. And I think the panel members were riveted as well.
Susan Bratton: Good for him. Way to dominate huh?
Helena Bouchez: Yeah, truly.
Susan Bratton: Are there other examples that you think of people who’ve done a good job becoming an expert?
Helena Bouchez: I have a friend in Chicago who runs a site called chronicbabe.com and basically it’s a site for women who have chronic diseases such as fibromyalgia and other problems, to not give themselves up to the disease, to be able to function as, you know, as whole human beings, and she is now at the point where she’s being interviewed and speaking at conferences and, you know, it’s crazy. She’s done an awesome job.
Susan Bratton: What you explained to me that you do is you help a person establish themselves as an authority, as an opinion leader, as an expert in a particular area and the benefit is increasing your advantage by initiating relationships. Essentially you become the authority, and then you’re, the people who, people are drawn to you. You’re a natural attracter to generate more business opportunities. I mean, the net of it is what you do as a publicist in this expertise PR is you help people become a bigger attracter so that they can generate more revenue in their area of expertise, right?
Helen Bouchez: Absolutely. And, you know, there are a bunch of phases that. That is the place that you want to arrive. You want, ultimately you want the phone to ring and you don’t, you want to not have to go and drum up business and make a hundred phone calls. But along the way as you become better and better known among potential clients and key influencers, people, your name starts to buzz in peoples ears and it becomes easier to open that door, so if you send that email or if you make that phone call you’re much more likely to be accepted or able to make the connection that you need to make to initiate a relationship.
Susan Bratton: One of the problems that you can have becoming an expert is trying to figure out exactly what the right cut is for the niche that you’re in. I mean, you know, just thinking about myself as an example, I’m considered a digital marketing expert, which is a pretty general kind of a thing; yet over time I’ve had to become facile first with things like broadband and then video and then email marketing and then search marketing, and now I’m a social marketing quote/unquote “expert”. I’m not an expert, but I understand at a high level how it fits into marketing communication strategy. And so it’s always for me been a little schizophrenic in that, you know, kind of over arching market position, but then you also have to be current with the, you know, kind of bright and shiny thing de jour because it does change especially in the world of marketing, which is where your niche is. How do you recommend that your clients rationalize that or sort that out?
Helena Bouchez: Well that can be a real advantage too because part of what people are looking for is how to think about all of these new tools. And I really encourage my clients, rather than getting wrapped up in the nuts and bolts of what the new bright shiny thing is, is to really look at it and really start to play with it and become engaged with it and figure out what the impact is going to be for their clients. So that’s really what separates the thought leaders from the implementers, is that my folks look at this piece of new technology or whatever it is and they’re able to forecast, you know, the impact it’s going to have or won’t have for that matter on their clients, and then be able to talk about it in a way so that people know whether to, how much energy to put into it, how much budget to put into it, etcetera.
Susan Bratton: So you told me that there are five things that you’ve noticed about your most successful clients. Number one, the clients business has a strong positioning and a distinct point of view. Number two, that your clients understand that together you and they have to continually create new things in that category to talk about. So content, you know, dripping out a consistent amount of content around the area of expertise. The third one, that you have to be reasonably accessible. Don’t step up and be a person, you know, don’t try to be a celebrity if you don’t want to talk to people, right?
Helena Bouchez: Right. Don’t, you know, engage in a PR…
Susan Bratton: Program…
Helena Bouchez: Yeah…
Susan Bratton: Yeah.
Helena Bouchez: And never talk to the person who’s trying to make you famous.
Susan Bratton: Exactly. Also, the website to be current and the business to have a sales process in place so when you’re delivering, when you’re getting the leads coming in to your client they can track them and you get the credit. There’s nothing worse for you I’m sure than having people call them up and them not being accessible to the prospects either, right?
Helena Bouchez: Right, exactly.
Susan Bratton: So I thought that was really good, and then you created a white paper, which you have available for DishyMix listeners, called Unique, Visible and Great: Becoming a Recognized Marketing Expert. And I’d like to go through some of the points of this on the show today. Tell my DishyMix listeners how they can get a copy of this white paper.
