On this month’s profile, we are talking with none other than Ashley Graham, Founder of Your Brandista. She’s an Executive Publicist & People-Relations Coach that works with conscious thought leaders in elevating their voices through storytelling, PR & conscious communications. She prides herself in focusing on bringing awareness to the aspects of the media that might be missed to consciously connect communities for impact and improvement, and become better leaders and communicators within their spaces.
She likes to believe that her influence reaches a loyal audience who are craving the right conversations. As a publicist and thought leader in the PR space, she has landed clients in a variety of media outlets such as Forbes, Refinery29, Entrepreneur, and BuzzFeed. As a thought leader herself, she has been recognized in the media on BossBabe, Thought Catalog, Business2Community, Authority Magazine, Thrive Global, PRNews, and was recently announced as a potential candidate for the Forbes Next 1000 List.
Within this interview, we discuss all aspects of podcasting as it relates to amplifying your Public Relations efforts. From how to get started to her new podcast pitching bundle to help PRos move the needle, Ashley is talking all about the best tips, tricks, and tactics for making the most out podcasts.
BTW, did we mention that the OnePitch community can receive 40% off Ashley’s Podcast Pitching Bundle by using the code ONEPITCH at checkout? Make sure to get your hands on a copy!
Read below for the entire interview with Ashley:
1.) How did you initially get into PR?
My quick-witted answer to this question is that I didn’t choose the PR life… The PR life chose me.
I have been a marketer for as long as I can remember. From studying marketing in high school between 2007 & 2008 to then earning my bachelor’s degree in marketing and management with an influence of PR in 2011, I knew marketing and PR were always going to be in the cards for me. However, along the path of a few start-up career environments wearing “many hats”, I discovered that I had a well-rounded resume of just about every element of administration and marketing, but little around the “real world” of PR; or more so the type of PR I felt called to do. I then started re-studying and self-executing my own traditional PR in the more modern-day world, thanks to social media and the digital space.
I managed a lifestyle blog/vlog on the side of my Marketing Director titles for about five years where I worked with a number of brands and PR agencies executing brand awareness and content initiatives for their clients. I worked with conscious, story-based brands in the US, Mexico, Canada, and a few in the European countries which piqued a high interest in turning that into a more well-rounded relationship in being a PR, Marketing, & Branding consultant for brands. With this new path and interest in the lifestyle PR space, I launched my consulting business in March of 2016, with a heavy emphasis on how branding was becoming an integrated part of marketing and communications.
It wasn’t until about June/July of 2019 after working with a number of clients in the food and beverage space, as well as entrepreneurs, and service/product-based businesses, that it clicked that I wanted to take on a bigger challenge to the PR space. After acting as my own publicist over the years to use PR as a way to build a connection to the work I did, I discovered the power of thought leadership and how people invest in people. Now, I am at this amazing axis point where I have challenged my goals and aspirations for how I strive to position myself in the PR space. I want to make the world of PR accessible to the “voices” who deserve to be heard; voices who use their influence to make an impact for the better, or for simple connection. As a conscious observer, I see the incredible potential the media has to highlight everyday people; people who can speak to shared experiences to build deep, lasting connections with one another.
People are the influences behind so many elements of life, especially the media. Therefore, I am always discovering new ways to be a catalyst in bringing consciousness to the media landscape through the people I work with, and the stories they have to share that go beyond accolades and recognition of successes. I am attracted to the stories that pull the heartstrings; the ones that show that we are not alone in our lived experiences, therefore, I am passionate about being the connector between the transformation my clients have to offer, and the audience who gets to claim the rewards.
2.) You mentioned you are in the process of rebranding to “The Conscious Publicist”. What does “The Conscious Publicist” mean to you and what inspired the rebrand?
This is a great question with so many layers! As you may remember from my blog post, “PR 101: People Relations vs Public Relations,” I have always been passionate and driven to understand people; to understand the potential challenges and hurdles others may be facing, how they might be feeling through certain experiences, and how I can be of support in the mix. This is very much THE characteristic that makes a great publicist good at what they do in my humble opinion. The intention to understand people and their experiences requires a great amount of awareness, empathy, and understanding; all very personal characteristics of the conscious awareness we have within ourselves.
As I mentioned earlier, I see the incredible potential the media has to highlight everyday people; people who can speak to shared experiences to build deep, lasting connections with one another. The stories we read imprint into our daily lives, but the question we must ask ourselves is, “what stories are we allowing ourselves to be a part of?”
When I sit or meditate on the feeling of rebranding both the agency and my personal brand, the image I see in my mind is pretty sensational. I see platforms and communities with people who accept who they are in their full essence, and embrace their full potential to be a leading voice; one that moves through empathy and understanding. That is what “The Conscious Publicist” means to me, and why I am passionate about PR: People Relations. It means using my skills, knowledge, and resources to not only execute and guide others on how to be recognized through PR and the media… but to help guide them into becoming better leaders and influences for others.
