Christina Nicholson is a former TV reporter and anchor who now owns and operates a public relations firm, Media Maven. She also recently launched Master your PR – an online course that teaches small business owners how to handle public relations on their own if it’s not in the budget to hire help.
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Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [01:01] – Christina was a TV reporter and anchor for 10 years
- [01:28] – She left the business and went into PR
- [02:01] – Christina still didn’t have the flexibility she wanted
- [03:22] – JLD talks about learning how to present yourself
- [03:41] – One BIG and Unique Value Bomb: People think you need a press release to pitch
- [04:37] – 3 E’s before you pitch your brand to the media
- [05:16] – Tie your brand to news that is already happening
- [05:46] – Find a way to make yourself newsworthy
- [06:32] – Worst Entrepreneurial Moment: I got into the problem of saying yes to everything and I was taking on so much work below the average price
- [07:47] – I was undervaluing myself because I was comparing myself to other PR businesses
- [09:02] – Entrepreneurs put so much more into clients
- [09:55] – When you say YES to something, you’re saying NO to everything else
- [10:42] – Know your worth and charge what you’re worth
- [10:56] – Entrepreneurial AH-HA Moment: I started working more online and I realized the importance of having and growing an email list
- [11:50] – Own what you’re creating
- [13:02] – What is the one thing you are most FIRED up about today? My online course
- [13:53] – What is something that you are both excited about and not excited about? I finally decided to outsource
- [14:58] – The Lightning Round
- What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur? –I didn’t even think about it as an option
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – Find out what you like to do and figure out a way to get paid for it
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – I am very honest and I don’t care what other people think
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – Google Drive and Google Docs
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – Essentialism – you need to know what to say yes to and what to say no to
- Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning in a brand new world, identical to Earth, but you knew no one. You still have all the experiences and knowledge you currently have – your food and shelter is taken cared of – but all you have is a laptop and $500. What would you do in the next 7 days? – I would set up a website that would connect people. I would network and connect with those people
- [17:21] – Do not be afraid to put yourself out there
- [17:39] – Connect with Christina on her website
- [17:44] – Visit Media Maven to get Christina’s ebook for FREE
Christina Nicholson: I am so ready, John.
John Lee Dumas: Yes. Christina is a former TV reporter and anchor who now owns and operates a public relations firm, Media Maven. She also recently launched Master Your PR, an online course that teaches small business owners how to handle public relations on their own, even if it's not in the budget to hire out help.
Christina, take a minute, fill in some gaps from that intro, and give us a glimpse into your personal life.
Christina Nicholson: Well, as you said, my background is in TV. I was a TV reporter and anchor for about ten years, and I had a couple of kids and realized that business is not so family-friendly. Literally, I can remember times when I was nine months' pregnant, carrying around my own camera and tripod in the not-so-nice areas of Miami, knocking on a sex offender's door.
John Lee Dumas: Oh.
Christina Nicholson: And I thought, okay, there's gotta be a better way to do this. So I left the business. Like many people do in TV and journalism, they go into PR. So I started searching for a job in public relations, and nobody would hire me −
John Lee Dumas: What?
Christina Nicholson: − because I did not have PR experience. And I would say, "Well, I have experience deleting about every press release you send me. Would you like to know why?" And they were, like, "No, not interested. We're gonna hire somebody with PR experience."
Luckily, I found somebody to hire me, and I worked at a firm for a few months, and then I started consulting for other firms. And I still wasn't getting the flexibility that I wanted, and I quickly realized that the only way to have a flexible schedule is to just be your own boss.
So a little over a year ago, I said, you know what? I'm in the service business, so why not just do this myself? So that's why I started Media Maven.
John Lee Dumas: I love what you just said. I mean, I get over 300 inbound requests every single month of people who are looking to be a guest on EOFire, and probably, like, 50 to 75 of them are from PR firms. And you spot them a mile away. I open up the email. It's super long, for one. It's probably 10,000 words. That's an exaggeration, but it's so long. It's in this tiny little font.
And then it's just like, "We love your podcast," and in a different font, "Entrepreneur on Fire," then back to its original font, and it goes through − they're just, like, "We think that our so-and-so would be a perfect guest."
