Episode 178

How to Get Free PR with Ali Karsch of LVPR

Ali Karsch - LVPR
October 6, 2021
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While getting free PR for your brand isn’t easy, it’s not impossible. And the rewards can be huge. Great companies and CEOs have always understood this. From Steve Jobs to Walt Disney to Richard Branson and others. Free press can be worth millions to your brand. And you don’t have to be as dynamic as Richard Branson to get free PR.

Ali Karsch is the co-founder of LVPR, a PR company that works exclusively with cool DTC brands like NATIVE, Cloud Paper, Everyday Humans and many others.  

In this episode, we condense Ali’s 15+ years of PR experience into a power-packed interview.  We cover the most important topics so you can start getting free PR now for your brand.  Here’s what we discuss:

  • When’s the best time to engage with media?
  • How to craft a compelling founder story that the media is eager to share?
  • How the pandemic has made getting PR easier (and harder)
  • LVPR’s 5 Rules for brands it works with
  • What is commerce/affiliate PR and how it’s changing the PR game.
  • Plus more!

Ali Karsch

Via LinkedIn


Little Voice Public Relations

Mentioned in this interview:

Moiz Ali

Native Deodorant

Sara Blakely

VINEBOX

Adweek

TechCrunch

Hero Cosmetics

BOOM! by Cindy Joseph

Usual Wines

Live Bearded

Everyday California

Clubhouse

Retail Brew

Marketing Brew

Morning Brew


Episode Transcript:

Brett:

Well, hello, and welcome to another edition of the eCommerce Evolution Podcast. I am delighted that you have tuned in today, and I am super excited about today's topic. This is not something we've ever talked about at length on the podcast, and that was a shocker to me because this is really, really important stuff. Today, we're talking about PR, PR for your e-commerce brand. If you're an agency owner like me or run a SaaS company, we may sprinkle in a couple of nuggets for you as well, but going to focus in on those D2C brands today.

Brett:

My guest today is Ms. Ali Karsch. She is a PR specialist, 15 plus years in the industry. She's the founder of LVPR and been running that company for about five years.

Brett:

We actually shared a client for a number of years, Native Deodorant. Ali and team worked with Moiz at Native Deodorant, as they were scaling and growing on their rocket ship trajectory. That was a fun connection that we have as well. Of course, we run the Google and YouTube for Native to this day. With that intro, Ali, welcome to the show. How are you doing? Thanks for taking the time.

Ali:

Thank you for having me. I'm good. I'm loving the state of our industries right now. I think it's been really fun to see the comeback of the D2C world. I'm excited to chat with you today.

Brett:

Yeah, me too. I love good brands. I love fun, consumer brands. I've always loved media. I love advertising. Obviously, I'm an ad guy, but I've always loved just how good brands appear in the press. I'm super excited to dig into this topic because I don't understand PR that well. Of course, I've talked to a few people, have a little bit of knowledge, but it's not an area of expertise.

Brett:

I partially want to selfishly just ask you questions that I can use for my business, but I'm going to definitely ask you more about D2C brands and we'll all get benefit from this. So if you don't mind, Ali, give me the quick background, how did you find yourself in PR? Was this the dream? Was this the dream since you were a little girl or how did this come to be?

Ali:

No. I think I wanted to be in fashion, probably like every girl. I was in marketing in college, in business and marketing, and thought fashion marketing was my passion in life, and quickly learned it was not after doing an internship in New York City with Giorgio Armani. I learned very quickly, and stumbled into PR and I really loved it.

Ali:

I think the thing I like most about PR is just that every day is different and every client is different. It never feels like you're tired of doing this job. For me, I have ADD and so that just really works well for me. No, I loved it. I started out, my first job was in PR and I've continued since and grown in different capacities. I really enjoy the industry.

Brett:

Your original job was at a PR firm or you were working at a media outlet for a PR firm?

Ali:

I've always worked with agencies only. I've never worked on the flip side, but I have so much respect for the editorial world.

Brett:

It's so interesting that our two worlds are quite similar, PR and advertising. They have a lot in common if you think about it. I love the fact that no two days are the same for me, either. Every client is different, every challenge is different and I've got to have variety or I go crazy. At the end of the day, what we're both doing is telling good stories. We're taking the story of a brand and bringing it to life in our respective medium. We do it with Google ads, and YouTube ads, and Amazon ads, and you're using media. I want to dig in, lots of stuff I want to talk about.

