IAM662- Founder Connects Brands With Their Target Audience

Podcast Interview with Sarah Evans

Founder & CEO, Sevans Strategy & Sevans Digital PR 👉🏼 past clients: @SAP, @PayPal, @CoxComm, @adobe, @ShortyAwards & more. AS SEEN IN: @cnn, @mashable, @forbes

  • CEO Hack: (1) Taking the first ten minutes in the morning for self-reflection, creating a digital legacy online (2) Helping those I work with and care about achieve more influence
  • CEO Nugget: Find a balance of not taking things personally so as not to hinder your business
  • CEO Defined: Being humble in the face of massive learning

Website: http://www.sevanspr.com/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/prsarahevans

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Intro 0:02

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of. This is the I AM CEO Podcast.

Gresham Harkless 0:29

Hello. Hello. Hello, this is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Sarah Evans of Sevans Strategy & Sevans Digital PR. Sarah, it's awesome to have you on the show.

Sarah Evans 0:40

Thank you so much for having me. I already had technical difficulties and hit mute so you wouldn't hear my children in the background.

Gresham Harkless 0:46

No worries. These are the times and days that we're in. So I completely understand that. But I truly appreciate you for taking some time. Now. Before we jump in, I want to read a little bit more about Sarah so you can hear about all the awesome things that she's doing. Sarah is the founder and CEO of Sevans Strategy & Sevans Digital PR and her past clients include SAP Pay Pal, Cox Communications, Adobe Shorty Awards, and many more. And she has been seen on CNN, Mashable, and Forbes. Sarah, are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

[restrict paid=”true”]

Sarah Evans 1:13

I am so excited. Thank you for having me.

Gresham Harkless 1:16

No problem I am excited to have you on and so I guess I wanted to start with, I guess what I call your CEO story. And in the beginning, what led you to get started with your business?

Sarah Evans 1:25

Well, I always like to start by saying that I worked myself out of a safe and steady job. I started in PR and communications working for the largest health care system in Illinois. I was director of communications for a college in the Chicago suburbs, I had PR agency experience, and did all of this before my late 20s. When I was working for nonprofits, I was getting really into digital communications and the evolution of social media as it was just beginning it was in its infancy. The nonprofits weren't ready for it. So I started consulting, in my off hours. And this was all before we had children.

So I had a little bit more bandwidth. So I'd work all day I'd come home, I'd consult the consulting gotten to a point where it was starting to outpace my job. And I had a great boss at the time who I was very open about everything. And she knew I was very motivated to be able to want to work both ways. And we came up with an exit strategy because I did have to make a choice. I chose to foster and nurture my entrepreneurial endeavours and created my company which is now going on its 11th year.

Gresham Harkless 2:33

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Well, happy 11th birthday, for sure. And I know that being in I think so many times I say when people start businesses, sometimes you don't see the 11 years, you see that this is exactly where you're at, you don't see the time for one you put in obviously in building the business, but also in terms of the job that you worked yourself out of as well, too. And as far as being able to kind of master your craft.

Sarah Evans 2:54

It's so true. I shared something a few months ago that there's no such thing as an overnight success, what you're seeing is 7-10-15 years in the making, and it is absolutely the truth. There have been ups and downs, there have been hardships, and I've had to re-pivot the company at least two times simply because of the changing landscape of digital and what brands wanted. You know, 11 years ago, they wanted something a bit different than they do now. So we've tacked on more traditional media relations support in addition to all of our digital PR services. So things have switched and pivoted and you don't see all the glory online, that's for sure.

Gresham Harkless 3:31

Yeah, absolutely. You kind of see the finish line a lot of the time, but I appreciate you for speaking to that. Because, again, I think it's so important to understand like I say the same thing. The secret, as you said of overnight success is it takes 10 to 15 years, not overnight, like most people think of so I know you've built your business, and you've worked with some really phenomenal companies. So I wanted to hear a little bit more on what exactly you mean by digital PR what exactly you're doing for your clients and what it's like kind of working with you guys.

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Sarah Evans 3:58

I love that question. To be quite honest, my husband, and my parents many times they're like, we don't even know what you do. I think when I first started my company, my parents thought I was working for Facebook, which was not the case at all. My background is in traditional public relations and corporate communications. And when digital media started to evolve, I jumped on the bandwagon. I thought this was another way to connect with consumers and the community and build collaborations and quickly learned that in terms of PR, it was no longer about you broadcasting out a message but working with people who may change the narrative for you who may change what you have to say. And then we've had the evolution of influencers and not just influencers on Instagram sharing photos, but top medium writers and top contributors on sites like Forbes and Inc. and entrepreneurs, podcasts, obviously just like this are a huge area.

So when we work with brands, we're looking at an all-encompassing approach. Yes, we do traditional media relations. Get people amazing placements. So that's a great starting point. They can then take that and use it for SEO, PPC, and some wonderful paid campaigns to show third-party credibility. But we're also building it out to make sure they're touching different places where it's not as traditional with media where we're looking for popular podcasts to get the CEOs sourced on to help drive different story angles or support stories that they're sharing the same with influencers and other top contributors. So it's it's a wider cast net in the PR scope.

