The Lucky Titan

Your brand is what you say, what you do, and who you partner with With Lee Caraher

February 15, 2021 Josh Tapp
The Lucky Titan
Your brand is what you say, what you do, and who you partner with With Lee Caraher
Chapters
The Lucky Titan
Your brand is what you say, what you do, and who you partner with With Lee Caraher
Feb 15, 2021
Josh Tapp

Lee McEnany Caraher is the CEO of Double Forte PR & Digital Marketing, a national agency headquartered in San Francisco, with offices in New York and Eau Claire, WI. An acclaimed communication and brand strategist, Lee is known for her practical solutions to big problems. Her company works with some of the top consumer lifestyle, digital life, technology and wine brands in the country. Lee serves on the board of directors for the Public Relations Council, the national association for public relations agencies.
Lee’s the author of Millennials & Management based on her experience with epically failing and then succeeding at retaining Millennials in her business. Her second book, The Boomerang Principle: Inspiring Lifetime Loyalty From Employees provides a practical guide to building positive, high-performing workplaces.

Lee has a reputation for building cohesive, high producing teams who get a lot done well and have fun at the same time. She is a straight talker who doesn't hold too many punches, although she does her best to be pleasant about it. Her big laugh and sense of humor have gotten her out of a lot of trouble. 

She started her career in communications in Boston and then moved to California, working with high profile and groundbreaking companies along the way. She moved to the Bay Area in 1995 to serve as the Vice President of Corporate and Consumer Communications at the $1.6 Billion SEGA of America. She then served as Executive Vice President of The Weber Group and Founder and President of Red Whistle Communications, both Interpublic companies. 

Lee is active in the community and currently serves on the Executive Committee for Farm Technology Days 2020, and on the Public Advocates Board of Governors. Previously Lee served as vice chair of the Board of KQED Public Media, Executive Committee for the Grace Cathedral Board of Trustees, Chair of the Board for Community Gatepath, Menlo College’s Board of Trustees, and was the founding Chair of the Board for the St. Paul’s Choir School. She consults with other non-profits on effective board organization and practices.

A graduate of Carleton College, with a degree in Medieval History, which she finds useful every day, Lee lives in Western Wisconsin with her husband, two sons, a blind cat and an energetic dog. She splits her time between San Francisco, New York and Eau Claire, Wisconsin. 

www.double-forte.com
www.leecaraher.com
@leecaraher (Twitter and Insta)
https://www.linkedin.com/in/leecaraher/

Show Notes Transcript

Lee McEnany Caraher is the CEO of Double Forte PR & Digital Marketing, a national agency headquartered in San Francisco, with offices in New York and Eau Claire, WI. An acclaimed communication and brand strategist, Lee is known for her practical solutions to big problems. Her company works with some of the top consumer lifestyle, digital life, technology and wine brands in the country. Lee serves on the board of directors for the Public Relations Council, the national association for public relations agencies.
Lee’s the author of Millennials & Management based on her experience with epically failing and then succeeding at retaining Millennials in her business. Her second book, The Boomerang Principle: Inspiring Lifetime Loyalty From Employees provides a practical guide to building positive, high-performing workplaces.

Lee has a reputation for building cohesive, high producing teams who get a lot done well and have fun at the same time. She is a straight talker who doesn't hold too many punches, although she does her best to be pleasant about it. Her big laugh and sense of humor have gotten her out of a lot of trouble. 

She started her career in communications in Boston and then moved to California, working with high profile and groundbreaking companies along the way. She moved to the Bay Area in 1995 to serve as the Vice President of Corporate and Consumer Communications at the $1.6 Billion SEGA of America. She then served as Executive Vice President of The Weber Group and Founder and President of Red Whistle Communications, both Interpublic companies. 

Lee is active in the community and currently serves on the Executive Committee for Farm Technology Days 2020, and on the Public Advocates Board of Governors. Previously Lee served as vice chair of the Board of KQED Public Media, Executive Committee for the Grace Cathedral Board of Trustees, Chair of the Board for Community Gatepath, Menlo College’s Board of Trustees, and was the founding Chair of the Board for the St. Paul’s Choir School. She consults with other non-profits on effective board organization and practices.

