Habits Eat Self Discipline for Breakfast. Form habits that support your goals. Don’t rely on self-discipline. Habits become automatic and therefore don’t require much thinking, effort, or willpower. Form good habits around self-care, client-care, marketing, relationships, finance, and anything else that is important to you. You need a lot of energy, so think about what you do to grow and protect it. The food you eat, how you move your body, the people you surround yourself with, the content you consume will all either support and detract from your energy.
As a part of my series about the things you need to know to excel in the modern PR industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Meredith Liepelt. Meredith helps coaches, consultants, authors, speakers, and other personality-driven brands to book their first brand-boosting media placements… but certainly not they’re last! Clients across the United States are overjoyed to finally have the media acknowledge and celebrate their years of expertise-building and enjoy the accolades, validation, credibility, and more than media coverage offers. Clients have been prominently featured on lifestyle and other TV shows, local, national, and industry magazines and online outlets, and podcasts. Her infectious “let’s make it happen” attitude spurs clients into action as she guides them to greater visibility and connection with their ideal clients.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
In 2002, I accidentally started a baby accessory company. Let me explain… After my first daughter was born, I left the corporate world in favor of consulting from home and found myself on the hunt for a burp cloth that fit my needs but couldn’t find one. So I dusted off my grandmother’s 30-year-old sewing machine and made my own. After a year of making them for my friends, I followed their encouragement to sell them to baby boutiques. I made appointments at three boutiques and much to my surprise, they all placed orders! I formally started a business and set out to market my products. After a while, I noticed that women were calling me from all over the country, asking how I got my products featured in the media. I realized that I loved helping these women more than I loved the baby products business. Eventually, I sold the business and started a coaching practice, focusing on helping small business owners to market their businesses online and get their first media placements. I now focus on working with service-based businesses, helping them to land their first media placements and get the visibility and credibility they deserve.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
Several years ago, I had a client who was a five-time New York Times best-selling author. She texted me one day saying that she was going to be in Johannesburg, South Africa that Friday and wanted to be on CNBC, and could I please book her. I was floored! I had no contacts in Johannesburg or at CNBC, but I decided I would give it my best effort. I took to Google and looked up their web site, did some further research to find shows that were relevant, found the contact people for each show and wrote up a pitch that fit their format. Imagine how amazed I was when a day later, I heard back from the producer of one of the shows, apologizing for taking “so long” (a day) to get back with me. They booked my client for that Friday.
Two of my mantras are “ask for what you want” and “figure it out.” Just because you’ve never done something before and it seems impossible, you never know what you can do unless you try. I leaned on what I knew — writing a pitch to match the media outlet’s needs and using the Internet to find the necessary contacts.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Early on in my career, I needed to call a TV producer to finalize some details about an upcoming appearance. This producer preferred phone calls, and I called first thing in the morning. The problem was that the show she produced was still airing, live. My phone call interrupted her while she was in the middle of producing the live show! She quickly asked me to call her after the show was over because she was busy. I was so embarrassed at making that rookie mistake, but it’s one that I have never made again.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
One of my consulting clients has really risen to the occasion this year by pivoting her business in light of COVID-19. Knowing what a massive and successful shift this was for her company, we jumped at the opportunity to nominate them for a highly visible and competitive award in her industry, where the Grand Prize was a hefty financial award. After several rounds of advancing through the competition and nailing a series of video pitches which we worked on together, she won! We followed up her win with some fantastic media exposure and marketing. It was a real highlight during this very challenging year.
In terms of my business, I’m streamlining my coaching practice to focus solely on helping coaches, consultants, speakers, authors, and other small business owners to land their first media placements. I’ve realized that most small business owners really want media coverage but see it as a very expensive proposition and/or an epic undertaking. I’m taking the mystery out of the process by breaking it down into bite-sized steps and guiding people through the process of booking their first media placements. What I have found over the years is that the ripple effect of getting a business ready for media coverage is a serious confidence-booster and often expands the entrepreneur’s world, leading to them applying for awards, gaining speaking engagements (even TEDx talks!), and even modifying their service offerings or business model.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
1. Sometimes the biggest breakthroughs come in the form of something small.
I had a breakthrough with the word, “first.” I realized that where I can serve entrepreneurs the most is in showing them how to book their first media placements. The word “first” was a game-changer for me. It changed my positioning and even my service offerings. Look for small breakthroughs. Those can be game-changers.