Gresham Harkless 5:34

Yeah. And it makes so much sense. And I think, and I don't know, if you would find this too, is that it kind of speaks to the way that people kind of take in content as well, too. And that is so many different ways that it's hard to say, we're just gonna do this one thing, and then that's everything you kind of have to have, for lack of a better term, maybe holistic approach.

Sarah Evans 5:50

It's true. I mean, it's it's surprising. I've talked with some folks internationally, we have clients all over and some of the PR firms in other countries, maybe not so much in the US, but they won't do influencer relations. Part of it is I think, a lack of understanding of what encompasses influencer or you know, people think it's just people sharing photographs on Instagram versus, you know, popular educational YouTube channels and, and things like that, but they won't take it on because it does require a lot of bandwidth and some expertise and some nuance to understand how that all works.

Gresham Harkless 6:23

Yeah, absolutely. And so um, I want to ask you now for what I call your secret sauce, and it could be for you personally or your business. What do you feel kind of sets you apart and makes you unique?

Sarah Evans 6:35

I feel like what makes me unique on behalf of my business is that I also serve as a digital correspondent for brands. So before we had the term influencer, many of the brands I worked with, not only wanted us and my team's support with strategy behind the scenes, but they also wanted me to help amplify their message on my social channels, as I've built my own reach in in niche areas. So I had to find a way to kind of integrate that and capitalise on that. So I get to work behind the scenes, as an influencer with various brands. So I actually get first-hand knowledge of what works and what doesn't.

And I can then bring that back to clients and show them what actually works. The other thing is I test out everything on social media, as I've, again built communities online that I can interact with, I've never been scared or shied away from trying out new apps and integrations and software and new approaches. And I'll see if it catches on or not on my own channels before ever integrating with brands. So I feel like I'm always putting in the man hours to test everything out before just suggesting ideas.

Gresham Harkless 7:41

Absolutely. So I love that. And I wanted to switch gears a little bit. And I want to ask you for what I call a co heck. So that could be like an app or a book or habit that you have. But what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

Sarah Evans 7:53

Oh my gosh, I love this one. And if people are listening, I did not have these questions in advance. So I get to go off the cuff on this, something I integrated two things that integrated at the beginning of 2019 that have now carried over and I believe have helped me have some of the most successful years thus far. One is taking the first 10 minutes of the morning to reflect. And I do personal reflection where I think about maybe a mistake I made the day prior or an opportunity for growth, something I want to improve on. And I write down a daily thought about that. I started sharing them on Twitter. They're really personal to me, but I write them in a way that maybe could be applicable to anyone. And part of it is self-growth. And you know all of that helping myself grow.

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But the other thing was to create a digital legacy online that my children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and children could come back and read at some point and I realised that I want my digital legacy to be the same as my own personal legacy, and have positivity ingrained in that. And then the second piece was to help those I work with and care about achieve more influence. I thought about what is one of the most important things you can do for someone and it's helped them gain influence, whether it's through media, speaking, paid opportunities, and last year for kind of for fun, but just because it was something I was wanting to track, I tracked the amount of people I was able to do that for. And I found the more people I was able to do that board the more business came in and more opportunity came in. So it was a beautiful experiment, I guess but something that I just, it's now just part of life.

Gresham Harkless 9:25

Yeah, absolutely love it. And I'm a big believer in you know, what you put out into the world comes back to you. And I think that when you are leading, you know, from that place of being able to help and experimenting, doing things in different ways. I think that a lot of times it comes back tenfold just because you've put you know, those positive vibes or positive energy, however, you might say, but it starts to manifest itself in so many different ways in your life. And in your business, of course, too. And that's where it gets really exciting.

Sarah Evans 9:51

It really does. I mean, it's amazing that people that I got sourced in the media a month later may say they send a business referral my way. I just did a training with a company in Zurich this morning at 7 am, and the woman who helped bring me that opportunity, I partnered with him on another group, and we got some media for them. So it's just, it's really cool to watch this all happen.

Gresham Harkless 10:11

Yeah, absolutely. And I want to ask you now for what I call a CEO, nugget. So that could be like a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. It could be around PR, or anything else. Or it might even be something you would tell your younger business self.

Sarah Evans 10:26

My younger business self. I think for my younger business self, it is truly learning. That I guess I always go back to it's, it's the quote, you know, it's not personal, it's business. And I always push back and say, No, everything is personal. But I still have to find a great balance. I'm not taking things personally. So maintaining a very clear mindset about businesses being mindful of the humanity behind things, but not taking things so emotionally or personally, that you can actually hinder your business.

Gresham Harkless 11:03

Yeah, that makes so much sense. I definitely can see it, especially, you know, you and I imagine you're working a lot around stories and why people are doing the things that they're doing. So losing that human aspect to me, it's like losing the essence of your business. But you also don't want to kind of, I guess, handicap yourself maybe is the right term for the way that if something happens, not the way you want it to you take it personally, as you said.