And I'm just, like, wow, this person probably would be a great guest on my show. They really probably would be a great guest on Entrepreneur on Fire, but I'm never gonna read this email that's so long. I'm never gonna respond to this boilerplate. I'm just actually blocking their email address, period. That's just what I do over and over again.
And there's ways to do it right, and there's ways to do it wrong. I've gotten one-sentence emails from people that are now past guests of EOFire, and I've gotten 100-sentence emails from other people who don't have a chance on Fire Nation. You have to learn. It's how you present yourselves, and this is what we're gonna be diving into today.
But, Christina, what I kind of want to focus in on right now is what you consider your area of expertise. And within that area, break it down for us and then give us one value bomb, something that we as entrepreneurs need to know but probably don't.
Christina Nicholson: Okay. Well, what I do for small business owners is I help them with their media relations, video production, and blogging. And if I had to give one value bomb − and you kind of just touched on it, JLD, about the pitching − people think you need a press release.
I don't write press releases for my clients unless they ask me to because that's not the way to pitch. You keep it short and sweet and to the point, and you want to offer that media outlet a reason to give you exposure.
A lot of pitches are, "Oh, this is me and this is my brand, and basically here it all is, so you can give me a free commercial." It doesn't work like that. If you are going to pitch your brand to the media, whether it be a podcast, TV, newspaper, magazine, online, you need to make your brand and your business newsworthy.
And I say, to do that, you need to have three Es. You need to educate the audience, you need to entertain them, and you need to have some kind of emotion. And when I say emotion, I mean the real person behind your story.
So if you have a product, then don't just pitch yourself and your product. You need to have the customer using the product and talk about the difference your product has made in that customer's life. If you're in the medical field, and you wanna talk about the latest and greatest medical advancements, you should have a patient to talk to who can speak on that.
And another big thing that will help you to earn media exposure is to tie your brand into news that is already happening.
For example, I know a woman down here in South Florida who does wills for people. When Prince died, it was big news that he didn't have a will. That was the national news for days. That was her opportunity to contact the local media and say, "Hey, I'm an expert on this topic. I can talk about wills and how it's not that hard to get one, and you can do it really easily in these three steps."
So you need to find a way to make yourself newsworthy with those three Es and also tying in your brand to hard news that is happening.
John Lee Dumas: Educate, entertain, emotion, Fire Nation, it's those three Es. And I love that last point, Christina. Tie it into the news, current events, something that has people already talking. What's that buzz right now? Jump on that momentum train and add your hopefully two very valuable cents to that and see where that goes. So it's just a great value bomb. Thank you for that.
And what I kind of want to shift to now, Christina, is your journey as an entrepreneur. You've had the ups; you've had the downs. Let's talk about not just the downs but the lowest of the low, your worst entrepreneurial moment to date. Tell us that story.
Christina Nicholson: I think it would be − I was probably in business for a few months, and obviously as entrepreneurs, we know we're gonna work more hours for ourselves than we would for somebody else, and we have no problem doing that because we're own boss.
However, I got into the problem of saying yes to everything, and I was taking on so much work for well below an average price, and I was providing above-average service, and it was just not worth it to me.
I was making good money. I was making five figures a month, but I was so stressed out, and I was working non-stop, and I had such an attitude problem, and I wasn't the friendliest to people around me because it was so stressful that I realized, okay, this is not what I started my own business for. I did it for the flexibility, and I'm not letting myself be flexible.
So it was when I realized that, it was the end of 2015, and I said, my New Year's resolution is to stop saying yes to everything and to raise my prices.
And I think the reason I was undervaluing myself was because I didn't have a big fancy office, and at the time, my website wasn't that impressive, and it was just me. And I was trying to compare myself to these big PR firms, and I thought that because it was just little old me working from home in a corner in my family room, I should be charging less.
And then after really thinking about it, I should be doing the opposite. I realized, I should charge more. And I need to get paid what I'm worth because when people hire me, they're not a little fish in a big pond. They are a priority. They know exactly who they're working with. They're getting me day in, day out. I am super accessible. I have a team of people that's super accessible.
