What you will hear in our discussion with Andreea Ayers:
- Build a Company and Succeed through PR
- Can You Start Your Own Business and Succeed
- The Success of a T-shirt Design Store
- How to Use PR to Build Your Business
- Generate Publicity for Small Business
Listen to ReLaunch Show on iPhone or Android App
More about our featured guest Andreea Ayers
Andreea Ayers is the CEO and founder of Launch Grow Joy & Get Media Happy, the go-to source for top editors and bloggers seeking product-based news stories from media-ready entrepreneurs. Her mission? To make PR less intimidating for those entrepreneurs who can’t afford a monthly retainer fee for a professional PR firm. Andreea opened her first product-based business selling inspirational t-shirts in 2006. Despite knowing little about the industry, she went on to sell over 20,000 tees in over 300 stores in the United States and around the world, with 6-figure sales just 18 months after launching. In more recent years, Andreea has focused on helping hundreds of entrepreneurs secure media coverage through one-on-one consulting and coaching over at her website Launch Grow Joy.
[00:00] Joel: On this show, just like I promised, Andreea Ayers, is here. And a few minutes ago I mentioned that she had created a small fortune for herself creating and selling inspirational t-shirts, and that the name of her company goes like this,”Launch Grow Joy and Get Media Happy.” And here's what you need to know about it. She, and her company, is the go to source for top editors and bloggers that are seeking product based news stories for media ready entrepreneurs. And her mission? Pei, it's very, very easy to understand. It's to make PR less intimidating.
[00:44] Pei: That is so needed.
[00:45] Joel: You're right. And especially for those entrepreneurs who can't afford, a monthly retainer fee for one of those big PR firms.
[00:54] Pei: Right. Now, I'm also curious to find out how did… From t-shirt company to a PR company.
[01:04] Joel: Well, you're in luck because she is here today right now. Andreea Ayers, this is the first time we've had you on ReLaunch, and welcome. Welcome to the show.
[01:12] Andreea Ayers: Thank you so much. I am super excited to be here today.
[01:15] Joel: We're excited to have you here. And this show, as you know, and thank you for listening, it's highly practical because it's all about the ReLaunch. And specifically, Andreea, how you did it. And, while we've all experienced numerous launches, and relaunches in our personal and professional lives, I generally ask our guests to zero in on the relaunch that has been the most transformational for them. And then we just unfold the story from there. And we'll do that with you here in just a few minutes if that's okay. But, first, I'd like to start the show off with a quick piece of take away gold, if you will. And, you and I are both media and PR pros. And, if you didn't know, I've spent just about the first half, or at least the lion's share of the first half of my professional life in TV and radio in promotion, and also in sales. And, I've got my answer to this question, but what would you say, Andreea, is the number one challenge or bump in the road when it comes to entrepreneurs getting media exposure, and, even more importantly, getting media coverage? Go.
[02:27] Andreea Ayers: So, I think the number one bump in the road is obviously, time constraints. And, many entrepreneurs make the time to send that first email but many of them don't have the time to follow-up if they don't get a response. And, I feel like so much of my success personally, and so many of the clients that I've worked with, the success when it comes to PR is from the follow-up email, not from your initial email.
[02:52] Joel: Now, that's tweetable right there. The success comes from the follow-up email, not the initial email. What do you think, Pei?
[02:58] Pei: Yeah, that also goes to say that you didn't take that “No” just as a “No” and move on and look for the next opportunity. You actually, persisted.
[03:11] Andreea Ayers: Exactly, yes. And, sometimes you get a “No,” but what happens often times is you don't get a response at all. And, I think most people just tend to assume that no response means a “No.” And, from my experience, that is not always the case. Sometimes that's the case, but not always.
[03:28] Joel: Well, you and I share that in common, and we'll probably get a chance to kind of come back around and trade a few stories back and forth. But, before we do that, I want to get into Andreea's relaunch story. So, just kind of back us up, and how do we need to start today talking about that relaunch?
