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Welcome to episode #117 of the Morning Upgrade Podcast. In this week’s episode I spoke with Mickie Kennedy, a trained poet and Founder of eReleases. 

Top Talking Points

  • How to continue to grow the business as your industry changes.
  • How to get better at poetry and other forms of creative writing.
  • How to push through on a project even when it doesn’t seem to be working.

Resources & Links

Connect With Mickie at eReleases.com.

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Episode Transcript

Announcer 

Welcome to the Morning upgrade podcast with Ryan Cote, where we feature casual conversations with entrepreneurs about personal development and growth.

Ryan 

Hey, Mickey, welcome to the Morning upgrade podcast. How are you?

Mickie  

I’m good. Thanks for having me, Ryan.

Ryan  

Yeah, I’m excited to talk to you. So I’ve been a customer of your service, which I’m sure you’ll introduce at the end, or maybe into my business questions, called E releases a press release wire. So I’ve been a customer for things like 10 years now. So I’m excited to have you on my show, talking about personal development and business and wherever we take this. And let’s start with you telling everyone you know, who you are, and what you do for a living, and then give us when happening in your life right now.

Mickie  

Okay, so I’m Mickie Kennedy. I am a trained poet with an MFA in creative writing with an emphasis on poetry. And I, through a series of accidents, ended up in the PR space and launched e-releases by sending out press releases via email about 24 years ago. And I have since started sending the releases out over newswire, as well as the email distribution that we originally started with. And our goal is to serve entrepreneurs and small business owners, and people to get earned media.

Ryan 

Excellent. And I have a question about that, something you just said triggered a question. But first, give us a when what’s happening in your life right now.

Mickie  

I think right now; my staff is working really well. We’ve made it through the other side of the pandemic, I hope. And I feel like we have a really strong team. We’re really well connected. We make a couple of retreats every year. And I just feel really good about the team that I have.

Ryan  

Excellent. So here’s the question I haven’t. I don’t know if it’s too much of a curveball to think of on the spot for you to let me know; 24 years in this business and a business that’s changing a lot, I’m assuming or has changed with the internet and the traditional PR to online PR and everything else. So it was 24 years, like how have you managed to adapt? And not only stay in business but grow the business? How has that happened for you?

Mickie

I think that just being an asset for small businesses and trying to deliver value for small business owners over the years, my newswire partner had approached me several times to say rather than going out nationally over a newswire, we have a web-only product, you could save a lot of money by just only including the wire distribution, they’ll get the same reports for the most part. So to them, it looks the same. And I’m like, No, I don’t want that. I want my clients to have an opportunity to get earned media. And with the web-only and syndicated type products, you don’t reach journalists, so they’re never going to turn it into an article or story. And I found that over the 20 years to be a huge distraction. This web only does the syndication type thing where your press release gets replicated on the website, but nobody wrote an article about you. And so I just remain true to the belief that PR is a great opportunity. It’s a great opportunity for leverage. And it really can work for small businesses and entrepreneurs that have an interesting story or interesting hook or build an interesting hook.

Ryan  

I think the business lesson, just hear what you’re saying, is, you know, don’t take shortcuts and try to keep on providing as much value to your customers as possible.

Mickie 

Yeah, absolutely. There have been points put in front of me trying to leverage a discount on pricing or try to get more value; I’ve always leaned on providing more value, and we try to add more products and resources to our distribution.

Ryan  

All right, so let’s, let’s talk about your morning. How do you start your mornings?

Mickie  

Usually, I get up, usually have a diet soda or energy drink, and I just sort of meditate and chill and be at one. Everybody rises later in my household. So it’s usually just me, and it’s a very quiet meditative place for me. And if the inspiration is there, I will write poetry. It’s not something I’m able to do every day. But I do feel like I’m able to get into a really Zen state at least three or four times a week where I can do some writing or some creativity and feed that part of me.

Ryan

Do you publish the poetry? Or is it more just like a hobby?

Mickie  

I have published about 70 poems over the years, mostly small presses, little journals, and things like that. I am working on putting together a book that I hope will be out next year. I’m probably still another couple of months of editing through that because I’m much better at writing a poem and being happy with it. But to really get it to that 100%, It takes a lot more work. So I can usually write a poem in 15 to 45 minutes, which a lot of people say is very short. But when you’re in that creative zone, you’re in that creative zone. Unfortunately, it then takes anywhere from four to eight hours to take that poem and get it to a Polish same point. So I have a lot of rough-cut gems that I have to work on to get to that next stage, where I’ll have enough to put a book together.