And I would see in these PR firms, the person making the sale to the president of the company or the founder was making empty promises and would never even make a phone call on that person's account. It was just a person making a sale. It was all about numbers.
It wasn't about the people and making their brand known in the media; when, with me, because I think as entrepreneurs or solopreneurs, we're smaller, I think we put so much more into our clients because that is our brand and that is our reputation.
So I think I turned my worst entrepreneurial moment kind of into my aha moment when I realized, okay, so my weakness is actually my strength.
John Lee Dumas: Okay. So I wanna unpack this a little bit, Fire Nation, because we're gonna go through seasons in our lives as entrepreneurs with our businesses. And so there is a time; there is a season.
You know, it's Season No. 1 when you are gonna be saying yes to everything or just to a lot of things because you've gotta get out there, your name, your voice. You have to have experience. You actually have to be doing something. So, yeah, you're gonna say yes to everything. But hopefully that's a short season. That's when you're just saying, okay, I need to just immerse myself in everything.
And then once you get some momentum, you get some success, more opportunities are going to come. Then you have to have a mindset shift, and it's Season No. 2 where you realize that when you say yes to something, you're saying no to everything else that you could be doing during that yes.
Now, that doesn't mean that you're saying no to everything because you just have to evaluate in that way. Is it the right move that if I say yes to this, I'm saying no to all these other opportunities that might come my way? If the answer to that question is yes, then take the opportunity. But start weighing it differently.
And then in Season 3 and 4 as your business really takes off, you have to default to no. It goes to that Derek Sivers' quote, "If it's not a hell yes, it's a no." And that's where you've got to default to.
But it's different seasons, so realize this isn't tomorrow, you just start saying no to everybody. It's going through the seasons correctly.
So that's my big takeaway, Christina. In just one sentence, what do you wanna make sure Fire Nation gets from your story?
Christina Nicholson: Know your worth and charge what you are worth.
John Lee Dumas: Let's talk about an aha moment. Let's talk about one of your greatest ideas that you've had to date. Take us to that moment. Tell us that story.
Christina Nicholson: My greatest idea. Well, it wasn't really my idea to build an email list. However, it was something I never thought of before. And when I started working more online and learning about SEO, I thought, oh, there definitely is a correlation between the size of somebody's email list and how much money they make.
And it's something I never thought of because I'd come from TV reporting. I didn't need an email list for anything. So I think when I realized the importance of having an email list and how to grow an email list and where to put things in your social media and on your website to do that, I thought, oh, my gosh. I felt like I just won the lottery, like, wow, I can grow an email list and make even more money.
John Lee Dumas: I think that one of the things that entrepreneurs look back at, Fire Nation, and regret the most is that they didn't own what they're creating, the audience that they're building.
And so many people I've seen make the same mistake over and over again, putting all your hopes and your dreams on somebody else's platform, whether that be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat. Listen, these are valuable tools and valuable definitely platforms to grow an audience off of, but things change all the time.
And we all know what happened with Facebook when they stopped providing 100 percent organic rates and brought it down to, like, ten percent or three percent, and now it's a pay to play, and that's okay. But for people that were banking on that 100 percent, they were hurt.
And that just has to be something that you prepare for, and that's why an email list is something that you own. Start building up your own assets.
Now, what I kind of want to talk about, Christina − and this is something that you maybe as an entrepreneur are experiencing because you're having a lot of things that you're excited about, a lot of things that you're not excited about right now because you're actually starting to identify what works and what doesn't.
What is something that you're both excited about right now, but then on the flipside, something that you're not excited about and you've realized that recently and you're not going to be doing it anymore?
Christina Nicholson: I am excited about my online course. I realized when I was doing some business development; a lot of people want PR. They want their brand in the media, but they cannot afford to pay somebody to do it. I think the lowest monthly retainer I've heard is $2,500.00 a month. A lot of small business owners cannot afford that. And they wanna earn publicity; they just don't know what to do.
So that was the idea behind Master Your PR, my online course. And I'm getting ready to launch it, and I'm super excited. I put a lot into it, so I'm really excited about that.
