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Interview with Sarah Snyder – What It Takes To Be Good At Press Relations – Episode #76
      • “I think everyone is interesting in some way…”Sarah Snyder is the CEO of Connection Enthusiast, a strategic public relations firm. Snyder has a vast array of experience representing both high net-worth individuals, start-ups, and budding entrepreneurs. Her expertise and talent have been the catalyst for clients securing deals in excess of 100K per client acquisition. Media placements for her clients have included numerous local and national media outlets, including Forbes, Huffington Post, Cheddar TV, Dr. Oz, and so on.

        In addition to being a self-earned business maverick, Snyder’s drive, interpersonal skills, and compassion in times of pressure while working with the media come from her previous background and experiences. Snyder is a licensed professional counselor and has helped develop a nationally recognized $25+ million dollar pilot program involving emergency crisis response teams and managed residential treatment programs for trauma survivors. These traits help drive her creativity and unique style, as does her sense of humor under pressure.

        Snyder’s goal-oriented focus and strength-driven approach are also evident in her personal life. Snyder has played women’s professional football and been ranked as one of the strongest women in the US. She believes connections are the key to a thriving business and has built her business off this belief.

        Questions and topics we covered:

        • How being a counselor helped Sarah thrive in the PR field.
        • Should business owners hire an internal PR-operator or hire an external partner to manage their PR?
        • How can PR help with a company’s growth?
        • What are some common struggles people face when doing media training? How can PR professionals help their clients ease their way into this for the first time?
        • Sarah’s thoughts on the (somewhat over-used) buzzword “Personal Branding”.
        • How can PR professionals make their clients seem more interesting to journalists?
        • What are some pain points that journalists experience and how can publicists leverage them to secure more stories?
        • Do PR news wires work?
        • What are the essential parts of a media kit/press kit?
        • And more!


Full Episode Transcript:

Kenny Soto  0:00  

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the people of digital marketing with your host Kenny Soto, and today’s guest, Sarah Schneider. Hi, Sarah, how are you?


Sarah Snyder  0:14  

Hey, Kenny. I’m good. Thanks. How are you?


Kenny Soto  0:15  

I’m doing very well. And for the listeners, just to give them some context, Sarah and I used to be co-workers in the past when we used to work for a company called Business bravery. Back in 2020, I believe, yeah. 2020. So it’s been two years now. 


And I’ve been looking forward to this interview for a very long time, because, and this is just my opinion, based on what you do, I believe you’re the best at doing it, especially from what I’ve experienced. And I think I think that’s a great way just to tee up this question and get more about your background and your story. I would like to know, for the listeners, what got you into the world of marketing, press, and public relations.


Sarah Snyder  0:58  

Okay, so I actually went to school and became a licensed professional counselor. So I have a master’s degree in counseling, and I went to school for seven years, essentially for that. And I graduated, and I worked and I loved it. I loved I’ve counseled kids, and a lot of trauma survivors, all of it was phenomenal. But what happened is I got burnt out with insurance and politics. And I was just like, done. 


So I was running some behavioral health centers, and I just, I couldn’t, I couldn’t do it anymore. So I send out an email, text, and Facebook message to like 100, maybe 150 people, and it said, Hey, this is why I admire you, right? This is why I think you’re phenomenal. And then I said, this is my skill set. 


This is my degree, this is my son, and this is what I’m good at, personally, and professionally. And then I said, I’d really appreciate your suggestions and advice on what career move I should make next. Because I was like, I need some help with this, right? And I got back some amazing, amazing responses. Some people were like, You should do real estate, you’re great with people. Some people were like, you should do car sales. Some people were like, hey, continue doing counseling, but quit running behavioral centers, right, and go do a different type of counseling, all kinds of stuff. 


But one woman, in particular, emailed back and she was the owner of the gym, I worked at it, which is why I reached out to her because she was a phenomenal gym owner. I really respected her right? She was a woman, an entrepreneur, and all that. And she emailed me back and she was like, Hey, she says, I actually also own a PR firm, said, I’d be willing to teach you to drain you smart. You can write, you’re clearly driven, like go calm, and I’ll teach you to drain you at all my options. 