Ryan 

One more question on this topic is whether he made me think of something. So every Sunday, I send out an email, a company email to the team at Ballantine, our marketing agency, and it’s like, company news wins. Of course, I have to pepper personal development stuff into it; I just can’t help myself. But, uh, I found that I’ve been doing it for a few years now. And I found that when I first started, it’s not a long email; it’s like, I usually try to hit five points, maybe it’s a couple of 100 words turn into words. I found the beginning that was very hard for me to write them. And, man, now it just like flows like the salmon of Capistrano; it just like comes out. So my question to you is, do you find creative writing or any type of writing, especially for your poetry, which I’ve imagined, much harder than what I’m doing? Does it get easier the more you do it?

Mickie 

Yes, it is a muscle. And if you exercise it, you get better over time. And that’s probably one of the reasons that I’m able to get into state and just write so quickly. I’ve done free writing with other people where we were in the same room, and we’re all writing, and then we share. And every time I do that, the people are just blown away by the amount of stuff that I’m able to produce in such a small amount of time. And it hasn’t always been like that. It’s because I have been actively working on it off and on over the past, let’s say, 30 years or so. And it’s just one of those things that I think with any skill set, the more that you apply and work at it, the easier it’s going to get. And I believe that that’s what technical writing, creative writing, it all comes from the same place and being creative. And having that access to your mind. And just letting go, I think, helps a lot.

Ryan  

I can attest to that. So let’s go back to business, Mickie. So for the entrepreneurs listening, you’ve been one for 24 years and the same business, and you’ve grown it. Give the entrepreneurs listening some tips, especially the new ones.

Mickie 

So I wasn’t able to live off of what you released this made until it was like six or seven years old. It was a side business. And I was focusing on consumer newsletters as my main business. And then the.com crash happened. And my consumer newsletters went from $50,000 a month in advertising revenue to zero. And E releases just sort of limped along. And I just allowed it to and mostly poured whatever money I got from E releases back into the business through advertising promoting. I was really early into pay-per-click. But most of the people that I got was like through forums, you know, 20, some years ago, forums were really popular today, probably LinkedIn and social media. But I was there. I was a resource. I would help people give them ideas and tips and things that they could do. And over time, people would just recommend us. And that still continues to be where we get the majority of new customers today; more than 60% of them, we have no tracking for them. They just came to the website. Usually, when we reach out to them, it’s because they had heard about us, someone had recommended us. And so word of mouth is really important. I don’t have a word-of-mouth referral program. Every time I’ve implemented one, it’s felt dirty. And so I don’t know, I haven’t reached a point where I feel like it’s a natural thing that I can do to promote. But I do find that people naturally, if they have really great experience with us, they’re going to recommend us and when people consider something like press releases that someone who has had a favorable experience with us will mention us.

Ryan 

So I’ve mentioned you guys a bunch of times. So I think that it’s funny, not funny, but I’m listening to this guy, Alex from Ozy, who’s this entrepreneur that puts out a lot of good content. And he’s a really smart businessman. And anyway, he talks about creating a product that’s so good that people just talk about it. Because, like word of mouth, that type of marketing is like the mothership of everything, like it needs to be there to grow a successful business. And the way that happens is you have a great product that people want to talk about. And so maybe the referral, the incentivized referrals not necessary in some cases, you know, I don’t know, maybe it’s just build something really great, and people talk about it. Right. So the five to six years that it was kind of limping along and you weren’t able to live off of what was making, what it was earning, like what kept you going, what gave you hope to keep pushing forward.

Mickie 

Every year it was more. We were probably, I think, when the consumer newsletter business crashed and burned. I was very fortunate that I put the newsletters up for sale. And I had three that were over a million subscribers, and I sold them for six figures on each list. So that was a big influx of capital. that sent me for a while and allowed me to relax and not worry about having to live off of E releases. But I think it was like 1000 $1,500 a month when that happened. And the next year, it was $3,000 a month. And then the year after that, it was doubling almost every year to 6000. And then, you know, after five or six years, I started to feel comfortable taking some money out and not pouring everything back in. And by pouring it back in, most of it was through Pay Per Click advertising. And I was very naive about tracking and ROI and stuff like that. So I spent a lot of needless money until I started getting a little more experience with, you know, best practices, landing pages, having enough conversions to make something statistically relevant, because I was making decisions saying, Oh, this new landing page, I just had four conversions, isn’t it none on the old one, that’s enough to decide that the new one is better. And it’s not. It’s not statistically relevant yet. And so, I started leaning on marketing consultants and experts and learning from them, making myself a better marketer.

