Publicist Rockstars: “Figure out what your strengths are and utilize those to maximize your exposure”
With Susan Nefzger
Figure out what your strengths are and utilize those to maximize the experience. So for instance, if you are really good at public speaking volunteer to speak at any civic group or chamber of commerce and become involved in an organization like that. That will catch on and you can do various events, or join a speakers bureau for a non profit that needs help getting the word out. So find the area or category you really are good at so you can incorporate that into your networking, it will give you an added layer of confidence in meeting new people and like minded business pros.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Susan Nefzger. Susan is a 30 year veteran Public Relations and Internet Marketing executive. Having served as spokesperson during the 9–11 tragedy for the American Red Cross in Palm Beach, started the Georgia Lottery Corporation in Atlanta and worked with cutting edge healthcare start-ups and physicians, Susan has succeeded in becoming a reputable professional at the top of her industry. Highly regarded for a wide network of media relationships, writing solutions, for business and non-profits, she now also focuses on promoting her recently published book, “A Practical Guide to Awareness”, which is a step by step guide to finding fulfillment through self-discovery. A companion workbook, “Putting Awareness Into Practice” assists readers with making mindfulness a daily practice.
Thank you so much for your time. I know that you are a very busy person. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I can. During my senior year at the University of Florida, I obtained a work/study job with the Director of Information and Publications in the President’s Office. The day I saw the posting, I decided I was going to get that job.(Basically how I approach everything) It was a high level work/study position because of being located within the Office of the President. I interviewed and was hired based on my administrative experience and I was a couple years older than the average college student. (During school breaks I would always work for a temp service and preferred office jobs.) The amount of exciting and media heavy events that occurred that year at the University of Florida were mind-boggling. Our football team was sanctioned by the NCAA for violations, we had rioting and demonstrations for another reason, so I had to be escorted by Campus Security into the office during that time. One of my jobs was to answer the phone and the media from around the world were calling our office. I got the bug and decided I wanted to do just what my boss did for a living.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
There are many stories to be sure. But I think a great example for young readers would be the one that started out as small business opening for a cutting edge medical device which kills cancer cells. It ended up being a long term very lucrative client. I had never really worked in healthcare before, and little did I know that I would love it and everything about it, much less understand it!
I was sitting with different kinds of oncologists and listening to their discussions, reading CT scans, learning about physics and quantum physics, traveling to Latin America and the Caribbean working with physicians in many other countries like France and Spain and Israel and I was just a little old PR gal. I fell in love with the science of it and it ended up being a long term client relationship for several years.
How did you scale your business to profitability? How long did it take? Please share the steps you took.
Basically, during the 2000’s when the Internet began its ascent, I segued into internet marketing as a way to keep up with the times and still practice public relations, by doing so online. I taught myself everything I could learn about Search Engine Optimization, content marketing and blogging. I found it to be much more expedient and not as time consuming as pitching by calling every specific contact. It allowed for a wider reach via email and chat rooms, blogs, lists, directories and all things online. Remember at that time, it was in its infancy and now people can’t imagine a world without digital marketing. I built a specific niche around SEO and digital marketing. All together it probably took 2–4 years.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Right now I am working with a new technology for news aggregation which utilizes an algorithm that is hyper geo local. It is scaling up quickly to be the largest online news source combining local news from affiliates around the U.S. with national news to reach millions of readers.
Based on your personal experience, what advice would you give to young people considering a career in PR?
Right now, I would recommend to a new PR pro to get a degree or certification in digital marketing because everything is online. The second part of that is to determine a specialty area to focus on, it will be beneficial to focus on an area that you excel at as well as feel passionate about, such non profits, or healthcare, etc…
You are known as a master networker. Can you share some tips on great networking?
I’d be happy to share tips for networking.
First, figure out what your strengths are and utilize those to maximize the experience. So for instance, if you are really good at public speaking volunteer to speak at any civic group or chamber of commerce and become involved in an organization like that. That will catch on and you can do various events, or join a speakers bureau for a non profit that needs help getting the word out. So find the area or category you really are good at so you can incorporate that into your networking, it will give you an added layer of confidence in meeting new people and like minded business pros.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
I have to say not really, there were no podcasts when I was a young professional. I really was blessed to have extraordinary bosses both men and women, who mentored me and gave me excellent opportunities for growth. You do have to seek to recognize the benefits of working with a specific organization or group or individual, when you are looking for a job or an internship. By recognizing and taking advantage of opportunities in your career you advance yourself in ways you could never have anticipated. Things happen in a thread like way, so follow the thread or follow the breadcrumbs as I say. It will lead to discovering your passion and what really motivates you. I was always interested in self-discovery and followed many of the spiritual masters to learn that I did have a special path, and that led me to authorship of my book.
Because of the role you play, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
This is an easy question to answer. Actually, I am offering self awareness workshops utilizing the steps in my book, “A Practical Guide to Awareness.” I have been inspired and led to do so while attending a Conscious Writing retreat in Glastonbury, UK. I have learned and experienced that being self-aware and practicing self awareness on a daily basis, allows for an unlimited amount of focus and synchronicity to flow into my life. This outlook brings passion and joy and with that a way of working working that is happier and therefore more productive. Without trying to control life’s events and managing them for future impact, we allow the energy of situations to evolve in a positive way and in favor of our divine plan. The biggest lesson I have learned through my writing and self awareness practice is that by staying present in the moment allows a whole new way of life to develop, and it is far easier to live that way because the Universe always has my back. This I have learned over the last 20 years of seeking. Yes, we have to be engaged and do the best we can everyday, but not freak out over whether everything goes according to a certain plan. There is always opportunity in failure and I am the master of reinventing oneself as a professional. There is always a way!
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why.
1) Make sure your pitch is a good match to the writer/ journalist’s genre or expertise.
2) It is best to have a personal relationship with the person you pitch. If not use a referral if possible.
3) Emphasize the story plug when pitching to the journalist/ writer and do so in an efficient, brief style.
4) Always research your story as much as possible prior to the actual pitch so you can be articulate and informed about your subject matter.
5) I make it a policy to service the the media or writer and the client in equal measure.
This has served me well and I have a tendency to be extremely accessible.