I was like, alright, this seems like the best one. That’s what I went with. And sure enough, that was 65 years ago, six years ago. And I just took off from that I love it. But I really think that’s what I tell people. And when I do the value of connections is so important. And then to taking a chance sometimes on people’s rights and being willing to mentor and teach and train. Because I’m still like, I still adore that woman, or I have some that in her because she gave me a chance. So


Kenny Soto  3:03  

I want to ask for a follow-up. What, advantages or competitive edge did you gain from being a counselor and then shifting into PR?


Sarah Snyder  3:15  

So there are so many people skills? Thank you FBS VR. One is with clients, right? Because I interact with clients every day on a daily basis, email, phone, all of that, right? And so I’ve got to be able to be understanding and be able to communicate and be able to meet their needs. Right. So that’s one aspect. The other aspect is about the needs of the journalists. 


So journalists are often high pressure Go, go go, actually took on some work one time behind the scenes working for a journalist simply so I can kind of get that experience. And man, it is high pressure. And publicists, like myself, are not always, unfortunately, the kind of places people because we’re getting pressure from our clients. So then we’re pressuring the journalist, hey, when’s this going to be published was just going to be out, fix this link, fix it, right. And so you’re, you’re so caught in the middle. 


And so thankfully, my counseling degree, honestly, like, allows me to step back and think like, Okay, what questions do I need to ask here? Right? How can I be empathetic? How can I have both sides be happy? How can we tend to meet in the middle, right? And so that’s very helpful for me. And I try really hard to be understanding of that right with people. 


And it also kind of helps me think about world events and how they impact us as individuals. And I say that because so much of what happens in the news is how I pitched my clients, right? So when current events happen, new stuff happens. I have to think very quickly, okay, I have this expert, they have this angle, and that fits into this current event right here right now. 


Well, as a counselor, you’re thinking about the same thing, right? When somebody comes to talk to you, you’re thinking about world events and personal but also worldwide, right? How has it impacted your client and how can you help walk them through that was the same thing with the news?


Kenny Soto  4:57  

What’s your definition of public relations? And can you give some context if that definition has changed over time?


Sarah Snyder  5:07  

Here’s a really good question. One of my mentors, she’s been a publicist forever. She says she got went from typing work typewriters to Twitter. So, honestly, I’m like, she would answer that question really well, right? Me, I think over the last five to six years. Public relations is really how you’re perceived how you are perceived and how your business is perceived. Right? So public relations gives your business and your authority and gives you credibility. 


So helps immensely right? When people go to your website, and you’ve got the news interviews, you’ve got the markers from the, from the website, you’ve done the podcast, right? And people can see like, oh, they really do know what they’re talking about. Or they go to your website. And it’s like, oh, like they have the BBC logo, right? BBC had them on, they must be an expert. Right? So all that gives you that authority and credibility. 


And so when I look at public relations for my clients kind of what I’m looking at is their avatar need to see them as an authority in the field and respectable in the field. Right? So we look for that. Over time, I think it’s changing, particularly because of the fake news epidemic that we’re in right now. 


Right. And so it is unbelievably important that people get a publicist that knows how to represent them as a true expert, and connect and I sometimes will decline clients, not because of anything to do with the client, but simply because I’m like, can I really truly believe you as an expert, right? Because you’re going to be in the news, and they’re gonna journalists is gonna challenge me on this right? Is this person really an expert? 


And because the journalist has got to present that to the audience, right? And so there’s so much to it right now, because of the trends because of how quickly the media moves, because how quickly the news moves? Yeah.


Kenny Soto  6:46  

Now, this is a question geared toward the audience, but also any potential business owners who also might be listening. What is the power of public relations? And the second part of this would be, should someone hire someone to do this internally? Or Should someone get an external partner to manage this for them?


