If you want to get your client on TV in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, and you’ve worked in PR for more than five minutes, you know there’s only one person to call: Peg Roessler.
Peg has more than 35 years experience in the PR industry–including 28 working for herself! She’s not only a legend in the solo PR community–she’s an outright institution in the local PR community. And, in case you haven’t noticed, she’s been everywhere recently promoting her new series of online courses teaching you how to get YOUR client on TV. Although it was long overdue, the timing seemed right to interview this PR Rock Star.
Tell us about your current role as owner and consultant at Peg Roessler PR. What kind of work do you do? Who are some of your clients?
I think everyone has a skill that best suits them; for me that’s media relations.
My “lane of expertise” is the deep and effective rapport with media I’ve developed over the years — that’s what keeps clients coming back to me for local media relations services, and is a place where I’ve found a great deal of personal and professional satisfaction.
Without naming clients specifically, I’ll just say that I’m pretty sure you’d recognize them because you’ve very likely seen or heard them in the local media!
You’ve been a solo consultant now for more than 28 years! Wow! As someone who’s been at it for a mere 10 now, I can say without question, one of the huge downsides of being a solo is how lonely it can get. How have you got around that obstacle for the last 28 years?
When I first started my business, the primary way to interact with clients was face-to-face meetings, so I found myself alone much less than I am today. With the profusion of technologies like voice and video conferencing — not to mention smart phones — my clients and my media contacts have become an extension of my professional and social network.
I think one of the best parts of being a solo consultant is that you get to choose the team that surrounds you. For me that that includes a supportive network of professional friends, media contacts as well as clients (past and present.) I’m happy to say that today I’m in pretty constant contact with a pretty amazing group of individuals.
With that much time as a solo, you’re likely the most experienced in town! Meanwhile, I see more people going the solo route every day. What advice would you give to that person who’s making the jump TODAY to the solo consultant world?
Start with a “why” that defines the reasons you want to start a business. Then, when things get difficult, you can go back to that why statement to course correct (or just remind yourself of your big-picture goals and aspirations.)
I’m a firm believer that there’s more than enough work to go around, and when the right piece of business ends up with the right person, then everyone’s doing their best, right work. I encourage those who are jumping into this arena to view each other as allies. When we’re each playing to our individual talents, together we’re best serving the greater communication needs of our community.
One of the most difficult challenges is finding business when the business is good. So, if you’re starting out with a couple of clients, don’t forget that they won’t always be there and you need to concurrently lay the groundwork for future business too.
Lastly, network, build up your savings before taking the leap and always, always thank people for referrals. Even if a piece of business doesn’t work out, thank people for their time and consideration.
You also do a ton of media relations-TV work in town. In fact, you’re well-known as THE person to work with if you want to get on TV and you work with a consumer brand! How have you built that reputation? And, what’s the one tip you’d give other PR/media relations folks for getting their clients more TV appearances?
It’s all about the daily work of relationships built over time. That’s not something that can happen overnight. I know I wouldn’t still be in business for 35 years if my local media relationships weren’t deep and effective.
Every single media interaction — whether it’s face-to-face, on the phone, via email or social media — matters. You just never know where people will end up. Today’s TV station intern could be an executive producer in a few years. Or not. Regardless, I treat every media interaction with integrity and honesty.
Here’s an easy tip: accompany your clients to TV stations for interviews/demonstrations.
I visit the TV stations in this market with my clients on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis, and even 35 years in, I’m still surprised at how seldom I see other PR people there. This has been a golden opportunity for me to get to know the on-air talent, producers, floor crews and really everyone who plays a part in the TV show.
Often, I’ll come away with another booking when I’m at the TV station. I always look forward to seeing the reporters and producers I’ve gotten to know over the years, and I’ll ask what they’re working on. Many times, that leads to me being able to help meet their needs with story ideas – whether it’s from a client or a resource I have in the community.
Similarly, you’ve been on the set with hundreds of clients over the years. And, as we know, TV doesn’t always go as planned (after all, it is live!). What’s the most interesting–or funny–story of your time on set (at least, one you can share)?