Helena Bouchez: Well the white paper will be available on my website and there’ll be a button at the bottom left hand side of the website that they can click on and they’ll be able to download. It’ll be a PDF, very easy. And it’s about 5 pages long and it basically goes through the whole discipline of what you need to do to make this happen.
Susan Bratton: Okay, good. So helenabcommunications.com, bottom left hand corner, you can click and download it. Lets start with the very, very core of your recommendation. You say we have to do, you call it the trica. Tell us what that is.
Helena Bouchez: The trica is you have to be unique, great and visible in order to be, to make the thought leadership position work for you. Unique is without question the most important element of the three. It’s what’s going to ultimately allow you to maximize your effectiveness and your profits. And there’s two areas that you need to develop and promote the uniqueness. Most people understand positioning – you know, being, having a distinct position in the market, something that you’re known for. I’d like to add character to that. If you think of a Seth Godin, if you think of a Chris Brogan, if you think of anyone who you may follow in this respect, they have a distinct personality about them. They have an accessibleness, they have quirks. So a lot of marketers don’t think in terms of becoming that personality and having that be an asset for them.
Susan Bratton: It definitely is an asset, I agree with you. The characters, Peter Shankman – you use him as an example…
Helena Bouchez: Oh yeah.
Susan Bratton: too, you know. He’s a total character. I think that it’s really a smart idea to have something that’s really recognizable about yourself, whether it’s, you know, my physical being of being six feet tall in my stocking feet, you know. It’s having something that’s really noticeable, whatever that feature is about you. Having that little hook is a really good idea. And then you really talked about visible. What do you think are some of the most important ways or the best ways to push your visibility out there?
Helena Bouchez: Visibility, I know a lot of people start with blogs, and a blog is a great way to be visible if you’re willing to do the work to push the word out and to build a following. I like a blog, I like Twitter, and I like Twitter for building relationships so that you have a conduit to push out that link to your blog and give it a chance to be disseminated by other people. I like bylined articles placed in industry publications.
Susan Bratton: Lets stop there for a second Helena. Explain what a bylined article is and explain how you’re getting placement for those. What’s the quick process for that?
Helena Bouchez: Bylined article is typically like 800 to 1200 words on a specific topic. It’s usually about 5 paragraphs, has an introduction, has three points with some supporting information and examples, and then a little bit of a close paragraph. And what I will do - and people can do this themselves but it’s time consuming – what I will do is I’ll go to the editor of an industry magazine and I’ll pitch them the topic and they will express interest in it, the client will write it up, I’ll edit and then we’ll deliver it and typically it’s printed, and that becomes part of their Google footprint because we’re also trying to expand their Google presence, their search presence, so that when clients-to-be do search on their name that there’s something there to support that they are who they say they are. And that’s basically the bylined article process.
Susan Bratton: Okay. How do you decide what the right publications are and are you focused primarily on print or do you also think about bylining guest blogs and things like that?
Helena Bouchez: I like bylined articles and I like guest blog posts too. I like guest blog post blogs a lot because you’re basically taking advantage of the publication’s marketing channel. And they have a lot more, a lot bigger pipe usually, especially at the beginning, than you do in terms of reaching the people that will want to hear about you.
Susan Bratton: You know, another thing that you have in your white paper is comments on industry related blogs. And, you know, Dave Taylor is really a big proponent of saying if you’re not a big writer, you know, a bylined article in a leading industry publication is a really good thing, do that, but if you’re not going to blog yourself at least set up a social listening station - you know, whether it’s Google Alerts or something a little more complex – go out there and just comment on other peoples blogs as a way to stay in the game and to draw attention to yourself. I always think that’s good advice. Do you agree with that and think that’s smart or do you have any better ideas?
Helena Bouchez: You know, I like comments a lot. I think you have to be selective and what I like to do is monitor a blog and see who is in the conversation, and once I identify that there’s a real community there I like to have my clients to also contribute. And the one thing about blog comments which most people don’t realize is that number one, they become part of your Google footprint as well, so you will find that comment floating up like if you search on your name, those comments will become part of the search and they’ll register fairly high up as well. So when you’re commenting and you don’t want to send unnatural but you want to try to make the comment stand on its own apart from the post because most of the time people are not going to see that comment in context if they’re not familiar with the blog, so that’s another way to get the comment to work for you apart from the place on which it’s written at first.
