Media Relations And How To Gain Free Publicity. Plus A Lot Of Public Relations, Business And Personal Gold Nuggets Of Wisdom From The Founder Of Disruptor Publicity Platform SourceBottle.
I had the pleasure of talking with Bec Derrington, the founder of disruptor publicity platform SourceBottle, a free subscription service that distributes 50,000+ emails a day, each crammed with free media leads. We talk about Media Relations and how to Gain Free Publicity, plus a lot more.
In 2009, Bec started the service to disrupt the traditional media relations model and ensure everyone had free access to media leads to tell their story. Since then, SourceBottle has significantly altered the way the media and sources connect by helping journalists unearth fresh, unrecognised sources quickly, and by giving businesses and PR pros a platform to communicate directly with journalists and bloggers who have specific, immediate source needs. While a recognised expert in media relations, publicity and influencer marketing, Bec remains on her ‘L’ plates as a work-from-home parent of three boys ten and under.
In this interview Bec talks about Media Relations and how to Gain Free Publicity. Why she set up SourceBottle and the resistance she initially encountered; how social media, especially Twitter, was instrumental to her success; as well as sharing tips for successfully pitching to a journalist; and how to avoid being ‘bland’.
Bec also tells us about her exciting new app ‘Influencer Hub’ which is a different approach to sharing the love of a particular brand. Bec is candid about her struggles to balance the demands of a busy and successful business with a young family and she injects a sense of humour and shares some great anecdotes as she tells her story. Laugh and learn about ‘burnt chop’ syndrome and how to ‘burn the boat’.
Sit back, listen, and I hope you take home one or two of Bec Derrington’s wonderful pearls of wisdom.
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Bec's Top Quotes
On starting SourceBottle in 2009: “I likened the PR industry at that stage………… it was really like going to a restaurant and sitting at a table and a whole sea of waiting staff putting 50 dishes in front of you and hoping you liked one. It was crazy, it was totally arse-about in my opinion. That was what we were doing to journalists. Journalists were being flooded with pitches that were completely meaningless and irrelevant and self-serving promotional messages, and they were incredibly frustrated by the process. And I thought why aren’t we using the tools, the technology? Crowd sourcing was becoming a thing and I thought why aren’t we embracing and using technology as an enabler?”
On how to pitch to a journalist: “Bland will never work in media. Bland won’t work for anybody, no one is interested in another bland story.…… You have got to say your opinion, you have to put it out there, because that is what makes a big big difference in terms of how much success you are going to generate in the media.”
On social media: “Twitter back then, it was just such a powerful tool for me. Yes, and to elevate the profile of SourceBottle to my target audience I used it. I was on it every day for hours and hours on end. It definitely grew my business.”
On a personal level: “I struggle every day. It’s different sets of challenges, lack of sleep. I think a lot of parents, I won’t say just mums, but we suffer from the ‘burnt chop’ syndrome. Have you ever heard of that expression before?.....Burnt chop syndrome is the fact that mums in many cases will keep the burnt chop for themselves and give the good chops to everyone else. And I think that’s what most of us do just to get through, we put our own needs last. For example, I am a normal human being and I need at least 6 hours sleep a night, well that may not happen very often. And because I am either having to do extra work or I am being woken up by children or whatever, so I just push through. I think the main thing that I’ve come to learn through this, is that if you are running a business for the wrong reasons you will not be able to sustain the pressure that it puts on your life. So if you don’t personally love and believe in what you’re doing, and enough to sustain it over years and years and after that initial business honeymoon period, then you will find it all too hard.”
Read The Interview
Caroline Kennedy: Welcome to the show. I am excited because we are about to chat with Bec Derrington. She is the founder of disruptor publicity platform SourceBottle. A free subscription service that distributes 50,000 plus emails a day and growing fast. Each crammed with free media leads. Bec has a simple vision for her business that every journalist using her service be inundated with quality sources and for every SourceBottle subscriber to get famous using it. SourceBottle has moved beyond just a service for Australian journalists, bloggers and sources. Now the service is available in the UK, US, Canada, Ireland and NZ. But its core focus remains connecting journalists and bloggers with expert sources for free. Bec was a lawyer before pursuing a passion in digital marketing and public relations, where she now happily resides. While a recognised expert in influencer marketing, media relations and how to gain free publicity, in her words, she remains on her ‘L plates’ as a work from home parent of 3 boys, aged 10 and under. So, congratulations Bec on building a highly successful business.
