EP 12: Leverage Your Business with PR without Hiring a PR Firm with PR Expert Kristin Marquet

Mary Harcourt  0:05  
Welcome to Ready Set glow, a podcast where I interview the person behind the brand. We're gonna talk about what it took to get started, the lessons learned along the way, and the advice they have for you on your own journey. I'm your host, Mary Harcourt, founder and CEO of Cosmo glow. Today's guest Kristin Marquet has been a publicist and a business owner for more than 14 years as owner and creative director of mark a media. We're here to talk about her career as a publicist, Kristin has developed partnerships with leading brands and entrepreneurs all around the world. She's a four time author, and has an academic background in data sciences, business and public relations. Today, we're gonna dive deep and talk about how to leverage your business with PR and media coverage without hiring a PR firm.

Kristen, tell us about yourself. Who are you and what are you all about?

Kristen Marquet  1:04  
Well, thank you so much for having me on today. I'm really excited to be here. I launched my first company back in 2008 was during the financial crisis, I had worked for one of the big four management consulting firms, everybody in my office during the financial crisis ended up getting laid off. So at that point, I said, Alright, do I look for a job? Or do I start a business or business and I haven't ever looked back. The last 15 years I've been doing PR for fashion, beauty lifestyle industries, as well as female founders, female entrepreneurs started off freelancing, and then ended up growing to a full scale company agency, rather 30 clients full time team grew very quickly, way faster than I had anticipated. So then I took a step back, and then just really figured out who I should serve. And really only focus on two or three industries. And you know, we've been doing that for the last 15 years. And in 2017, I started femme founder, which started off as a blog with like, two readers were like my mom and dad. And over the last five years, actually, March was just our five year anniversary, we've actually built an email list of 500,000 email subscribers, a full course business, if you can believe that full roster of students, 1500 students rather. And, you know, we've conducted over 1000 interviews of female founders, which by the way, we're gonna get you on there as well. Femme founder now just kind of serves as an educational resource for female entrepreneurs, and mainly service providers that are looking to get to that first $250,000 started off as a passion project. But now actually, interestingly enough, now accounts for half my revenue.

Mary Harcourt  2:53  
Hey, that's a great thing. I mean, a 500,000 email list is quite a large feat. i How long did that take you? You said it was five years, right?

Kristen Marquet  3:03  
Yeah, five years. Before that, I think I had like maybe five or 10,000 email subscribers, but just kept on really focusing on delivering value publishing lead magnet after lead magnet landing page after landing page, video, after video, podcast after podcast, we were able to grow that quickly. But the thing is, if you don't have somebody managing that email list full time, you know, it can get really bloated, and you know, could be like having a second mortgage payment. So you have to be very strategic with how often you end up keeping your subscribers engaged. And then also, how often you're going to be sending out newsletters or email sequences and nurture sequences and all that good stuff.

Mary Harcourt  3:48  
So let's go back to what's a lead magnet to it's

Kristen Marquet  3:51  
essentially PDF checklist cheat sheet can be a video pretty much be anything access to, but the you know, I think that there are certain people in the industry, you know, in the digital marketing sphere and the online course sphere, that actually do give really good content for free, you know, and they only charge for like the super, super strategic, very, very high end content. I think that if you do have a really good lead magnet, you can attract 10s of 1000s, hundreds of 1000s of email subscribers that are targeted that actually you can sell to. And you brought up that

Mary Harcourt  4:30  
Pinterest is actually a great place to find email leads. How does that work?

Kristen Marquet  4:36  
When I first started from founder, you know, a little over five years ago, I was reading up on Pinterest, I was trying to get acquainted with how the platform works. Essentially, what the benefit is to getting traffic and email subscribers and ultimately sales. I learned that it's pretty much like a visual Google for every single pin you get a link for whether it's a blog post or landing page. A tripwire podcast downloads, Pinterest could be great for podcast downloads. But it really is coming up with a strategic framework that works for your particular target audience and building your email list based off that target audience. Obviously, your pin designs have to resonate with your target audience, it has to be on brand. But I find it to be pretty much an untapped resource for for any online business, any e e commerce and also you can be I have a client of mine that's based in Boston, she's a psychiatrist. And she actually sells her course primarily through Pinterest. And it can be a really good resource, unlike Instagram, which, you know, Facebook, don't even know anybody that's still using Facebook, but Instagram is totally saturated. And you only get the one link in your bio.