[03:48] Andreea Ayers: So, it's actually a really interesting story. And, it happened about eight years ago now in 2007. And, I was pregnant with my first baby. I was working in New York City. I was at New York University doing direct marketing for them, and I just remember it was crazy hot. The stairs, of the subway station that I always used to take were never working, and being pregnant I was just so tired of going up and down these stairs every single day and taking the train to work. So, I came home one day and I told my husband, I said, “You know, I don't really think I wanna be in New York anymore. I don't want to be pregnant in New York. I definitely don't want to raise our first kid here, so I think I wanna move.” And, he sort of looked at me because he had moved to New York to pursue an acting and directing career, so this is where his future career, supposedly was going to be. So, he kind of looked at me and said, “Hmm, okay, I never thought of that because I sort of just got here a few years ago, and I thought this was going to be my home. But, if it's important to you let's talk about it.” So, we talked about it for a couple of weeks and then we decided that we were both going to move out of New York, and he was going to try it out. He was going to go to grad school for two years for theater and acting, and then we were gonna see what happens.
[05:12] Andreea Ayers: So, at least we were going to get out of New York while I was pregnant and giving birth, and we were gonna see what happens. So, we made the move after a few months from New York. I ended up quiting my job, and I was three or four months pregnant at the time, and we moved from New York City to Boulder, Colorado. And, we landed in Boulder, and my husband already had a job because he transferred from his previous job.
[05:38] Joel: Awesome. Before you get into the landing in Boulder, now let's talk a little bit about the conversations, and just the challenges. I can appreciate you wanting to get to the other side of the story, but before you kind of blaze through everything, there's a lot of… I would assume, and I wasn't there, a lot of unanswered questions and a lot of, “Hmm,” kind of scratching your head. “How does this work?” and “What do we do if we do this?” What were some of those experiences like that got you to the point of where you were able to quit your job? What were you doing, by the way?
[06:20] Andreea Ayers: So I was working for NYU and I was doing direct…
[06:22] Joel: Oh, that's right, you said that.
[06:23] Andreea Ayers: Yup, I was doing direct marketing, which was basically buying media lists and figuring out what mailings, to send out to those lists to get them to, or to get those people to take the continuing education courses at NYU, for adults. So it was quite an interesting… Interesting experience, and there were a lot of things about my job that I loved, but part… To answer your question, there were definitely a lot of unknowns, and we had just bought a condo in Manhattan, so we were like, “Well, what do we do with this condo?” We couldn't really sell it for six years. We had to hold on to it for six years because it was one of those tax-free deals, and you had to be the primary resident there, and you couldn't sell it, or if you were to sell it, you had to pay a huge penalty…
[07:11] Pei: Right.
[07:11] Andreea Ayers: So that definitely… Yeah, that definitely came into play, and the other thing was my husband, because he was like, “Well, I don't know what sort of things are, in terms of theater, there are for me in Boulder,” and that's when he came up with the idea of going to grad school. And the main thing was that he had never been to Boulder, and I had been to Boulder for maybe three hours when I was in college, so…
[07:35] Joel: Like in an airport, almost.
[07:36] Andreea Ayers: Exactly, yeah. So I remember liking it, but I don't really remember what it was like. So we were going to a place where we didn't know if we were gonna like it or not. I wasn't sure what I was gonna do because I was pregnant, and I thought, “Well, is someone, is anyone gonna hire me if I'm pregnant?” But there were just a lot of unknowns, but I think the fact that I was so ready for a change and just did not wanna be in New York at that time. I think that trumped all of our fears and unknowns of what was gonna happen once we got to Boulder.
[08:13] Joel: So I'm curious. Did you have an idea on doing media and PR for yourself as you were in that transition, or is that something that kind of hit you once you got to Boulder already?
[08:28] Pei: And the t-shirt company, too, as you remember that.
[08:31] Joel: Right.