A graduate of Carleton College, with a degree in Medieval History, which she finds useful every day, Lee lives in Western Wisconsin with her husband, two sons, a blind cat and an energetic dog. She splits her time between San Francisco, New York and Eau Claire, Wisconsin. 

www.double-forte.com
www.leecaraher.com
@leecaraher (Twitter and Insta)
https://www.linkedin.com/in/leecaraher/

Josh: What is up everybody, Josh tap here again and welcome back to the lucky Titan podcast and today we're here with Lee Caraher, she is the founder and CEO of double forte, PR digit and digital marketing. Excuse me, I am really excited to have her here. I mean, this lady has done some amazing stuff in the PR and marketing space. I've been really fortunate to participate some of her content and see some of her interviews. I mean, she's really covered a lot of, of, I would say almost unorthodox strategies for agencies and companies who are trying to scale and grow their businesses in the high ticket sales space, which for all of you who listen to this know, that's our space, that's the one we get really excited about. So Lee say what's up to everybody, and I will hop in.

Lee: Oh, excited to be with you, Josh, thanks for inviting me on to your podcast. 

Josh: Yeah, it's gonna be fantastic. So Lee, the very first question I have for you, is really about PR and branding. And really what the difference is between the two, because so many people cannot delineate between these two, and I probably can't even do it. So let's hear your own leaf between marketing, branding, and PR, what's the big.. 

Lee: okay, your brand is who you are, your brand is who you are. And it's not necessarily who you say you are, it's how other people say, it's what other people say you are, that is your brand. So hopefully, in our job in the PR marketing, and you know, consultation space is to make sure that the difference between what you say you are and what other people say you are is a short and shell as possible. Because you there is no efficient way to grow. If what you say you are and what people say you are is discouraged and on different planets. So that is, you know, your brand is who you say you are. And hopefully it's what other people say about you. Marketing is the act of building your profile and drive in identifying those people who would be ideal for your services, and connecting with them in some way shape or form, through your own work through your own words. So in we call this owned content, things that you own things that you, you can control, create, in general marketing, you can control all of it, control what you say you control, you put it in control, we know the, the medium is and the medium is the message. PR is the often put in the marketing bucket. But it's really more about how you have other people say what you want them to say about you. Right? So, you used to just be thought about as Media Relations. It's how you had you know, how you talk to the media, so that they would understand that you were newsworthy, and that you could contribute to the agenda in that category. Today, we would expanded dramatically to include the media and pundants and influencers and, you know, even people who don't call themselves influencers who are influential, right and, and partners, right? So definitely partners because, you know, your, your as your platform is as big as the people who know who you are, and the people who use you or who are served by you right so the public relations part of it, you know, it's what the public says about you. And sometimes it's through an intermediary, the media or an influencer and sometimes it's just direct. And now customer service can be more and more more customer service as part of the PR mix, because of how influential individual consumers are in, you know, via social media, or Yelp or something like that. So one is what you are, two is what you say, and three is what other people say about you. And we really focus on number one and number three, what do you say about yourself? How do you say it? And how do we make sure that the people that you're trying to reach to drive the traction that you want, understand who you are, and can carry your message forward without being paid for it?

Josh: Yeah, and I usually just end the interview right there. I think everybody should. I should say that that is I mean, again, you blew my mind that a minor there. I've never heard it explained. So simply because I think people think that one action is going to accomplish all three of those goals. And it just isn't I mean that for everyone. It was cific strategies for each one of those three places of growing your company. 

Lee: And I think you have to also build on each other right? I've actually just finished a proposal for our company. You can't really afford what we offer, but we really want to work with them and they can come up with something. So we're like, well just stretch it out, right, we'll just stretch it out and so you won't accomplish what you want to in a quarter, but we can get it done in a year. And that will, you'll, you will have accomplished a lot right, you will have moved the needle appreciably but how you figure out how to put those things together is so important. Because if you just went out and just here's my website, right, you didn't figure out who are you? What is your brand? What do you stand for? Who do you want? What do you want people to say about you? What will carry you forward? Well, if you just do the first thing without doing who you are, well, you've just a wasted a ton of money, and a ton of energy, and you will only be disappointed. So those three things together brand marketing, public relations, customer service, you know, all those things together social media, all those things together, you know, you really do need to layer it in, right. And the thing about marketing versus public relations, social media, is marketing you own you own those platforms; you own those what you say, and in public relations, social media, you don't own sht, excuse my language, you are on someone else's platform. Like today, I'm on Josh's platform, Josh decides where this goes, I have no control over it and if I wanted to control it, I would have Josh on my platform, right. But, you know, social media, the analog, you know, the, I'm sorry, the, the word is escaping, but the, the, you know, they can change their rules of engagement at any moment in time, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, you know, Instagram, they do all the time, Pinterest, you can't control the media, you can't tell them what to say. You can ask them what to say. But it's their platform, and they have editors, and they have their own agenda so you can't necessarily rely on someone to carry your message. So those but at the same time, what other people say about you, is actually more powerful than what you say by yourself so having those three things, you know, ladder up to each other, and then reinforce each other in a virtuous circle that's where we focused. 