Susan Bratton: And what are some of the other kinds of things that you recommend as important channels to consider when you’re building your, you know, expertise PR platform, if you will?
Helena Bouchez: You know, I think something that’s really underutilized is putting presentations up on Slide Share. And also using a foot cam to rather than write something, record something short and put it up on YouTube. I think that people are burning out a little bit on the really long articles, the 800 to 1200 word article. Not to say that they’re not important and people don’t read them; I’m just saying that for variety and for a fresh way to communicate that’s not being done by a lot of people. Slide Share and YouTube is a really good option.
Susan Bratton: Yeah. I like them both as well. One of the things that I recently did that I thought was quite clever….was I just ran the Social Media Masters Track at AdTech San Francisco. And it was two back to back sessions, and we did overviews, case studies, trends, metrics, and I wanted to create a social media strategy, like a framework, an approach for people. And what I realized was that that could have been a two hour presentation. So instead of trying to do the whole presentation at AdTech, I did the overview of the presentation up on the dias and said “Now, here’s what I have. I have the whole PowerPoint to download. It has no logos or anything on it. You can go and take it, steal it, call it your own, import it into your own documents, and use it, modify it. I don’t need any attribution, just take it. In addition that, I’ve done a voiceover the PowerPoint and I’ve walked you through the entire social media framework, the whole approach, and all you have to do is watch that video and it’ll walk you through my thought process of how this all works so that you can go present this in your own organization. And you go to socialmediasuperpowers.com and download it. You’ll get the video, you’ll get the PowerPoint, you’ll get everything.” It was a way that I could do a couple of things. One, I could give them so much more than I had the time for. And I gave them the gift of being able to have all the content that they wanted to use in a way that they did. And it drove them to, it drove that three hundred people that were in the audience, it drove them to my website so that I could capture their email address and then sometime, you know, send them an update if I have a post on social media or anything like that. Soon they’ll be in my queue for listening to DishyMix, then they’ll start knowing about my information products, and maybe they’ll become a customer and buy one of my products, which is actually how I generate revenue, you know? And so I look at these kinds of opportunities as a very long funnel. I don’t expect to go up on stage and pitch my products; I expect people to become, maybe to have an affinity for me. And so that was the first time I’d ever done anything like that, but it was how I leveraged a speaking engagement into a longer, hopefully into a longer relationship with those hand raisers that were the most interested in getting information from me. So that was something that I thought, “Uh, you know, I’ll try it. We’ll see what happens.”
Helena Bouchez: Well I think you’re really smart because the one thing that I’m seeing is there’s a big division now. I’ve been to so many conferences lately, and there’s, that is definitely the trend is to give people the context and then, you know, they walk away with how to think about it and then you give them all kinds of resources of things to think about because you’ve already, you’ve preconditioned them to be able to understand and learn from the material at their own pace, in their own time without having to worry about taking notes, so that’s exciting that you’ve done that.
Susan Bratton: I think what I’ll also do is I’ll take… Oh, you know, I can’t take that video and put it on YouTube because YouTube has a ten minute limit and it’s a 24 minute explanation of the whole structure of a social media strategy, so there are some limiting issues with that stuff. One of the things that you also have on your kind of ten most important channels to consider is quotes to journalists for their articles. And that’s something that I think is one of the number one things a publicist can do for you, is get you in front of journalists so that you can get quoted in the press. How is that going in the world of PR today? Because I just, I just wonder is it harder, easier, are there more outlets, less outlets? How is the connecting with the journalists these days? Is it worse than ever, easier than ever? Tell me what your thoughts are on it.