A memorable funny moment happened during a live cooking demonstration on the former KARE 11 Today show with host Pat Evans.
The chef was diligently preparing a delightful pasta dish when it suddenly became apparent that a previous user had left something highly flammable on the stovetop burner. Pat and the chef were quickly engulfed in a huge cloud of smoke — in fact, you couldn’t see either one of them during the interview!
Fortunately, the smoke cleared before setting off the studio’s sprinkler system, but not quickly enough to salvage the segment. It was soooo bad it was funny.
What is your one defining career highlight?
Well, I like to think the best is yet to come.
That said, I really enjoyed the time I spent working at the Ordway in the early 1990s. I am proud to have been part of the team that first brought some great Broadway premieres to the Twin Cities.
Traveling to cities like New York and Toronto to preview productions like Show Boat and Victor, Victoria was truly a thrill. Meeting celebrities like Donny Osmond (my teenage crush who I still call my “boyfriend” today!) and Julie Andrews cemented my life-long love of those stars, as well a special place in my heart for these earliest Twin Cities’ Broadway shows.
Don’t get me wrong — the work was demanding. We worked around the clock, but the payoff was enormous. I was surrounded by extremely passionate, determined and hard-working individuals who taught me so many lessons that molded my professional life.
Love what you’re doing with your Step-by-Step Guide for Getting on TV that just launched! Can you tell us more about that and how you decided to add that as a service offering?
I’m the kind of person who’s energized by new ideas, and found one that felt like the perfect fit when I stumbled Amy Porterfield’s “Online Marketing Made Easy” podcast and Digital Course Academy (https://www.amyporterfield.com/).
The concept of creating an online course and sharing my expertise with a broader audience really resonated with me. So I took the work I do everyday and broke it down into a streamlined process — boy did I learn that that’s easier said than done!
But in the end, I’m really proud of this course. The information is presented in a really fun and approachable manner that takes small business owners and entrepreneurs through a step-by-step process of finding a story, identifying the best media match for that story, writing a pitch, developing key messages, media training, as well as what to expect at the TV station.
Entry-level PR practitioners, PR students or PR professionals who have focused on areas other than television pitching will find content that’s insightful, relevant and really oriented toward TV pitching results.
This isn’t your first stint as a business owner. You started an agency back in 1984 with Deb Garvey. Can you tell us a bit about how that came about–especially so early in your career?
Deb Garvey and I met when we were both hired as PR freelancers at the Minnesota Orchestra for the summer. Our skills complimented one another’s, so at the end of that project we decided to go into business together. We set up in a small office in Edina, called ourselves Garvey/Roessler Communications Associates, and from there the business grew and continued on for about nine years.
We eventually decided to each go our own way. I created Roessler Public Relations while Deb, who remains a good friend, is now owner of Deb Garvey Communications (https://www.garvcom.com/).
You’ve also spent two short stints at the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Ordway–why did you keep getting drawn into the music/orchestra scene?
Music —especially classical and Broadway — has played a big role in my life.
I started playing violin at age 9, and went to college thinking I was going to major in violin performance. I had some God-given talent, but quickly realized that achieving that goal meant spending a lot of hours in a practice room by myself, and that definitely wasn’t me. So I changed my major to business management and decided to work on the other side of the stage in marketing/public relations for orchestras.
My early experiences — all unpaid — included marketing and/or public relations internships with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra and the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, S.C. My very first paying job was the public relations manager at the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra when violinist Pinchas Zuckerman was music director.
I continued to play violin after college into my early 50s, including playing for weddings and funerals, in community orchestras, and as part of the trio Scherzo for almost 15 years.
Finally, you also proudly talk about the “CEO” of your business–Sammy Sue–regularly. I’m curious, what attributes did you see in Sammy Sue that led you to believe she could handle such a strenuous role?
Well first of all, she’s always friendly and welcoming. She never, ever lets the pressure of being CEO get to her. And while she’s not the best with the books, one look into her deep brown eyes melts all your troubles away. Beagles are the best bosses.