Brett:

The first thing, you had mentioned, as I was getting to know you and getting to know LVPR, you talked about one of the requirements you guys have before you work with a brand, is that there has to be a good founder story. Can you talk about what that is? I think there are potentially some people, who are too humble and they think, "I don't have a good story. I'm just a guy or a gal that started this business and what's interesting about that?" What are some of the elements of a good founder story and what does that look like?

Ali:

Yeah, you're right. A lot of founders don't ever want to talk about themselves and we have to push a lot of them. But what we really do best with is products that came from a purpose. So usually if a product was created by, let's say it's a female product and it was created by a male, it's really hard to tell that founder story.

Brett:

I created this because I wanted to make a lot of money.

Ali:

Yeah, and that doesn't translate.

Brett:

I can get into capitalism too, but that's not a really compelling story.

Ali:

Yeah. We really like to work with brands where they found a problem and developed the product out of a need for a solution. And because of that, they're like emotionally invested in the product. Therefore, the customer base aligns with the product so much more deeply because they realize how invested the founder is.

Brett:

Like a Sarah Blakely, the founder of Spanx, and how she made the original 100 pairs at her kitchen table, and she made it because all of the options were terrible for women at that time. That type of story.

Ali:

Right, exactly. We're working with a brand right now that it's a father that created his product. And it was once he had children and he realized that there was chemicals in diapers, and there was chemicals and baby wipes and they were all working together unfortunately, to be not the safest option for his child, he created a new product out of it. It's those moments of realism that help customers connect to the products, and we like to be able to make those connections and tell that story in that capacity.

Brett:

Yeah. Even Moiz Ali, founder of Native Deodorant, really realizing that there weren't any good, natural deodorant options. He read the label of a deodorant stick and realized, "I don't know what any of these ingredients mean. I don't even know how to pronounce most of them." That was the impetus to and there's some family connections, I think, too. Maybe a pregnant sister? I could be making that-

Ali:

He was trying safe option for his sister and he couldn't find one so he had to make one.

Brett:

Super cool. Then how do you uncover what are the elements that you should talk about? I think there are twos ends of the spectrum. I think there are people that don't like to talk about themselves, they've lived their story so they don't think it's interesting. Then there are other people who don't mind to talk.

Brett:

I have several people like this in my life where they don't mind to talk, but they want to share every detail and really not every detail is interesting. How do we know what we need to share? What's the compelling part of the story that we do need to share?

Ali:

Well, so we do a tactic called media training. That's where we work with those individuals that have a lot to share and we need to help them condense what they need to work on. In that capacity, it's really just writing a narrative for people and helping them stick to their and saying, "What's the point? What are we trying to communicate? What's the end goal? Selling the product." So just really trying to stick to those key message points and not going too far outside of the box because you lose your audience once you do.

Brett:

Have you ever seen the movie Hitch with Will Smith where he's coaching people on how to date, and not be annoying and stuff? I love the line where he says, "People want to see the real you, but they don't want know everything about you."

Ali:

Exactly.

Brett:

Be authentic but don't share too much because we don't care. I thought that line applies to PR, and advertising, and dating as well. Let's talk a little bit about when is the right time to look at PR. If I'm just coming up with my business idea or a new product idea, is that the right time? Do I have to have a certain amount of traction and success before I say, "Now's the time to really consider a PR strategy?" What should I be considering in my business before I go down the path of trying to get PR?

Ali:

This is a great question and I think it's one that we find people come to us the most and don't know the answer to. I'm going to labor on this one a little bit.

Brett:

Love it.

Ali:

There're multiple points, honestly, but brand launch for sure, is the time to invest in PR because it's the moment you tell your brand story from the start. So there's a lot of times where brands will choose to soft launch. While sometimes that's necessary due to funding or for whatever the case may be, you really miss that moment of being able to get out from the gate and say, "Here's who we are and here's what we're doing," so I recommend brand launch.

Brett:

Really that brand launch with the founder story, that combo is pretty compelling. We all like new things, media outlets like to talk about new things so that combo is pretty good.

Ali:

New things and new products. If you're a new category or if you're introducing something that's not out there, that's your moment. Brand launch, for sure. We always recommend if you're wanting to talk about it, if you fundraise, fundraising is a great time to also get out there and talk about some news.