Helena Bouchez: Well, you know, it’s changed dramatically in the last couple of years because of the state of journalism. And so what I’ve been doing – and I was doing this sort of before anyone else just because it made more sense to me – is that rather than stick myself in between my client and a journalist, what I will do is I’ll do the underlying research and I will identify the opportunities to respond to an article that I think that they, that my client can add something, add another piece of information to. And what I’ll do is I’ll draft an email, send it to my client and say, “Here’s the person’s email address. Here’s the email that I think you should send. Please send it under your own email.” And so the relationship, I help create the relationship between my client and the journalist, which they like a lot better because they’re so busy. A lot of them do not have time to fool around with the middle person. And so I’ve had tremendous success just putting people together directly.
Susan Bratton: I think it’s really the sign of a truly profession publicist that you don’t need to be in that connection and get the credit, that you have the confidence to just feel really good about doing the work and not having to take the credit for it. I think that’s super smart. What kind of listening platform are you using to track the keywords for your experts?
Helena Bouchez: I use Google Alerts…
Susan Bratton: Yeah, it’s just simple, right?
Helena Bouchez: primarily.
Susan Bratton: Yeah. It’s just so simple, and then you see an opportunity. What do you do to get ahead of the opportunities, because by the time an article’s out it’s too late to get your expert quoted in it? What do you do to get ahead of the curve? It’s almost a crapshoot, I know, but give us some help.
Helena Bouchez: You know, actually there are things you can do with the article once it’s placed. I mean you can still, you can take the article and you can comment on it on your own blog and start a conversation there. So, you know, all is not lost if you’re quote is not picked up. But it does help to monitor the, maybe the top three journalists, the top three most influential people who are talking about, talking to your potential clients. And again, develop relationships with them. And I think that’s probably the key right there is to develop a relationship with the journalist before you need anything from them. So that means acting as a resource as well. So you spend some time on their blog, you know what they write about, and so you’re, when you come across something that kind of brand new or a trend that you’ve identified, send them that, even if it doesn’t have anything to do with you.
Susan Bratton: Exactly. And that is something like put it on your calendar and just do it, you know. Schedule some time to take care of it or have Helena tell you to do it at predetermined times. That’s what’s nice about having a publicist. We’re going to go to a break and when we come back I want to talk more about how to pitch bloggers in the press, I want to talk about press releases, I want to talk about whether we should have a book or not and what that gets us, and I want to talk about speaking engagements, getting speaking engagements, the Speakers Bureau, pitching speakers. I think those are four really important things. So lets take a break, thank my sponsors, and when we come back we’ll talk to Helena Bouchez. She’s with Helena B. Communications, and we’ll be right back.
Susan Bratton: We’re back with Helena Bouchez. So the thing that I wanted to talk about was how are you finding the journalists and the bloggers? Are there any tools that you’re using to pinpoint the right people?
Helena Bouchez: Again, you know, I use Google Alerts a lot on the subjects that my clients are interested in. And that brings a lot of things up that you wouldn’t stumble upon with search. I also occasionally do search on keywords, I monitor Twitter, I find a lot of resources that way. There’s Twitter lists of journalists that write on certain topics and those have been tremendously helpful, and I think that they’re probably underutilized. So there’s a lot of people out there curating lists for you, and I think that’s an important point as well is that, you know, if there is a list of stuff that you need, someone has probably pulled it together already. And so search for that list first so that you don’t end up reinventing the wheel.
Susan Bratton: What are some other ways that you find the right journalists or bloggers? Any other tools that you might use?
Helena Bouchez: Like I said, Google is a great tool. Google Blog Lists will turn up a lot of different folks that are writing really good things about a lot of different categories. And then a lot of times when you go, when you do find that blog, they’ve listed blogs on their blog and you can kind of follow the breadcrumb trail and you’ll start seeing the same topics turn up over and over, and that way you can figure out sort of what the hot buttons are
Susan Bratton: Got it. And what about press releases? You also, you like press releases. I’ve become a little jaded about the world of press releases, but you’re still a believer. Tell me how you use press releases in this expertise PR way. What’s effective?
Helena Bouchez: Well, you know, press releases are a great way to flood search with content. A lot of people think of press releases as, you know, you have to have this big monumental piece of news, but actually as a thought leader any time you have a new idea, that is really your news. And so I like Pitch Engine a lot, and I encourage my clients to, you know, always be pumping out different pieces of information, and a lot of times I’ll take that information and I’ll format it up on Pitch Engine and I’ll keyword it and push it out as content.
