Your character is your tool for success. You know that saying, ‘it’s not about what they said; it’s about how they made you feel?’ I follow that mantra with my career. I treat my colleagues and clients with respect and kindness. If you are knowledgeable about your craft and confident in your work, you can be authoritative without being nasty. Remember, your career will likely span decades, and throughout, you will run into people from your past who remember your work ethic. Make sure your reputation is something you are proud of. I can’t explain how much joy I feel when someone says, “Lindsey! I’m so excited to work with you again! It was such a pleasure working together on the last project!” I have children now, including a daughter. I hope that when she begins her career, no one ever says, “your kindness is seen as weakness.” Instead, I pray for a future where kindness is seen as a manifestation of one’s inner strength and resilience.
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 Lindsey von Busch. Lindsey von Busch oversees a wide range of clients for The Social Status Co, including fashion, entertainment, lifestyle, wellness, and non-profit. With over 20 years of industry experience, Lindsey specializes in strategy, communications, media relations, and creative storytelling. Lindsey has worked for leading multimedia companies including NBC News, Viacom, and Meredith Corporation. She has traveled extensively across the nation to oversee a myriad of media events and award shows. Lindsey obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from New York University.
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?
Thank you so much for the opportunity to share my story!
I knew I wanted to be a writer from an early age. As a little girl, I would spend hours in my bedroom writing stories and poems. After graduating from NYU, I immediately started interviewing for assistant editor positions. The one and only interview I went on that were not for a writing position, was for a newly launched cable news station, MSNBC. I remember thinking, “I’ll go and see what they have to say, but this isn’t going to change my path.” I could not have been more wrong! MSNBC had an opening in the communications department as a coordinator. The newsroom was exciting and loud. The people who worked there were passionate and energetic. I knew in that moment; this is where my story would begin!
Publicity is not just about promoting a product, company, or celebrity. There are billions of people and companies in the world competing for consumers’ dollars. What makes your client different? It’s usually the story that got them to that moment when they made their idea a reality. As a publicist, my mission is to connect my client’s stories with their audience.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
On my first day at MSNBC, my boss told me to monitor the breaking news for timecodes and screen grabs. Within 10 minutes, I watched a man in a high-speed police chase get out of his vehicle and shoot himself on live television. That day, my very first day, was a crash course in what working for the news was really like. I often say, my timeline in the newsroom was equivalent to dog years. For each year I spent there, I gained seven years of real-world experience and wrinkles.
After MSNBC, I realized my passion was in promoting lifestyle and human-interest stories, so I began working in the PR department of a magazine company. I remember several years into my tenure, a well-known editor-in-chief told me, “You are not cut-throat enough for this industry.” The editor said I was too kind and sensitive to compete with the powerful sharks in my field. I’m sure the intention of the remarks was to scare or belittle me; however, the encounter inspired me. I remember my mom used to repeat an Eleanor Roosevelt quote, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” I had the same education and training as my colleagues; so what if my tactics and techniques were different?
There is no fast track to success. Within a month of hustling and hard work, I was one of the most successful publicists in the department, garnering more media impressions and revenue than ever before, for the said magazine. I used my “niceness” as my power. I didn’t need to step on anyone’s toes or ride on anyone’s coattails to get ahead. I succeeded on my own accord, using kindness and intelligence to make me a well-respected leader in the industry.
In 2019, I met Marnie Nathanson, CEO, and Founder of The Social Status Co. When I joined TSSC, it was the first time in my 20+ year career when I truly felt like I was part of the powerhouse PR team. We collaborate, work hard, hustle, and empower each other. Our current roster of clients includes crusaders, trailblazers, and changemakers.
Working with the media, I have seen the worst in humanity –hate crimes, school shootings, riots, terrorist attacks, and a pandemic. But I have also witnessed true acts of bravery and heroism. In NYC on 9/11, strangers offered comfort and lead me to safety. Last year, I watched mothers cry tears of joy as their children with disabilities graced the runway for the first time during New York Fashion Week. And I witnessed a child actor with cerebral palsy shine on stage for his Broadway debut!
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?