Brett:

Is that typically because business publications will pick up on that? Also, I guess, some consumer pubs will pick up on that too.

Ali:

A lot of times buyers. If you're trying to go into retail and if they see somebody did a large raise, then they know now they have the capacity to produce more product and could be ready for retail.

Brett:

It's way to leverage PR to potentially get in to retail distribution, if that's a goal.

Ali:

Totally.

Brett:

Nice.

Ali:

It's trade press. It's not huge consumer news, but it's definitely traded industry news that could really be helpful in furthering your business. New product launches are always a time when you want to put PR behind your business and then seasonal moments. For us, our biggest time of the year is holiday. We have a bajillion brands that always come in October 1st and say, "We need your support for holiday." And it's like, "Well, you should have thought about that in July because that's when we start pitching for holidays." Just understanding what are your seasonal moments, and when do you need a hard consumer product push, and then working backwards.

Ali:

So to that point, I'll share with you, Brett. If you are a brand that likes print coverage or long lead coverage, which is like magazines, we start pitching for holiday in July. You need to have your assets, you need to have everything. It's crazy, which it's right around the corner. Then short lead wise, so that would be like online gift guides, broadcasts, anything on a shorter timeline, we start pitching in September. You need to have all of your ideas, product development, images ready ideally in August.

Brett:

That's awesome. One of the things that I think people struggle with, at least in conversations I've had, it seems like people struggle with this. When we approach holiday, we're thinking about what promotions are we offering? What discounts are we offering? What is the theme of our event surrounding holiday and what's that messaging?

Brett:

That's not what gets you the press coverage. You're not going to say, "Hey, I'm sending out this press release because we have 20% off for the Christmas and New Year's." Whatever, that's not interesting. What are the angles you should look for? You mentioned something like a buying guide, but can you elaborate on that? What should we be looking for? Almost everybody listing for holidays, huge for them. How do we make holiday newsworthy?

Ali:

Well, it's such a good question. It's one we struggle a lot with, for our brands because well, I'll just say advent calendars have been huge for us the past three years.

Brett:

Advent calendars?

Ali:

Advent calendars. We work with VINEBOX and they do vials of wine, and they have done a 12 nights of Christmas or 12 nights of the holidays' advent calendar every year. It sells out-

Brett:

Let's face it, a lot of us could use a vial of wine for the holidays. You got kids, you got family, you got shopping.

Ali:

It literally sells out in October. It's crazy. Advent calendars, it's become a trend where a lot of outlets will cover advent calendars. We have coffee advent calendars, you have dog treat advent calendars, just like gimmicky things work.

Brett:

Who do you find is picking that up? You may have just made up the dog treat.

Ali:

No, I don't think I did.

Brett:

You didn't. I wonder if there was a story. That's awesome. Who's picking this up? What outlets are discussing the doggie treat advent calendar?

Ali:

Every outlet will do a wide range of gift guides. Refinery 29, Cosmo, Women's Health, GQ, Esquire, all of these outlets will cover this category throughout that seasonal three months. Pretty much, if you do something gimmicky like that, you're pretty much guaranteed you will get coverage, which is great. There're different categories of gift guides, and sustainable products is one that always does really well.

Ali:

Products with a give back, so if there's like a percentage of sales going to something, those always do really well. Bundled gifts, things that are just themed for the holidays do great. You just have to think along those parameters and make sure you're packaging your products in a way that's going to do well in these guides that already exist.

Brett:

Cool. Most of the time when you're showing up in gift guides, these are online gift guides, I would assume like in Cosmo or Refinery 29 and stuff? Are these showing up in print very often or is it mostly online?

Ali:

No, they do and those ones change every year. The biggest one that everyone wants to be in print is Oprah's Favorite Things. That comes out in November every year. They usually put together their lineup in August.

Brett:

Now, is that something you can influence? Are you pitching Oprah's people ever or does Oprah just decide these things?

Ali:

No, you pitch. There's a gift guide editor you pitch, and they're very picky, but Oprah picks everything. There are, I will say, a little trick of the trade. In the past couple years they've been associated with Amazon. If your product is available on Amazon, you have a much better chance of being included.

Brett:

Interesting. Oprah really digs Amazon. Is she doing that because it's easy to do?

Ali:

Because of the commission.

Brett:

The affiliate commissions.