Susan Bratton: What is Pitch Engine? I don’t know about that.
Helena Bouchez: Pitchengine.com is a social media – what’s the word I want – it’s like newswire, it’s like a newswire, and it allows you to format press release and it has a place where you can put in a Tweet pitch and it has five boxes where you can put in little news nuggets and also has a place where you can tag it up, you can put images up there, you can put related links. And what I’ve found is that again, it really does, you can use it free for 30 days, the release stays up there for 30 days. But for $550 bucks it gives you an actual newsroom, which keeps you from having to create something on your website. And it also becomes sort of a library for all your content, so that if people are searching for something they, when they come across that release they not only see that, they see everything else that you’ve done. And it gets sort of a more holistic picture of your thinking.
Susan Bratton: So it’s a social media press release platform that allows you to outsource your news room to their platform and get yourself some inbound links from that location, as well as having, not having to build it all on your site if you don’t have the resources. I like that.
Helena Bouchez: Right.
Susan Bratton: You also say that if you’re an expert you must eventually find time to write a book. You think a book broadens your platform like nothing else can. You also recommend not worrying about getting an agent or a publisher, just write the best book you can write and get it out there in electronic format. Do you think that an e-book is as powerful and important as a print book?
Helena Bouchez: You know, I mean, I think that there’s virtue in print still…
Susan Bratton: Me too.
Helene Bouchez: But I think that it’s more difficult to get a print, get a publisher now. I think that there are other ways that you can go about getting information out. I mean I would definitely write the book proposal and see who I could get to bite, but I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t let that stop me if no one was expressing interest. Because there are plenty of stories of people who got rejected and self-published and then suddenly became superstars.
Susan Bratton: And have you had experience doing book proposals? Is that something that you help your clients with as well?
Helena Bouchez: I can do a book proposal. I worked on some book… My specialty is really more book promotion thought. So once the book is done, or even once a book is done and before it’s published…
Susan Bratton: Mm hmm.
Helena Bouchez: pulling together reviewers and creating the buzz beforehand and getting the book in peoples hands and whatnot….
Susan Bratton: Yeah.
Helena Bouchez: We’ve had a lot of success with that.
Susan Bratton: What’s the current status of reviewing? So say for example you have a book and it’s coming out and you want people to read it and blog or write a review; what’s the level of etiquette and expectation in the world today about that? And what’s the best practices or best approach to increase your number of reviews?
Helena Bouchez: Well there’s, I think there’s two levels of review, at least two levels. In my experience there are the respected industry influencers, which hopefully you’ve created a relationship with before through all of your, through your Twitter profile and through all of the other stuff that you pumped out through the industry publications, hopefully they know who you are. And so, you know, hopefully you would feel comfortable enough to send them an email and say, “My book’s coming out, would you mind reading it and making some comments about it that I could use on my website, that I could use on my book microsite.” So that’s one level. And then there is getting the book placed at Amazon and driving people to the, at the Amazon site to create reviews and maybe those are just users or readers, maybe people with not as much notoriety or clout, but that are in the trenches using the information.
Susan Bratton: Yeah, absolutely. It’s important to have a lot of reviews of your book on Amazon to get to that point, huh?
Helena Bouchez: Well you can like, you can get the book on Amazon if self-published; it’s just there’s, you have to kind of go through some, you have to jump through some hoops.
Susan Bratton: Exactly. So I want to move as a wrap up to the show to speak ops. I want to talk about getting speaking engagements. You and I have both written on this subject. We both, I’ve been on both sides of the fence: getting them and being pitched for them when I was programming AdTech, so I feel like I have a lot of empathy for the conference, you know, the conference programmers. And you’ve been doing some interviewers with conference programmers as well to find out how you can be most effective in pitching, and what have you learned?