Josh: See, and I love that because it's, it's creating an ecosystem of your company, you know, and there's so much noise right now online. I think everybody kind of knows this, but they don't think that there's a simple solution. And the reality is that the simple solution is cohesive cohesion between your content and who you are, and not trying to fake who you are. And that's one of the things that stood out to me about your content. Lee was, it's Let's just be very straightforward. Because I mean, it's pretty easy to take a picture in front of a rented Lamborghini, right? But another thing.. 

Lee: not even rented there's one on the street. I'm gonna go stand in front of it. I’ve literally seen that, is that yours, did you rent it? No, I just it was just parked. Oh, okay. 

Josh: It was it was an attention grabber and I yeah, of course it was. Jeez, that's crazy. 

Lee: See, I rented it for the day, you know? 

Josh: Oh, yeah. That's, that's what kills me is when people are like, Oh, I. 

Lee: I mean, frankly, if you're brand new, standing in front of a Lamborghini, you know, start again, start over, go back to sleep and wake up again. Because this is not gonna work. You're on someone else's platform already. 

Josh: Right? on their moving platform with four wheels. 

Lee: So but you can't control so think about Volkswagen, right, Volkswagen, I love Volkswagen. And then they lied to everyone. They lied. And they did not know just lie. They had people come people who were, were choosing to spend more money who are more eco conscious. And they lied to them. And they had those people contribute to more co2 to the world than if they had chosen a different car. You can't control what VW did I bought that car. I'm on their platform. I mean, that's what I mean. Right. So standing in front of Lamborghini, you're using someone else's platform. But I don't remember not to say yeah, 

Josh: that's a really that's a really interesting thought process. Because, I mean, if they're not even sponsoring you, or you you're not your brands down the line, but what's the point? Right, what's the point? There's a difference with seeing saying, you know, I like I am an ultimate consumer, Josh, I buy a lot of stuff. And I read and I some of its because I want to understand how their marketing is working and does it work does it pull all the way through and I can tell you, most of it doesn't right most of its crap, even when it's not but then when I find those gems, right, and I use them I share that information not because I'm no one pays me to do that. But by association I have done I have tested this thing right, I'm willing to say, Yep, I would use this thing. When you standing in front of a car, you don't own that you didn't earn that, you know, you know, that is gonna fall that is a house of cards, and it'll all fall down. Why don't spend any time on a house of cards, man, please don't? 

Josh: Yeah, I was just talking to a guy, he was using the analogy of the three little pigs. And I thought it was such a good analogy, you know, because it's, it's, if you're, if you're just to build the brick house, to just spend the time, spend a year, build it for a year, and you'll know, it's the foundation.

Lee: Right? So again, if you can't afford, you know, if you can't afford, you know what you want to afford, but you can afford getting there in over a longer period of time, do it, do it, because you're not doing something, you know, those of us who are entrepreneurs, we're not doing something just to flip it is too hard just to flip it, right? We're doing something for longevity, that will return to us or somebody else for a long time. Well, take longer to get there fine. But because when you do those steps really well, they're solid, they're foundational, and they can get you through anything. But when you are just making crap up, it falls apart in a heartbeat. 

Josh: Right? And I completely agree with that. I mean, I'll be honest, and a lot of people don't know this. I mean, you try not to talk these mistakes around, right, I guess. But, I mean, that was initially what we were doing was going around saying, Yeah, we have like years of experience and leverage these testimonials and everything. And you can kind of tweak things to be, they can appear better than they are. But I mean, when we started just saying like, you know, we're new at this, this is what we're doing. We've seen some great success, this up to this point, our sales were just increase, increase, increase. We're like, oh, you're you're a real human being.