[08:32] Andreea Ayers: Yeah, exactly. So, no, I didn't really know anything about PR. I had a degree in marketing, so I knew the importance of marketing, but I never learned about PR. So I thought PR was for the big brands that can afford, crazy huge monthly fees, and it's something that was not even on my radar until I started my t-shirt business. And it's interesting how that business came about, because when I landed in Boulder, we thought, “Okay, I'm gonna look for a job because we need health insurance. This baby's gonna be born in a few months, and we need that security.” And I really had no plans of starting a business. So I started looking for jobs. I would apply for anything that was marketing-related or online-related. And I had such a hard time, not only getting interviews, but when I would go on interviews, it was just I was not getting hired. And it was quite an interesting experience for me, because pretty much every other job that I had had in New York, I went to the interview and got the job. So this thing of… And I had quite a few jobs, so this thing of me going on interviews and not getting hired, I didn't really understand what was happening. And there were two jobs that I did end up getting hired for, but they were only paying $10 an hour and $12 an hour. And I thought…
[09:57] Pei: Wow.
[09:58] Joel: And if you're coming from a condo living in New York, you're probably not used to that.
[10:05] Andreea Ayers: Exactly, yes. And I think I was, you know… I was making, I think, close to $60,000 at NYU at that point, so I was like, “There's no way I'm taking a $10-an-hour job or a $12-an-hour job.”
[10:15] Joel: So I'm curious about this. I'm curious about this, Andreea. Did you come to some type of conclusion or peaceful resolution, on why you were getting job offers in New York, but, for whatever reason, in Colorado it seemed to be different results? Do you think you were… Were you carrying yourself different? Was it just a kind of a mindset that you were projecting? I'm wondering about that.
[10:41] Andreea Ayers: Yeah. And I've tried to… As I was… As I kept on getting rejections, I was trying to think, “What's going on?” And I think part of it was my energy and the fact that I was sort of going in there knowing that once my baby was born, I was either not gonna go back, or it was gonna be a short-term thing. And I think, even though I never would say that when I went on interviews…
[11:02] Joel: Of course.
[11:02] Andreea Ayers: I think just that energy sort of was around me. Plus, I was starting to look pregnant, because by this time, a few months had passed, and I was still not getting jobs, and it was obvious that I was pregnant. So I think the fact that I was pregnant, and even though I hate the fact, to admit this, that someone would discriminate, against me. But I totally get it, right? You know, someone's gonna either leave in a few months, or they're gonna have to take a break. And I don't necessarily blame them for not hiring me, although I don't think it's right. But I think that had something to do with it as well.
[11:40] Joel: Okay. So I wanna get in to the creating media-ready stories. I can't wait to talk about that. So, quickly, just kind of talk about the t-shirt business and how that idea came to you, how you were quickly able to leverage it, and then we'll continue to move forward.
[12:00] Pei: Yeah. So I… It was pretty clear that I was not gonna get a job. So I just sat down with my husband and I said, “I think I can start a business, and I kind of have no choice at this point.” And with all of my jobs that I had in New York, I almost always had a side business on the side. So I was sort of familiar with the idea of starting your own business and being an entrepreneur although I had never done it full time because I was working full time. But I had enough confidence to know that I could make a few thousand dollars a month to at least cover our expenses until maybe I got something else.
[12:40] Andreea Ayers: So I was trying to think what kind of businesses I should start, and I had a lot of different ideas, but I was in a prenatal yoga class, one day and there was someone who was wearing a shirt, it was really simple, it just said “be present” on the shirt, and I looked at the shirt and it sort of just made me stop. And I kind of got goosebumps, and I was like, “Oh my God, why did this have such a huge impact on me?” and it just really made me think about my life, what I was doing, and immediately at the same time I thought, “I wanna start a t-shirt business with positive messages on the front because if this t-shirt really made me think, there's other messages that are also gonna make other people think, and I wanna be the person to spread that message. So it was sort of literally in an instant that I got this idea for this t-shirt business, and I ended up my yoga class, I ran home, I started doing research on how to start a t-shirt business, and within a few weeks I was up and running with my first online t-shirt store.