Ali:

That way they earn off of it.

Brett:

Got it.

Ali:

So they get affiliate commission if purchases go through Amazon.

Brett:

Interesting. That actually is a great transition to another question. I know there's affiliate PR and commerce related PR. Then, of course, there's what everybody thinks about, the editorial PR. One thing that was a revelation to me a number of years ago that that may or may not be a shocker to people listening, is if you were to search top whatever product, top hearing aids, top noise canceling headphones, top, whatever. You look at those organic results on Google and you click on some of those. There's a top 10 list, or a top 50 list, or whatever. People are usually paying for all of those positions.

Brett:

Someone has done the expert work to get that page to rank in the search engines. Then they're charging people a couple 1,000 dollars or more to be in that list. They're making money. Oprah, it looks like she's picking the product so she really does like it, but she's also getting an affiliate commission from Amazon. None of that is wrong per se, it's just important to know. It's also important then to understand probably some people, when they hear PR they just think editorial. Can you break down those two worlds a little bit and how should we approach them?

Ali:

Yeah, for sure. It's honestly something that's really evolved in the PR world over the past, I'd say, three years. Previously, affiliate links was never apart. It was very much church and state and now it's different. I get it. It makes sense. I would say 50% of what you would consider editorial placements are commerce placements that means-

Brett:

Paid affiliate placements.

Ali:

They're not paid. In your world, I think people maybe bump them up. In our world, it's more that you are guaranteeing a certain percentage of commission if they use your affiliate link. Let's say they do a roundup on the best natural deodorants, and they pick Native, they pick Curie- .

Brett:

Lume.

Ali:

They pick Myro, whatever, all of these other ones. And each product, in order to be in that list needs to provide an affiliate link. It's either to their D2C site with a percentage of commission, or to Amazon or to Target. And the way in which an editor decides which affiliate link to use, is based off of how much commission the retailer is providing. So we tell our clients that they should always compete with their retail partners, because if Target offers 20% and you're only offering 12 on your site, they're always going to pick Target.

Brett:

Always.

Ali:

So those are just things-

Brett:

People might pick Target anyway, even if the price is the same, because it's easier to buy from Target in some cases. We deal with that same thing all the time where we're running Google traffic, Google shopping traffic, whatever, YouTube traffic, and then sometimes the brand is 20% more than everyone else. We're like, "Guys, this is okay if all you want to do is educate, but they're not going to buy from you. They're going to buy from Target, or Amazon, or one of these other places."

Ali:

Right.

Brett:

Same is true in the PR world as well.

Ali:

Yep. It is. It's okay. We know it's happening and we help our clients make sure they're set up to succeed in that category. It's something that if you are doing PR and you are not with an affiliate network, you're really missing out.

Brett:

Got it. Got it. Totally makes sense. Is PR something we should do all year long? So if I'm a D2C brand, holidays huge for me, but obviously I'm selling stuff year round, should PR just be an ongoing initiative? Or does it become too hard to get coverage in the off season so I just should focus on those seasonal hotspots? How should we approach that?

Ali:

That's a good question. I think it's different for each product, honestly, or each brand. If you're a sunscreen brand although you should be wearing sunscreen all year long, the amount, the majority of coverage is spring through fall. I would maybe-

Brett:

Maybe you can do an interesting piece. Now that I'm talking to you, my PR brain, which I didn't know I had, clicking on. But maybe something like, "Hey, you're hitting the slopes. What a lot of people don't know is you could actually get sunburn while you're on the slopes. Using sunscreen while you're snow skiing," or something like that could be a fun angle.

Ali:

Totally. Listen, I used to work on Supergoop! and I've also worked on Everyday Humans, it's just another sunscreen brand. But the reality is the amount of articles that are published during that time, even if you're pitching those stories, which seems like it should work, they don't run. If a brand came to me, I would say, "Yes, maybe you should prioritize your timeline of PR," but we encourage our brands to have enough to talk about for a whole year so that PR is always on.

Brett:

Nice. It totally makes sense. It also makes sense, I guess, to come up with that annual plan, that editorial calendar, but just know that there's going to be certain times a year when you might not get the coverage you want. That this stuff might just not run because while you can't get sunburned snow skiing, maybe that's not a very compelling story or there's other breaking news. Well, whatever, it just doesn't get run.

Ali:

Right.