Mary Harcourt  6:00  
Yeah, but you can go around that and do the little link trees, which are super helpful, but it is limited. And you know, I don't think I'm the only person always has it in their back of the mind that it's a rented platform. And one day, they can just go like, well, this is no longer free, or it's no longer yours, or they're gonna cap so many like right now, I feel like there is just nonstop hackings with Instagram. And it's becoming a little spammy to the promoted on tags that every time you post a picture, you get 15 Like promoted on here. So Instagram has to do a better job of cleaning up their platform and keeping it so fresh and relevant or they are going to lose a battle to someone else, whether it be tick tock that kind of seem to come out of nowhere and then take over the world or maybe Pinterest who's just been old faithful in the background. You know, I think there is a lot to be left discovered for Facebook and Instagram. Yeah,

Kristen Marquet  6:51  
agreed, agreed fully. So yeah. So we'll kind of see what happens. And you know what other social media platforms do emerge over the next 18 to 24 months. But But yeah, Pinterest really is an untapped resource. And it's probably accounted for. I don't even know at this point, maybe 40% of my email is

Mary Harcourt  7:13  
interesting. And so what do you primarily do? Do you put an article on there? Is it a pin that links back to your site? How does that work? Yeah, so

Kristen Marquet  7:22  
for every blog post, that founder ends up publishing, we create five pins and pin them to the different boards, all with the same link to see which pin gets the highest click through rate. And also, whatever the objective is, whatever ends up converting at the highest, but it could be blog posts, it could be like I said, it could be podcast episodes. It could be low priced offers, you know, that are 1020 bucks. It could be pretty much anything that you're looking

Mary Harcourt  7:58  
at. Interesting. All right, well, I'm off to uncover my Pinterest scene. So tell me, how did you get started in all of this? Where did it all start? Did you go to school for this? What's the history of where you ended up?

Kristen Marquet  8:11  
So I have a very non traditional background. I didn't end up graduating from college until I was 25. Because I had taken three years off and to pursue modeling overseas. But I did go to an engineering college. And actually, believe it or not, when I graduated, I was thinking about going to law school. So I had worked for a law firm. My first job out of college, I did that for a year figured out hated the law. I do not want to have anything to do with it. So I ended up in management consulting, I did my first graduate degree in Finance at Boston University. Financial crisis happened, I wasn't able to get it. I mean, even if I wanted to, I wouldn't been able to get a job in private equity, because all the funds were drying up, right. Everything was drying up. So then, after I had lost my consulting job, I started freelancing and the pika in the PR ecosphere. And I decided to go back to school for another master's degree, I needed that, like I needed a hole in the head. But I went to NYU, and I did a two year degree in 18 months in PR and corporate communications with a specialization in integrated marketing. So when that's that's what I've been doing for the last 15 years.

Mary Harcourt  9:31  
Let's talk PR, obviously, it's public relations. But what exactly is public relations?

Kristen Marquet  9:37  
Well, it's not advertising. It's getting that third party endorsement in the media, it's earned media, its publicity is considered much more credible than advertising because you cannot control the frequency, the sentiment, the placement, and how large your Media feature is, and it's done. There's no cost to it unless, of course, you know, you hire a PR firm to, to manage your publicity for you. Whereas with advertising, you have to pay for it. So but it's, it's tough, it's a tough field, it's a very competitive, there are no guarantees. So trying to explain that to potential clients are like, alright, well, then why am I paying 1000s of dollars a month, without any guarantee? And I'm like, Well, you know, I've been doing this for 15 years, you're my clients, here are the previous cases, take a look at them great, you want to work together fine. If not, that's fine, too. Hiring a PR firm should be done at a very specific point in a company's growth. You know, if you're a startup, and you are funding the growth out of you, and the marketing out of your pocket, it's too early, you need to be at like that 250 to 500 range. Because you need to be able to allocate 30 505,000 $10,000 A month consistently to see a long term build. And for a lot of small businesses, that's very difficult.

Mary Harcourt  11:12  
And so what's the benefits of working with a PR firm and getting the public relations side of things going?

Kristen Marquet  11:18  
Well, you build your credibility, you build your authority, and thought leadership. As you know, if you get featured in Forbes or Inc, or entrepreneur, you're going to be that much more credible over another company, a competitor of yours that hasn't been featured,

Mary Harcourt  11:35  
very true. Absolutely. This study, you can get PR for free. But there's also a cost. If you want to have a firm that you work with and do with it. What are the ways that someone can do a free style PR?