2. Embrace the morph.
In 2019, as I was doing a lot of writing and keeping my ideal client in mind, a phrase came out that stopped me in my tracks. That phrase was “you’re a rising star.” I loved it so much because it encapsulated all of my clients, whether they were a New York Times best-selling author, a brand-new coach, consultant, speaker, or author, or the owner of a brick and mortar business. The common thread is that all of my clients see themselves as rising star in their industry.
I loved it so much, I talked with several clients about it and ended up rebranding my business from Rich Life Marketing to Rising Star Publicity, which is a much better fit.
Over the years, the business will morph smoothly from one image to another through gradual steps. Not only is this ok, but it is also necessary for growth. Lean into it.
3. Don’t compare your journey with others.
Honestly, this is a futile exercise that leads to self-sabotage and ultimately making irrational decisions. There will always someone ahead of you in some way. When you focus on that, you tend to experience “impostor syndrome” where you don’t feel worthy of promoting your work or for clients. Your journey is your own, and it’s never an apples-to-apples comparison, just don’t go there. It doesn’t serve you in any positive way.
4. Entrepreneurship is the fastest path to personal development.
Be prepared for highs and lows and to live outside of your comfort zone. How you handle these things will dictate your success. Criticism and praise come with putting yourself out there. Don’t hold onto either one too long. Fearing criticism and seeking constant praise will put limits on your success and self-expression. Strive to do your best work. Find any value in criticism and leave the rest behind. Graciously accept praise and form boundaries around criticism.
5. Habits Eat Self Discipline for Breakfast
Form habits that support your goals. Don’t rely on self-discipline. Habits become automatic and therefore don’t require much thinking, effort, or willpower. Form good habits around self-care, client-care, marketing, relationships, finance, and anything else that is important to you. You need a lot of energy, so think about what you do to grow and protect it. The food you eat, how you move your body, the people you surround yourself with, the content you consume will all either support and detract from your energy.
You are known as a master networker. Can you share some tips on great networking?
Network to start and build relationships. This can be done online and in-person. Be of service. Ask what people need and do what you can to help — make a connection for them, suggest a book, software, or a specific coach — whatever they need. And don’t forget to ask for what you need, too! Most people want to help others, and it’s on us to ask for what we need. Just be gracious. It’s probably not a great idea to come right out of the gate with requests!
Lead generation is one of the most important aspects of any business. Can you share some of the strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?
I often hear people say that they rely on referrals. While I appreciate every single referral, I don’t solely rely on others to send me leads. I actively pursue leads in a variety of ways.
Media exposure, of course, is one tactic I use. On top of that, in November I created a Facebook Group called The Visibility Collective, which is a place for emerging and established experts to be around like-minded colleagues who are also serious about setting themselves apart from their peers, gaining their first media placements, and making a name for themselves. In this group, I run a free 5-day challenge where I teach what every entrepreneur needs to do to effectively start pursuing media coverage and be in a position to leverage it into even bigger opportunities.
Also, 2021 is my year to book more podcasts as a guest speaker. As a speaker, I have turned to podcasts recently as my outlet since we aren’t meeting in person a lot right now! I have some really nice free gifts I offer to podcast listeners that they can automatically download during the podcast. Doing so also adds them to my email newsletter which I publish once a month.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
I remember reading Brand You by Tom Peters when I was in my 20s. The idea of being the “CEO of Me Inc” really excited me because I it gave me “permission” to do all the things I wanted to, but up to that point hadn’t seen a realistic way to do them. Around that same time, I heard Cindy Crawford say something about how she was CEO of Cindy Crawford, and both of those things inspired me to take steps to eventually leave the corporate world and step into the gig economy, well before there was a term for it. I began consulting for former employers and colleagues while also teaching dance and working as a professional choreographer, then starting the baby products business and eventually landing where I am today.
Because of the role you play, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Ask for what you want. I wrote a post for Facebook a while ago about asking for what you want by stating your case and making a clear request. Much to my surprise, people reached out to me telling me how much that post meant to them. One person decided to ask for what she wanted and ended up getting an emcee role at a national conference in New York City. Another person got the job she wanted. Someone else finally had a difficult conversation she wanted to have with someone. All because people asked for what they wanted! Of course, we don’t always get what we want, but if you don’t ask, the answer is definitely no. The same is true for media coverage. You have to ask for it and part of asking for it, is being well prepared so you make it easy for the media to say yes.
This was really meaningful! Thank you so much for your time.
Thank you! What a treat to do this interview with you.