Brett:

Got it. Any tips then? How should we get started on this editorial calendar for our PR push? Should we just mainly think seasonally, what's what's seasonally relevant to our business and the PR outlets will care about? How else would you recommend looking at that calendar?

Ali:

So what we typically encourage our brands to do is share with us. Yes, their product dev calendar so that we can align a calendar of our pitch angles to support what is coming in the innovation pipeline. But then, and I think this leads to what you guys do, Brett. Then we also encourage them to introduce us to all their agency partners so that we understand, "Okay, are you running a certain ad campaign during this time? Are you running a really cool SMS campaign? What else is going on in your world?"

Ali:

Because something that's been really effective for us, for a lot of our brands, because I think D2C brands just do the coolest marketing initiatives, is getting marketing coverage. When there's a slow product time, but there's a sick SMS campaign that is just converting like crazy, then we'll go out and tell that story on behalf of the brand, on behalf of their agency provider and-

Brett:

Can you just use that example? You would tell that story to marketing publications, B2B publications that would be interested in an SMS campaign story?

Ali:

Yeah. We'll do Ad Week, we'll do Tech Crunch, whatever the specific initiative is, but we'll go and find the coolest or the most top tier placement for them to tell that story so that it keeps the pipeline full. It also shares just how this company is really growing from a case study perspective that usually brings in investors.

Ali:

There's a lot of just buzz that comes out of it. So we try to make sure that the entire year there's always something we're talking about. When there's a quiet moment on the product side, you focus on a founder story or a brand story, and just really try to keep everything a buzz so the brand never is not top of mind.

Brett:

I love that. I love that. That's super powerful. So I know one of the things you talk about too, it's a requirement to work with your firm. There's a requirement, I'm sure, to show up in media outlets, but you talk about having a good product.

Brett:

I know no one listening here would say, "My product's pretty average. It's pretty, too." Are there any specific criteria you're looking for there? The reason I'm asking this question is just this might be helpful for people to look at their own product and evaluate how interesting is this product to media outlets.

Ali:

Yeah. It's a great question. Honestly, I think it's a personal opinion just from my perspective. I do base, for instance, we used to have a pimple patch brand called Hero and they're amazing. They really dominated the space, they were out quicker. We had another pimple patch brand come to us to, and say, "We want to work with you."

Ali:

I had to turn it away because I was just like, "You're just not as good as what's already out there." I didn't say it that way but at the end of the day, you can't compete with what's already working in the marketplace. You really have to be aware of where are there holes, and how are you solving that problem? If it's already solved, it might not be the best to pursue.

Brett:

Yeah, totally makes sense. What you guys do, again, there are comparisons to what we do. It's a close partnership, and you're pouring your heart and soul into to getting these ads to work on our end, or getting these stories picked up and for there to be traction. And if all you're doing is coming in a little cheaper than what's already out there, and you're not as good.

Brett:

We one time and I'm almost positive, this business is defunct so I think it's okay if I mention it. It was 99 cent razor club. We're like, "Oh, okay." Instead of a dollar shave club, it's a 99 cent razor. Anyway, but there's not a real compelling story there. Nobody wants to save a penny really so there's got to be something compelling there.

Ali:

Right.

Brett:

But it is subjective. What product we like best is subjective. Super interesting. I actually want to go back to a point we were just on, because I think we need to go a little deeper in it. That's coordinating amongst the agencies. A quick example from the ad world and I think this would totally tie into what you guys are doing. So we've had a number of our brands that have appeared on Shark Tank. A lot of times they come to us after they've already had their first appearance, and now they're gaining traction, and they're really growing.

Brett:

But then on occasion, Shark Tank will re-air their episode and we always have to be ready for that. We'll see their branded search terms, as an example, their branded search spend will sometimes three X what it normally is. On the agency side, we've got to get budgets ready, we've got to get bids ready. We've also got to think about, "Hey, when someone sees this episode, what might they be searching for?" They might type in it's this type of bracelet on Shark Tank, or it's this type of baby product. If they don't remember the brand, but they remember seeing it on Shark Tank, what keywords will they be typing in, things like that.

Brett:

How do you recommend and how do you guys typically work with other agencies that are serving your brands, whether that's search, or creative or TV, or whatever? How do you help coordinate with PR efforts?

Ali:

Great question. I'll give you an example because we just did this for Earth Day. We work with Cloud Paper, which is a bamboo toilet paper brand. They were doing this really cool initiative called flush.com.

