How to Find SPICY Angles That The Right People Cannot Ignore

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Louis: Bonjour, bonjour, and welcome to another episode of Everyone Hates Marketers. com the no-fluff actionable marketing podcast for people sick of marketing bullshit. I'm your host, Louis Grenier. In today's episode, you will learn how to hype yourself, or self-promote, or do some personal branding or whatever you want to call it.

My guest today claims to be a former all-England tap dancing champion, but there is no proof. Because, and I quote, it was pre-social media, but anyway, she has 20 years of PR creative agency experience that we have proof of. She's also the book author of Hype Yourself and Brand Yourself. And now a top 100 business publication on Substack.

And if you're listening to the audio, you didn't see that she's shamefully shown her two books to the camera, which is pretty amazing. One way to hype yourself. But more seriously, though, she's been a huge inspiration to me in terms of how transparent she's been on her journey as a business owner, as a solopreneur, as a mom, as a parent of three, and as a co-founder of her kids.

And I'm lucky enough to call her a friend. So Lucy Werner, welcome aboard.

Lucy: Merci, merci. The pleasure is all mine.

Louis: So what do you say people, to people who are obsessed with the idea of launching something like launching a book, launching a podcast, and making the launch the best thing possible being number one on Amazon and fucking like a bestseller or getting the top spot in whatever list.

What do you tell people like that? Who believes this?

Lucy: I think a few things. One is you're always launching. So there's so much onus, particularly in the book industry to go for that first week. And there are ways that you can hack that book system. So to be on a bestseller list, you quite often see people do the Amazon KDP one pound Kindle deal to get into something like in the UK, the Sunday Times business bestseller list.

It's about your pre-orders and what you get in the first week. So if you can flurry those pre-orders in that first week of sales, you can. Get onto the list, but even if you break into that list, it doesn't mean necessarily. You're going to then continue to sell that way as you continue. And for many people who are writing books, the marketing, and the promotion comes down to themselves.

And I think it's much better to actually make an impact with your book and have that longevity and not burn out and be able to keep on writing with that promotion, then kind of hit this sort of BS list, and then disappear into the middle earth, never to be seen again. Because you know, like putting a book together, writing a book, crafting a book takes so much work.

And it's so much effort. And for me, it's not just about that launch moment.

Louis: That's valid, just not for books, right? I mean, could be a podcast, could be anything that people are launching. I mean, we tend to be very excited about launching something new because, you know, we get this adrenaline rush because it's new and it's fresh in our mind or whatever, but it's quite easy to, as you said, burn out after a few weeks.

Not just stop, right? What's your, what's your experience with, uh, that type of failure, because when you talk about you're always launching, it sounds to me like you've learned that the hard way. If you had to pinpoint in your professional or even personal life, the moment where you've learned that lesson the hard way, like what

was it?

Lucy: I actually think it was probably when I was working back in the PR agency world. Clients would come on and they'd be paying like a hefty monthly retainer. And after a month, not that much happens because you're building the materials, you're writing the pitches, you're building the list of who you're sending the approaches to.

Cause really that kind of actually approaching people for the publicity opportunities is kind of, that bits, the really last step. It's all the sort of the prep and getting the angle, right. And getting the stories, right. That's the bit. That's the craft. So, I think it always takes two to three months of momentum just to start knowing what's working and then build it.

By which point, if somebody's spending like 10, 000 a month and they've suddenly spent like 30, 000 after three months and they've not even had a single piece of press coverage yet, they start to get quite stressed about it and then there's a lot of pressure on the other side to, get anything. And then you'll sort of see these sort of low-hanging fruit and basically like shit pieces of coverage coming through because they just want to get something to go, Oh, I've got you something.

So for me, it's like teaching people, it actually takes time to build that momentum and then you need to stick with it. Like nobody becomes the go-to expert in their industry from a one-month campaign. It's sustained appearances. Forever.

Louis: Forever. Forever, ever. So you've been very transparent about your journey.

I alluded to that. If you have 10 seconds, and I genuinely mean 10 seconds, I'm going to start the timer. I have prepped that in my head. Like I'm like, I'm so clever using an actual timer. So let's say you have 10 seconds to tell Lucy from 10 years ago, something around the corporate world or like the professional.

You know, your career, what would it be? Go.

Lucy: Don't just pitch to people who've got big followings for your ego. Go to the little people who are the right audience match.

Louis: Jesus. You're good. Eight seconds and 75 cents. So. Let's talk about that then. Don't just go for the big, you know, the influencers, the mega influencers, whatever you want to call it.

Lucy: That could be in the traditional press as well, right? Because I know so many business owners, if I say like, what is your dream piece of coverage? What's your dream opportunity? Nine times out of 10, especially like the marketing bros, they'll be like Forbes or a TED talk. And you're like, okay, cool. What's this?

Let's start with your TED talk that you're doing. What's your message? Your one message that you want to share with the world? And they won't have an answer for that. They just want to have the TED Talk. And the same with Forbes. You're like, which journalist for Forbes do you want to cover you? Which desk is on Forbes?

Is it entrepreneurship? Is it a small business? Is it technology? Which desk is on Forbes? And they're like, Uh, Uh, Uh, So I don't even think they've ever read it. I don't think they even understand that there are different sections on Forbes you can be into.

Louis: In fairness, I mean, Forbes is, is a cesspit of shit now, right?

Like, I mean, it's, it's the bottom of the barrel, but I get your point, right? So like, for example, if you're on that podcast, what would PR and marketing gurus say? I'm a micro influencer maybe, right? Or something like that or whatever the fuck. So is it better to be on that podcast for you than like maybe a bigger one, like with a 10x, 100x more audience?

Not really, no?

Lucy: It's got to be the right audience match. So if it was like a bigger marketing one, but it's the right audience that I'm speaking to, or it's the right, like either it's people that I would want to work alongside, or it's going to be my ideal client, like some way, there's got to be that opportunity match for me.

And I think particularly on social media, it's really hard to not be like a sheep and go and to really train yourself all the time. Actually, their LinkedIn profile doesn't look so good. It looks a bit of a mess and dig deeper to be like, but hold on a minute. There's some gold in here. We are. Normally just wowed by them having a sexy LinkedIn banner and how many followers they've got.

