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Social Impact Heroes: How Liz H. Kelly, founder of the Goody Awards is helping to empower people and projects that positively impact the world

Three things that people can do to help include 1) support charities that you care about by promoting their good news, 2) take time to do a good deed per day by holding the door, paying for someone’s groceries/coffee, and/or volunteering and 3) recognize your everyday heroes who make our lives better immediately (don’t wait […]


Three things that people can do to help include 1) support charities that you care about by promoting their good news, 2) take time to do a good deed per day by holding the door, paying for someone’s groceries/coffee, and/or volunteering and 3) recognize your everyday heroes who make our lives better immediately (don’t wait for a major award presentation, share on social media). We are all so busy, and yet you can make someone’s day, year and life sometimes just by stepping up and honoring them for making a difference. And by the way, it feels GOOD to give back. By making a positive social impact, it can reduce stress and anxiety, create a sense of self-satisfaction and bring joy to both you and the person or group being honored.


As part of my series about “individuals and organizations who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Liz H Kelly. As Goody PR and Goody Awards Founder, speaker and Author of 8-Second PR (2019), Liz is passionate about magnifying brands, experts and causes through marketing, PR, and social media campaigns with a powerful story. After working for Fox Interactive Media/Myspace, Paramount Pictures, Sprint PCS, and LA startups, Kelly decided to use her marketing experience for GOOD full-time in 2008. As a published author with over 500 media interviews (TV, radio, print and syndication) over five years for her dating book (Smart Man Hunting), Kelly’s work has been featured on CNN, FOX News, USA TODAY, The Chicago Tribune, Thrive Global, Buzzfeed, KTLA, KCBS, BBC Radio, NPR and thousands of media outlets. Kelly also teaches Digital Marketing at UCLA Extension and is a Social Media Club Los Angeles Board Member. Follow @LizHKelly or visit http://GoodyPR.com and http://8SecondPR.com.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to start on your career path?

We’ve always enjoyed amplifying good throughout our career, including for corporations, startups, products and people. What we didn’t realize was where our career was taking us until 10 years ago after being laid off by myspace. As a side project, we wrote a dating book in 2006 (Smart Man Hunting) and secured over 500 media hits (print, radio and tv interviews) for this one book over five years. So when we got laid off at the beginning of the “great recession”, we decided to start a marketing company instead of job hunt. This brave decision resulted in three major milestones: 1) We started our Goody PR marketing company in 2009 that focuses on small business clients who are also making a social impact, 2) launched the Goody Awards for social good in 2012, and then 3) published a book, “8-Second PR: Energize Your Story for Ultimate Media Success” (2019), with our marketing, public relations and social media strategy tips to empower others to reach millions. We give away our PR secrets in this book that most marketing agencies would never tell their clients to help others get in headline news.

Did you set out to start a movement? If so, what was your vision? If not, what did you imagine would be the impact of your work?

When we first launched Goody PR, we did not have a clear vision to start a movement. When we launched the Goody Awards, our mission was:To inspire positive change by recognizing and promoting the good in the world. The Goody Awards were created to empower others to recognize good through online and offline awards. Our original idea was to start World Peace University, and that became overwhelming. After meeting with 20 CEOs with our pitch deck, one recommended, “Why don’t you do the awards program piece?” — and then another said, “We have the Emmys, Grammys, so why not the Goodys?” Because we developed corporate recognition programs for T. Rowe Price, the first Sprint PCS and myspace, we were excited to focus on awards. And because of our experience running multi-million dollar integrated marketing campaigns for major brands while working for myspace, including Toyota and University of Phoenix, our goal was to amplify causes by developing marketing campaigns around our top award, the Golden Goody Award.

After developing an online voting system that was integrated with Twitter with 10 Goody Awards (example #HeroGoody #TeamGoody #CelebrityGoody), we did marketing campaigns that resulted in people tweeting awards from over 30 countries. We also did pro bono marketing campaigns to promote the charity of our top humanitarian award winners, who were honored at live events with the Golden Goody Award.

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?

Hmm, I guess the funniest mistake was assuming that celebrities would want to present our top humanitarian award at events. Finding the right person to present our Golden Goody Awards turned into another layer of complexity that we did not seen coming. For our first Golden Goody Award, it was presented to Autism Advocate and Animator Dani Bowman by Lauren Dair Owens (who played the young Jess on FOX’s hit TV show “New Girl”). She was a perfect celebrity presenter because we did an anti-bully inclusion campaign and Lauren had worked with special needs children. We then asked Steven Spielberg to present an award to Sir Nicholas Winton, who saved 669 children from the holocaust (and his story has been covered on “60 Minutes”), because of his film “Schindler’s List”. We never heard back from Spielberg. Eventually, we stopped asking celebrities to help present awards. Instead, we presented the top awards as the Goody Awards Founder, and put the focus more on the recipient.

Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?