Brett:

What's flush.com?

Ali:

Flush.com. It was a fake microsite that told people that if they wanted to purchase toilet paper, they should come here and pick which forest they wanted to cut down in order to get their toilet paper because they're all about saving trees. It was awesome. Robert Downey, Jr. and Ashton Kutcher are investors in the brand so there's a lot of comedy that comes-

Brett:

It's called Cloud Paper. Obviously, it's a serious problem.

Ali:

Right.

Brett:

Sometimes though, the way you attack a serious problem is with some humor. Okay, great. You want toilet paper, so which of the rainforest would you like destroy? It's funny, but also really opens your eyes to aha, there is a deal here. Flush.com, I'll check that out. Did you guys help inspire some of that?

Ali:

No, we cannot take credit for it. That was their idea. But point being is that-

Brett:

But you helped them leverage it, and get traction, and get visibility behind it?

Ali:

Yeah. They have a marketing agency that came up with this idea and then they had a social play, we had a PR play. We were all collaborating to break this news basically right around Earth Day. And so we had to put together a marketing calendar that we each affected and put in our timeline, our pitch structure. And so that we all made sure that what we were doing, wasn't going to trump the other person's news, because we did have an exclusive with Tosh Company.

Ali:

Actually, the exclusive was with that company. If anyone went out first before that piece, then it messed everything up. Long and short is we work, we do multiple calls. We all are aligned on the strategy and work together to make it successful. But if you don't sync up, there is a lot of room for error. So I just recommend calling that out from the start when you think something could have PR legs, making sure your PR team is looped in on any of the other agency sides.

Brett:

So this may or may not be an area you guys spend a lot of time in, but I see that there's value in always creating the next new piece, and always getting the next new story to break or to be covered about your business. But I think there's also something powerful about leveraging the same story. Getting the same story told over and over again in multiple, media outlets. So any advice? When do you know, "Hey, let's just double down on this idea and try to show this everywhere versus let's move on to the next idea?" Any advice there?

Ali:

That's a good question. I think it's really case by case. It comes down to what is the media gravitating towards? If they keep covering the same heats of your business or the same component, then don't let it go. Just keep going with it. Then they'll be some new-

Brett:

Slightly different angle, slightly different wording, but essentially the same thing.

Ali:

Yeah. We have a wine brand, Usual Wines, and they're natural. They're sulfate free, there're no sugars added. And as much as we try to branch out from that, that's what everyone is really interested in right now. We just keep going back to that angle, but there's more to them.

Brett:

But that's the angle people care about. Maybe they can sneak in some of those other elements when they're talking about all natural, and sulfate free, and no added sugar, things like that. You got to give the people what they want. You got to give the media outlets what they want. One thing that I'll underscore, is that once you do get a couple of really good pieces you get a TV segment, you're on Shark Tank or there's something big, you can leverage at forever in my world if you want to.

Brett:

As an example, Boom, by Cindy Joseph, Ezra Firestone's company, partnered with him for five or six years now. They still use this ABC one, or ABC seven, I don't remember, story from New York City. An interview with co-founder, Cindy Joseph, on how she broke into modeling late in her career after she let her hair go gray. Then she started the company with Ezra. It's an awesome story. We've been running that story, that clip, for six years and it still works.

Brett:

We're chopping it and doing different things with it. We're about to do this new production that we're super excited about, but we're still going to use elements of that and it still works. So I think that's also the power of why it often makes sense to hire a company like yours, even if you don't get that long of a run of PR. Let's say it's a short lived run or whatever, you can still leverage it forever almost.

Ali:

Totally. Honestly, that's how I started out doing D2C PR was brands would come to me and say, "I just need a really cool headline or I need," we call them love letters, but they're like standalone pieces just so that they could put ad spend behind it. That's all they cared about was turning, flipping their PR hits into an ad and continuing to push it. Yes, that's what we do a lot too.

Brett:

Yeah. Totally makes sense. So I want to talk, people are obviously getting a great insight into what you guys do but talk a little bit about the agency. What makes you guys different and what are you proud about with the agency? Then I want to dig into that a little more.

Ali:

Oh, thank you. What am I proud about? I think we work with really cool brands that are doing good things. And that, for me, when I started at LVPR was really important to me. I didn't want to just work on any brand. I wanted to work on a brand I really believed in.