And that will automatically kind of make us take that connection. And I've seen it. It doesn't matter what platform you're on, whether it's Substack LinkedIn or Instagram. Everybody does it. And more often than not, the people who are doing the best on those platforms tend to be people teaching how to be on those platforms.

So it's a bit meta. And I don't always agree with like what the advice that they're giving. Anyway, it's very cookie-cutter. It's very one size fits no one.

Louis: One size fits no one. Hold on. Let me write that down. You can keep talking. I still listen. Once I see someone, sorry, I stopped you in your tracks, but let's talk about those because this is probably my number one pet peeve of 2024.

I will write about it way more. I wrote a rant a few days ago about, you know, fucking commenting for rich and bullshit like that. And a lot of people seem to have like connected with that. And what you just said is so true. The people who talk about how to grow on LinkedIn, for example, are going to be the ones getting the most engagement on LinkedIn and making a lot of money through LinkedIn.

Because that's exactly what they say. And so everyone on LinkedIn will be the audience, right? And so when you talk about LinkedIn on LinkedIn, obviously you have a lot of engagement. And so the disconnect for me, what pisses me off is that they then imply, or sometimes they don't even fucking imply, they say it, that you can get.

You can be as free as them or as wealthy as them by employing their methodology, selling fucking gardening classes, right? Yeah. Sorry, I'm ranting now. It's my interview. Yeah. What are the questions you have for me?

Lucy: One of the episodes I was listening to earlier was about making sure you take pauses and I was actually media training myself thinking.

I need to remember to take pauses. So I'm just leaving the space for you to fill it, babe.

Louis: So you're leaving, leaving pauses, but make sure at the end of your sentence that you don't end up on a high note because you're British. And so at the end of your sentence, it feels like you're going to say something else.

FYI. Um,

Lucy: Thank you.

Louis: Yes.

Lucy: Thank you. Thank you.

Louis: Right. So there's a lot I want to unpack. I didn't necessarily know exactly where I wanted it to go. with this conversation because there are so many things I want to learn from you, but you mentioned the word angle, right? And it's something I actually spent a lot of time on for this, for those episodes, right?

Lucy: It's like, did I say arse?

Louis: Not yet. Um, But I actually spend hours on the angle of every episode, right?

Lucy: Yeah. You know what, actually that stopped me from booking the podcast with you because, in the booking form, you have to say what the angle is. And I was like, shit, I can't actually think of like the best one for you.

And I started to look at all of the titles that you had. And I was like, this is, I can't just do my how-to-hype-yourself routine that I normally get asked because it's, you're, you're better than that.

Louis: No, but I, it's not for the compliment, right? So let's try to reverse-engineer it. Like from your experience, you have far more experience than me at picking good angles, like good stories and stuff.

How, why did you recognize that in the episodes, in the past episode? How did you, why did you feel, I was paying attention to that besides the questionnaire, but more like the, maybe the episodes that you, that you looked at.

Lucy: I think it's just because I read your stuff on LinkedIn and I know what, like you have the angle and the headline piece in a different way to the way I do, but it's the same, it's the same methodology in a way, that's anything that we do, if we rush what that headline is, that's going to potentially stop us from it taking off. The headline is actually the most important bit.

Louis: And so let's define it a bit because I feel I know what you're talking about because that's something I've learned along the way. But for folks who've never heard this kind of terminology or don't think about it this way, like what do you, what do we mean here by angle slash headline slash, The core story slash whatever you want to call it?

Lucy: So there's a few different ways that you and I use them. Probably where we overlap the most is going to be on the title of a podcast or on the subject line in an email. So the way that you talk about an expert or a subject or idea that you're promoting in an email is going to, it's going to make all the difference of what that subject line is.

So I would call the subject line, the headline of that. That email, for example, is okay. When I'm pitching to a journalist, or I'm pitching speculatively to be on a podcast, I'm not doing it for clients at the moment, but I'm helping people on Substack to come up with their own headlines. It's not saying, hi, I am Lucy Werner and a PR expert because nobody knows who Lucy Werner is, or that she's a PR expert.

But my headline could be How to do Self-Promotion without it Feeling Icky. And then, you know, that there's a story there and it's going to be interesting. And it's the same, whether it's news. So let's say, for example, you have a book coming out. You're not necessarily going to say, Louis has a book coming out about how everyone hates marketers.

You're going to say something more like an independent marketing book that cuts through the bullshit. It's going to be more like the kind of story of what the piece is going to be. And quite often when I work with people, I break it into three categories. You've got your business expertise. So for you, it could be non-bullshit marketing advice.

For me, it would be like self-promotion. You have your human interest. So I actually have done an interview this week about being an English person in France. You might do a human interest piece about being a French person in Ireland. And then we have passion points. So that for me is when you're doing a story that maybe, is what I call showing a bit of ankle, a bit of your personality. So it could be what tap dancing taught me about being a great business person.

Louis: What did it teach you? I want to know now. You see you've opened the loop. You're so good. Um, we went back. So the three categories, are business expertise, human interest, and passion points.

Mm-Hmm. And so this is kind of broadly the big three, you know, categories of angle, right? Topics, yeah. Topics type of stuff. Okay. And though, so to talk about your example, you said how to do self-promotion without feeling icky.

Lucy: Yeah. It just, if you know what, it's just come up as an article in the Harvard Business Review.

That's why I use that one.

Louis: Okay.

Do you want to break down another one then, one that you believe more like maybe look at, let's look at your substack again. See, let me pick one and we'll reverse engineer.

Lucy: Oh no.

Louis: How good you are. No, why do you say oh no?

Lucy: Because when you're like, I'm going to do this, you're like, oh no, he's about, ladies and gentlemen, this is the section where he's going to start drilling me on the advice I've given to make sure I'm worth my dime.

Louis: No, there was one that you posted around the book.

Lucy: I know the one you liked was Borrow My Nonfiction Book Launch

Blueprint. Yeah. Okay. Yeah.

Louis: Do you want to talk about this one as a, as the story, as the angle?

Lucy: So actually I knew that a lot of people want my advice on how I've launched my books. It's a lot of people who are paying for my substack.

When I go through anybody who pays, I try to message them and then do something nice for them. That's part of my strategy.

Louis: I'm still waiting for the nice thing.