Kristen Marquet  11:48  
So figure out what makes your brand newsworthy? And what makes your brand credible? Okay. And those are two very different things. And I think that entrepreneurs, founders, small business owners, I think that they get confused between the two. So I'm going to define what each one is. So newsworthiness is something that you're announcing that could potentially be interesting to the media. So a book launch, a new hire, a new product launch, opening a new office, anything that is an announcement could potentially be considered newsworthy. Whereas credibility is your background, your experience, your education, professional expertise, or anything that makes you different from everybody else out there. But what it comes down to is really positioning yourself in a way that makes you credible, and putting together a very brief but engaging narrative. And that is tough to do. There are plenty of resources out there that teach you how to do it. It's going to take a little while before, before you really can perfect your pitch.

Mary Harcourt  13:07  
And this is what it comes up to. How do you protect? Or how do you gather a pitch? So the big boys will pay attention to you? You

Kristen Marquet  13:16  
know, it's a great question. So obviously, you have to figure out what makes your newsworthy, incredible, you have to put together a pitch that's 250 or 300 words, it has to be benefit based in focus on making the media perot's life easier one way or another. Also, if you need to send it to the right person, you just can't send 1000 of the same pitch to 5000 different people, I just think that that's a bad practice, and a blanket spraying and praying more or less. But it's being strategic, being smart, and pitching each publication, each editor with a very specific angle that needs the tone in the style of the person that you are pitching. You know, somebody at the New York Times the diversity and equity reporters, tone and style of writing is going to be very different than the tech reporters style of writing. So you need to familiarize yourself with these things. And in the day and age of Twitter and Instagram and LinkedIn. I mean, pretty much fine to anybody anywhere.

Mary Harcourt  14:27  
So that was gonna be my next question. So you have each publication has their own angle. I don't come from a PR background or even a news or media or marketing. How would somebody like me? Is it on their website where you can go and apply for a headline or story, do you How does that work?

Kristen Marquet  14:45  
So what you would want to do is figure out where your story can fit. Okay, what column or what beat it could fit into in a publication wherever you, wherever, whatever the Holy Grail is for you. Okay? and craft a pitch that succinct, concise, engaging, that would could potentially be interesting too, as a certain editor, reporter, journalist, television producer, whatever, whoever you're going to be pitching, but you want to do through email, and you want to keep your subject line, very short,

Mary Harcourt  15:21  
interesting. Well, that's super helpful information. How did you fall into all of your knowledge? Do you feel like it was through like street smarts and experience or schooling or a little bit of both?

Kristen Marquet  15:33  
I think it was more of just being in the trenches and learning what works and what doesn't. Yeah, and just day to day interfacing with the media, even though you know, I own a firm and I have a small team, I still for my higher level clients, you know, I'm still pitching on their behalf. So, you know, it's, it's learning.

Mary Harcourt  15:54  
And I would almost think it helps you to pitch bigger companies, so that you look better to your new clients that are looking at you going, well, who are you, if you've worked with these other previous companies, you have three books, we'll talk about that in a minute. So congratulations, that's a huge accomplishment. You're just very, very Intuit you're active, like, doer, I love it. What has been one of your proudest accomplishments, your moments that you look back on, and just thought like, that was really cool to celebrate in your upcoming?

Kristen Marquet  16:26  
I mean, there have been many highs and lows, you know, just like any entrepreneur, but I would say probably the first time I hit six figures as a solo printer, you know, I mean, it was, that was a huge accomplishment, because it just when I first started, it seems so unattainable. But that, you know, within a couple of months, it was like,

Mary Harcourt  16:50  
I think that is it's exactly how you said, it doesn't happen all sudden. But if you put your feet down on the ground, and keep going and keep going and keep going all the sudden you look around and it's like, wow, that just happened, which is super exciting. You also mentioned the lows. So as an entrepreneur, as a business owner, there are always things we celebrate. There's also things that hurt like he lessons come out of it, we had some out cheese, it's a moment you look back and go, God, I really suck. And a lot of times those same moments are the ones you learn the most out of. So what has it been kind of a just a rough time that you went through while growing these businesses,

Kristen Marquet  17:27  
exponential growth, in the first year that I launched my first business that was that was disastrous lead to burnout. You know, I mean, it was just it was awful. But now controlled growth is really the key to success. I've learned.

Mary Harcourt  17:42  
I mean, I love it, because it just adds some realism to what you go through. Obviously, we can look at your accomplishments and all be wowed. And we should be. But there is another side to the story of to get there. You had to go through this. And I feel like that's the part not many people talk about, but that's the real part. And so many people get discouraged when they hit these roadblocks, where it's like, oh, no one else went through this. And it's like, no, we all did, all of us did trust me, we all did. And if you can overcome it, you can get past it. And that's your room to success. So you're very passionate about helping others and you love to share your knowledge. What are some things that you feel like you offer a lot that people just don't quite understand the questions, they asked you all the time, the things that they're always like, please tell me more? What are those topics?