Ali:

So we have five pillars that you have to check the box on in order to work with us. And they are a strong founder story. If it's a female founder, even better. They need to have passion, or cult-like, passionate followings. They need to be cool brands.

Brett:

I remember we talked about that a little bit in prep, but we didn't dive into it. How would you put parameters or how would you define that passionate, cult-like following?

Ali:

It's hard to put it into words, but I'll give you a couple brands as examples and I think it will make more sense. Glossier, Away, Native is one too. Any brand that starts on a D2C site and then goes into retail and their customers get there quick enough to touch it in person. Those are cult-like followings, where they tell all their friends about it, that they are just so obsessed with the brands and the products. Usual Wines is another one. Every time they launch a new product-

Brett:

I'm sorry. What was the last one?

Ali:

Usual Wines and it's a single serve wine brand. Every time they launch a product, they open it up to their email and SMS space first. No lie, it always sells out because their customers are just like, "Yes, another new something." That's the idea of-

Brett:

That speaks to really great product design. It speaks to community. It speaks to a lot of things. Usually those companies have to be doing something good as well, or else people wouldn't be paying attention. We see the same thing, by the way, with Boom by Cindy Joseph that I just talked about. Another client, Live Bearded, a shout out to the boys at Live Bearded. Great personality behind their brand. They sell out with every new product release just to their list, which is pretty cool.

Ali:

Yeah.

Brett:

It's a cult-like following. Then it's a strong founder story, cult-like following, then what's next?

Ali:

Products that we would use in everyday life. Things that we really like. A charitable give back or a B Corp, so an element of charity and sustainable. They need to have an element of sustainability in them. If they're fully sustainable, even better. But those are the five that we really gravitate towards. And we also, and you will probably understand is that we don't take on toxic clients. We're here to have drama free, really great relationships.

Brett:

Life's too short, man. Life's too short to work with drama queens. Sometimes, drama queens are dudes. Often, they're dudes but we don't want to work with the drama, for sure. One thing I'll speak to about both the charitable element and the sustainable element is not only are those two elements the right thing to do, we should do that.

Brett:

There's such a benefit with your team as well. If you're debating, thinking about it, should we have a charitable component, and even talk about that a little bit, publicly or sustainable component? I think the answer is yes, you should.

Ali:

Totally.

Brett:

I think what the best thing to do is find a charity that fits your business. My buddy, Chris Lynch, at Everyday California, their stuff is about ocean preservation. Because they're right on the ocean and they've got an adventure side and an apparel side so it's all about the ocean. We're an e-commerce agency, we're a business so we actually really believe in microloan programs, and helping widows start businesses in other parts of the country, and helping at-risk teens like get life skills.

Brett:

We've got a couple of different charities that we partner with that resonate with us. And so what happens was your team gets excited about that. There are those moments when you need something more than business to drive you. Having those components for your team is powerful. And then as we share it, it does attract customers or it helps seal the deal a little bit. I think also, as you shared, it encourages other people to give and be charitable too, which is cool. Then sustainable, everybody's looking for that. We need to do that. Why wouldn't we do that at this point?

Ali:

Yeah. I think customers and consumers are holding brands more accountable in these initiatives and they expect an impact. They expect elements of sustainability and if you're not doing it, they ask you why.

Brett:

When you think about it, now this is and we're going to delve into a topic that we've never talked about in the podcast before, cryptocurrencies. I just recently started dabbling in cryptos. I don't know much about it, but I'm still dabbling a little bit. But at the time of this recording now, who knows what's going to happen when this episode actually publishes. The world of crypto could be totally different. Right now, Bitcoin is tanking.

Brett:

It's down like 50% yesterday or something like that. Part of that was driven by Elon Musk and him tweeting. As he tweets, cryptos react but he was talking about the fact that Bitcoin is not very green. The mining process of mining Bitcoins is not environmentally friendly, uses a lot of energy. It's things like that, who would've even thought crypto, it's all in the cloud, it's all make believe some people say. It's not really, but even that is driven by sustainability so it's a big deal. It's just a big deal.

Ali:

Totally.

Brett:

Cool. Awesome. So if someone is listening and they're like, "Man, I've got a cool brand and I fit those criteria," then they should reach out to LVPR and that's just lvpr.com, correct?