Lucy: Yeah. I haven't got to you yet. You're not on me, I haven't got to you yet on my spreadsheet. I'm doing this for you and then I'm going to promote the shit out of it.

And you'll be like, Oh wow, she's got me to a whole new audience. Anyway, the topic of how to get a book out. A nonfiction in particular book out was coming up a lot. So I thought I was going to just put everything I know into one piece. And I actually knew when I wrote that it was going to do well. That's why I didn't put it behind the paywall because I was like, actually, this is something I wish I could have found, and it's not just from my own experience as a PR person, but it's from having done two books for myself. It's from how helping other people with books. And generally, I don't think there's a lot of budget for marketing in books and it's quite a traditional old-school smoke and mirrors weird place.

So the whole time with my book launch process, I've always tried to be really honest and see-through of what I'm doing and how many sales that equates to and what that means, like I didn't get an advance. This is my percentage of royalty. Like all of that sort of stuff, just to be really transparent, because it's really hard to find that information online.

So, I knew that by saying, I don't like the, I don't mind, actually, sorry, I don't like is a bit strong. Quite often people say, steal. And I was like, I don't, I'm not stealing. I'm giving it to you as a gift. So my actually just borrow it, borrow my, you can borrow that. Then you can give it back to me afterward and I'll make it a bit better, but borrow it.

Louis: Yeah. I think that's what strikes me about your approach. And then I want to kind of reverse engineering to give principles that people can apply to their own stuff and their own approach is your very you're honest and you don't oversell and overpromise, you never do that, right? And so I like that about you as well, right?

Like you don't promise, you know, still my nonfiction book launch to make 1000 sales within 10 days. You know what I mean? You don't overly promise. And that's very important in our world. Is that something that you actually have? You know, that you actually actively think about when you pick a good angle.


Lucy: Yeah. And also just in general, I would always want to surprise and delight. I think that got instilled in me from creative agencies. It's that whatever you're selling to the client, You always want to try and give something that, they're, not expecting. So I don't say when you sign up to my substack that I'm going to message you and try and help you.

It's something that I try and do for everybody, but it's not a promise given. But then when I can do it, it feels like a treat to the person.

Louis: So business expertise, human interest, passion points. And then we started to talk about this particular story, a particular angle, borrowing my nonfiction book. So if you had to advise someone who's producing something.

You know, it could be the basic, you know, the PR stuff where you try to pitch a story to be, to talk about your new business. Could be a blog post, could be a podcast episode, could be anything. What are the criteria that you feel people need to hit to make sure that the angle is spicy as, you know, as spicy as possible?

Lucy: I think it's a little bit of an overlap of what you talk about. So making sure it totally hits. the challenge of what your customer or your client has, or if it's not something that's coming up all the time as a challenge, something that you think they need to know that they're not asking about. So quite often, I'm sure you have this in your world as well.

People are not asking you certain questions that actually you need to be giving them advice for. So an example of that for me would be people coming to me and saying, can you teach me how to write a press release? And when I drill down, I'm like, you don't need press coverage. You need an email marketing campaign.

So in that instance, I might then say, okay, I'm going to demystify why you don't need a press release. So then, the headline of my piece could be like this. You don't need PR, you need an email marketing campaign. And then that can work as an article headline, that could work as a title for a podcast episode, that could work as a panel event, a keynote.

You know, so when I'm kind of thinking about overarching topics, I'm thinking about like, will this work on different stages? And obviously, you do have to tweak it slightly for certain platforms. It's not necessarily going to work on a massive like global keynote stage to have something like that. You're probably going to need to have something a little bit more sexier, but in general, as business experts, or even just having that much more knowledge than the person next to us, it's thinking about the things that you're asked about, or you're not asked about, that you can turn into an expertise piece.

And be quite, I mean, you're really good at this being quite combative and punchy with it as well. Something that's not necessarily popular. Like I hate press releases would be my like equivalent sister podcast to yours, you know?

Louis: Yeah. And I think people are confused when I talk about spicy, specific, you know, angles or whatever they confuse my style of like sometimes a bit aggressive or very contrarian and me telling them they should do the same.

That's not at all what I'm saying, right? So like one criterion that I have for the angles of the podcast, I just looking at my kind of process is the question is simple. It's what is something that no one else can claim that I can talk about, right? Like what is the thing that I can say that no one else has ever talked about, right?

So, and then I write the aim is to identify the specific core story that drives the entire episode. It involves the title, thumbnail design, snippet selection, et cetera, et cetera.

Lucy: It's going to be about the tap dancing, isn't it?

Louis: Yeah. We have to go back to that, by the way, people want to read around about it, but sometimes.

In an episode like this, when the subject matter expert is very good at what they do, there are so many things we can hit, I leave things open. And then during the conversation, I tend to drill into one thing. And so in a very meta way, I think the angle of that episode is going to be how not to fucking Pick an angle.

I mean, obviously, that's the shittiest way, but you know what I mean?

Lucy: It's not going to be called that ladies and gentlemen.

Louis: So let's, let's go deeper because I think we're touching on interesting stuff, but my opinion on this, and please correct me if I'm wrong, or please like...

Lucy: I love it. Yeah. Let's let's do it.

I love disagreeing with French men as you well know.

Louis: It's that, yeah, the co-founder of your children is French. Yeah. People's context. Yeah. And I'm going to forget what I wanted to say. Thank you very much. So yes, it's a very intuitive thing for me nowadays. It's like you said earlier about one of the pieces you knew it would do great based on what, you know, empirical evidence of people asking you over and over again, right?

But do you find it difficult to extract this kind of feeling of this is going to, this is going to fucking go away far or this isn't like, are you able to like to externalize the criteria?

Lucy: I really wish I could. I don't know what the magic formula is. I just know sometimes because I know my audience so well, I just know sometimes it's going to be something that either really connects with them or does really well, like on a very basic level.

We all know that a birth marriage announcement photo always does well, but anytime you talk about fatherhood on LinkedIn, it's going to do well, guaranteed. But there was a time when. I had to go and get an emergency passport from Marseille. And I just quickly uploaded that as a photo on like me holding the emergency passport on Instagram.

It's a pale blue color, so it's completely different from a regular-size passport. And normally at that time, I was heavily designing everything. So it was sort of out of, it was just a quick photo and I put it up in the middle of the day, which I'd never normally do because the algorithm says no. But I knew that that photo would do well.