3.) What’s your favorite part of what you do? Do you have an area that you love more than another?
I love big-picture planning and strategy! I am one of those people who can see potential in just about everything which has always made me a great visionary. Whether it’s a story, a goal, or being a part of a client’s grand mission/vision, I can get carried away in the endless possibilities we can pursue. It has its benefits and downfalls, but visionaries, in my opinion, are the ones that create connections.
This makes so much sense to me as I have always had a wild imagination since I was a kid. If you are familiar with the Myers Briggs Personality Assessment, or the 16Personalities, I am an INFJ (The Advocate). INFJ’s are people who approach life with deep thoughtfulness and imagination. If you read thoroughly through the briefing of INFJ’s, it makes a world of sense given the role I strive to plan in my consulting work and the possibilities that can stem from it. This is the area that I love most.
4.) You also just launched a brand new Podcast Pitching Bundle. Can you tell us a little more about this?
Absolutely! The Podcast Pitching Bundle is the first digital product that I’ve launched, and I can’t wait to see the shifts it brings to my clients. Podcasts, in my opinion, are one of the most talked-about, trending mediums for following along with innovative conversations, the latest experiences of your favorite hosts, discovering new trends around your go-to topics, and connecting with new like-minded people. Over the last few months, while spending ample time researching the longevity and impact of podcasts, I discovered that podcasts are growing by the day. Reflecting on the 2021 statistics from Oberlo, there are currently two million active podcasts in the world and more than 48 million podcast episodes in circulation. When I sat and truly reflected on the numbers, it hit me that podcasts are only going to continue to expand, and with the right strategy and goal in mind for leveraging podcasts as a target media medium for clients, there is a very unique opportunity to bridge the gap between traditional PR outreach, to the uniqueness of securing podcast interviews through the same story and goals.
In this bundle, I wanted to include every aspect imaginable for both “fluent” PR professionals who are looking to elevate their skills around podcast pitching, or thought leaders who are looking to manage their own PR when pitching to podcasts specifically. I share how to master the art of pitching podcasts from the PR perspective to win the conscious conversation, as I believe the most rewarding part of landing podcast interviews is the conversations that are highlighted. Podcasts give you the creative freedom to express any and all that you want… and it’s interactive!
As a PR specialist, I believe my best asset is the level of awareness I have around what the prominent needs are of those who are looking for PR, while also educating them on the aspects of PR they may miss, especially when searching for resources online. Therefore, I am expressing that this bundle is a tool to take seriously if you want the results, especially taking into consideration what’s required outside of JUST THE PITCH. I put a lot of attention into how to master the art of pitching podcasts from the PR perspective, as well as addressing mindset obstacles one might experience when it comes to confidence through pitching to win the conscious conversations, as I believe that’s what we need to see and hear more of.
This bundle, with an educational 118-page e-book with training materials, guides the client through the process of the pre-work required of knowing who and where to pitch, how to craft an intentional media-worthy pitch, how to create and manage your podcast media lists and outreach schedule, the best practices on how to pitch, what to do to maximize the reach of your podcast conversations once it’s been published, and how to build better relationships with the host and their audiences along the way.
I naturally felt drawn to take it back to the basics of PR, while blending that into the impact of podcasts… All while making it easy to understand for the clients who may or may not be up-to-speed on the intricacies that most publicists or PR professionals are used to observing every day. It’s pretty fascinating to reflect on all of the elements and information that I put into this for others to gain value and insight, and I can’t wait to soak in all the breakthroughs it brings them.
5.) For those who aren’t utilizing podcasts yet, what are the benefits of incorporating podcasts into your PR strategy?
From the thought leadership perspective, being a guest on a podcast that is aligned with your core message is a great way to elevate your story to a new audience. Sharing your story on a podcast interview takes the host and their audience on a conversational journey through your unique experience as a thought leader or person-of-influence in your area of expertise. Depending on the conversation and reach of the podcast, being interviewed can assist in elevating your visibility online. In my opinion, getting interviewed on influential podcasts is a great way to build an immediate connection with your ideal audience through a personalized conversation, as it’s a tunnel that leads directly to you, your voice, and your message.
When I think about the ideal PR strategy, it’s attracting opportunities that highlight more than just showing where you’ve been recognized online or offline. Public perception is fully integrated into PR, but digital awareness through the written word only goes so far. Podcasts bring the listener into the conversation directly; creating an experience where the listener feels they are the one in conversation with the host and the interviewee. The imprint of this alone creates more of an impact for the listener to REMEMBER the conversation, which in turn, builds a lasting impression of the host and the interviewee. From the client’s perspective, the benefit of podcasts creates a digital imprint, while also psychologically imprinting on the listener’s connection to the client’s story for opportunities for that relationship to go further.