Bec Derrington: Thank you so much. I always find that rests very uncomfortably on my shoulders, that successful label. You know, have I really…..am I successful yet? I don’t know, I don’t know, the jury is still out in my opinion. But thank you.
Caroline: And that is very humble of you. There aren’t very many females in business that take that approach because I certainly know I am one of them where you say ‘no I don’t feel successful’, yet you have achieved so much. But that is what keeps us pushing along to continue to improve as well.
Bec: Absolutely, I think that is right. I don’t know. A lot of people measure success differently. I think certainly I am feeling a little bit more successful then when I started out, because even SourceBottle itself is functioning as a much more successful platform because of the scale and the opportunities that come through it, but yeah, you know, it’s a very sort of, a very loose term that I still find I am striving to reach.
Caroline: Yes yes. So, tell us how it all began?
Bec: Look it started out Caroline, I was working in PR and I only recently moved from Melbourne to Brisbane, and I had sort of started doing some PR work for myself so I had a little consultancy. I had my first child and having left working in a highly corporate and demanding role, my husband also works in a corporate environment, demanding, long hours and lots of travel, and something had to give. So, with our first child I decided that I would work from home and try to juggle it and that was sort of my first introduction into running a consultancy and my own business. That was kind of when the challenges of the PR industry at that time, we are talking how many years now, I think 8 years ago, my first son is nearly 11, so we are talking 11 years ago, because he was very young, I started to really see the gaping holes and the challenges in the industry. When you have a little bit of mental capacity to start reconfiguring how things should work, it’s when these ideas pop into your head. And I likened the PR industry at that stage, I mean it still operates a little in this way as well, but it was really like going to a restaurant and sitting at a table and a whole sea of waiting staff putting 50 dishes in front of you and hoping you liked one. It was crazy, it was totally arse-about in my opinion. That was what we were doing to journalists. Journalists were being flooded with pitches that were completely meaningless and irrelevant and self-serving promotional messages, and they were incredibly frustrated by the process. And I thought why aren’t we using the tools, the technology, the crowd sourcing was becoming a thing and I thought why aren’t we embracing and using technology as an enabler…… bloggers were just starting to create a stronghold for themselves in Australia at that stage, other countries were much more advanced in terms of recognising their importance in the media landscape back then. It was sort of at that stage when I thought why aren’t we using technology to collectively source great talent for journalists, because I was struggling myself, I didn’t know many journalists having moved to Victoria, and they were changing all the time anyway in terms of the areas they were covering, so I thought maybe there was an opportunity here as a homebased business to use technology to create something that did just that, and that is how the beginnings of SourceBottle was born. And the idea. I sank a lot of money into it, because I thought, if I am going to fail at this, I couldn’t see how it could fail because working in the industry I saw a genuine need. There was a real problem and a genuine need for a solution. I thought I am going to go down swinging, you know, I am going to try my best.
Caroline: ‘Burn the boat’ as they say, you know.
Bec: I like that. I’ve never heard that ‘burn the boat’.
Caroline: Yeah so there’s no going back you just moving forward continually, and I love what you are talking about as well is that cross industry innovation, and I talk a lot about this with clients because It doesn’t necessarily have to be – its combining things that already exist. You saw that technology and what was happening in the blogging world, and how you can integrate that with PR to come up with a solution that evolved the market and provided, and also you recognised the problem as well. So you cobbled it all together to say, well here we go, this is the evolution of PR and solving everybody’s problems, both with the journalists being inundated and the customer who is trying to interact with the journalists. So it was a win win for everybody.
Bec: Well that’s what I thought Caroline, but back then I met with a lot of resistance. I pressed go, I pressed play on the website, and went, ‘ok everybody, here is this fantastic solution to all of your problems’, and there were crickets. People didn’t understand it, they didn’t get it, journalists were mocking me. I remember on twitter one journalist came out and said ‘hey did you hear about SourceBottle, I am going to ask for a pony.’ And I thought ‘yeah, good on you’. And then it started to be bandied around by more senior journalists who had done the hard yards and resented a tool that made life so easy for journalists, as a tool for lazy journalists. So it was being stigmatised in a way. And I really struggled to get that critical mass in the early stages, so that it was going to become a tool that would be added to everyone’s arsenal for everyone to use. Of course you use it, it makes life easy, but it wasn’t perceived that way in the early stages. It was a process of gritting my teeth, but of course I couldn’t walk away, and I had to make it work.
