Michelle Lewis is a Visibility and Publicity Expert who helps established entrepreneurs discover their unique online identity, shape their pitch plan and start landing press quickly.
Co-Founder of The Publicity Place™, Michelle Lewis is a leading authority on color psychology, brand positioning, and publicity strategy. She’s helped thousands of entrepreneurs land their dream features and impact their ever-expanding audience with her techniques.
Michelle’s journey began in 2016 when she left Hollywood and started with her first e-book, which became an e-course, which became a steadily growing brand.
She currently lives in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho with her husband, pug, and three ducklings – and can’t be parted with her garden or fresh brewed iced tea.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I had zero plans to work in PR, but thinking back on it, I’d always had my hands in it. Working with actors, directors, and producers, I was always assembling reels and drawing up press pages as a friend to help them get their names out there. And when we were pitching a tv show I had written and produced, I had to get the word out there about it myself. We ended up premiering at the Gary Marshall theatre and getting a write-up in Hollywood Magazine. Little did I know that – years later – I’d get into entrepreneurship. That led to meeting Kristin Marquet, a renowned publicist that co-authored “Publicity Jumpstart” with me. And now we’re launching a PR business together to help entrepreneurs get their own press.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
Finding what specific talents you offer in the online space is staggeringly hard. I think we’ve all fallen victim to course-buying fever and thinking our success is dependent on what programs we purchase or masterminds we join. That was my biggest struggle. I wish I could go back in time and tell myself to shut it all off and just go with my gut. That was my best advisor.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
I’m a stubborn lass. And I’ve had a lot of careers that didn’t work. I think most entrepreneurs have. And, for some reason, I refused to let go of this one. Every day I’d do at least one thing to move my business forward. And I think that persistence is the only reason things have grown to where they are today.
So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Trying was my key. I just refused to stop. That led to me booking TEDx, getting on some major stages like Heart Behind Hustle, Epic Mastermind San Diego, and even BossCon. Behind the scenes, I was always working, tweaking, and testing my products and funnels. That persistence helped me grow slowly but steadily to this point, where my programs run pretty hands-free. And that gave me the opportunity to partner with Kristin with PR.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
There have been so many! I remember going to Melissa Pharr’s event in New York City. I was taping her event and had gotten food poisoning on the plane. Trying to get to her house at 5 am on the train system…well, it’s a miracle I made it. She graciously let me sleep at her place and got me to the event’s hotel so I could rest in my room. Talk about embarrassing! But I gave the event my best and she ended up with some really great footage she used for future events. I think I learned that full transparency and vulnerability are okay. You just have to do your best despite your circumstances!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I’ve seen a lot of PR programs or done-for-you services over the years. And I get pitches for my podcast every single day. Honestly? There’s something missing in how people are approaching PR. I see people getting frustrated because either they’re not booking what they want to book or they don’t take action because everything feels too overwhelming.
I think The Publicity Place™ stands out because Kristin and I have a lot of experience working with clients. Kristin has done some of the biggest PR for people worldwide. And I’ve spent a ton of time inside of teams helping them build their PR strategy from within.
That experience has helped us create actionable and easy-to-understand strategies that really work.
For example, I worked with Laura Rike recently within her team. We were able to build up the PR leg of her business and her features just skyrocketed. Podcasts, blogs, publications, she has booked an incredible amount of press. Nothing complicated, just actionable strategies that work.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I think finding your productivity curve. Coming from Hollywood, I was used to working 15 hour days. So, when I launched my online business, I put in that same work time. What a mistake! It took me a long time to learn to stick with the times I’m most productive. Personally, that means working from 9 am-12 pm. Then, if I need to create some new content or a new program, I do that in the afternoons from 2-4 pm. Sticking to 4-6 hour workdays and batching my tasks has made a huge difference with burnout. Don’t be afraid to shorten your workdays!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I’m grateful for my partner in The Publicity Place™ Kristin Marquet. We co-authored a book together early in my career and I honestly have no idea what she saw in me! But we launched that to Amazon bestseller status and she has always been such a huge support. She was the one that pushed me to get into publicity and now we have this incredible brand. I remember booking my TEDx talk in New York and she instantly said I had to stay with her. Since I was recovering from a back injury, having that kind of friendship meant the world.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I’d like to think so! Every month, I have my students choose the cause to donate to. I give to the company Samaritan’s Purse, which helps people all over the world. Some months it’s hurricane disaster relief, others are supporting low-income families. It’s a huge passion of mine and something I try to instill in every student. If you’re burdened to lead a business, then I believe you’ve been given a unique burden to help the world in some way. Tapping into that, even if it’s just $1 right now, is so key to helping the planet.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
- Get unique. There are so many people out there doing exactly what you do. What I do. The best way to differentiate yourself is to pick the very unique part that only you teach. For me, it was color psychology. I had a very different perspective with branding and that’s what booked stages, publications, and podcasts. So get that differentiator as quickly as you can.
- Keep it small. I think there’s a lot of pressure to grow fast and build a team quickly. I certainly got into the hamster wheel of hiring and outsourcing. For me, it was too much work! It took some time to figure out that all I needed was an amazing VA and a Pinterest manager. That’s it! Figure out what you really need taken off your plate and hire from there.
- Turn off your notifications. I don’t know about you, but I can’t get any work done if emails, texts, and social notifications are going off constantly. Turning everything off gives me laser-focused time so I can get more done. Nothing is truly an emergency online, right? So I’m not afraid to get back to people on my timeline so I’m less frantic and more focused.
- Focus on your value ladder. We’re tempted to build out too many products, too many offers, too many opt-ins. I wish I would have sat down with one opt-in, email sequence, and offer earlier on. I beg my students to do this first so they have a very clear path to start with. Because, once it’s built, all you have to focus on is traffic.
- Focus on visibility, then publicity. There’s a huge misconception in our industry that these terms mean the same thing…they don’t. Visibility is on your own platforms. It’s what you’re doing to attract traffic, subscribers, and customers. Publicity is the next step in sharing your message on other people’s platforms. So I shout this from the rooftops. Get your visibility plan locked in first, then work on your publicity.
Can you share a few ideas or stories from your experience about how to successfully ride the emotional highs & lows of being a founder”?
There are going to be wonderful moments, then there will be moments of despair as a founder. And there’s honestly equal value in each. I think the best advice would be to not take things personally and not attach too deeply. I think you have to really analyze your personality type. Some people really need support and mentorship. I’m not that way at all. I’m much happier if I’m doing things on my own. Most people around me don’t even know what I do outside of work – I like it that way. Unplugging and getting in my garden or to the lake keeps me balanced and happy. So you have to find what gives you those moments of fresh air.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Giving back. There’s too much focus on what we are buying ourselves on social media. If that shifted to where we were giving to help the world, I think that would be much more powerful. More attractive to our customers. And more inspiring to the next generation. If we stopped caring about what our income could buy the US and how it could change OTHERS for the better, that would be the movement I’d want to join.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You can find us at thepublicityplace.com
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!