And. annoyingly, it was literally like the most engaged thing I'd posted in three years or something. And I had a feeling, but I didn't think it was going to be as popular as it was. But it's because it was a fail. People love a fail.

Louis: Yes. So people love a fail in terms of what was the failure in your story?

Like, why did you have to get one, why is it a fail that you had to get an emergency passport?

Lucy: Because I was flying the next day and I'd let, my son's passport in French and English expire, but actually it's quicker to get an emergency passport from England in France than it is a French one.

Louis: Don't get political now.

Lucy: No, I'm not.

I'm not. I'm just saying.

Louis: Okay. So a fail or something unexpected or like being able, like, I think this is also something that you do very well in terms of angle and stories are that you're vulnerable. You are sharing shit that very, very, very few people will ever tell themselves in the first place, like recognizing themselves and then let alone fucking making it public.

Lucy: I think there's an advanced level of PR that I give to people, which is just set a very audacious goal for yourself in public. And the reason I say that's twofold, actually just even saying a dream big for yourself. is helpful to your audience because they then know how to help you. So let's say, for example, you were like, I really want to get a literary agent because I want to get a traditional publishing deal.

Once you've said that in public, somebody might go, Oh, actually my housemate or my neighbor or somebody in my network is a booking agent. So on a basic level, I think it's good to do that because the small business community and creative, you know, entrepreneurs in general do like to help each other out, but we have to signpost that help that we need sometimes.

When we set an audacious goal and we have an audience, they come along with us on that journey. So they celebrate the moments, they celebrate the highs and the lows. And they're interested in what the end of that tale is. It's a little bit like a soap opera, I guess, but it's all under the business. So I very publicly declared I wanted to be a Sunday Times business bestseller because I thought, why not?

Why shouldn't I try? Like, there are enough boring business bore-off books in that list that are male-dominated. Why can't this girl from London at that time get on that list? And how amazing would that be? If I did that, then I'd set a precedent and then all these other women might try and do it. So, Oh, it completely failed and didn't do that.

But then talking about that led to me getting in a podcast, led to me being booked for work, led to me getting some corporate work like a few weeks ago because that podcast episode lives on and on. So for me, the talking about the failure actually earned me probably more money than if I'd hit the success metric that I'd started with.

Louis: Do you know what's my, what's, what I'm thinking about this little trick? I think it's a trick. I think you failed that thing on purpose so you could talk about it because you know that failure works.

Shame on you.

Lucy: But also, it would be good to have like Sunday Times bestseller on the top of the book because it's good for the book algorithm.

So I did genuinely want to get it. I did try to do it.

Louis: Right. Okay. So I agree. And I think you said twofold like it's the reason to do this is twofold. So you mentioned first because you get support and whatever, but the other thing is, is probably because it makes you comfortable, right? As well. Yeah. So like, that's what I do.

Like when I need to do something and I know I need to do it and I fucking not going to do it. I'm, I declare, you know, publicly, I'm going to do this and it helps so much. Right. Like you have to do it. Right. Yeah. And as soon as you say it's a weekly newsletter or it's a daily newsletter, you have to fucking stick to it.

You do have to stick to it. You do. You used to claim that you had a monthly newsletter, but you realized that it's actually easier to write every week than it is, or even twice a week or whatever than it is every month, huh?

Lucy: Yeah. It was actually really, yeah, we talked about this before, didn't we? That's why you're picking on me on that.

Yeah, it was quite easy to skip a monthly I really enjoyed getting my weekly out now.

Louis: It's all about the process.

Going back to the angle stuff. So I don't think we have gone to the bottom of it. We are getting there. So we talked about the three categories, business expertise, human interest, and passion points.

Let's maybe take a practical example, a real example of how you think through the process because it might be difficult for you to externalize the criteria that you use, but maybe like doing it. Life together might help. So like, why don't we take a boring? You know, block of concrete, something that we could carve into fucking wood or whatever that we can come into a beautiful angle, but something that is messy and, you know, we don't know where to start.

Do you have any example top of mind, maybe questions that you, you know, project that you were involved with before or an email that you got from a customer or a subscriber or something that you're working on right now?

Lucy: Well, for an angle, yeah, my, my brain's like, turned into like a lava lamp where there's like too many sort of floating to kind of necessarily pick on.

But I guess it's actually sort of a little bit backward. It's not really the idea. It's more like, I actually start with what's your business goal. So are you trying to get investment? Are you trying to attract staff? Are you, trying to become the go-to person in your expertise? Are you trying to get more one-to-one work?

Like what, what is it looking like? Sometimes that press coverage might just be kudos and that's fine, but we just need to know what that is because that can then shape where we're going. And then for me, I'm thinking about, okay, let's take you. As an example, and you're like, actually, I have a bit of an image problem.

People think I'm like really scary and I'm not, I have this real soft side to me as well. And I kind of want to get a few bits of press coverage that show that human side of me so that people know. That, you know, I'm a bit of an armadillo, that actually I'm soft and squidgy inside and hard on the outside.

So I would say, okay, let's have a look at a few magazines that maybe fit more into a kind of feminine demographic. It's maybe a bit more softer. And it might be actually there's a slot in the Guardian weekend magazine, which starts with a moment that changed my life. And it's normally like a heartfelt, heartfelt, like profound moment, that could have to do with a triumph over adversity.

It could be something medical you went through that you've come out the other side. It could be a reason that you set up your business because you maybe had an awful experience in the workplace and now your mental health is so much better and you can be the dad you want to be on the other side.

So I would start kind of almost looking at the columns of the publications or which podcasts you wanted to be on. And I'd start looking at what they cover and what those areas are. And then I would go back to you and be like, okay. What sort of stories have we got narrative-wise? And we would start, I would start kind of asking questions to be like, you know, was there a moment that made you do this?

Okay. And it's then it's drilling down.

Louis: We are getting to the, now we are getting it, we're getting to it. So instead of taking me as an example. Because it's a bit boring for people to hear my shit all the time. Let's pick maybe something that you hear over and over again from your substack subscribers.

You said that you get insight from them, in terms of business goals, like starting, starting from the first step. Right? So like, what, what do people tend to tell you? Or maybe the one that you want to pick on, like, what is the one thing you keep hearing?