Kristen Marquet  18:26  
What is publicity? Why do I need it? And how could you charge X and not guarantee results? Like, well,

Mary Harcourt  18:34  
you know, you can that makes total sense to me, you don't know, it's like releasing a reel. Some of them like hit 100k in a day. And some of them five minutes later have 86 views like you don't know the recipe,

Kristen Marquet  18:45  
you're absolutely right, you can just maximize your chances of securing coverage, having it be relevant, have it be big enough, but also move the needle for the client, for me that that's the biggest thing. I have to be able to deliver value to a client or to work with them. You know, otherwise, it's just not worth my time.

Mary Harcourt  19:06  
Oh, absolutely. And there's as well. So, what are some myths that you like to set the record straight when talking to people about their understanding of VR?

Kristen Marquet  19:15  
You know, people just think that I Hobnob, you know, with celebrities and do all this and I gotta tell you 99% of the time I'm actually hold working, you know, very seldom Am I out doing events, networking events, you know, I gave up producing fashion shows 100 years ago. It's a very grueling career to have. It also has its upsides, especially with all the analytics tools that are available today. You get the creative side, right of writing and the strategic side of putting together messaging platforms and seeing how you can maximize your reach while also using Data Analytics to create the narrative moving forward. So you have the analytical side, and you have the creative and you have the strategic sides. So with the confluence of the three, there's never really a dull moment.

Mary Harcourt  20:15  
So that brings up a good topic, how do you leverage your business with PR? Obviously, analytics is a big part of that to see what's working, what's not?

Kristen Marquet  20:23  
Oh, absolutely, combining a digital PR strategy with deliberate and intentional SEO can really make or break a business. So you know, if you have a fundamental understanding of PR, digital PR, analytics, and SEO, it's like, you could pretty much create anything that you want.

Mary Harcourt  20:46  
So let's talk more about that. Because it sounds really fascinating. I know what SEO is you put in certain keywords that people are searching for, but how do you link it with your PR?

Kristen Marquet  20:56  
So when you are doing any type of digital approach, any integrated strategy, you're gonna get backlinks, right, on websites and all that those PR backlinks can be leveraged to enhance your SEO, the more quality inbound links you have coming to your website, the better you're going to rank, the higher you're going to rank on Google. I mean, it's it's a whole convoluted approach. And so what's

Mary Harcourt  21:27  
a good example of a qualified good link, or backlink

Kristen Marquet  21:31  
Forbes Inc, entrepreneur, The New York Times the LA Times, The Economist, USA Today, any website that has a really great domain authority, but has a very low spam score, and pretty much any media, bustle BuzzFeed, all those do qualify. So what are

Mary Harcourt  21:50  
three critical elements in building brand awareness publicly, or through publicity, I should say,

Kristen Marquet  21:56  
you want to obviously, your brand messages have to resonate with somebody, your announcements have to be timely and relevant in some way. And the other thing is, after you do secure any type of media coverage, you have to leverage it to get more coverage. So for instance, if you do get written up in Forbes, or some online publication, or featured on interviewed on some television show or podcast like this, you know, you have to tell the world about it. Because you just don't know what else can manifest from making the announcement saying I was on this podcast, I was on this TV show, I was quoted in this publication, you know, this magazine, so on and so forth.

Mary Harcourt  22:41  
That's, I feel like I have homework now. Let's talk about your books. You're an author of three books. That is such a great accomplishment. Congratulations on that. What are your books about? And then? I mean, they're all probably all different, and what's your newest one?

Kristen Marquet  22:56  
So the first one actually, is a primer for first time aspiring entrepreneurs that want to get publicity. It's a short read, probably read it in an hour or two. But the whole book is actionable. So anybody that's reading it, take one of the nuggets, and go implement it right away and then be able to see a result. And yeah, you know, hit one in all the categories on Amazon. So that was cool. The second one was called the publicity jumpstart, I actually co authored that Michelle Lewis, she's actually from Los Angeles. And she and I met, I guess, maybe in 2016, through some, I think it was like through a webinar, I can't remember exactly how she and I met. But we became very good friends. She and I decided to co write a book, that one actually did really well, when we had launched it. That was in July of 2018. And the third one is more comprehensive, I guess, much more deep in my knowledge of branding and publicity in the third one, all three are about publicity.