Sarah Snyder  7:09  

Okay, so those are two great questions, Kenny. I think there’s value in both. Internally, it’s great to have a publicist, because a lot of times they can handle things like crisis communications, right? And they can help you develop an internal crisis plan for your team, for your staff for your company, right? Internally, they help really develop the messaging of your entire company. 


And they can be super. I don’t know, you just know the inner workings of a company differently, right? If you’re looking through, for external representation, that’s great. Because it allows a publicist like I can think almost like differently because I’m not in the woodwork and I’m not in the weeds. So I can actually see other angles sometimes that I couldn’t see, when I was an intern, I work for a company. So it allows me personally, right, it allows me to broaden my perspective and allows me to think about different things. 


That’s a really good question.


Kenny Soto  8:12  

And then what would you say is the general use case or power when it comes to public relations, like what actual business objectives and business results can actually be acquired through a public relations push?


Sarah Snyder  8:27  

Definitely the authority definitely the credibility, also reaching a mass market, right? Because if you’re on a show, right, you just hit a mass audience all at once, which is great. What people don’t also understand is sometimes is not a huge show. 


Sometimes it’s not NBC Today, sometimes it’s not the BBC, sometimes it’s a local am radio station, right that you’re on. And people were like, Oh, well, kind of why do I want to do this? Well, that’s because those local radio station listeners, they’re diehard fans, right? They’re like 100% buyers, but they’re not just flipping through channels and seeing you they love this show, right? That’s why they’re listening. 


And so sometimes it’s better to shoot for a super small, targeted show and to be a super, super targeted audience right, rather than the big, broad match show. And that’s why and so that’s where a publicist can really help you come in and think through some of those things, and maybe both are proper for you, right? Maybe you’re gonna go for both angles. 


But public relations gives you the ability to speak to people in a way that you can’t, you don’t have enough time to meet all those people individually, that you’re going to be able to talk to do a show


Kenny Soto  9:30  

With media training. The framing of this question is more. So let’s assume that I’m new as a publicist, I just got my first client and I’m doing media training for the first time. What like what is your approach for training new clients so that they can be prepared for those appearances and TV spots?


Sarah Snyder  9:51  

Okay, so there are a couple of things as a publicist, one is it actually depends on the type of show. So if I’m going to teach and train you on how to do media, I’m going to teach and train you differently for a podcast than I am a TV segment then I am a radio segment because it’s all different. 


And so I actually will listen to some episodes of shows my clients are going to be on if I’m not super familiar with the format so that I can really know the show before I go in and train my clients. So that’s, that’s one of the second things is making sure, like I create with my clients suggested interview questions. 


So I have them to give to whoever’s interviewing them. Like you don’t have to use these. But if you’d like, here are some suggested questions, right? And you never want to be overly prepped, because you want some of the conversation to be organic. But that’s helpful, right to a client be like, Okay, I do I am comfortable, right? 


And some of its just reps, like we just practice, like going out of practice going back and forth, right, and having a conversation, and I pretend I’m the journalist, and they pretend they’re doing the interview. And so anyway, and so that helps, too. So there’s a ton of different turnover, things that come into it, even background noise, like I’ve had to tell some clients, hey, you need a different mic, even the background look at the office, right? So we kind of go through all of that and think through everything. 


My mother pointed out that though, Kenny, is that not all interviews are? Verbal, right? So there are a lot of written interviews. And so going through that too, right is like, we have an in-house editor at my company who literally scans on my client’s articles before they go to the publisher, are they going to a magazine or whatever, to help make sure that it’s like 100%, the best of the best it can be before it gets sent off to, to whoever is going to publish it. So thinking through things like that too.


Kenny Soto  11:35  

A view like the term personal branding.


Sarah Snyder  11:40  

Okay, why what makes you ask me that? Because I’ve got a story, but why are you asking me that?


Kenny Soto  11:45  

Because I feel like it’s such a new term. And, in large part, at least from what I’ve seen, it’s been pushed around mainly because of Gary Vaynerchuk. And he’s, like, really been a big proponent of it since like, 2014-2014. 