As “digital consumers”, I believe we have elevated past connecting to what people do and more so evolved into connecting as to why they do what they do. Simply put, podcasts are a platform to bring the audience on a journey of understanding; understanding the mission and vision the host sets for the podcast, but also why they choose to interview who they bring onto the show, and what that guest has to share. Podcasts, if effectively curated and managed, cut through the “noise” we often see on digital platforms or publications, which can often be “smoke and mirrors” to what’s real influential media and/or self-imposed advertising.
6.) How is pitching podcasts different than pitching journalists at publications? What are the top 3 elements that PRos should include in a pitch for a podcast?
Pitching podcasts versus pitching journalists at publications are very similar in my opinion, however, the PITCH itself is different. Instead of overly focusing on a campaign or writing a thorough press release highlighting the core mission of a brand/business/person to what the press release is announcing, a podcast pitch focuses solely on the person who is hoping to land the conversation, and the top valuable topics they have to offer insight to, and what those topics address. Here are a few gold nuggets of information to include in a podcast pitch versus more traditional pitches to journalists:
- Important aspects of your podcast conversation. Ex. The problem you are addressing/solving, case studies, testimonials, etc.
- Supporting facts as to “why” you are the expert or “go-to” for the pitch topic.
- Your value/media proposition as to why you are pitching to win the conscious conversation on the podcast platform.
- The value you bring to the conversation, and “why” you are conducting outreach/sharing your message through your pitch, the reason for gaining the media exposure, etc.
- The value of the topic you are curating your pitch around. It’s important that you put an emphasis on the value you bring to the topic/story.
- Remember, LESS is MORE.
7.) How can you effectively prove that your thought leader is credible within a pitch?
This is a great question! I have an incredible section in the bundle that covers how to position yourself as a go-to thought leader prior to pitching a podcast, as prep prior to pitching is key. The one thing to remember is we all have a story and message to share! Whether around our personal lives, career, challenges that we have overcome, or the social causes we are passionate about, our voices are a valuable asset. Here is a quick breakdown of elements to give attention to, that position yourself as a credible speaker to win conscious podcast conversations:
- Professional Headshots and/or Media-Ready Photos: Professional headshots and/or well-done self-shots are a great way to make a connection to who you are and your ‘essence’. Making a first impression through visuals is still important, even digitally.
- Website and/or Blog: The original hub of credibility! A website and/or blog still holds a ton of value in the authority space.
- Bi-Lines, Contributing Writer Opportunities & Guest Blogging: These ops are EXCELLENT for showing credibility. It not only expands your awareness, but it shows the outlet itself recognizes what you have to share.
- Social Media Profiles and/or Relevant Content: Social media content is still valuable as you can craft content that is relevant to the conversation you are pitching.
- Testimonials and/or Reviews: Testimonials and reviews give any media platform a glimpse at what you do for others that makes you the ideal fit for the conversation.
8.) What are your top tips for finding the right podcasts for your thought leaders?
Nothing beats word-of-mouth marketing of podcasts or organic search in my opinion. However, when building out new podcast media lists and/or refreshing pre-existing lists, here are the top three (3) avenues I encourage you to explore for discovering the right podcasts to pitch.
- Facebook & Social Media Groups
- Community Memberships & Word-of-Mouth
- Referrals & ‘Recommended For You’ Advertisements (It Pays to Tune in as a Listener)
- Digital Searches & Keywords
- & A Ton More Recommendations (As Well As Affiliates in the Bundle)
9.) What’s the best piece of PR advice you’ve received that you want to share with others?
The best piece of PR advice I’ve received has been the advice I have given myself. I know that sounds biased but it’s through my own obstacles and challenges, that I am able to give great and relatable advice to the clients I coach or consult. The best advice I have when it comes to thought leadership in PR is staying true to your story and the value and insight you offer. The second piece of advice that I may add is persistence in pursuing your goals is key. As we know, PR is an ever-evolving process and pitching podcasts or any type of media should be met with the same excitement, vigor, and dedication as any other piece of the thought leadership mix.
BONUS: You moved to Orange County a little over a year ago and we also know you love coffee! What’s your favorite coffee shop there?!
From how she approaches her work to the ways she ties in personal relationships and empathy, Ashley Graham is the epitome of being a conscious publicist. Don’t forget to snag a copy of her new Podcast Pitching Bundle HERE for 40% off by using the code ONEPITCH at checkout.
Like this series and have a guest you think would be a good fit? Shoot us a Twitter DM or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know who you’d want to see featured next! PS: you can recommend yourself too.
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