Lucy: I guess ultimately it's people trying to. get more work, but for their services, they've maybe gone, they've maybe gone from an in-house or a large corporation, and they've made a change either to go alone as a consultant or to have a career pivot and start from scratch.

Louis: Great. So then step two, is to get more work for their services. Perfect. So step two, then is what is it? Who's your ideal client? Okay. So unless you have something that you should is very different from the advice on this podcast or whatnot, maybe we can skip this one.

Lucy: You skip this one. They would just listen to an episode with you then say business goals, ideal client, then I would be like, okay, let's start to, and you would probably do this through the discovery process that you do as well, start to look at like the target media and partner that with what you're good at. So if you hate speaking, there's no point you putting yourself forward for public speaking and podcasts. If you're really good at writing, you know, if you can literally sneeze out 500 words before you've had breakfast, then looking at guest writing for other people or doing written Q and A's could be good.

And then there's one Facebook group in particular that I recommend called Lightbulb. It's a paid-for group. Caveat, I'm not affiliated and I did no advertisement. I didn't, I didn't get any cut on this, but it's amazing because as a PR, the, typically the tools we would have are directories where you get inbound requests from journalists, and all the PRs sort of pay for this and they cost hundreds of pounds if not thousands.

Lightbulb is like less than a hundred quid a year and the journalists themselves are in there putting calls out for stories. So that it could be, as an example, somebody in my group was like, listen, I want to be a voice for I want to be a talking head, which is when you have different experts appear on a panel, in response to the budget for two reasons.

One, because there's, I've heard a rumor that there's going to be a story out about the marriage tax. So whether or not the, basically the tax advantages to being married and the disadvantages are that you have a tax for tax reasons in the UK, if you're not married, when it comes to inheritance tax, but also because she was a financial advisor.

So she had two approaches. She could go on as an expert, but she could also be a case study. So we knew this was coming up. And so my recommendation to her was to go into a light bulb and I gave her the format to do a pitch. But I also asked her to look out for the financial journalists who were putting stories out and be the first one to respond because quite often when you're an expert in breaking news, you want to be that first person and you don't want to just say, Hey, I can talk about this.

You want to say, I can talk about this. I'm a finance expert. I can also be a case study. And here are the bullet points of my already thought out perspective on what I want to say, about this story that's breaking and that is a mistake that a lot of the Brits make is they are very polite and go, Oh yes, I really would rather love to be considered to be that person that you go to as an expert.

And they don't have time to go to your website and have a look at your work. You have to give them the expertise there and then.

Louis: So very interesting, but if she's like step four, even five, what you started to describe, which is great to go back to step three. So you said it's basically the intersection of the target media, the possible media you could go after, and what you're good at.

Lucy: Yes.

Louis: So what you're good at, we talked about that as well in other episodes. We're not necessarily going to go through that today, but the target media set. So when we talk about, when you talk about media, you don't just mean. major newspapers, right?

Lucy: No, I think blogs, medium, substack, people's individual blogs, people's individual newsletters, blogs for brands who are always looking for content as well, co-working spaces.

If you're, if we're in this kind of startup, small business world, there's so many networks in the UK as well, like Enterprise Nation, small business blog. Britain, Ipsy, which is the governing body for freelancers. There are so many corporate, like small business networks set up who are looking for content. So for my positioning myself, when I started out, I was not going to go to pitch myself to PR publications because I was not there to show off my PR expertise to my peer group.

I want to get other small business owners who don't know how to do PR. So where are the other small business owners? Well, they're looking at the platforms that are giving advice to small businesses. So that's where I went for a business to actually get sales and they aren't necessarily the blogs with the biggest reach.

And for the kudos pieces, because particularly in my world, where I'm saying I can teach you how to get coverage for yourself, I also need to show you that I've done it for my clients and for myself. So I do look for reactive opportunities. To get into the press, to also give examples and use myself as a walking, talking case study of the work that I do.

So I was in the Daily Telegraph business section today talking about what corporates could learn from freelancers.

Louis: Nice. As opposed to, so reactive and then what's the, like, what's the other?

Lucy: So you can be, so reactive for me is the much easier way to do it. And reactive is what I call, when the journalist is already putting that story together.

And so all you're doing is adding your story onto that. The hard bit, which is what most people try to do, what most beginners try and do, which is the biggest mistake, is they write a press release. They buy a list of maybe 300 journalists and then they wang it out and then nobody replies and they wonder why it doesn't work and I'm like, because that's called spam.

And for me, if you're going to pitch for anything, whether it's to be on your podcast, whether it's to be in the Financial Times, have the decency to consume that content first because you're effectively getting promotion for your business. They are doing you a favor to write about you. So you should be giving the business case study to them.

This is why I'm good for your audience. This is why your readers are interested in my story. The amount of times I've seen people go, here's the latest news from my company that I thought you might want to write about the press release.

Louis: You should see, I mean, you know, you probably know better than I do, but you should see this fucking state of the emails I get every day.

Lucy: I know. I know. And I've seen you talk about it before as well, about PR agencies doing it, because you know, we only get really good at pitching and PR agencies once we kind of get to a senior level because it takes us that long to learn to do it. And then by that point we're managing a team and then we don't do it anymore.

Louis: Actually, someone made a comment on that post, a very good comment saying the good ones, the good PR agencies, you don't know. You don't notice them, right? Like it feeds way more. It doesn't come from the PR person. Like I did say yes to a few cold pitches over the years because it really felt like they give a shit, you know, and they really, yeah.

Lucy: And I bet the difference is it's not just a blanket. Like, Hey, Louie, are you interested in? Holly, here's the press release. I bet they've gone, Hey, I know your podcast covers this. I've got this guest and I think they could talk about that. And it was an interesting angle that you've not covered yet.

Louis: I think the only times I actually say yes is when it comes directly from the person, right?

So that could be, that could be a tip we're sharing right now, whatever. I might be just very pedantic about it, but I'm making a point to never apply to fucking PR agencies. If it comes from on behalf of someone else that pisses me off.

Lucy: But this is actually a good reason why people should. understand that they don't need a PR agency and that they can actually do it for themselves.

And for me, it's like, when you're building that media list, it's not about building a list of 300 places. It's asking your audience, what are you listening to? Can you give me some recommendations for some good podcasts? It doesn't mean, you don't have to be avert and be like, I'm looking for podcasts to pitch to for myself.