Caroline: Yeah. And I think the other things is that probably 9 years ago as well, we were a little bit more resistant to change, whereas now change happens so frequently.
Bec: Yes, you are spot on. I think that is right and Australia, we ourselves have matured, we have come of age, we are early adopters, whereas back then we were very resistant to change and so sceptical of these sorts of tools, whereas now we go, of course! We embrace tools to make life easier.
Caroline: Yeah, and it’s about that disruptive approach as well, because had you not pursued it because of the criticism back then someone else would have introduced something like that in the future anyway, do you know what I mean?
Bec: Absolutely, yes you are right, I just had to…you know what was really instrumental, there were a couple of great journalists that sidled up to me, and said ‘you know this is a really good tool and we see the potential in this’. They just gave it a shot. No matter what, we hit the phones, but they put a call out on SourceBottle and it’s not like I had hundreds of multiples of subscribers at that stage, I mean I was counting down every single subscriber every day. So, I would get on the phone and hit up people as a journalist, say look at his great call out on being a mum, or having had a Caesar, or anybody that I knew that could possibly respond to the call out. I was doing the leg-work because it had to work. If a journalist posted a call out on SourceBottle and heard nothing they would go ‘this is crap’, so it would just take a very devoted journalist to keep trying again and again if they didn’t get any results early on. And there were a few of those. There were only 3 that I could think of that were loyal to the service and you know, I think they got results, so they kept coming back, and then the results just got better and better, and the results for the people signing up just got better and better. So of course, ultimately that is what led to its momentum and its success to where we are now.
Caroline: I love how you say that. And the other thing is that a lot of people see businesses rise and the momentum to build and rise to be popular, which is what SourceBottle is, it’s very popular which is great, but they think that happened instantly, and they don’t realise that it took you how many years to get that plateau area, that momentum area, where it just sort of built and it built quite quickly, as opposed to before when you were just like, getting on the phones, and just really drumming up business and doing all that leg work and that hard work, and people don’t see that, do they? And it’s so important that we talk about that because businesses generally are not an overnight success and they take a long while and a lot of work to get them to that point.
Bec: Yeah, that is so so true Caroline. I think with SourceBottle it probably took a good 2 and a bit years, in the back of my mind, I had this consultancy and of course my husband was working crazy hours and helping supplement my income, and I was also still consulting at that stage through this business called ‘Wagging Tongues’ and I was trying to juggle both. But the end goal for me was being able to let go of my consultancy work and just focus on SourceBottle but at that stage I only had one revenue stream that I had even contemplated which was advertising through the email alerts. The subscribers, I had to give free subscriptions to reach a good 5000 people on a subscription base before someone would pay a cent to be promoted you know, so it took a good 2 and a half years to reach that sort of critical mass that meant that journalists were getting great results, people were getting access to some fantastic media leads, and advertisers were getting some return on their investment, and so my goal was to abandon consulting and focus on SourceBottle full time. So that helped drive that hunger in me to make it work, as well as that terrible fear of failure (both laughs).
Caroline: Which we are all terribly familiar with, well I certainly am anyway.
Bec: The terror.
Caroline: Yes but that is what drives us too, I think. When you talk about that critical mass, how did you know, you said 5000 subscribers took you two years, so how did you do that?
Bec: Well, yes, the thing is with a lot of products and services it’s pretty easy to articulate their core benefit, with chicken egg businesses like SourceBottle I had two audiences I had to really promote it to. But it was quite a complex message to articulate in a really short pithy advertisement, and so the one time I did advertise I heard nothing, and so that was a big fat waste of money. So, for me it had to be word of mouth, so the people who got results had to, well, feel duty bound to reciprocate to get someone else following and feel that success. There was this wonderful community sentiment that evolved out of people getting good results, and there was this lovely family feeling that meant that they kind of felt duty bound to recommend us on to their friends as a way of helping their friends achieve success as well. Member type campaigns were very important back then, and so as I was saying before, things like ‘I’ll do a free promotion of your product or your service’ if you refer 3 friends to this service.’ And then that sort of thing kept building on everything. What ended up happening is that I would do little plugs and free promotions and that would help drive sales for them, and then they would recommend or get 3 people to sign up. So those sorts of things, and I was all over social, particularly Twitter, I am still very new to Facebook and a lot of others, Twitter has always been my principle social media platform cause as I say often, its where the PR consultants, and where the journalists are together in the sandpit, so I could always, and my two target audiences and small businesses too, but PRs were really at that intermediary level so once they knew about it, it helped to build that momentum even faster. Twitter I was all over like a rash, making sure if I saw a journalist trying to use Twitter as a platform to call our sources, I’d retweet that and hopefully they would start following me and see that there was a platform available that had broader reach then what they did.