Helena Bouchez: I’ve learned that you really need to read, to become familiar with what the conference is about and ensure that you’re a fit before you even approach the person. Also to understand that they’re busy, that it takes months to plan a conference, and if you don’t hear right back from somebody it doesn’t mean anything except for they’re swamped. And I think also to really write a proper pitch, meaning that, you know, what is it, why should they care, why should their delegates care and what do you want me to do with this? Is it a panel, you know? Is it a standup talking head thing? The other thing that I found out from the four folks that interviewed was that they’re really looking for people who can engage the audience these days and much like what you did with the multimedia rather than getting up there and standing and talking, lecturing for a half an hour, 50 minutes, taking some questions and answers, making it more dynamic, and also just being sensitive to what the conference is about in general.
Susan Bratton: Yeah, I think often the pitches that I’ve seen that are bad are “Please, you know, accept this, you know, pitch for my boss who would like to come in and talk about our product.”
Helena Bouchez: Right.
Susan Bratton: Oh great, that sounds really awesome. Thank you, but no thank you. The good ones are “Hey, I’m sure you’re going to discussing social media at your conference, and I know that there are a wide variety of potential subjects. Here are a list of ten different up and coming key areas of conversation about social that are happening in the market today, and my boss, Mr. Blah-d-blah, would be happy to come and give answers to anyone of these topic areas and we would also be happy to bring a client, an industry analyst” – you know, whatever it might be – “a journalist in this area or even all three of those additional speakers to round out any discussion that you might like to have. The other thing what we can do is conduct some research and present it to as an exclusive at your conference”, you know, it’s that kind of stuff that they want, right?
Helena Bouchez: Right, right. Absolutely. But the client thing, especially if you’re a vendor, being able to bring a client with you and do a casestudy format is really powerful and will open more doors than if you were trying to get in there by yourself.
Susan Bratton: Well and the other thing is that when you’re pitching it to the conference programmer, the conference chair, even if you don’t have your clients lined up, even if they haven’t already said yes, pitch the brands that you have clients for and say, “Here are examples of some of our clients. I don’t have any of them confirmed until you tell me that you’d like us to speak, but I can choose from, you know, these five excellent brands and at least get one of them, if not more for you and you can tell me what your priorities are and I’ll get that person if I can.”
Helena Bouchez: Mm hmm.
Susan Bratton: You know, so you can go to them on essentially a spec, you know, you can pitch a spec to a conference programmer, and they understand that you’re not going to go do that and tee that stuff up ‘til you get approval from them. So that’s an okay way to play it. That’s not inauthentic as long as you’re totally up front in explaining what you’re doing. And I think that that can work really well because then the conference programmer can come back to you and say “Hey, you know, I don’t need this, but I need this. What I really need is this.” You know, it’s finding out what that person’s doing, ‘cause I think the conference circuit, they’re always changing; you know, “We’re doing panels this year. Now we’re not doing panels anymore, now we’re doing these things. Oh, now we’re doing individual speak…”, you know, it’s constantly evolving in every show, don’t you think?
Helena Bouchez: Oh yeah, and panels seem to have just cropped up everywhere, and it takes a really strong moderator to make those work. Otherwise it’s like, you know, four people sitting at the kitchen table talking together, not really, they’re not really oriented towards an audience.
Susan Bratton: Exactly. And if you have a really strong moderator you should tell your programmer that you do; “Look, I have a really strong moderator. I can go out and get you the speakers. You can, I’ll go get them. Tell me who you want and I’ll go get them for you.” Anytime you can offload work and create that level of trusted relationship, I think it’s really good too. I’m sure, have you gotten an opportunity yet to do that for any of the conferences that you’ve worked with?
Helena Bouchez: Opportunity to…
Susan Bratton: Go program a whole session for them.
Helena Bouchez: Oh no, no, no. Normally I’m pitching on a specific topic and we’re just going straight from there.
Susan Bratton: Yeah. A lot of times you can do that. You’d be surprised that that’s a possibility, you know. If you just tee that up I think it can work really well, ‘cause you’re so trusted, you know…
Helena Bouchez: Mm hmm.
Susan Bratton: You’re going to deliver.
Helena Bouchez: Right.
Susan Bratton: There’s no question about that. And anybody who works with you knows that you would, I think.
Helena Bouchez: Oh yeah. And I mean I think the other thing too that brings up is that, you know, this is not one phone call. This is a series of emails…
Susan Bratton: Exactly.