But I feel like there’s a lot of fluff around the term that I think you can allude to, and really shine light onto whether or not necessarily it could be taken seriously, but putting it in the right perspective.


Sarah Snyder  12:15  

So I’ll be a little bit vulnerable, Kenny, I have my business. And I really want my business to look a certain way. So my packages are limited to high-end packages, right? And so I was like, Well, I gotta look a certain way, my company has got to look a certain way, I gotta be a certain way. My website’s got to be dark, it’s got to have certain language on it. I always have to look 100% I have those you guys can’t see me like, I have a mohawk. Right? Like, I was like, Oh, I can’t have a mohawk, I can’t have spiky hair I got to be in a dress. And I gotta be this and I gotta be that right. 


And because of my personal brand, I felt like had to match the company brand. And it was so confusing. And I was just like, oh, and just recently, the last couple of weeks, people have been like, Sarah, your website doesn’t match you write like you’re running this company. But like, they don’t match up. Like you’re super creative. 


And you’re kind of unique. And you’re kind of, you know, like, your strategies, your thing, like a creative strategy is really what you do, but your website’s like this little like, right? So I have very recently gone through this whole thing of like, okay, if I’m gonna step out and be the face of my company, if I’m going to it’s going to be partly my personal brand, partly my professional brand, if I’m really going to be out there, front and center, then the two have got to blend a little bit. 


So I have just read on my website, that it is much more of a pop, I’m actually on the front of it with my spiky haircut, and like, here’s what you’re getting, right? Because you’re gonna have to interact with me as well as my team. And this is how we are. And you know, if that’s not the fit for you, okay, cool. And if it is great, like, let’s talk about it, and let’s see if we can do business. 


But this also goes into, like, I am not by any means an influencer. But I post a lot on Facebook, as I write about my personal life, a ton on Facebook, my travels, my struggles with overcoming trauma, my childhood, and all that kind of stuff. 


And let’s see, I think all but one of my clients are on my personal Facebook friends. So that gets weird do right because that’s like a personal brand, a personal angle, personal story. That then is like, you know, are sometimes I think through like, are they gonna want to do business with me after they see this post right about my personal life or a personal story. 


But so far, everyone has been like, no, that’s actually what we love about USANA. Right? So when I talk about personal brand, I think of it in those terms of like, how it impacts my business. And how can I blend myself with being the face of my business with some of my personal stories?


Kenny Soto  14:39  

Now, I think it might be depending for the person easier for them to define their own personal brand, figure out strategies to promote themselves, and then execute that strategy. When it comes to making other people seem interesting. What is your thinking about that? How do you approach that Is it part of your onboarding process to get all that information at the beginning? Is it an ongoing thing? Can you shed some light on that?


Sarah Snyder  15:07  

That’s my favorite part. And it’s actually my favorite part is how can I make my class my client fascinating to like, their avatar, right? Like, how can I make the best thing? And so part of it is, I always have a form that my clients fill out on onboarding, they write about what they think, where they think their clients are. 


What they find about themselves is interesting. Where do they actually want to be? Versus Where are their clients in the media grow their clients reading and watching in the media versus like, where do they actually want to be seen, like, we go through all that I go through an extensive one on one interview process with them, where we talk through all things like angles, and what they love what they get most excited talking about. 


And this is another place where that counseling background comes into play. Because I’ll watch their body language, I’ll watch their eyes light up, I’ll watch them breathe and how they breathe, right? Because sometimes people say, Oh, I love talking about this, but there’s no joy on their faces, right? And they’re like, Well, I love but I don’t like you really, right? 


But then you get to talk about something else, you know, and all of a sudden, they’re all body lines over, their eyes get wide and they get excited. And that’s like a counseling piece. And I’m like, gotcha. That’s actually what you were talking about. And so then, that’s actually what makes you Fascinating, right? Because that’s what makes you blind up inside, whatever makes you light up inside is what makes you fascinating. 