Caroline: Yes. You were an early adapter of social media then as well, especially in those early days, you saw the opportunity to really leverage that.
Bec: Yes, certainly with Twitter I was. I still have a very strong loyalty with Twitter although the engagement has diminished somewhat over the years, but Twitter has been my main stay. I know you were talking in an earlier podcast, which was fascinating, to Katrina Pollard, who is brilliant. And as an introvert and how that has helped her in exploring her role, and people who like her to become experts. One of the things I found as an introvert, is that I spent a lot of time behind a computer screen on my own, working in my own business that sort of social isolation was a bit of a challenge for me, but Twitter back then particularly was an incredible way of reaching out and expanding your network, online certainly at first but then certainly in real-life. And creating really meaningful connections through a platform like Twitter, so yes I used it very much as a business tool, but the connections I made through that, I think Katrina may have even been one of them, they have actually been quite instrumental in the evolution of SourceBottle.
Caroline: That is quite interesting, and I agree with you, because I am an introvert as well, so using online to connect and build those relationships, and then taking them off-line when you feel like you really know somebody.
Bec: Fascinating, isn’t it? You know some of these people I met, it was a safe way to meet somebody and reaching out to them online. It’s not too exposing, if you get rebuffed, it’s not like a major…. its ok.
Caroline: I hear you.
Bec: Yes, so you very rarely do get rebuffed and people love forming meaningful connections with people through social, it’s probably more social, and it’s probably more profound on different platforms now with visual imagery but Twitter back then, it was just so powerful a tool for me. Yeah and to elevate the profile of SourceBottle to my target audience and I used it, I was on it every day for hours and hours on end. It definitely grew my business.
Caroline: Yes, and now you are starting to use Facebook and that is something that I am contemplating, it takes a bit of time to build up, as I am sure you can appreciate. But you do it so well, so how are you finding that? Was a new tool challenging initially for you?
Bec: That’s very kind of you to say. Look I use it on and off. I was very committed early on, but I feel like most things on Facebook you know when they first introduced FB I had a – do you know Trevor Young, he’s a brilliant PR warrior. So he recommended I try to do that and it would be a good approach to engage with the audience on FB because I don’t have a visual medium. It’s quite challenging when you look at different platforms like Facebook with video and with images and things, it’s very hard with SourceBottle and so I thought, you know, I’ll give it a go. But now I think the engagement has dropped off a bit because Facebook live they were really trying to promote it and everyone saw the FB live videos, but now I am sort of finding that Its not appearing in a lot of people’s feeds as much, so you know, its dropped a little bit so you have to keep being creative and how you engage with Facebook life for example, and I am still trying to think of different more novel ways to talk about the top tips, or behind the scenes kind of insights on different call outs having had a chat ….I did one segment that I thought I would probably do again, and I think it got a bit of success, and it was a fantastic call out for a TV opportunity for an entrepreneurial type business, and I separately spoke to the journalist and can you give me, what are you really looking for in a source for this, and he gave me the background insights and I did that as a Facebook live video. I am experimenting all the time, but yeah, it’s not easy, but it’s safe. You are in your own space, you’ve got some control, and if you look like a bit of an idiot, you just do.
Caroline: But you don’t see people’s responses and that is what I like about doing video. I like doing a lot of video and send them out initially, and I’ve talked to a lot of individuals who are quite sceptical of it because they feel like they are exposing themselves, and my common response to that is ‘but you don’t see people watching you and you don’t see their responses’ so as you said before it is quite a safe environment. And that is what I love about it. You’ve got to be out there, and in this world it is important to be out there, but not just about being out there, but also trying to help and educate. And I think that has always been my approach but what is the knowledge I have, and how can I use that to help and educate people? Because that is what I love, I love being educated. Because you don’t know everything, and you don’t know what you don’t know. So I love, whether it be watching videos, as we talked about before, podcasting, really just developing and growing, they are great mediums for that, but in saying that I do think that social media can be overwhelming as well.
Bec: Look it can be. And I think that you’ve got a business where you are the face of the business. But for me I can hide a little behind SourceBottle, but really the best engagement and the most meaningful relationship, the longevity of the relationship is dependent on putting a human face to a business I think.