Mary Harcourt  24:05  
Awesome. Well, you have enough knowledge, you've been in this for a long time, and you have enough knowledge for going back to school. So I could see how your degrees your schoolbook education plus kind of just your street smarts all around out into having a lot to share with somebody I mean, it's to me it's such a fascinating industry. I, I just have so many questions on how it all works and how the pieces of the puzzle fit together because I'm so fascinated by how much is is controlled by a person versus a company. You know, I just the more I learned about advertising, the more I'm like, oh, that's how that works. This whole time I thought it was just like all chance and like cute little story. So I'm fascinated with that.

Kristen Marquet  24:50  
Starting a business is the easy part, growing a business and maintaining that growth. That's the tough part that takes grit. It takes Patience. And you know, no one is ever an overnight success.

Mary Harcourt  25:06  
I agree with all of that, especially the grit part that grit comes from those hard lessons that you just grit your teeth down and bear it and learn from it. And now you're more wise and you don't forget the lesson. But you, you know, learn and grow from there. What's next for you? What's next on the agenda? What do you see for yourself in the future?

Kristen Marquet  25:24  
I've created a course business called from nameless to notable. So I'm really going to be focusing more on that, and really focusing on building out that side of the business, and working on a couple of sass products as well that go along with the course.

Mary Harcourt  25:43  
Interesting. So tell me about that course. Because I'm kind of interested. What is that sounds like something I should be diving into? What is the course about how long is it one of the little modules? What are people going to learn?

Kristen Marquet  25:56  
So it's seven modules, seven modules, and it's everything on publicity, everything I know, I put into that to the course it's how to develop your celebrity brand, how to craft a pitch, how to pitch for an interview, pitch for television, pitch for podcast, pitch, product, how to set up desk sides, how to work with influencers, you name it, anything that relates to publicity is in that course. And it probably took me like, four months to put together, everything I know is in there. It's video. It's text, you know, it's evergreen. People can come in whenever they want. I've actually done a couple of live launches. But I think that I like the self study evergreen model better just because it doesn't require nearly as much.

Mary Harcourt  26:50  
Absolutely, I mean, I would do the same thing that is so cool. I mean, here's the thing, all of those topics you brought up are so revelant. And it's also each one can be so overwhelming. If you don't know how to work with an influencer, you don't know how to get started. If you don't know how to do your pitch deck, you just don't know. So I could see how you take all your years of knowledge and dump it into a course I think it's really fascinating. I'm sure it's offered a ton of value. What do people say after they finished the course? What's the feedback that you get? A lot of

Kristen Marquet  27:19  
the times I get? This was really great. You know what you helped me get into entrepreneur.com, you know, you helped me become a contributor to forbes.com. Well, I've actually had people that have hired me one to one, you know, to guide them along the publicity journey. And then I've had other students finish the course that have hired my agency to manage their launches, or whatever it is they're trying to get awareness for, provides a really solid foundation for anybody that wants to try and secure media coverage.

Mary Harcourt  27:51  
I love that. So if someone's listening today, they're like, Oh, my God, please tell me more. Where do they find you? How do they find more information out about you.

Kristen Marquet  27:58  
So you can go to one of two places. The first place is my agency that's Marquet dot company. And the other one, which has the course and, and some smaller products is femme founder.co.

Mary Harcourt  28:13  
And so talk to me about femme founder, because I that's actually I think how I found you what is femme founder.

Kristen Marquet  28:19  
It's a platform that strives to elevate underrepresented voices in the entrepreneurial startup ecosphere. That's the whole point of it. You know, we interview female founders, obviously femme founder, female founders, but it's really elevating the voices of people that cannot or have have a really hard time getting hurt.

Mary Harcourt  28:43  
Awesome. That's so fascinating. And then what's your Instagram handle for them founder

Kristen Marquet  28:49  
at sem founder? Founder, please. Yeah,

Mary Harcourt  28:53  
but thank you so much for being a part of us today. I feel like we learned so much. I know I said this before, but it's such to me an unaware market. Like I don't know anything about PR, but I feel like after today I at least understand the basics and can hold my own conversation and understand how I could better plug in and really use it to leverage my business more so than I'm doing because that's definitely a huge missed right now. And I have homework, so thank you so much. I'm gonna go do my homework. Well, thank

Kristen Marquet  29:23  
you so much for having me.

Mary Harcourt  29:25  
That wraps up today's episode. For more information on our guests. You can find them at Mary harcourt.com under the episodes tab. You can always find me on Instagram at Mary Harcourt underscore and at the cosmic glow light. I hope you enjoyed today's episode and many more to come