Over the weekend, we had wi-fi issues at Chez Hanson. If you have teens and/or tweens and you’ve had wi-fi issues, then you know when that happens your home is basically on DEF-CON 15.
And I am not being dramatic.
After a little research and a phone call to CenturyLink, world order was restored and the wi-fi was back up-and-running. Until Sunday morning, when my son came complaining that wi-fi wasn’t working with his Xbox. A bit more research and we figured that out, too.
But, all in all, a minor glitch set me back a few hours of time.
And, this isn’t the first time it’s happened. Truth be told, it’s happening a lot more than it used to. And, it’s no surprise since our world is increasingly tied to technology.
Let me just make a short list of the tech I use every day:
- Wi-fi (router, modem)
That’s just a start. And, I would hardly consider our home a “wired” home. We don’t use things like Nest or Alexa. We don’t have a “connected” home. And, I would hardly call ourselves “luddites.” And yet, we still struggle with technology.
Because it is everywhere.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how much time I devoted to either fixing or figuring out technology (or, managing passwords!). Now, I know I may be in the minority since I’m a solo consultant and a lot of this “figuring out” falls to me. If I were on the corporate or agency side, those kinds of organizations have “IT People” to turn to in these types of situations. I do not.
But, I still run into these tech issues in my personal life. They’re everywhere. And, I’m starting to become a little overwhelmed with it all.
Back to the original wi-fi story for a good example. Two big problems with our wi-fi right now:
1 – It’s slow (not always, but many times it is)
2 – It’s used by many different devices, each with their own set of issues and challenges (namely, four iPhones, 2 Apple TVs, 1 Chromebook, 2 iPads and 1 Xbox).
Slow wi-fi seems like an easy problem to fix, but in reality, it’s not. It takes an act of Congress to get someone from CenturyLink on the phone–or worse yet, out to your home. And, because we’re talking about different devices, a lot of times the problem may lie more with the device than the wi-fi.
Which leads me to #2. You may call CenturyLink and talk about the slow wi-fi, but then you say it’s working fine on our iPhones, just not with the Xbox. Of course, to this, the CenturyLink people will say “you have an Xbox problem, not a wi-fi problem. Contact Microsoft.” Great, another phone call, you say. Which will take another half hour-hour of your time. Then you call the Microsoft folks and the first thing they ask you about is your wi-fi set up. You say “I just talked to the CenturyLink folks and they told me to call you!” To which the Microsoft folks will politely say “sorry, we can’t really help you here.”
You see how this can quickly become frustrating.
I’m not sure why I’m writing this today. Mostly just to vent, I guess. I’ve always said this blog is my personal space to write and vent!
But, I guess I’m also looking for a little sympathy and community here, too. I can’t be the only one feeling this way. I can’t be the only one overwhelmed (at times) by all this technology.
Also: Isn’t there a business opportunity here for some kind of technology concierge? I know Geek Squad comes to mind, but are there any one-man bands that provide this service?
I’m curious. And overwhelmed.
On The Gram, I follow a fellow solo consultant named Katie Miller.
Katie’s a relatively new solo–been at it a couple years now. From all accounts, she’s doing quite well. But, what really strikes me about Katie is her ability to work from anywhere in the world.
And when I say “anywhere in the world” I really mean ANYWHERE in the world!
Recently, she was traveling all across Europe with a few friends. Jumping into the Mediterrean in Italy. Exploring Croatia. All the while, somehow finding time to work and maintain her consultancy.
Needless to say, I (along with almost everyone else) was a little jealous.
Over on LinkedIn, I’m connected to another friend–Greg Swan. Greg leads social over at Fallon. Seems like a pretty sweet gig. He works on accounts like Arby’s and H&R Block and works on forward-thinking activations like this.
He’s also constantly presenting at big conferences. Attending SXSW every year since he was probably about 23 (Note: I have not attended SXSW ONCE in my career!). And, he seems to be working with some pretty smart and fun people at Fallon.
Again, I’m a bit jealous.