Caroline: Yes, I agree.
Bec: Which is why I pushed myself a little bit to be more visible. It’s very easy for me to hide behind everything and you inject elements of your personal brand into the business brand and you start to make connections, and everyone benefits from that I think. It’s definitely been more difficult but I think it’s a mindset, the most important thing to me was, when it comes to, and I know you talked about this in that podcast with Katrina, but one of the most important things for me, in dealing with self-promotion for example, and trying to position yourself as an ‘expert’ which is something that makes me feel uncomfortable, when you are saying you know more than someone about something, that you have anything to offer. If you change the mindset and you start thinking that this is about helping you, and as long as I feel like these are some tips, or if I talk about SourceBottle, and I believe I can genuinely help you, I am not trying to drum up business for myself, I am legitimately trying to reach out and help you, so as soon as I changed my mindset I became quite comfortable. I think its females, we have a bit of a nurturing thing. I hate making that generalisation and I apologise but there is a very natural affinity with that nurturing helping supporting element to a woman’s psyche I think, and that was how I started thinking about how I can do that and be more comfortable being very visible out there. We can all put on a face for a period of time, but I find I can feel very anxious when I am having to talk about myself or talk about my business but as long as it starts turning around and I think ‘ok I’m helping’ and genuinely helping people so they can do better, so that makes it easier.
Caroline: And I completely agree with you, and I can relate to that because I am exactly the same, I am exactly the same, because if I have to talk about myself or my business I am very uncomfortable because I don’t like selling, although I am very much about how can I turn that around and how can I help somebody because that is genuinely what I want to do. How can I add value that is really important. I absolutely agree with what you are saying. Now Bec, how important is PR for small business?
Bec: It’s the most important thing ever! PR is really just like a third-party endorsement, and PR can be traditional legacy style media or it can be a blogger but if that person, whoever that authority is, if they are talking to your target audience and they are saying you are a credible expert or you need to be listened to because what you are saying is important, that is going to result in a much stronger sort of business position for you. Its fundamental, there is that joke when you talk about the value of PR versus the value of advertising, when you can control the message as you can in advertising, you lose a lot of credibility and trust. It diminishes. But when, it’s like that joke when you go to a party and I’ll give the sanitised version, you go to a party and I tell someone I make a great chocolate cake, they may or may not believe me, I’m controlling the message and I have a vested interest in telling you I make a great chocolate cake. Although I can’t bake to save myself. But if John over the other side of the party were to walk up to you and say, see Bec over there she makes a mean chocolate cake, you are going to say ‘oh wow, she really must!’ Cause he’s got no vested interest in saying that she does. It’s that third-party arm’s length endorsement of you and your skills and now we have access to so much information we can do a search immediately and find reviews or find editorial or a blog post or a review of something, I mean I did it myself the other day on something. I was a bit sceptical, and then I read an article about this product and it seemed quite legit, so I might as well buy it. I mean we have access to all this opportunity for third party endorsements and as long as they are at arm’s length and not paid for, the trust there is really really strong, and that is what PR is, it’s all PR is.
Caroline: That’s a good way of summarising it. What are your tips for getting the media to be interested in you, because that is quite challenging especially for small business?
Bec: I think one of the challenges, and certainly working in public relations, one of the challenges we always have with clients is ‘why would they care about that’? They think the universe centres around them and if they launch a new website they think that’s news - well that’s not news. It’s all about trying to put yourself in the position of the story teller and say ‘well how is this going to benefit their audience or why would they be interested?’ There are all those devices, conflict, timeliness and one of the things I always tell people about SourceBottle, cause SourceBottle is a little bit different, so I always delineate and proactive media and reactive media opportunities so what SourceBottle does, it’s a reactive media opportunity platform. It sends you these media opportunities on your lap and you can respond to it. So that is separate. What we are talking about here is proactive, how do I sell myself, how do I position myself and who do I want to be talked about in front of. And I think the fact that some of the elements of what you do with proactive, is very relevant with reactive and what I mean by that, is ok over the years, media particularly like stereotypes or they like breaking stereotypes, and they like to pigeon-hole you as a certain type of person. So when it suits I’ll go along with that and there are ‘evergreen’ story angles that I can use reactively and proactively. I’ll give you an example, and these are the sort of things you can have ‘in the ready’, like SourceBottle call outs or when you are thinking about pitching a story. Some angles would be ‘I am a female in the tech sector’, I don’t know anything about technology except I use it, I love it. But I have much smarter coding and doing all that backing stuff for me. But I’m still stereotypically in the tech industry and I am female and there are fewer of us in that space so that makes me a sexy angle. So that’s one angle, and when different story ideas come up, different elements of women working, discrimination, whatever it is, sometimes you can throw that out as a response. You kind of have it ready, you know how it works and that is sexy to a journalist. So that is one area, as I said, I don’t perfectly fit into that stereotype but I can definitely use that to my advantage and be positioned as a female in the tech sector.