Sarah Evans 11:25

Yes. I mean, it's something and I think that's just growing pains, and learning are all of my best nuggets of advice that I share came from mistakes. And I feel like after I make them that I'm like, Okay, I don't want to do that again, what do I need to do differently? I'm sure there are people out there who don't need to learn that way. But that really does solidify for me how I approach things.

Gresham Harkless 11:48

Yeah, and that's how I learned as well, too. And I feel like most entrepreneurs, especially if you're, you're innovating, you're trying new things and experimenting, there's not necessarily a I guess a game plan to how exactly to do that. So you're creating it as you go. So you have to be okay with it and understand that it's just an opportunity for you to learn.

Sarah Evans 12:06

Absolutely. And I never would like to do things the way they've been done. I like to challenge the status quo. I like to work in what I kind of call an agency so that we can provide clients with less overhead. I mean, it's just I just want to find new ways to do things, more efficient ways, better ways.

Gresham Harkless 12:24

Exactly. It's definitely a mentality to do that. So I want to ask you my absolute favourite question, what's the definition of what it means to be a CEO? And we're hoping to have different quote-unquote, CEOs on the show. So Sarah, what does being a CEO mean to you?

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Sarah Evans 12:38

Being a CEO, to me means being humble in the face of massive learning. I feel like CEOs have to be massive learners. Yes, you provide leadership and direction and strategy, but it's really you're taking the ultimate risk of learning and leading. And, for me, that's how I approach it.

Gresham Harkless 13:03

Awesome. And I think you're absolutely right, as you spoke to me about, you know, your business, but I think every business is evolving and changing probably even more rapidly than it was yesterday. So just understanding you can have to have that massive learning, I guess muscle to fully flex out because you're going to be doing it tremendously. Now, but definitely in the future as well, too. And if you understand that, then that helps you to kind of equip yourself and also your teams and the people you manage and the clients that you have with the right tools and be as successful as possible.

Sarah Evans 13:32

I think I love that. And I love the of almost exercising your CEO muscle. And that is something that started very weak from it. It's something that has built over time, and I still learning every day.

Gresham Harkless 13:45

Yes, like sharpening the saw, so to speak on the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. And you have to continue to love that book.

Sarah Evans 13:52

Love that book.

Gresham Harkless 13:52

Yeah, it's a phenomenal book, because I think, as we've kind of talked about, in the beginning, you see somebody's finish line, or you see them on them, you know, seven-page or their, their, their book, and you compare that to yourself not realising that they did continue to kind of work out those muscles, those co muscles in learning, you know, have that mentality where they're going to build whatever they're going to build because they're gonna work hard in order to do that.

Sarah Evans 14:15

Yeah, and I love it. Learning from the people I work with to everyone that comes on my husband knows that every time I bring someone new on the team or contract someone out, I get so excited. I get to learn something new. Everyone brings something that they leave with me.

Gresham Harkless 14:31

Absolutely. Well, Sarah, I definitely appreciate that perspective. And I appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do is pass you the mic so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional you want to let our readers and listeners know and of course, how best they can get a hold of you and find out about all the awesome things you're working on.

Sarah Evans 14:46

I'd love to just share it. What are the best pieces of advice I got before starting my company, especially if anyone who's listening is in an entrepreneurial mindset or thinking about taking that leap and it was from my father-in-law? I was extremely nervous when I started my A company, I remember him telling me, in six months, you'll look back and when you're even worried about anyone, and I've taken that approach with everything we've done in life, because in six months, you've already got new routines, you've got new habits, things have already changed. And it's impossible to go backwards because you just are, and you are where you are. So that's, that's something I tried to leave with as many people as possible. And I appreciate you having me on too, and giving me a chance to reflect and talk. And especially during this time, when we're all now social justice and home and, and things are different.

Gresham Harkless 15:36

Absolutely. And if people want to get ahold of you, what's the best way for them to do that?

Sarah Evans 15:40

They can find me on Twitter, it's at PR Sarah with an H. Evans you can always email me Sarah at sevens, S E V as in Victor, a n s pr.com.

Gresham Harkless 15:50

Awesome, we will definitely have the links and information in the show notes. But I love and I appreciate that reminder, because I think, you know, so many times we forget the progress that we've made. And sometimes the frustration that we had, or the fear that we had and starting something new or going down a different path. And I think that if we understand that that's temporary, and in six months or a year or however long we'll be looking back and saying oh that was nothing we probably will do the same with some of the difficulties that we're having today's time. So I definitely appreciate that reminder and leaving us off with that and I hope you have a great rest of the day.

Outro 16:22

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO Podcast powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co I AM CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes Google Play and everywhere you listen to podcasts, SUBSCRIBE, and leave us a five-star rating grab CEO gear at www.ceogear.co. This has been the I AM CEO Podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.

[fusebox transcript]


Mercy - CBNation Team

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts, (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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