And so then we tie that into whatever their movement is essential, right? Like, what’s your movement? What’s your piece on the wall, that you’re trying to expand on your message that you’re trying to grow your product you’re trying to get placed? And so we take I take that, that excitement, that enthusiasm, and tie that in? And essentially that is what makes me think everybody’s My thinking is I think everybody’s interested in some way. It’s just finding that spark that lights you up and then getting that out into the world.


Kenny Soto  16:44  

What are some journalists’ pain points that every publisher should know about?


Sarah Snyder  16:49  

Oh, goodness, okay. So that was in the background do that work for for the journalist. I hate to say it cutting, but there were some publicists who were really mean to me, they would go and would yell, and want to know why something wasn’t up and why something wasn’t up right now. 


And I’m like, I was in tears over, right? Because I’m like, Well, I’ve got other articles that have to go or, like, honestly, like, you sent me a draft that was so terrible. I’m gonna sit and edit it forever before I put it out, right? And so I think as a publicist, being understanding of that, and also being understanding of the fact that one day as a journalist, you could be sitting and covering one particular storyline or be at one particular editor’s desk, and then something like, you know, Ukraine, Russia situations happens, right? 


And everybody gets moved around, because of this necessity, right? And so everybody flips and moves. So as a publicist, having empathy for that, and having understanding for that, and knowing that, no one no journalists, I don’t think wants to undercut your client or wants to things to go slow, like, nobody’s trying to do a bad job, right? And so having some compassion for that, and the fact that it’s a real world, right, and we go, go, go,


Kenny Soto  18:03  

Are there any trends in the world of PR that you’re keeping an eye on this year?


Sarah Snyder  18:11  

There are a couple of things with that. So some of it is exactly like, what I’m talking about what’s hot, what’s happened. And that’s what’s going on right now. Some of it, though, too, is looking at editorial calendars. 


So magazines, online, blogs, things like that, they’ll often put an editorial calendar, and they’ll plan out their whole year. So this is what we’re going to talk about each month, right for the upcoming year. And being aware of that and how that ties in, right? And, like I picked one of my clients for placement, and Success Magazine, that’s not gonna come out for six months, right? I’ve already pitched him now for the six months ahead of time. 


The other thing is keeping up with what holidays are coming up. So in other words, is Valentine’s Day coming up St. Patrick’s Day coming up is whatever, right? And knowing that’s going to impact the news cycle as well. 


And then the last part, people don’t always realize this. But if you can make your client Interesting enough, you can almost create a news cycle off of that story. Right? So as a published essay, sometimes people don’t realize this, but as much as the journalists create the news, sometimes publicists create the news too. Because if we can make our clients interesting enough and an angle Interesting enough, we can get it in there and get it going in the news cycle. And people don’t always realize that sometimes it’s the publicist, driver, and news cycle.


Kenny Soto  19:28  

Do news wires work?


Sarah Snyder  19:33  

There’s a time okay, there’s a time and a place for news wires. I do think that they’re important for like fortune 500 companies. I do. Because you’ve got to hit right that Google search that mass audience. I think they’re important if there’s something super big in your business, like if your business is moving locations, or if you’re an author and you’ve just released the book, right? Or there’s something like sometimes if like, like if I hire somebody I’ve been considering, like do I do a press release? To news wire release, right, but I’ve hired someone, right? So what’s up and kind of out? 


But I think if that is your only strategy or you’re sunk, right, you are sunk. It’s just not because it doesn’t always. It’s not the same as doing an interview and talking to your avatar and talking to a hose or writing for a host and the backlinks will help some, but the backlinks aren’t as favorable as backlinks from you know, 10 different interviews versus the 10 backlinks you might get from a newswire. Does that make sense?


Kenny Soto  20:32  

Yeah. Follow up. What is an avatar? Because you’ve mentioned that twice, right?


Sarah Snyder  20:35  

Oh, sorry. No client?


Are you shooting to be able to see your product or see your message or see,


that’s what I call them.