The Goody Awards significant social impacts have included empowering others to recognize good with online/offline awards in over 30 countries, plus 20 pro bono integrated marketing campaigns (marketing, PR and social media) to raise awareness and money for our Golden Goody Award winner charities. The Goody Awards did six marketing campaigns/awards in the first year, and that was way too much, so we now only do one per year. Based on fan nominations, our Goody Awards Board of Advisors approves the Golden Goody Award winners.

For our top award, the Goody Awards has honored Amma the Hugging Saint (her Embracing the World charities have donated $60 million to help the poor), Ian Somerhalder (Vampire Diaries star and Ian Somerhalder Foundation to protect the planet and it’s creatures), Sir Nicholas Winton (who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth for saving 669 children from the holocaust, and promoted his documentary, Nicky’s Family), Buzz Friedman (Improv Founder, and for Comedy Gives Back charity), Louis Psihoyos (Director of Academy Award Winner “The Cove” and Ocean Preservation Society Founder), Matt Asner (Autism Advocate, promoted Autism Society of America’s Autfest film festival), Tonya Sandis (Free2Luv Founder, promoted their UNSTOPPABLE Empowerment Event), Anna Cummins (5 Gyres Founder mission to stop plastic pollution), John Stewart (Director, The Green School Bali), Leon Cooper (95-yr-old WWII veteran raising awareness of 80 million missing in action, promoted his documentary films and premiere) and more.

Can you tell me a story about a particular individual who was impacted this cause?

We probably promoted the Ian Somerhalder Foundation the most — with a lot of help from their fans around the world who went wild tweeting nominations. The goal of the Ian Somerhalder Foundation is “to empower people and projects to positively impact the planet and its creatures.” Ian Somerhalder won “Celebrity Goody of the Year” and the Ian Somerhalder Foundation was recognized for the “Team Goody of the Year” several few times. Based on fan nominations, we also presented Ian with our Golden Goody Award at Mashable’s Social Good Summit in New York City, which built even more buzz around his foundation. Ian’s fans found the Goody Awards online. Many of them gave Goody Awards #HeroGoody necklaces to honor people doing good around the world, including a 9-yr-old boy from England who gave up his Christmas presents so the money could be donated to the Ian Somerhalder Foundation instead.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

Three things that people can do to help include 1) support charities that you care about by promoting their good news, 2) take time to do a good deed per day by holding the door, paying for someone’s groceries/coffee, and/or volunteering and 3) recognize your everyday heroes who make our lives better immediately (don’t wait for a major award presentation, share on social media). We are all so busy, and yet you can make someone’s day, year and life sometimes just by stepping up and honoring them for making a difference. And by the way, it feels GOOD to give back. By making a positive social impact, it can reduce stress and anxiety, create a sense of self-satisfaction and bring joy to both you and the person or group being honored.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Leadership is leading by example, listening to identify ways to solve problems and taking action to make things better. For example, the Free2Luv Founder Tanya Sandis is an exceptional leader who built a youth empowerment foundation “to ignite change, stand up to bullying and celebrate individuality.” Tanya has created a safe place for teens, and has been recognized with our Golden Goody Award for her leadership. Her company has also won many Goody Awards, including “Team Goody Award of the Year”.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Don’t launch everything at once — When we first launched the Goody Awards, we tried to do everything at once with online and offline Goody Awards. It would have been much better to launch in phases.
  2. Build partnerships with like-minded people — It’s best to build relationships with people and organizations who believe in your mission and organization. We were fortunate to join groups such as Conscious Capitalism LA, TEDx Santa Monica and Net Impact Los Angeles who supported our social good movement.
  3. Product launches are complicated — When we launched our first Hero Goody Award tag necklace (dog tags that said #HeroGoody that anyone can give to honor their heroes), it was much more complicated than anticipated. We had a mold made and went through three versions before the design was completed over six months. The packaging, pricing and promotions were another phase that took a lot of planning.
  4. Don’t forget to make money — Social good organizations do not operate without budgets, your time and support teams. It’s important to find revenue sources early and stick to a budget. We got so excited honoring good without sponsors that we had to scale it back and have Goody PR sponsor one pro bono campaign and Golden Goody Award per year.
  5. It’s harder to get media coverage for good news — We’ve learned that booking a TV, print or radio interview about good news is probably 5x harder than other news story. Fortunately, we’ve had TV, print and radio coverage, but some have only been a 30-second TV piece.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Our favorite life lesson quote is “People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories and magic” by Seth Godin. We’re constantly look for ways to create “magic” to “magnify good” through Goody PR, the Goody Awards, and our 8-Second PR book (which includes case study examples and a process you can use to promote your story). To make an impact and get your message out there, you need to stand out, especially for social impact movements.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

@LizHKelly

https://www.instagram.com/lizhkelly

@8SecondPR

https://www.instagram.com/8secondpr/

Goody PR Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/GoodyPR/

Your work is making a massive positive impact on the planet, thank you so much!

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