Lisa is the founder of The Buyer Group, an interactive agency, and a lead instructor here at OMI (check out her course on digital PR). Like me, she also hails from sunny South Florida, but we never met until we were 3,000 miles away from home at the Search Engine Strategies Conference in San Francisco. (Random tidbit: we figured out one of Lisa’s clients was the building I lived in at the time. Her digital PR efforts clearly worked—I moved there!)
She recently told me about her new book, Social PR Secrets, and even sent me a signed copy. The book dives deep into the best tactics for driving awareness, traffic, and sales through a powerful mix of social, content, and online PR.
Lisa has done a tremendous job building a successful career in this space, so I wanted to find out how she did it, what she looks for in digital talent, and get her digital marketing career advice so you can build your dream career, too!
Here is part 1 of my interview with Lisa:
1. Lisa, you built a successful interactive agency focusing on digital marketing & online PR. How did you get your start?
In the digital marketing cloud, I got this party started from the club Public Relations, danced my way through with hits like I’m just a girl who was kissed by the social media wave and It’s fun to know Y…. S-E-O. I’ve owned three PR agencies; the first two primarily focused on corporate communications including branding, PR and media buying for the technology, real estate and health/wellness industries.
Right when things were getting a little BORING at club PR, the dot-com bass #boom happened and my agency was hit with jams like Internet business innovators from Silicon Valley. This digital beat gave us ways to do the PR Macarena, even before Google was a song sang by all, we were figuring out ways to gain online visibility via news groups, keywords and stock symbols etc.
I started attending Search Engine Strategies in 2007 to learn more on how I could A) help my public relations clients use the Internet to get more news visibility but also B) help clients navigate through the ins and outs of communicating/working/translating/finding the right SEO and SEM teams.
I like to laugh and say: I went from being a total search marketing conference groupie geek to being part of the band.
After attending several SES and PubCon conferences (sitting front and center), I was asked in 2008 to speak on the News Search SEO panel at SES San Jose alongside Lee Odden, Greg Jarboe and Dana Todd – a complete honor! Since then, the rest is in my Rock and Search Hall of Fame. I’ve been dancing to the techno hits and sweet musical links between PR, Search, and Social with some of the coolest and smartest people in the industry.
My agency today, The Buyer Group, focuses on 4 hits on an mp3 mix: Social PR consulting, educating, evangelizing and special projects. We help businesses and also work with agencies behind the scenes to integrate social media and SEO into the public relations fold. There is a still a lot to learn as new technologies unfold in real-time.
2. Our report on the State of Digital Marketing Talent found 70% of respondents believe new employees expect to advance or be hired for upper-level positions before proving themselves [read the full report here].
What advice do you have for those looking to break into digital marketing, or advance their careers?
We need education. Continue your professional education on a consistent basis—invest in yourself! Stay ahead.
That means online training, conferences, webinars—even freelancing out of your main comfort zone and getting experience in other areas just to learn how to manage and what to look for. It used to be an education was get it, graduate and you were done.
Today you can’t learn in school the real backbone and real-time life experience of digital marketing. There is not a text book to follow, (well maybe on Twitter:)—it is a hybrid of traditional fundamentals with modern day advances that we are still evolving in. If you are hiring, triple check qualification and don’t hire entry-level when expecting senior results. Then again, it is also possible to hire a senior executive level and get entry-level results in digital marketing, so call references.
3. What has been the proudest moment of your career in digital & PR?
Proudest (and scariest) is my most recent publishing of Social PR Secrets, my first book! The day it went live on Amazon I was thinking to myself, in life, you give what you get. So believe and give to yourself. Put the effort you put into your job or clients and results will happen. It’s hard work but it’s worth every sweat equity you put into you. I’ve made my dream come true of being an author and so can you too..oh and a Google Author too:)
4. What are 3 qualities of a successful digital PR and marketing professional?
- Journalistic know-how that is proven—thinking like brand publishers versus old fashioned PR practitioners that wait for traditional journalists to do all the work.
- Analytical thinking and understanding—if a digital PR and marketing pro does not know how to use Google Analytics and access KPIs using an analytical measuring approach i measuring what matters - you are wasting precious time
- Visual, social and mobile storytelling—that your community cares about!
5. What is the most common mistake you see people make when hiring digital marketing talent? How can they solve it?
They see social media as an entry-level position. That is not to say there can’t be an entry-level social media position. But to put someone “in charge” of your social and give that person the power to make social branding decisions and social marketing decisions from the social front line is a huge business mistake.
They can solve this by hiring a qualified digital marketing consultant or agency to receive the strategy and guidance and then hire the entry level social media person to implement but making sure that person has a higher level seasoned and proven digital marketing executive to guide them.
In my opinion there is a huge shortage of senior marketers who have a first hand understanding of digital marketing and they rely on others to guide them, this leaves them not really knowing how to read reports and ask the right questions. Younger generation marketers get frustrated because they have to deal with the senior marketers who either A. won’t take the time to invest in learning the basics or B. think it’s too late to have to learn anything new or C. say they don't have the time to do it.
There is a huge disconnect between generations of marketers and public relations professionals.
6. Are there any other marketing/PR professionals that have had an impact on your career?
Dana Todd gave me my first break by inviting me to speak at SES San Jose back in 2008, I started following Spin Sucks Gini Dietrich early on and also Sarah Evans, they both have similar mindsets and were mavericks like me in the future of Social PR.
7. Bonus! How often do you Google yourself?
Probably 2x a month just to check the search results on page one, every brand should have reputation management monitoring—even if it as simple that! That’s a good search and social PR best practice.
Stay tuned for part 2 of our interview with Lisa! And make sure to check out her new book, Social PR Secrets.