Lee: People we appreciate honesty. Right? 

Josh: Right. 

Lee: They appreciate the hustle. They appreciate. You know, and I really, you know, particularly for consultants and agencies who are and I've been in big companies really big, amazing. I've started my own company. And I've intentionally kept it small, for a lot of reasons, but when people know the backstory, like, this is how I know this. This is how my people know what they know they trust them. Right? This is new, we're doing this for the first time. And this is why we're doing this for the first time. And we might even give it to you a half off because we're we're trying, right, People appreciate. And particularly for when you're in the service business like we are, you cannot underestimate the power of good service, you can't underestimate the power of a good relationship and relationships are based on honesty. And if the only thing you need, no, you can the only thing how we sell our business is based on relationships, period and the stronger the relationship, the more business comes, the better business comes right, because we say no a lot. We say no to a lot of people who don't match our what, you know, our profile. And they're as life enhancing choice, right? It is a fortunate choice to be in a position where you can do that. 

Josh: Yeah, I completely agree. Well, in for you, you know, Lee there's there's so many different strategies and tactics that people employ. But really, when it comes down to I think there's like some core foundational pieces that companies like ours, we're selling high ticket agency type services. And we're kind of those core foundational pieces that you would leverage for them to actually scale their business quickly.

Lee: Well, first, it's, what's really important is that it's a business decision to do what we do. And it's not, you know, you like you just said, there's so many things you could do. But if they all Don't let her up to the business, and it's not strategic to the business, it's just PR for PR you do a lot of stuff you do social media, you know, you can be busy all day long and get nowhere, absolutely nowhere. So, first, the first strategy is to tie your communication to business, and not just to razzle dazzle, and the number of followers you have and all that kind of stuff. You don't have to go viral to be successful. You know, you don't, sometimes the best podcasts are never listened to, because they are the hero content. And then you use the content in other places, right? You can have a very successful podcast and never be listened to when it's good to be listened to. right but it doesn't have to be listened to if you if you know what you're doing. So I think the first piece is what is the business goal? And then based on what the business goal is, what is your communication goal? Like who needs to know what you do and what do they need to know about it? Right? And just simple B’s, simple, simple, simple, I think That foundational piece on that is you know who you are and what you do. If you cannot say it in one sentence, you're not doing anything very valuable. So, from a foundational perspective on strategy, it's, it's leveraging expertise, leveraging the, what you offer, what is your differentiation lever? How do you lead to leverage your offering, and your differentiation into this very specific target audience and meet them where they are, don't meet with Don't you know, you don't have to be on Pinterest you don't have, if you're a b2b, you got to be on LinkedIn, that's the only thing you have to do. If you want to be in the media, if you want to be known as a spokesperson, and known as an expert through the media, well, then you have to be on Twitter, if you want to, you know, sell products that are either the food or fashion or, you know, crafts, well, you got to be on Pinterest, and probably Etsy. And you know, there's your marrying your, your communication distribution strategy to the business is what's important, not just being everywhere, for everything, and then making sure that you know, the message is the medium, the medium is the message. It says a lot where you spend your time. So you want to spend your time wisely in a way that is focused, and organic, meaning you're not trying to cram a Twitter fund or Twitter strategy into an Instagram strategy, because they don't work that way. And you're not trying to do speaking engagements that also you know, that you want to go viral. It's virtually impossible. So you know, understanding what they are. And so when you hire someone like us, or like you, it's like, here's what we know how to do. Here's your business, here's how we can help your business get achieve its goal. And then for us, it's really important for us to say, this is what we do, this is what we don't do, we can find you with a partner to do other things. Because, you know, we don't like you know, someone outside of our lane. We started I started this company before Twitter. However, now social media is about 30 40 50%, depending on the client, because it's the same function, the function is getting other people to say what we want them to say about the company and not paying for it. That's the same function as meeting relations. Right? It's a it's a negotiation, it's not a paid for strategy. So, but you have to understand how they all match together, right? And I think often marketers have a hard time with what we do for a living on the on the negotiations, because we cannot dictate, we can't dictate what the messages are. Our goal is to coerce. That sounds terrible, but it is to coerce and convince, right. And we do that through reality, right? We do that from facts and building a milestone strategy, based on reality that is hard to take down, right, just like three little pigs you can't take if you're building your marketing strategy brick by brick by brick, it's very hard to take it down. But if you're building it with just you know, razzle dazzle on glitter, well, that thing will come down as soon as the first rain. So that's if you can build your, your whole program on facts, and what you what you bring to the world how you make it better, you will succeed. 