You know, just chat with your friends, like other colleagues, people in your peer group. What are you reading? And the reality is, is that it's great that I'm in the Daily Telegraph in print today. Is any of my target audience reading that? No. It's not going to lead to any over, I'm not going to have some overnight spike in sales on my website because I was in the Daily Telegraph in print today.

But somebody who's got a real niche blog that talks about book marketing that maybe cross-promotes my non-fiction blueprint, that will suddenly get me 10 people signing up to my sub stack, for example, because it's a complete audience match.

Louis: Okay.

So in terms of reactiveness and to be reactive, which is, as you said, it's the easiest thing to do, right?

You mentioned this paid Facebook group, but that's quite specific.

Lucy: The other one is on Twitter. There's a hashtag called journey request. Yes. And there's quite often, there's some good ones on that as well. So somebody, and this is actually why it's good to share and show your bit of ankle and what your area of expertise is.

And since I've rebadged from having a conversation with you actually last year, moving slightly away from PR and more to self-promotion because people understand that more. A journalist put a hash, a call out on journal requests last week for somebody to talk about self-promotion. And somebody actually in my paid sub stack put me forward and I was like, Well, this is awkward because it's supposed to be me helping you on the other way around.

But it's because when you look on Substack and type in self-promotion, I'm the only one of the only ones coming up there. And it's my bio on all social media channels. So what you want to be known for also kind of needs to be reflected in your social media profile. So if a journalist. does go to look on your Twitter page or on your LinkedIn.

It's not a photo of you with your sunglasses on and a glass of wine on holiday that you actually look like a credible expert.

Louis: Well, I, my picture looked like I'm, I'm having diarrhea or constipation. So that's why journalists never fucking reach out. Now I know. Um, so that reactiveness approach is more for like the press and the traditional like journalism.


Lucy: Yeah. If you want to get into a national newspaper or on TV or radio. And would

that approach work, even if you modify it for like more of the newer type of like the creator economy, you know, you mentioned Substack and newsletters and, and blogs and podcasts, like the, like, can you be reactive there, or is it more of a proactive approach?

I think it depends again on what their content is. So your show is not a news-based show, but there are podcasts that are news-based and topical. So if it's a topical show, then yeah, for sure. But again, that's why you've got to listen to, listen to the shows that you want to be on, or be reading that content to make sure you are that right fit.

Louis: So if you go back to the goal, get more work for their services, right? Okay. So they work through their clients. They've started to make a list of the potential media that they could go after based on what they're good at. But I think there's a third criterion, you know when I think about it, it's like those three circles, the other circle that you mentioned a few times is like the feet with your audience.

Right. I mean, that's why you mentioned step two. Like, so it's like the sweet spot is things you're good at. So if you're good at interviewing and asking questions, like you, if you're passionate about like speaking and shit, then you'll have like podcasts would be the obvious choice. And then the last one would be the specific podcast that your ideal clients would listen to, right? I mean, so the fits would be those three circles. Okay. So let's say, you know, get more sales for their services. So who are those people? Like just to roughly pick an example, like someone maybe is, is what, like what type of people do you talk to in your, from your sub stack?

Lucy: It's a real mixture, but a lot of them are professional services. So it could be HR advisors for small businesses finance experts or email experts.

Louis: Okay. All right. So HR advises businesses. And I want to get more work from my services. I figured out my clients. I figured out the type of media to go after.

Now let's talk about the process to like. without the angle, because you started to say, you know, I'd ask questions. So what do you want to find out then?

Lucy: I want to know what's the biggest challenge that people come to them for. And more often than not, I actually kind of know this from chatting to a few of them.

People don't go to HR experts until they have an HR crisis. And by that point, it can be too late. So the pitch angle for them would be why you need an HR expert and you don't know it, or why you should be speaking to me before you get in the shit, you know, that sort of positioning piece. Because most people who are small business owners or freelancers don't really know what they're doing when it comes to taking on staff, the regulations and the rules of freelancers versus having people on PAYE, what you can do with that, having contracts in place, all of that sort of thing. So I would be kind of building a list of the challenges and the topics that people come to you for and almost sort of marking the ones that are the most problematic. And maybe...

Louis: How do you judge problems?

Because you could have a common problem that they mentioned saying, you know, I hear that a lot, but it might not be as problematic as another one that is not as mentioned, but is more painful, right?

Lucy: Yeah. I mean, I guess if there's a quantifier on it, so if there's maybe a financial figure or a, maybe there's some data or research that's out in the news that you could then use to kind of piggyback off of.

So we could be talking about maternity leave, for example, and, or maternity pay or childcare, flexible working, especially been coming up, like the return to work, hybrid working, all these sorts of things that are coming up in this sort of post-pandemic era that we didn't have to deal with, and how, what that looks like, even kind of the more basic, like things that you are, or things that you can or can't say to your staff that's on in maternity leave, or there was quite a lot of press around,

some companies bring in fertility treatment, HR policies, or menopausal, policies or grievance leave because these are things that historically we haven't had in businesses. So I think it's also something that you really believe in as a problem that you feel isn't being addressed that you want to instill.

So I think with both you and me, I know you don't want me to keep bringing us back as examples.

Louis: No, it's okay.

Lucy: But we have that kind of, there's a type of marketing and promotion that we see in the world that we hate. And so we're always trying to teach people how to not do it like that. And I think for HR for small businesses, there's a real opportunity to be like, you don't have to do HR like the big corporates.

Here's a really nice way you can do it that's still affordable to you as a small business owner. And it's kind of those sort of narratives around that. So picking the topic or theme you feel strongly about matched with maybe something that you're seeing coming up as a challenge.

Louis: People struggle for that, right?

So they really struggle to extract things that they feel strongly about, right? What I hear a lot would be people saying, you know, I don't want to come across as like you, you know, challenging and contrarian. I'm not like that, or I'm very open-minded. So I wouldn't have very strong beliefs about anything.

Lucy: Yeah. So I have, every time I do a talk every, almost every time I do a talk, I've got one in particular that I get booked for, and I have a Mentimeter poll where it's a word cloud. It's a free tool. And I ask the question to the room, what stops you from hyping yourself? And you can give three keywords.