Ali:

Yes. Correct.

Brett:

Fantastic.

Ali:

We're here for you.

Brett:

This has been super good. I guess the last thing or things I would ask is what if someone is just really interested in this topic and maybe they want to dive in more, learn more? Do you guys have any free resources that you would recommend, or do you have any favorite books, favorite podcast, favorite resources that could really get someone on top of their PR game?

Ali:

Oh, that's a good question. What do I like to read? I don't read a lot about the industry because I know a lot about it.

Brett:

What do you like to read though? This is just a fun question.

Ali:

I love to read thing testing. I love to read Cassandra. Look, there are a lot of random, trend based stuff, but my recommendation honestly, would be to go to Clubhouse. I just feel like they're so-

Brett:

Clubhouse.

Ali:

Yeah.

Brett:

Really?

Ali:

I just think there's so much knowledge on Clubhouse.

Brett:

Who should we follow on Clubhouse?

Ali:

There's a lot of people who I would follow.

Brett:

I'm totally putting you on the spot here, by the way. This is so interesting and thank you for allowing me to ask you just random questions because I do this, I prep with it. I want to ask you-

Ali:

You caught me off guard. I wasn't ready for that.

Brett:

So I downloaded Clubhouse and I've been on there a little bit. Some of my friends are on there. I still don't really get it. I understand the concept. It's not one of those things where I want to go hang out in Clubhouse. I haven't gotten there yet, but there's- .

Ali:

I don't spend a ton of time there.

Brett:

What's that?

Ali:

I don't spend a ton of time there. The cool thing about Clubhouse is that you can pick clubs. I'm just looking at mine right now, but there's a startup CPG club or there's the commerce club. I follow a lot, there's club CPG, which is a really good one.

Brett:

Club CPG, all right.

Ali:

Yeah. So if you go into those clubs, there's going to constantly be different conversations about different industries. From there, you'll find, you'll see a room that a lot of people are in. Then that's where you want to go. You're just like a fly on the wall of these interesting conversations.

Ali:

If you don't like it, you pop out of it. I have found it's been really interesting. I've listened to a couple marketing conversations about how CPG brand, they're leveraging QR codes right now and they're having sick success. I never even thought of that for my brand right now.

Brett:

It's funny because QR codes are not new. They've been around since before 2010. For a while, people were like, "This is going to be the biggest thing," and then they went nowhere. Now, they're suddenly back, and interesting, and relevant.

Ali:

Yeah. So I don't know. I find it more interesting to just listen in and see what people are talking about, but it's a time suck. It's audio so you can do it while you're working.

Brett:

While you're working, while you're driving, while you're working out, whatever the case maybe. That's fantastic. Any other recommendations to increase our learning about PR?

Ali:

I like reading. I just read a lot because I think it's you can see what other brands are doing successfully. Ad Week, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, all of the big business pubs I think it's really smart to read. Retail Brew, Marketing Brew, those newsletters in the morning.

Brett:

Morning Brew is one of the best email newsletters ever.

Ali:

Totally.

Brett:

It's really funny, really witty, but also, it's a nice digest of the news that's going on. Then there's also Marketing Brew. Retail Brew, I've not paid attention to that.

Ali:

Read it. It's good. Yeah. They're all in the same family, but they're great.

Brett:

Cool. And do you recommend that people say, set up Google alerts or something for their competitors' brands and things like that to watch how their competitors are getting press and things like that?

Ali:

Competitor brands or even just industry terms. If maybe you're in the theater industry and you don't know if the new competitor's coming in, if you just put that keyword in, then you can also get fed that news.

Brett:

Yeah. Awesome, awesome. Ali Karsch, ladies and gentlemen. Ali, this has been so much fun. You nailed it. I will link to everything in the show notes. If you're like, "Man, I need to connect with Ali and team," I'll link to that all in the show notes or you can check it out at lvpr.com. I did get that right, it's lvpr.com?

Ali:

Yeah, you're right.

Brett:

With that, thanks, Ali. It's been a ton of fun. Appreciate you taking the time.

Ali:

No problem. Talk you soon. Bye, guys.

Brett:

See you. As always, thank you for tuning in. I would love to hear from you, love to hear feedback on the show. What other topics would you like us to discuss? And if you haven't already, leave that review on iTunes. Makes my day and allows other people to find the show. With that, until next time, thank you.

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