Josh: See, and I had to mute my microphone, coz I kept saying amen. Halleluiah! Yeah, that's right, preach it. And it's so funny is that I mean, the reality is of your what your message is, it's about just being congruent it's about cohesion. And just staying true to who you are, what you're doing and I loved, you know, like your communication goal, right? That was one of the things I had to write down here aecause, you know, if you can't, if you can't say what you're doing one sentence or less, you're you're doing it wrong. And I worked with a lot of people who are like, you need to perfect your elevator pitch and all these different things. But if you really are like struggling dancing around the thing, you don't know what you sell yet. I can honestly say that we didn't have that until the last few months in our own business, because it was like, well, we do this. There's like 40 other things we can do. But literally what we do is we sell successful entrepreneurs help successful entrepreneurs to sell high ticket sales through podcasts. That's what we do very, very simple, right? 

Lee: And you can keep talking, you know, if you go another floor, you can add some stuff in there right basically hat is one floor of an elevator and then you got to get it down. You have to and that's often, Lee what do we need? We need our elevator pitch and then they tell us what they want to say. I'm like, well, first of all, you're not going to the World Trade Center to the top floor right of the Empire State Building. Second of all, you can't count on the fact that someone's going to be on the same elevator as you and they're going to get off on the same floor. So, let's talk about that sentence, you just said like, boom, boom, boom. And then if you have another floor, then you can talk about how you differentiate. And if you have another floor, you can talk about, you know, what the benefit as you may have another floor, you talk about this stuff, but in the end, the first floor is what matters. 

Josh: Right? 

Lee: What do you do? Who do you benefit, and how. So this sometimes is the heart, we this often is the hardest thing that we do with clients, because they want to just keep talking. I think the point of communication is to stop. So you know, a lot, Lee or communicator? Exactly, you know what I'm saying? I'm done. I don't just say it again, if you if I'm done my job, I can stop. And that's what we want you to do. We want to stop talking, and have the other person know what it is that you offer. It's hard, right? It's, it's like, you know, wrestling people to the ground, stop talking. But that is the goal. Stop talking. 

Josh: See it and people will ask all the time, like, how do you build a successful podcast? It's like, learn to ask a question and shut your mouth and mute your microphone. That's literally what it is if you're watching the video of this, you'll see I'm always muting myself because I will talk too much again, here. I am talking so much so Lee, you know, we've covered so many awesome topics with this. And I'm sure people are asking, well, where can I learn more about you and what you guys are doing over there so we talked about beforehand? Where would you like to send people to invitation with you? 

Lee: Yeah, and for what we just talked about the best place to go is double-forte.com, double-forte.com and you can see a lot of the kinds of work that we do and it's easy to get to me go to the contact page. Boom, there I am and then I'm happy to you know, we have a regular blog, where we answer a lot of questions. And if you want to follow us at on @doubleforte or @leecaraher on Twitter, that's where we have just you and LinkedIn but really on Twitter, you can you know, we're talking all the time even though I told you just to shut up. That's the difference. Because on Twitter, you don't want to be quiet.

Josh: Yeah, I don't even have a Twitter strategy yet. So that that could be first place for me. 

Lee: My friend, you need a Twitter strategy for your podcast. And then we can talk about that. 

Josh: We're gonna talk about that afterwards. I hope everybody takes advantage of that go to double-forte.com. Honestly, she's, Lee you're very humble person. This is what's funny, but she's built a very, very successful multi seven figure company and work with some of the world's top brands. If you can get some of this woman's time, take advantage of that. Get over there, too. It's double-forte.com but Leebefore we sign off today. The final question I have for you is if you could leave the audience with one final parting piece of guidance, saying this is the one thing I hope you would take away from this interview. What would that be?

Lee: I would hope that everyone understands they do have something to offer and to get out of your own way and just offer it too often. I think people are trying to create something because they're not confident in the fact that they have something valuable to offer and they muddy the waters. Get down to who you are, what you have to offer the world how you make it better and just talk about that.