Helena Bouchez: this is a couple of phone calls and proving to you that you’re willing, like you said, to offload some of this stuff that you don’t, you’re not, you’re taking as much responsibility off of them and making it easier for them to say yes.
Susan Bratton: Well and that’s the other thing too. You’ve got to plan so far ahead…
Helena Bouchez: Mm hmm.
Susan Bratton: So you have time to create a relationship because, you know, the call for speakers opens usually six to nine months before the actual event. But their programming right up ‘til, you know, a couple weeks before, so you do have a long window, but if you don’t start when they open it up and do the, you know, follow the rules and do the speaker submissions, it’s pretty unlikely that if you call up the last minute you’re going to be one that gets to do a backfill, you know, a last minute backfill or whatever, right?
Helena Bouchez: Right, right. And the other thing is I think a lot of people tend to look at the web submission form and go, “Oh, you know, I’ll just send it in an email”, and that was the other thing that the folks that I interviewed were pretty unanimous on is that, you know, if there is a web submission form use that form to submit. Someone is on the other end reviewing. You know, your submission is safe and… But I’m not afraid to follow up either, you know, once the submission date closes.
Susan Bratton: Absolutely. And do you keep a calendar? How do you organize all of the shows that you have to submit your experts for? How do you find shows and then how do you manage the whole kind of organization around submission?
Helena Bouchez: Again, I do a lot of research online, and I ask my clients too, you know, “What are the shows that your clients are attending”, and I have just a giant spreadsheet which I continue, I just turn through and mark off, you know, who said yes, did we go to this show last year, what did we talk about. A lot of times a lot of people don’t want you two years in a row so that you, you have to kind of queue up other shows to go to in the interim. The other thing about shows that I am talking to my clients about now is actually getting a booth because that definitely improves your chances of getting a slot. And instead of just standing there handing out brochures, conducting like 15 or 20 minute little triage or Q&A sessions, little consulting sessions.
Susan Bratton: Yeah, I think that’s a great idea. One of the things that I just did at AdTech this week was in addition to moderating the social media sessions, AdTech now has a theater, two theaters, on the expo hall floor, and the expo hall floor theaters are for exhibitors. So I moderated a social media panel on the expo hall floor. We had over a hundred people attend that. There were three hundred people in the sessions at social media. There were a hundred people right off the expo floor. Who knows which one is better or worse. It’s awesome if you can also get opportunities to be there. There are a lot of places. I think it’s really smart to tell your clients to get a booth, and there are a lot of places where you can have extra curriculum that is not necessarily part of the conference track but is still content that’s part of the whole event. You can do things on the side, you can have a Tweet-Up; you know, there’s so many ways that you can gather audience. You can present a white paper or just, you know, put that out in the bins or whatever it might be. There’s lots of ways to become a thought leader at a conference if you can’t get a speak op, right?
Helena Bouchez: Mm hmm, absolutely. And what comes to mind in addition to that is it coming back to what, how you provided your, the people who attended your session with all of these things to do in follow-up, and I think that’s really important. When you get a speaking engagement you can’t just deliver your presentation and then fold up your tent and go home. There has to be additional things for those people to do. I like a short leave behind. And not huge, like one sheet of paper because people, you know, you get pretty loaded down with paper at conferences typically. An easy to remember URL, you know, that’s your website and something really short that they can remember to go to when they get home. I think the follow-up, that’s really where the money is, is in the follow-up. Otherwise you’re there and you’re transferring knowledge but to what end, and really at the end of the day the reason that we’re all here is to make a living.
Susan Bratton: Absolutely. And I think also the last thing I wanted to talk to you about is this idea of having a speaking platform. A lot of people don’t understand what that is or how it works. Can, do you want to talk about that a little bit, about how you develop an expert’s speaker platform?
Helena Bouchez: Well the platform really emerges as a positioning…
Susan Bratton: Yes.
Helena Bouchez: So what the person’s really known for. And it, and the platform really consists of their blog, of their whatever their blog they’re contributing to, of their articles, of their Twitter stream, all these things that create the basis or the platform basically that they can stand on to back up what they’re saying, going to say in person.