Caroline: Yes, yes.
Bec: Another one is ‘I work from home’. So there is a social isolation element of that. And that is always going to be topical so you sort of think about, my 5 tips for staying sane for example, working by myself for myself, that sort of angle is always topical and relevant. You can use that in response to a call out that is relevant or you can pitch that as an ‘evergreen’ angle because people are interested and they are struggling with those challenges themselves. That’s another stereotype I think I fit into, or category I fit into. Another is I’m a working mother of 3 boys aged 10 and under and how do I juggle everything, how do I balance that or not. What are my tips for that? That is another stereotype I fit into really comfortably, and I think that’s ok that’s fine. So you start thinking about what are those angles that would appeal to different audiences and how can my story work in with that? And that is the way you can look proactively and reactively to get yourself in front of the media.
Caroline: They are really good tips and great examples as well. It’s important that businesses can see if they can relate to that. What are the common mistakes that businesses make in PR? What do you see regularly?
Bec: Well, I think certainly, ‘I get emails from people saying I’ve been pitching for months, and I get nothing from these journalists.’ And I say ‘ok, how are you pitching?’ And this is a common mistake I see in SourceBottle as well. I said before that one of the things is to actually start thinking about PR more from the element and mindset of the journalist, so you aren’t thinking about what’s in this for me. You are thinking why is this a good story and why would they want to tell the story? So what? So I’ve got a new website, so what? I’ve got a new product. So what? Why is it different, how is it different, that sort of stuff? I think one of the things that people fail to do when they respond to call-outs is give their opinion – so for example, and this again crosses to when you are pitching to journalist as well. If a journalist is looking for a, I’ll use this example, a nutritionist with 10 years’ experience and they want to talk about sugar in the diet. And so what a journalist will do, they will put a call-out on SourceBottle saying they want to speak to a nutritionist about the levels of sugar in the diet and how healthy are certain levels of sugar. Someone will say I’m a nutritionist with 10 years’ experience and I can be reached here, or something like that. And that’s fine, you are showing you satisfy their pre-requisite, but a good journalist will want to show a balanced story, so they will want someone who is pro sugar and someone who is opposed to sugar. If you go that next step and say ‘I think sugar is poison and its blah blah blah and here is my blog post and my latest book, and here are 3 patients I’ve just treated by eliminating sugar and the results have been astounding’, can you imagine how much more powerful that is for a journalist to receive? They receive 50 to 60 responses, they may or may not read every one, but if you just post I’m a nutritionist with 10 years’ experience, versus someone who has said all this, then that shows talent and that is powerful. Then the journalist will keep those details because that person is prepared to put an opinion out there. Bland will never work in media. Bland won’t work for anybody, no one is interested in another bland story. But on the other side, I’ve had plenty of call-outs that do this too, they find one side, lots of comments on the sugar is terrible, but I need someone who is going to talk about how sugar is blamed for everything but it’s not so bad, that kind of angle. If I could find someone who’d say that. So, if you are a nutritionist I think we just need to limit our consumption by this amount but really we shouldn’t be demonising it, the psychological issues etc etc, so you have that balance with the story, and that makes you sexy talent. You have got to say your opinion, you have to put it out there, because that is what makes a big big difference in terms of how much success you are going to generate in the media.
Caroline: I think it also makes life easier for the journalist as well, because now they can substantiate that comment, because you’ve actually done it for them.
Bec: Exactly. And sometimes they just won’t. If they have 10 great results why would they bother?
Caroline: Absolutely, and that’s a really good tip. A lot of businesses just don’t realise because they are head down bum up in their own little bubble. So, if you are pitching, so what, how are you different? What is the benefit and why is what you are doing different and is there a need for it as well?