[13:49] Joel: Hey Pei, she finished her yoga class.[laughter]
[13:52] Joel: Did you get that?
[13:53] Pei: Wow, she's a quick action taker.
[13:56] Joel: Well you have to be!
[13:57] Pei: Yeah, there's so many business ideas and during that research time, did you get discouraged? ‘Cause there are distractions, there are doubts, is this gonna work, what's the profit margin? How did you decide, “You know what… ”
[14:14] Joel: Goosebumps, she's got the goosebumps.
[14:16] Andreea Ayers: [laughter] But I definitely, even though I was super excited, and you're right, I'm totally an action taker, I get an idea sometimes to a fault, because I think I start too many things because I wanna take action. But specifically with the t-shirt business, I definitely had a lot of fears, and there were a lot of unknowns, and frustrations, too, and one of my biggest frustrations… And this might sound silly, but I had to decide which kind of t-shirt, what kind of style, what kind of cut to get, and I was so frustrated because I couldn't really try on any of these t-shirts because I was pregnant. And by this time I was six, seven months pregnant, and I was just… It was hopeless, because I was like, “I can't even try on the t-shirts I'm gonna sell, I don't even know if they look good or not!” So I had to ask my neighbors to try them on and it was definitely…
[15:08] Joel: So you had a little fashion show at your house.
[15:10] Andreea Ayers: I did, yes! Yes!
[15:11] Joel: Did you build a little runway, and all that?
[15:13] Andreea Ayers: [laughter] I wish I had, because I would go to my neighbor's house or my neighbors next door and say, “Can you please try this on, I wanna see how it looks on you because even if I try it on I can't really tell how it looks because I have this, big belly,” so I think that definitely was frustrating for me because I had to trust that I was gonna get a t-shirt that looked good, and yeah. So that was one part of it. The other part was that I really knew nothing about selling online, I knew nothing about marketing an online shop, and even getting t-shirts printed. So everything I did with that online store, I literally had to learn from scratch.
[15:58] Pei: Wow.
[16:00] Joel: Sometimes that's the best way.
[16:01] Pei: Yeah, yeah. That's so funny. I know we have you on the show and I know you're expertise now, but I had no idea this background you had. ‘Cause just this morning, SUCCESS Magazine, Darren Hardy even has the t-shirt store on his website selling some quotes from his book and all that. But there was something I was looking for online and I couldn't find it. I saw this… One of the fitness trainers I went to a group class the other day, and it says “if you can't do one more, do three.”
[16:45] Joel: Yeah, that's pretty good.
[16:45] Pei: And I was like, “Oh, that is so inspiration!” But nobody's having that shirt, so…
[16:49] Andreea Ayers: Yeah! [laughter]
[16:52] Joel: Well, so to catch us up to speed, Andreea actually went on to sell 20,000 t-shirts and get this, Pei, 300 stores in the US and around the world. So obviously she leveraged that into a success. And as we kinda cross a bridge and start to talk about Launch Grow Joy and Get Media Happy, one of the things I wanna do as I respect your time and our listeners' time as well is I wanna get boots on the ground practical when we're talking about, “Okay, how do we as entrepreneurs, podcasters, authors, content creators, how do we create product-based news stories?” Because really, that is the specialty that you have zeroed in on for your PR company. So take us right into there if you would please.
[17:43] Andreea Ayers: Yeah, so definitely. One of the things that I always recommend is to get really clear on who it is you wanna get in front of, whether you have a product, or a service, or your coach, or an author, but it doesn't make sense to get PR if the audience that's reading that content is not the same as your audience so…
[18:04] Joel: Okay, let's get a real world example, so we're really clear on what it means to know who your audience is, and who we wanna be in front of.
[18:11] Pei: This is the most important.
[18:13] Joel: Right, right.