And something that I'm not excited about, but I'm excited because I have found a solution, is as entrepreneurs we wear a lot of hats and we do a lot of stuff. And some of that stuff is stuff we don't like doing, we're not experts in, and we just don't wanna do.
And I finally said, okay, I don't wanna do it. I'm gonna outsource it. I'm not excited about doing, you know, some tech stuff. It takes me way too long to figure it out. I'm just going to bite the bullet and pay somebody to help me.
And I guess it goes back to knowing what to say yes to and knowing what to say no to, and that has freed up so much stress and so much time, and I can focus on what I enjoy and what I'm good at by giving what I'm not excited about to other people who get excited about that stuff.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, as you're growing your business, you have to grow your team. You have to know what you're good and amplify those strengths by continuing to do those things and know the other 98 percent of stuff that you're bad at and outsource it. Hire people to work on your team to do those things or find independent contractors. There's plenty out there. You have to put the train tracks in place to run a good business.
Now, Fire Nation, don't you go anywhere because the train tracks are in place for an amazing lightning round. We're gonna take a quick minute first to thank our sponsors.
Christina, are you prepared for the lightning rounds?
Christina Nicholson: I am ready.
John Lee Dumas: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Christina Nicholson: A lot of people say fear, but for me, it wasn't fear. For me, it was just I didn't even think about it. I didn't think of it as an option until I felt kind of forced into it to get the flexibility I wanted.
John Lee Dumas: What's the best advice you've ever received?
Christina Nicholson: Find out what you like to do, and then figure out a way to get paid for it.
John Lee Dumas: Share a personal habit that contributes to your success.
Christina Nicholson: I would say these two kinds of go hand-in-hand. I am very honest, and I don't care about what other people think.
John Lee Dumas: Share an internet resource like Evernote with Fire Nation.
Christina Nicholson: This sounds kind of boring. It's not very sexy. But I recently discovered Google Drive and Google Docs, and I love that I can access my content from anywhere.
John Lee Dumas: So amazing. If you could recommend just one book, Christina, what would it be and why?
Christina Nicholson: Essentialism because we just talked about it. You need to know what to say yes to and what to say no to. And after I read Essentialism, I started saying no to a whole lot more and getting a lot more done for my business.
John Lee Dumas: Christina, this is the last question of the lightning round, but it's a doozy. Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning in a brand-new world, identical to earth, but you knew no one. You still have all the experience and knowledge you currently have. Your food and shelter is taken care of. But all you have is a laptop and $500.00. What would you do in the next seven days?
Christina Nicholson: I would set up some kind of website that would connect people. I would network with people. I would see what they wanted and what they needed. I would offer my help if I could. And if I couldn't, I would connect them with others in our little networking group that could help them out.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, relationships, relationships, relationships. It's so valuable on every single level. And, Christina, let's end today on fire with you sharing a parting piece of guidance, the best way that we can connect with you, and then we'll say goodbye.
Christina Nicholson: My parting piece of guidance would be: Do not be afraid to put yourself out there. You need to promote yourself. You need to promote your brand. You need to promote your business. Remember to do it in a way that benefits other people while you're entertaining them, and we all have one thing in common, and that's emotion. So bring emotion to it.
To reach me, you can visit my website at mediamavenandmore.com, and if you visit mediamavenandmore.com/fire, you can get my e-book for free, and it just breaks down pitching the media, finding your story, how to reach out to the media, not those long emails that JLD does not want to receive. I will give it to you all at mediamavenandmore.com/fire.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, you know the average. Of the five people you spend the most time with, you've been hanging out with CN and JLD today, so keep up the heat.
And head over to EOFire.com. Just type Christina − that's Christina with a CHRISTINA − in the search bar. Her show notes page will pop up with everything that we've been talking about today, best show notes in the biz, Fire Nation, timestamps, links galore.
And of course, head over to mediamavenandmore.com/fire for a free e-book on how to not upset JLD when you email him and so much more.
Christina, thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that, we salute you, and we'll catch you on the flipside.
Christina Nicholson: Thank you.
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