Bec: Why would I want to write about you? Why would I want to tell my audience about you? Why are they going to read this article? For them, it’s all about making and telling great stories. A bland story is not a great story – a new website, it’s not ….you’ve just got to reinvent how you tell your story and connect to the true human need. Back stories are wonderful. We’ve just gone through the grand final here in Melbourne, with the AFL, and one of the strongest elements that came out of that was the Bulldogs, the winners, had incredibly strong back stories. They were underdogs, breaking stereotypes, they won against all odds, they had injuries and a wonderful human interest story that resonated with so many people. And of course that made great copy for a journalist. With that sort of back story, the real reason, the why, I hear that a lot, but the back story of what got you to this point, the struggles you overcame, stories people can relate to, the driving need for your business and why it came about. That’s compelling, not so much the features of the business, but what benefit does it achieve and why did you get there in the first place?
Caroline: Yes, yes absolutely. Now tell us about Influencer Hub? I am excited to hear about this.
Bec: Oh, aren’t you lovely Caroline! So Influencer Hub is an app, a new platform that I’ve been working on the last year, and I’ve got a couple of clients already now, and it’s really exciting to watch it evolve. So what it is, it’s a platform where people who love your brand share their brand experiences socially. So it leverages – it’s like an advocacy platform, through that amplification tool. So it’s not ‘cash for comment’, and one of the problems I see at the moment is that influencer marketing is being sold to people as cash for comment which is absolutely not right. We’ve been doing that forever, that is not influencer marketing, that is celebrity endorsement. And I find that we are still applying the same traditional principles of advertising, so ‘reach’ we are applying to the digital space and its absolutely not. It’s about engagement, which you can’t have in that traditional advertising area.
Caroline: No, it’s not genuine.
Bec: No, it’s not genuine and people see through it. You could pay Kim Kardashian for example $10,000 to take a picture holding a product, a handbag for example, and you pay for that, and that’s fine. Again, that’s traditional advertising and that image will appear in front of her audience. But people who want genuine engagement, she is not going to respond to your queries about what colours it comes in, or how soft is it on the inside. When you translate social with influencer marketing, it’s about genuine engagement, and real influence, which comes down to me, the more intimate the connection is between the two people, so the person sharing and listening to the story, the more intimate that connection, the higher the level of trust. So I find influencer marketing or the Influencer Hub really tries to embrace that higher level, so people aren’t being swooned by dollars and expect to be paid for making a comment about a brand. These are the true brand lovers, people who genuinely love your brand and only covet the things you can provide, whether its access or different sort of incentives that are much more meaningful and true to that brand.
Bec: People sharing love for their brands all the time, this is just a way for a brand itself to embrace these people and be part of our brand community and we can love you back.
Caroline: Yes so tell me what kind of target market, which businesses, who is it going to work for?
Bec: I think it’s really catering for the people who are doing a lot of work in this space anyway. People who have genuine brand love and the business wants an easier way to connect to those people and love them back. A brand with a lot of brand love, like Bunnings for example, not saying they are a client, just an example. You have a lot of people who love Bunnings they are doing pictures and images and just doing it because they love the brand. So if Bunnings were to say, I love you back please come into this exclusive community, and it’s all gamified of course, you get points or an opportunity to share the content that Bunnings want them to share, or create their own content. Then they get the ‘oh my god, Bunnings said we love you, thank you so much’ so there is real engagement with their true, true advocates. And they stay on this platform and get rewarded with a Bunnings voucher or a free sausage or something. It’s just a completely different playing field where you reward and thank them for what they are doing, a legitimate way of thanking them without requiring payment. Its genuine word of mouth marketing via social and at scale.
Caroline: If anyone was interested in investigating this a little bit more, where can they go and have a look?
Bec: Well you can go to the website, www.influencerhub.com and you can ask for a free demo and we will organise that for you.
Caroline: Thank you.
Bec: Thank you!
Caroline: Well you’re a mum and we talked about that before with your boys, all under 10 and you run a highly successful business and I am sure it’s very demanding on your time. Both are. So how do you manage all of that?
Bec: Badly. Honestly.
Caroline: Good answer.
Bec: I struggle every day. Its different sets of challenges, lack of sleep. I think a lot of parents, I won’t say mums, we suffer from the ‘burnt chop’ syndrome. Have you ever heard of that expression before?
Caroline: Have I heard of that before? No, I haven’t and I am quite interested. But I am sure I can relate.