And I've done that now over the years. I think I've had over 1, 300 people enter their answers onto that word cloud. So I know that my audience, struggles with confidence, knowing what to say, embarrassment, fear, time, looking like they don't know what they're doing, showing off, like fear of being seen to be showing off.

So I know all the language that my audience uses when it comes to promoting themselves. And that's not necessarily what I would when I started out, I was kind of like, here's why you don't need a press release. But no one was asking me for that. So now I will be like, here's how you can save some time when it comes to self-promotion.

Here are some ways to like to have confidence when it comes to promoting your work, and I will kind of serve those challenge answers back to them. So I guess on a basic level, and I don't want to kind of talk over like the stuff that you do, because I'm sure your systems and processes are a bit better, because this is not my area of expertise, it's yours, but it is that kind of clipboard work with your, clients to know what the challenge is that you're solving and that also becomes your content.

Louis: Absolutely. But in a meta way, what you describe like, they don't want to show off for business, you know, the show-off and they don't want to share necessarily their views, not to be judged. What do you use? Like, what's your number one tip for that? Like, what do you say? Because you have. You are in a different position than I am.

I do empathize with folks. I try my hardest to empathize with folks in different situations and all of that. But you know, I can't leave for them. Like you are, you mentioned it. You're like a woman in a world that is quite fucking, you know, in the tech world or whatever, they are still very backward. I mean, anyway, I'm not going to go into a rant like that, but anyway, how to do you, what's the number one tip you give people who might not be like white men with beards coming from, you know, the middle-class background of being very lucky, you know, who don't tend to want to show up, show off and show up and, and share their piece.

Lucy: There's a few things. One is you have a personal brand, whether you like it or not. It's just your choice if you want to control it. So if somebody meets you at a networking event, or hears you on a podcast.

Guaranteed one of the first things they're going to do, and I don't mean to sound like a cliche here because we've heard it from other people in a better way, but they are going to Google you. And what do you want them to find online? Do you want them to find your public Facebook profile of you going on holiday with the gals?

Or do you want it to be some press articles some podcasts or some appearances? Use the keywords of what it is that your business does. So that's kind of number one. Number two, I know for myself personally, and lots of other business owners that I've only used self-promotion and PR to build my business.

I've not paid. for advertising and it's a free tool. And once you learn how to do it and you get that muscle memory, you can rinse and repeat it, and it's a really great way to build your contacts and relationships. And it's opened so many opportunities for me in other ways, like getting a book deal, like having brand partnerships, like getting flown to America, like all of these things for me and my business, which was really actually quite enriching rather than just.

Being sat at home, remote working, flogging myself on Instagram stories too, you know, with some graphic designed thing that reaches nobody. So I genuinely believe in the power of self-promotion to attract the right audience and to open up opportunities for you and your business that maybe you hadn't even considered.

And ultimately it, you know, I wish for the people who are like introverted and don't want to put themselves out there that they could be the next Daft Punk, or they could be the next Banksy. But the problem is that just, there's not that many of those that, that can fly. So the reality is we do have to hype ourselves and just make it fun.

And I, when that's the bit where everyone really goes, Whoa, hold on a minute. First of all, you're going to make me do something. And then you're telling me it's got to be fun. And I'll give you an example of this. I was talking to an author, she had three books out already. She's got another three out this year.

And we were talking about her book launch. And she was saying to me that self-promotion is like flossing, you know, something you have to do every day. So she just accepts that, but she doesn't really enjoy doing it. And I was like, I can't have you leave this conversation thinking of your self-promotion like flossing, because who the hell wants to do that?

Like, that's so dull.

Louis: Yeah. You do it once, once a year after New Year and you bleed out in the sink.

Lucy: After you've been to the dentist, you do it for about a week afterward, and then you stop again, but no one, no one. No one wants to do that. So I was like, okay, let's, let's get into this. And she was like, so yeah, at the book launch, I'm going to have to read my prologue out loud, which I fucking hate doing.

I was like, stop right there. Why do you have to read the prologue of your book out loud if you hate doing that? And it kind of like blew my mind. And we were talking about the themes of a book and I was like, you could book somebody on Cameo. You could ask another author. You could ask somebody in the professional field of the character, you could get an actor. And we came up with all these different ways that someone else could do the prologue that was fun. And then she was suddenly excited about having the prologue be read out loud at the book launch. So. Obviously, as business owners, when we're selling our services and expertise, we can't necessarily get somebody on Cameo to give our advice all the time.

But I really believe in kind of doing things in a way that feels comfortable to you. That's why I mentioned earlier about leaning in on your strengths so that showing up does feel good to you so that you do it more. Because once you hit that rhythm, It does become part of your daily routine, but not like flossing.

Louis: Like, so two things. First, you had the drag queen. That's one of your book launches. I love that idea. It's really cool to see. Because drag queens know how to hide themselves. I mean, if there is a group of people out there who knows how to promote the shit out of them, what they do and put a show. There's something to say about that as well as an alter ego.

Yeah, I know you mentioned that.

Lucy: Yeah, I do.

Louis: What's your nickname? What's your drag queen's name? What's your alter ego name? You have it, don't lie to me. I know you have one.

Lucy: Yeah, it's actually, it's not a good one, but like, actually when I had my company, I was called the Wern it was because I was like people when I was in the PR agency world.

There was actually a gay guy that I worked with. He was like, it's the Wern and he would do this like W sign at me when I walked in. And when I set up my limited, I just thought, I'm just going to call it the Wern. And kind of didn't really think more about it. And then it just stuck for a bit, but I did for a long time, see myself as like, there's Lucy Werner.

And I guess it's just spinning this myth here as well. Like I'm not this super confident, self-assured person. Like I have a nice chunk of self-loathing going on in there as well. Moving to France has definitely forced me to toughen that skin up quite a lot. That's a whole other conversation, but the Wern, like who I was sort of on Instagram and online and.

On stage that it was like this, I was like, I know I'm good at what I'm doing. So when I'm in that role, I'm fine. Cause I know that what I'm doing is going to help you.

Louis: It might sound weird to people listening, about this, but that's one of the best ways to actually, you know, hype yourself, stand the fuck out, whatever you're going to call it, it's really to have this alter ego and being the manager of that person, which is why I mentioned drag Queens to be a great example of that, where they clearly have like, two, you know, you have the person managing the drag queen and the drag queen on stage, right?