Susan Bratton: And where do you typically house that? Once you’ve collected, you know - here’s the person, here’s their bio, this is their blog, here are some, you know, quotes, this is their Twitter handle, these are the places at which they’ve spoken in the past – where do you put that? Is there, you know, you put it on the About Us or the news area of your website, but are there any other places that you’ve found to disseminate that speaker platform? You know, here are five or six topics the speaker can speak on – that’s always really good to have in there. Have you placed that in different places or really does it just go on the corporate website?
Helena Bouchez: You know, I’ve done speaker packets and honestly the feedback I’ve gotten from people is they really, very few really look at them. I think that if, you know, if I were to send one, if I were to get everyone to redo theirs I would make it one page and then have it a one page PDF with a lot of links that could link back to the website, because most of those folks – and you know how this – you’re busy, you’re not going to like plow through a ten page PDF with lengthy descriptions. It’s kind of the whole pitch thing where you just want to get in and out very quickly, and then if the person has more questions and their interest has been peaked, they then, you give them an easy way to go and dig, and drill down.
Susan Bratton: Yeah, I think that’s good too. It is nice when I get a bio from someone and it has everything on their bio. I love having that, and it is shocking how bad peoples bios are, you know…
Helena Bouchez: Oh my goodness….
Susan Bratton: They’re poorly formatted. Sometimes they have typos, there aren’t clickable links, their photo is not part of it, it’s a low res crappy little photo. I mean you can’t get the photo out of the document; there’s just a ton of things that are wrong about almost everybody’s bio.
Helena Bouchez: Oh my goodness. And their photo, I mean the photo’s another thing.
Susan Bratton: Right. Go ahead, tell us your position on the photos.
Helena Bouchez: Yeah, I just had mine professionally done and I was stunned at the different. I mean there would be a huge difference, but – and I write about this a little bit in the paper – you know, there is, there are things that a professional photographer can do in terms of capturing your essence that an amateur just can’t do. Or if they do it they’re lucky, they’re not doing it on purpose. And I like a photo that’s sort of aspirational. In other words, it looks more wise, better, more pulled together than the person is in real life, you know because we’re all….
Susan Bratton: Who doesn’t.
Helena Bouchez: But the photographer can really help you create that image, and I think that’s a really important thing to spend money on is to actually have a professional photographer do the photo and a professional writer to write the bio for that matter.
Susan Bratton: Absolutely. I’m sure that you have a hand in all of your clients bio rewriting.
Helena Bouchez: Absolutely. I even help them polish up their LinkedIn profiles because that’s becoming such a pivotal place for people to look and validate expertise as well.
Susan Bratton: It is, and you should have a third party write your bio or write it like a third party wrote it. You know, it’s not you writing about yourself, that’s not what a bio is. A bio is someone writing your experience, your expertise, your market positioning; it’s supposed to make you look as great as you possibly can, so having a beautiful photo of yourself, having a really good bio, you shouldn’t be embarrassed to have that. That’s what you need, you know, if you want to be an expert, if you want to be a celebrity, if you want to be the go-to guy or the go-to gal on a particular subject, you have to engender that trust and connection and credibility with super high polished sophisticated imagery and words, right?
Helena Bouchez: Mm hmm, it really matters. It really makes a difference because you never, the old adage, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Susan Bratton: Exactly. So Helena Bouchez, it’s been so nice to have you on DishyMix. Thank you for coming on. You’ve taught us a lot, it was great to go through your process, your steps, and if you would like to get a copy of Helena’s Unique, Visible and Great: Becoming a Recognized Marketing Expert white paper, go to helenabcommunications.com and on the bottom left hand corner you’ll click a link and download a very well organized step by step fantastic white paper on becoming a recognized marketing expert. Thanks for being on the show today.
Helena Bouchez: Thanks for having me Susan.
Susan Bratton: It was my pleasure. It’s a subject area that I always really like and I pay some attention to, so thank you. I know that we have a lot of wannabe experts out there and I hope this will help you take your next step in becoming the superstar that we know you are. I’m your host, Susan Bratton. Have a great day and I hope we’ll connect next week. Take care.