Bec: I know you can relate. Burnt chop syndrome is the fact that mums in many cases will keep the burnt chop for themselves and give the good chops to everyone else. And I think that’s what most of us do just to get through, we put our own needs last. For example, I am a normal human being and I need at least 6 hours sleep a night, well that may not happen very often. And because I am either having to do extra work or I am being woken up by children or whatever, so I just push through. I think the main thing that I’ve come through this knowing is, that if you are running a business for the wrong reasons you will not be able to sustain the pressure that it puts on your life. So if you don’t personally love and believe in what you’re doing, and enough to sustain it over years and years and after that initial honeymoon period of a new business, then you will find it all too hard. If you are generally motivated to do it, and sometimes it’s like a marriage of any description, and sometimes you feel a little bit out of love and you need to reunite and reconnect with your business, and you think what do I need to do, how can I challenge myself a little bit? So what ways can I, and I hate this expression – pivot, the business the way I am running it? How can I improve things, do I take on new staff, how do I change things up a bit to really invigorate my passion for the business? But if you don’t have that passion and you are motivated for the wrong reasons, you cannot juggle fairly and work, cause it just takes its toll, it’s just too hard.
Caroline: Yes, and I completely agree with you. And the other thing I came to terms with, especially after having children, but nothing is perfect you know. I just don’t expect it, things get thrown at you left right and centre and you have to step up and deal with it, as opposed to saying ‘you know, why did that happen?’ It happens and you just have to go with the flow and know that, ‘that’s life.’
Bec: Yeah, and you know that whole kind of being critical of people and being critical of parenting, they just need to go away people like that. Everyone is just doing their best, I am doing my best, but I make mistakes every day in my life in every element of my life. And I think I’m not going to be that bitch in my head, ahhh you could have done that better, oh are they are having that for dinner again, and have they had their vitamins today? And that kind of bitch in my head that’s making me feel like I’m …..
Caroline: I know. We are our own worst enemy that way as well. But like you said before, why do people criticise is my biggest bug bear because everyone walks their own journey and we have no right to criticise anybody else. They might be doing something differently but that’s ok. It’s their right to do things differently and we should never judge people because we don’t know what people are going through, and at the end of the day they are living their own lives so who are we to judge?
Bec: I so agree. And so you know, if I see that creeping in, or when I get a really horrible email or I get something putting me or the business down, I just have to step away and say ‘I am just doing my best’, ok that’s fine, you have an opinion and you are coming from a different place than me, and I try to be gentle with myself. And sometimes I am not doing my best, and I think ok, I can cop that on the chin, I need to step up, but that’s life. I really do believe that most of the time we are doing our best and I have to shut down the bitch in my head and say ok, tomorrows another day, I might need a little bit more sleep, I am feeling a little bit ‘cray-cray’ and I need to ‘chill out cha-chi!’
Caroline: That’s very good advice (both laugh) and I am certainly going to take that on board, and it’s a timely reminder I think so I am glad we had this chat. And finally, what does the future look like for you and the business?
Bec: Well I want SourceBottle to just skyrocket. I have reached a stage and ok, it’s been very organic, and maybe I need to do something a little bit more proactive. So I am thinking about SourceBottle and changing things up a bit - maybe helping people at becoming experts, like how can they do that, and doing more myself. Whether its webinars etc, that sort of stuff, to be even more supportive of them, rather than just a platform, and to connect those people to become better experts. And everyone benefits when journalists have better tools to support them. Definitely one element of SourceBottle - and then there is Influencer Hub which is a nice new bright shiny thing that’s distracting me from SourceBottle as well but I truly love it and I think there is such a niche there so I am just watching that grow, and so yes, a little bit frenetic, in terms of my life, but exciting. Exciting new challenges and so hopefully watch this space.
Caroline: I am sure watch this space – especially the education side of things. That is the next phase for you isn’t it - because you have the platform to this level. And I love your approach about how can I continue to help? It is that approach of being customer-centric really, which we talked about earlier.
Bec: Who would have ‘thunk it’, eh?
Caroline: And Influencer Hub again you saw a need for something and you stepped in there, which will go from success to success.
Bec: Thank you very much.
Caroline: Thank you so much for your time today, I really appreciated it. I just loved chatting with you and really appreciate you taking the time and I am sure our listeners will get a lot out of this conversation.
Bec: Thank you for listening to my ramblings and I loved chatting to you too. I really hope that there is one nugget of wisdom at least.
Caroline: Oh I am sure there are quite a few. Thank you Bec.
Bec: Thank you, Caroline.
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