[18:14] Andreea Ayers: Yes, exactly. So, a real life example would be with my t-shirts. They were higher priced, they were $32 to $50 a t-shirt, and I was only going to reach out to the magazines that had that type of clientele and not the budget magazines that were teaching people how to save money, because I knew that someone who is trying to save money, and who's really careful about their spending, and who's buying magazines to learn how to save money, they're highly, unlikely that they're actually gonna spend up to 50 dollars for a t-shirt, so that's one example where it just didn't make sense for me to pursue those magazine.
[18:51] Pei: Demographic.
[18:53] Andreea Ayers: Exactly, yep. So, that's one thing that I always recommend, and the other thing is that once you're familiar with whether it's a magazine, or a blog, or a podcast, or whatever type of media outlet you wanna be featured in, you have to put yourself out there, because oftentimes those magazines and blogs, they're not gonna come to you to feature you unless you're already a big name personality, and or you have a product that already has a lot of buzz, so you have to… Oh, yeah, go on.
[19:25] Joel: I'm sorry to interrupt you. This is great information, but give us maybe one, two, or maybe even three rock-solid tips that our listeners can use today to learn how to reach out to the different media sources.
[19:40] Pei: Yeah. Since they may not be known yet, the media may not be reaching out to them yet.
[19:47] Andreea Ayers: Yeah, so the first thing you have to do is you have to send an email, and you have to keep your email really, really short. In your email, you have to make it obvious how you can serve their audience, so a lot people tend to talk about themselves, and their experience, and what they've done, but it's really critical to talk about how your experience can serve their audience, and why you think you would be a great guest, or you would be a great person to feature, and I'll give you an example. So, when you are pitching… Let's say you're pitching a podcast, right? To be on a podcast as a guest, which is a way of getting PR. Instead of saying, “I would love to be a guest on your podcast. Here's my experience, here's what I've done, I hope to hear from you,” you can say something like, “I was just listening to your last episode. I heard you talk about the fact that you're not as familiar with Pinterest, and I'm a Pinterest expert, and I have Pinterest product, and I would love to share my tips and strategies of how your audience can use Pinterest to grow their business.”
[20:53] Andreea Ayers: So, what you've done here is you're showing the podcast host that you're familiar with the topics that they cover, and you're showing them how your expertise can really serve their audience. So that is one example of how that comes into play.
[21:08] Joel: And that's actually a wonderful example because…
[21:12] Pei: She covered many points in that one example.
[21:15] Joel: Exactly, and she really made it clear that you're not highlighting yourself, but you're highlighting how your knowledge, wisdom, and expertise can benefit the readers, the viewers, the listeners, that other person's audience, and that's what you have to do today. You have to be of service, because there's no shortage of, you know, this expert or that expert. We live in a content heavy environment, but if you want to rise above the noise so that you're seen, heard, and recognized, you've got to understand your expertise, and then offer it in a way that it will help the audience that you're impacting. Very quickly, Andreea, this has been a great, great conversation, and gosh, time goes by really, really quick when we're having a good conversation, but I am going to see you back… Actually, Pei and I are both going to see you at our podcast movement of 2015. Our workshop is on Friday, so we're excited we'll be kinda kicking off the entire event our,”Launch Your Podcast,” workshop on Friday, and your session… Now you're gonna speak on Sunday. Is that correct?
[22:26] Andreea Ayers: Yes, and I'm speaking on how to get publicity for your podcast.
[22:31] Joel: Fantastic.
[22:32] Pei: Nice.
[22:33] Joel: That's gonna be a lot of fun. Looking forward to meeting you face-to-face, and Andrea, we will, of course, have all of the social media, hotspot links and all of the go-to places, including the link for your Pinterest book on the notes that accompany this episode. Sound good?
[22:54] Pei: Just go through joelboggess.com/347.
[23:00] Andreea Ayers: Sounds great.
[23:00] Joel: Fantastic. We will look for you at PM:15, and thank you so much for being on our show today. Have a wonderful, wonderful rest of your day.
[23:11] Andreea Ayers: Thanks so much, you too.
[23:12] Joel: Bye bye.
[23:12] Pei: Thanks.
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