Lucy: And it's still, it's still you, but it's...

Louis: Exactly, you don't play a role, but it's, you caricature certain strengths and you'd go all in, in one direction and it's much easier, right? So the other thing I wanted to say about what you said about this, is you need to have fun with it. And it's usually the kicker, the thing that makes people like switch mindset a bit around all of this is, when they stop doing what they think others are expecting them to do and start doing what they fucking want to do in the first place, you know?

Lucy: And I, I like, when I started doing, public speaking and I had my slides, I would put images in that I thought were funny. This actually comes from a kind of RuPaul's drag race reference as well, where RuPaul would like to say to the drag queens If you're having a good time, we have a good time with you.

So I would talk about press releases and the boilerplate of a press release and how that never changes. It's like the marketing paragraph at the bottom of your press release. And so I would have like a photo of like Donald Trump through the ages of the same, you know, haircut to demonstrate boilerplate and it always made me laugh because he's ridiculous.

And so I, I'd have this sort of like smirking moment on stage and I would always kind of drop those in, even if it's just to myself and I'm just giving myself a bright smile. It makes me just enjoy what I'm doing. Some of my favorite PR campaigns that I've ever worked with have been completely ridiculous.

Like I worked with an entrepreneur from Amsterdam on a brand called Poopy Cat and we launched a pop-up store in London and he cycled from London to Amsterdam with his two cats. And we put that out as a picture story to say like the entrepreneur was launching his cat litter trays, Poopy Cat, in London.

And that was the funniest campaign I ever got to work on.

Louis: You're still laughing about it. Years after, you know, it's good, but it's one of the things I've learned is like, you need to be fucking selfish. I mean, you're on this earth for not that long, unless you believe in the afterlife, but like spoiler alert, it doesn't exist.

And you have to be selfish. No one else is going to hype yourself, right? No one else. You fucking have to do it yourself.

Lucy: And put your own spin on it. Like I am, I know a really great email marketer and her email bio says, my email can beat up your email. And I'm just like, I love it because it makes me remember her, even though I meet so many people who do email support for small businesses.

I remember her because of that. So that's like. She's living and breathing being an email expert with that, what she's doing. So I think having this kind of way that you can pull your personality through is important.

Louis: Besides your sub stack that is growing quite rapidly, which is great to see, besides your two books that you mentioned, what would be the top three resources you recommend?

Lucy: You know what? No joke. I can hold it up to the camera and show you. I actually put watching RuPaul's Drag Race. It's a masterclass in marketing.

Louis: I completely agree. Great one.

Lucy: Even starting it from the beginning and then watching it all the way through because there are certain catchphrases that Ru does.

And, as the series goes on, there are certain challenges. We as the audience know what to expect, and it's a masterclass in repetition. And there are a few tweaks and it evolves, but for anybody who does a program or re-releases, like even if you've got a product, you don't need to keep recycling, like redoing your marketing.

If it works, just repeat it. And I think that show is so good for that. So I put that number one. Number two is to go and see Fuerza Bruta, which is a bit like a rave, dance, show, theater, or spectacle, it's always touring, so you can always catch it when it's in town. Because I really want people to think differently, and you only think differently by consuming different things.

So stop listening to Gary Vee, Stephen B, or all these other like, bro people.

Louis: Chris Do

Lucy: We can't be too mean about Chris, I've been on his show.

Louis: I know, I'm joking.

Lucy: Um, Uh, you did get me basically to do things differently. You need to be consuming different stuff and that show blows your mind. The third thing is a different podcast called Flow State.

It's also a micro-marketing masterclass to me. It's a DJ who basically plays electronic music for 25 minutes using the Pomodoro technique and then breaks it up with either five minutes of binaural sound, or he reads you an extract from a book. And it's all about working in flow. If you have a deadline, I highly recommend it.

I've really, I've used it when I've had, you know, deadlines for content to get through, but as he's evolved, that podcast has turned into a Patreon and he's got merch, but again, he's sticking to the same concept of 25 minutes of music and then five minutes of break to get us in that flow state. And I just think I like weird geeky niche things.

And he's really, he's, yeah.

Louis: What a surprise, Lucy, you've been a pleasure, loved a lot today. Thanks for the energy you're bringing and stuff. And yeah, I knew you liked RuPaul as well. I could see, I needed to write something about this. And I completely, like, it's funny. I completely agree. I can't help myself, but.

reverse engineer those things. And I spotted, you know, a very similar thing. I was, I kept, I keep seeing my wife, he hasn't changed the fucking, the fucking, um, you know, the thing, how do you call it?

Lucy: Even when he gives press interviews. At the stage, nothing. Even, when he gives a press interview, and this is actually something people don't like to promote themselves because, sorry I'm just going to make your show go on for an extra five minutes at the end, people don't want to promote themselves because they're scared of showing their private life or being too personal.

And actually, you can set guardrails by going, I've got a few stories that I'm willing to share and only tell those. So he tells a story about his sister coming home and putting him in the garden with some cookies and a blanket and saying, this is a picnic. And he goes onto this whole sort of spiel around it.

Whenever you watch him in an interview. It's the same personal anecdotes, and you feel like you know him really well, but it's just the same handful of anecdotes.

Louis: He's fucking with you. He's fucking with you.

Lucy: Like me becoming an All-England tap dancing champion. And actually, to close that loop, when you're like five, and you do a tap dance solo, you're allowed to fall over on stage and start again.

And I didn't, I fell over on stage and thought, if I start again, I'm going to have to go through all that anxiety of the pre-performance. And I was already like two-thirds through and I was like, no, I'm here now. So I'm just going to carry on. And so, you know, I picked myself up, wiped my little leotard skirt down, and hyped myself.

And that's where it all came from. Really. You just got to keep carrying on. Even if you fall over.

Louis: Thanks for closing the loop. The best way to end this is this interview. Thank you so much, Lucy. Once again.

Lucy: Thank you. Bisous, bisous, ciao, ciao, bisous, bisous, ciao.

Creators and Guests

Louis Grenier
Louis Grenier
The French guy behind Everyone Hates Marketers
How to Find SPICY Angles That The Right People Cannot Ignore
Broadcast by