I, like many others, seem to routinely find myself in these situations–I have professional FOMO.
I’m more than happy (thrilled, would be the word) in how things have worked out for me. I’ve had a solo consultancy now for almost 10 years. I’ve worked with a long list of Fortune 500 clients. And, I’ve got to do it all my way, as Frank Sinatra would say.
Absolutely no regrets.
But, I still have a little FOMO from time to time.
And in those situations where I experience that professional FOMO, I try to rally back to three key ideas. These are ideas I believe everyone can use to manage their professional FOMO–because I’m quite sure I’m not the only one with professional FOMO.
Here’s my approach–maybe this will help you; maybe not. Just thought I’d share.
Focus on your accomplishments–no one else’s.
It’s fairly easy to get caught up in a competition for the spotlight. Measuring yourself against your colleagues in terms of accomplishments. That could be titles. That could be awards. It could be a lot of things. It’s also problematic. Just like the competition to “keep up with the Joneses” you’re never going to win this battle. There will ALWAYS be someone who has a cooler job than you. That has a better title. That’s won more awards. The key is to reflect and focus on your accomplishments, no matter the size or scope. For me, that’s meant focusing on the fact that I’ve worked with more Fortune 500 clients in the last 10 years than most agencies do, instead of looking at cool projects other agencies are doing. For me, that’s meant focusing on my blog, podcast and e-newsletter, not the fact that my agency colleagues are routinely winning awards left and right. And, it’s also meant focusing on the fact that I’ll start teaching at the University of St. Thomas in the fall–a life-long dream of mine; not lamenting the fact that many of my contemporaries are now VPs at big companies and agencies. By reflecting on YOUR accomplishments, you’ll have a lot less FOMO.
Fully realize your life situation (me: 1 tween, 1 teenager, 1 dog)
Let’s go back to Katie Miller again. I would love nothing more than to work from the Caribbean in the winter months. Katie has done this, and I’m quite certain she’ll do it again this winter. So, so jealous. I’ve made absolutely no secret about how much I hate Minnesota winters. But, then I think about my life situation vs. Katie’s. I have two kids in middle school/high school and a dog. To my knowledge, I don’t believe Katie has either. That’s a huge difference. And, it’s something I try to remember often. Life situation matters–a lot. And you definitely have to factor that in if you’re going to play the game of comparing yourself to others in a professional sense.
Zero in on your goals
I have a lot of FOMO of these folks who have started agencies in the last 10 years. Martha McCarthy and Emily Pritchard come to mind (The Social Lights). They’ve built an agency with legit clients. They have a North Loop office space. They have many employees. It’s pretty impressive. I think “maybe I should have done that. Maybe I should have built something bigger than just me.” Except here’s the thing: That was never my goal. That was never what I wanted. My goal was relatively simple: To start a consultancy working with big companies in social media marketing and PR and to work with people I admire and like. And, for the last 10 years, I’ve been meeting and exceeding that goal. I’ve done what I wanted to do. Don’t lose focus on what YOUR goals are. Resist the urge to measure yourself on other people’s goals.
Aren’t we all tired of talking about this yet?
I know I sure am. But, it continues to be a topic of discussion–mostly because not every brand has the budget of Walmart and can continue to sink hundreds of thousands of dollars each year into social media advertising.
But, I still can’t help but get a bit twitchy when I see studies like the one recently offered by Social Media Examiner.
In the study, they found that 51 percent of marketers plan on INCREASING their Facebook organic activities in 2019.
In other words, half of the marketers you know think it’s a great idea to spend more time developing content for Facebook that will get seen by less than 1% of its audience.
Now, to be fair, that 51% number is a drop from 62% in 2018. So, I guess that’s hope! But, still HALF of marketers continue to think organic social is a good idea.
I know I’m probably being a little dramatic. But, let’s consider some facts.