Ryan 

You remember the moment where you were like, well, maybe this is it? I can; this is my business.

Mickie  

Yeah, every time there’s been a recession or a setback, our business does very good. We increased our best year ever during the pandemic. And it’s not surprising, it was like that, during the housing, real estate crash, it was like that during the.com crash, the only thing I can think of is anecdotal that there’s a lot of people who have a laundry list of marketing things they want to do. And at the bottom are press releases, but at the top is paid advertising, and then all of a sudden, the paid advertising dollars, dollars vanish, and they don’t have any money. They start considering what are some low-cost options for me to do. And that’s the only thing I can think of because it’s strange, whenever there’s a fallback or something like that, it increases; I gotta tell you, I don’t tell a lot of people that, but every time that happens, I feel like I’ve made it, I have created something that when everybody else is suffering, we are increasing, and we’re doing better. And it could also change, I recognize that the next recession or economic downturn that we have could affect me, but I’ve been very fortunate that it hasn’t. And I think that one of the things is that press releases this just down the list of marketing to-do activities. And when they can’t afford to do the paid advertising anymore. And they have to look more creatively. They turned to press releases.

Ryan

Yeah, makes sense. I mean, I understand the in the pandemic everything when pushed online. And so I understand why. Do you know why your businesses grow, then? But yeah, the things you said may make sense. Let’s good. Let’s go back to personal development. What’s your number one self-care, habit, pillar, habit, whatever you want to call it?

Mickie

I think for me, it is to throw some money around on masterminds experts, you know, someone might have a $3,000 Tik Tok marketing package that they want to run you through. And I will sign up for stuff like that and just expose myself to it. I haven’t done anything yet with Tik Tok, but I’m finding it fascinating, and I’m learning about it. You know, I’m not afraid to spend a little bit of money just to educate myself about the opportunities that are out there. Marketing masterminds have been very helpful for me over the years; I tend to jump in and do it for a year or so and then take time off. And what happens is my head gets so full of ideas and potential things that I could be doing. And I need to take a little time off and just go and apply those and give it time to get that statistical relevance and see what I need to do. And then I’ll jump back in and give it another try.

Ryan 

Yeah, I mean, the word masterminds normally sends me down a rabbit hole, but I see we’re at the 15-minute mark, so I’m not gonna let it; but yeah, I 100% agree with you. I’m part of three of them. One’s a marketing mastermind. one’s more of a personal growth mastermind, and then one’s more like a personal business kind of combined. They all fit their different needs. But yeah, it’s a game-changer. So for everyone listening. Definitely look into masterminds for sure. That is a recommendation that I could say with 100% confidence. All right, Mickey, I got one last question for you. And then we’re gonna wrap up with you telling everyone how they can learn more about you about E releases, etc. The meaning of life, you know, through your lens and your experiences up to this point. What is the meaning of life?

Mickie

I think for me to touch as many people as I can without sacrificing those that are in my immediate circle, and like family and close friends, and so I am about, You know, helping entrepreneurs and business owners, but not to the detriment of my family. And so, I believe in having a strong work-life balance and not being afraid to lean on your staff and empower them to make decisions.

Ryan

The last part is excellent. Thanks for ending with that. All right, so maybe they want to learn more about you, where should we send them?

Mickie 

The websites, ereleases.com. I do have a free mastermind that’s less than a video, a less than an hour-long video that will go through basically an audit of you with strategic press release ideas that you could potentially do. And it’s an Ereleases.com/plan, P-L-A-N. And I recommend anybody who’s new to press releases to go there. Start with strategic types of press releases; if you’re considering building a campaign, rather than doing the average types of press releases that we see 95% of the press releases that go through your releases or any press release service don’t result in earned media because they’re not very newsworthy. And the thing is that there are strategic types of press releases that, by the way, they’re constructed and developed, are every one of them’s newsworthy, and every one of them has the potential to get that earned media.

Ryan  

I will definitely link that up in the show notes page. Thanks, Mickie. For everything you shared. This was a great conversation.

Mickie 

Oh, you’re very welcome. Thank you.

Ryan  

Thanks for listening to the Morning Upgrade podcast. Please subscribe and review. And don’t forget to visit us at morningupgrade.com for more content.

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