Listen, we have all made mistakes when it comes to breaking news and fact checking! I once told a popular gossip columnist that my celebrity client was coming back from an event on a G6 jet, because that’s what he said, so why would I fact check to make sure it was accurate?!? It was not even an important part of the pitch, but of course, the mistake made it into the paper! (He was referring to the song, not the actual jet he was flying.) Always fact check every detail — names, places, dates, planes! You are the last person before the story gets written. It falls on your shoulders if the information is inaccurate.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I love working with nonprofits and clients that are changing the world! I am currently working on the Runway of Dreams Foundation 2021 Spring Fashion Show. In addition, we work with Gamut Management, a talent agency exclusively for people with disabilities. We are promoting season 2 of the Gamut Network, which features inspiring interviews with people from all areas of life — sports, entertainment, fashion, CEO’s and activists.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
1. When you are first starting out, mistakes are an important learning tool. In the beginning of my career, I always tried to write the perfect press release or emulate my superior’s pitch. However, the pitches that are most effective are the ones that stand out because they are unique. Add your flare, add your quirk, it’s ok (and encouraged) to be different!
2. Try to never say, “I don’t know.” Instead, always say, “I’ll find out.” It is acceptable to not have an answer for every question. But you do not want to appear unwilling to do the work. Not all hustle is loud. If I ever had to say, “I’ll find the answer for you,” to a client or boss, I would diligently do research, making sure to give them more than they asked for.
3. It is ok and encouraged to ask questions! I always thought I would appear inexperienced if I asked questions. I made it so much harder on myself! Bosses, at least good ones, like inquisitive employees. However, try not to ask the same question over again. Take notes! Even if you must record them.
4. Relationships are key. When you form a working relationship with a reporter, it is important to stand by your word. If I offer a reporter an exclusive, it is my job to protect their story and be transparent if something gets leaked to another outlet.
5. Your character is your tool for success. You know that saying, ‘it’s not about what they said; it’s about how they made you feel?’ I follow that mantra with my career. I treat my colleagues and clients with respect and kindness. If you are knowledgeable about your craft and confident in your work, you can be authoritative without being nasty. Remember, your career will likely span decades, and throughout, you will run into people from your past who remember your work ethic. Make sure your reputation is something you are proud of. I can’t explain how much joy I feel when someone says, “Lindsey! I’m so excited to work with you again! It was such a pleasure working together on the last project!” I have children now, including a daughter. I hope that when she begins her career, no one ever says, “your kindness is seen as weakness.” Instead, I pray for a future where kindness is seen as a manifestation of one’s inner strength and resilience.
You are known as a master networker. Can you share some tips on great networking?
I really enjoy talking and forging connections with people. The key to great networking is simple. Be authentic and genuine. Sometimes it’s not about the connection you make but connecting other people you feel have value to each other.
When networking with the press, make sure you know their bio and beat. Read through their current articles and social media posts.
There are also a ton of networking groups on social media — join them! Since the pandemic, several of the groups I belong to, such as PR Czars, offer zoom meetings where members can discuss challenges, tips, advice, and even offer leads.
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?
Word of mouth referrals are key. Most of my lead generation has been from current and previous clients or colleagues. Since COVID, meet, and greets are not possible. I would recommend joining industry webinars and zoom conferences.
This is an unprecedented time, and it’s imperative to keep brainstorming on how to pivot business with colleagues, peers, and mentors. I have worked remotely since 2003. Therefore, I am the Betty Crocker of mixing zoom interviews with pitching, writing, and managing distractions like children in the house. However, I have peers who are masterminds at keeping clients organized with amazing spreadsheets and media reports.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
There are so many! I love Mel Robbins right now, especially during this unprecedented time. I feel like Mel really helps clear the mindset to stay on task. Also, many of our trades such as PR Week, PR News, and PR Insider have podcasts or social media pages to follow. In addition, I suggest you follow all your industry idols on social media and LinkedIn.
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. 🙂
Wow, no pressure! The part of my job I love most is storytelling. I love interviewing clients and finding out what inspires them; what made them persevere and succeed, despite challenges and obstacles. This is what connects us. It is what unites us.
Melissa Blake is a writer and disability activist. She became a public figure after someone criticized her appearance on a social media post that went viral; and she clapped back. Melissa used her power, storytelling, to invoke change; for parents to do better. I had the great privilege of speaking with Melissa when she participated in Runway of Dreams Virtual Fashion Show this September. She spread her truth and bravery, inspiring millions of people regardless of their abilities. Imagine the possibilities if we focused on what connects us rather than what divides us?
This was really meaningful! Thank you so much for your time.