For starters, let’s look at organic engagement rates for some of the bigger social platforms. Now, I know this isn’t an exact science and finding reputable average organic engagement rates is like trying to find Bigfoot on the internet, but here’s what I found from a few semi-reputable sources:
Facebook average organic engagement rate – 0.73%
Instagram average organic engagement rate – 2.64%
Linkedin average organic engagement rate – 0.54%
Twitter average organic engagement rate – 0.19%
So, let’s say you have a Facebook page with 10,000 followers–because that sounds like the number of a page that can’t afford a big ad budget. By my math, that means any post you make has a good chance of being seen by just 73 followers.
On Twitter, that’s even worse. 10,000 followers would net you 19 followers consuming your content. Heck, you’re better off printing the tweet and posting it in the bathroom stall! 🙂
So, the big question is this: Why are so many marketers planning to focus on organic posts in 2019 when they know full well very few people are seeing this content?
I have one theory: Job justification.
Many of the folks that are in social media jobs got there by selling the idea that we need to post to Facebook, Twitter, Insta and LinkedIn 30-40 times per month. Years ago, a volume strategy wasn’t that crazy. However, in 2019, with many social channels acting merely as ad platforms, that concept IS crazy.
But, if you scaled back content production to 5-10 times per month vs. 30-40, that would mean a lot less work.
So, people continue to focus on volume posting to justify their jobs. I’m sure this isn’t happening across the board, but I bet it’s happening more than you might think.
Second, I also think a big part of this is social media managers convincing executives that posting less is a good idea. We spent so many years just convincing execs that social media marketing was “a thing.” Then, finally, we did. They bought in. They resourced for staff positions. But then, things changed. Volume was no longer the key. Today, quality rules (as does advertising). So, the volume equation changed. I just think it’s taking a while to convince execs of this shift.
What would I be doing if I were a social media manager for a midsized or large brand?
For starters, I’d be focusing on quality content vs. quantity. Big time. I’d even advocate for less content than you even think you need (even just 4-5 posts a month would go a long ways toward developing better content).
I’d also be looking for creative ways to up our organic reach. Using Facebook Stories more regularly, for example. Maybe even experimenting with LinkedIn video. Areas where most people aren’t investing–that’s where you typically see organic wins.
What about you? Are you investing in organic social for the rest of 2019?
I had a bit of an epiphany recently.
I’m the grown up in the room now.
I know, sounds stupid, right? After all, I’m 46 years old and have been working in this business now for 20+ years.
But, a few instances lately really made this realization pop.
For example, I’m going to be teaching a class at the University of St. Thomas this fall. I’ll definitely be the grown up in that room–to the tune of 25 years older than all the students in the class!
I also run two mastermind groups. One is made up of people in the early to mid-stages of their careers. Many of those people are getting married and having their first kid. Those are things that I experienced now 15-20 years ago! That’s a long time! Again, grown up in the room.
I have another client who’s probably in the 28-32-age range. She’s really smart. Good instincts. She is going to be a good comms leader some day soon! Every time I chat with her, I realize I’m the grown up in the room.
This kinda snuck up on me. And, it’s no surprise, really. I haven’t been in the workplace in 10 years now. And, the last time I was in the workplace, I had positions in middle management (Beehive), or even on the junior side of things (Fairview). I was 34-36 years old then.
Fast forward 10 years and I’m 46 with 10 years consulting with a wide range and number of Fortune 500 companies. If I weren’t doing this, I’d most likely be a manager or director with one of these companies–same as many of my friends.
We’re the grown-ups in the room now.
Don’t get me wrong–this isn’t a bad thing. It’s just an odd situation for me. First, I don’t feel 46 at all. I feel more like 36. Second, I have a lot of imposter syndrome to me. I still have a hard time understanding why anyone would listen to my advice on issues relating to PR, comms and social media marketing. Why would anyone read this blog? Why would people listen to our podcast? It’s all insecurity, but it washes over me from time to time.
So, to be the grown-up in the room feels weird to me. I’m still getting used to it. I kinda liked being the learner, or the person always asking questions, or the colleague who’s looking for new opportunities. I’m not sure that will ever leave me.
But, I guess I’m a grown-up now. Time to start accepting that.