Kenny Soto  20:43  

That’s the persona, the persona, basically. Yeah, yeah. Okay. Um, next question. And this is something that still perplexes me because the first time I interacted with it was in 2020. For the listeners, can you describe what a media kit is, and the essential parts of a media kit?


Sarah Snyder  21:02  

Yeah, for sure. I just updated our website. So we just change our website. So that we actually have had the press kits for almost all of our clients, or media kits or press kits online, which is phenomenal, because a lot of PR companies either don’t have the capability of putting a media kit or a press kit online, or they charge their clients a fee for it, because it costs right, but I was just like, No, I’m including us from the clients, and we’re gonna run with it. So you’re me, my media kits for my clients include their bios. 


So it’s a full bio, which is your just full standard. This is the media bio, this proves my authority and credibility. And then I have a byline bio for all my clients, which is usually under like 100 100 150 words, and it’s for magazine placements, or for online blog placements, or for you know, Forbes online, whatever, right? Because they always want a little bio. And then I also typically write a broadcast bio for my clients. 


And so that’s like, essentially, how someone introduces you when you get to go be on a show, right? Whether it’s radio, podcast, or TV, right, this is it was called Partners, this is how they introduce you. So that’s part one. Part two is I ever talked a little bit about this, I was going over suggested interview questions for my clients. 


And we go through those. So those are always right. And as Journalists can have those as well, if they want to use those in some form or fashion. And we also do news and story angle. So I’ll go with my clients and like, hey, there are some general news story angles you would be interested in talking about. So those go into the media kit so that they have those as well. And then headshots. 


So I’m like, we pictures, right? And so professional headshots, whatever is approved for the media. And so what I’ve done on our website is like I said, every client has their own unique URL on our website. And it is literally because I say I have two clients, and I have my clients paying me to help get them the news. 


And then I have the journalist who’s my other client, people don’t always realize that’s my other client, and essentially makes everything for the journalist. Life’s easier because I will pitch my client, here you go, here’s my client, here’s a news story angle, please make sure you link to their website, here’s their URL and everything. 


But then inevitably, I get back, well, hey, can you send some sheds hit send some headshots, but don’t send them as attachments? Is that going to spam? Or it’s like, Hey, okay, but like, what are some questions, right? So now, it’s like, hey, and here’s the little link you need for all information, you need to make your life easy, and they can just don’t click it, download it and go to some media kits will have a little bit more have a little bit less, that’s when I found his most valuable from people I work with. 


So that’s what we run with. If it’s a product, it’d be a little different, you might have product specs. One of my clients has his own podcast. So we have his stats for his show in the US tweaked a little bit here and there. But that’s a general concept.


Kenny Soto  23:37  

My last question for you is hypothetical. If you had access to a time machine and go back into the past, give or take 10 years, how would you take everything you know, today and accelerate the speed of your career?


Sarah Snyder  23:52  

I wouldn’t, because I wouldn’t be prepared for success.

If I went back 10 years and accelerated everything I wouldn’t be in a place part is my personal circumstance, right? I wouldn’t be in a place personally to have the professional success I have today. 


And so I wish I had the wisdom I guess earlier in life. I wish I could have accelerated my career. But if I have what I had now professionally, I think I’d have added something myself, right? Like I just wouldn’t have the confidence. I wouldn’t have had the team I wouldn’t have known the people I know and I wouldn’t have had the ability to create relationships like I do now. 

And so I really don’t think you can live life with regrets and so I’m always thankful for the lessons I learned along the way like for the people I met along the way I think everything happens in the time that it is meant to happen as you as you grow.


Kenny Soto  24:44  

Perfect. Thank you for your time and wisdom today and if anyone wants to say hello and connect with you online where can they find you?


Sarah Snyder  24:51  

You can go to connection enthusiast that calm or you can email Hello at elite connection marketing that calm thanks, Kenny.


Kenny Soto  25:00  

Perfect and thank you and thank you to the listener for listening to another episode of the people of digital marketing with your host Kenny Soto as always I hope you have a great day.



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