Sarah Evans is the founder and CEO of Sevans Strategy and Sevans Digital PR. Sarah serves as a digital correspondent and consultant to global brands is a digital strategist and global brand correspondent, who works with companies worldwide to create and improve their social and digital strategies, advising on branding, marketing, advertising, and public relations. Additionally, Sarah is a digital correspondent for several companies including Paypal, Cox Communications, MGM International, Wal Mart, Shorty Awards and more…
- CEO Hack: Setting up key labels with keywords I'm looking for, creating various templates on how to respond to various clients
- CEO Nugget: Learn to let go of things you're not so good at and learn to say no to businesses you are not fit at
- CEO Defined: Learning more every day from things you did not know
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 Greg from the I am CEO podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Sarah Evans of seven strategy and sevens digital PR Sarah is awesome. have you on the show?
Sarah Evans 0:40
Thanks so much for having me.
Gresham Harkless 0:42
No problem. Super excited to have you on and before we jumped in, I want to read a little bit more about Sarah so you can hear about all the awesome things that she's doing. And Sarah Evans is the founder and CEO of Sevans Strategy and Sevans Digital PR. Sarah serves as a digital correspondent and consultant to global brands is a digital strategist and global brand correspondent, who works with companies worldwide to create and improve their social and digital strategies, advising on branding, marketing, advertising, and public relations. Additionally, Sarah is a digital correspondent for several companies including Paypal, Cox Communications, MGM International, Wal Mart, Shorty Awards and more. Sarah, are you ready to speak to the IAMCEO community?
Sarah Evans 1:25
Let's go for it.
Gresham Harkless 1:26
Let's do it. So to kick everything off, I wanted to just rewind the clock a little bit here a little bit more on how you got started. Can you take us through what I call your CEO story? And when did you get started in business?
Sarah Evans 1:36
You know, it really started I think, once I went to work in the real life, the real world. And the office setting I realized very early on was not for me. And if you hear some flooding upstairs, I think my sitter is going to tell the kids to jump. I shoot everyone out and up. So that'll be taken care of shortly, I realized that the office setting wasn't for me. And I really enjoyed working for myself. In fact, the the key identifier was the passion I felt in the off hours when I was doing my own freelancing. So I was essentially working two full time jobs. And part of the reason was out of fear going out on my own. And the other reason was wanting to be responsible and have some sort of safety net if I decided to really do this on my own. So it was really a feeling for me and then creating a plan of responsibility.
Gresham Harkless 2:32
Nice, I definitely appreciate that. And I think so many times people have those feelings, but they don't kind of step into them, or they shoo them away. And I feel like sometimes you even start to miss those feelings if you you know, shoo them away long enough. So I appreciate you for obviously having that. But just reminding us of how important it is to kind of step into that as well.
Sarah Evans 2:50
Yeah, it was, it was essential to my my being and my ability to my ability to use my abilities. When I finally went out on my own and had this business, I feel very passionate, empowered, and also have that that sense of need to keep doing and keep creating. I can't just sit back, you know, it all rests on me.
Gresham Harkless 3:13
Yeah, absolutely. And I feel like that's at the heart of true entrepreneurship is that creation word, you know, that you use and be able to kind of create, obviously, you directly you know, through the clients you work with, but also as a business and as a whole be able to create opportunities for people that you work with, but also the people that are on our teams as well. Yes, absolutely. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. So speaking of some of these things that we're creating, could you take us through a little bit more on what you do for clients and how exactly you support the clients you work with.
Sarah Evans 3:43
The fun thing about what I do is that there's a little something different for every client. The reason I have seven strategy and sevens digital PR is because sometimes clients have various needs. Sometimes it's just strategy, sometimes it's full force execution of that strategy. And the strategy is really where I pride myself on creating a very strong strategy, process, procedure and ability to execute. So a client will come to me with a problem that lies in the digital PR world or strategic communications and say, how do we solve this? Or here's an idea or a moment in time, how do we create influence, promote this or get media placements? And we get to build a custom plan based on that if they have the internal resources to be able to execute You know, that's wonderful. If not, we're there to support them. So I get really a blank canvas with every client I have some things I know that are tried and true and trusted for example, if they're doing a large funding announcement, we I really know that process and how it works and how we can make a big a big splash about that and get them some some attention especially if it's a startup or this is someone announcing their series A they likely haven't had a lot of press and attention prior. So this is a very big moment in time for them. So it changes from client to client and no two days look the same for me.
Gresham Harkless 5:08
And that is, I definitely appreciate you for breaking that down. And it kind of sounds like you have the ability to kind of lean on, obviously, you're, you're experiencing your successes that you have with clients, but then to provide that customer approach, because I imagine, as you mentioned, there's probably different goals, different types of businesses, different cultures, so many different aspects of each individual client that you have to kind of obviously lean on that experience, but also lean on the individuality of each of the clients and what they're trying to accomplish.
Sarah Evans 5:34
For sure, because each client is trying to reach a different audience or audiences, whether it's b2b or b2c, and sometimes an overlap, each of those has a completely different set of tactics and or strategies that that are required to, to reach those audiences. Yeah, absolutely. And so I wanted to ask you now for what I call your secret sauce, and this could be for you, personally, or your business or a combination of both. But what do you feel kind of sets you apart and makes you unique? I think what sets me apart and makes me unique is never resting on my laurels. I treat every client like a new adventure. And I want to find the best way to help them reach their goals. My my favorite thing at a very simple level is a client comes to me and they feel extremely stressed, they have this very big scope or project and then they come back to me once I can package it all together. And they say, this feels easy. And at the end of the day, when my job is done, well, no one really knows how it got done just that it did. And they feel relaxed, easy and that their expectations were exceeded.
Gresham Harkless 6:44
Nice. And I almost feel like I don't know if you feel the exact same way that to me when you reach excellence. And you're really great at your craft. That easy word comes about not because it was easy from the very beginning, but because of through the process of doing it and be able to kind of translate it to clients. It looks like it was just kind of a snap of a finger so to speak.
Sarah Evans 7:03
Absolutely. I mean, you can you can use the same analogy with athletes, when you see a really exceptional athlete, you're like, wow, they make that look so easy. But there's so much skill coordination practice that goes up into making that look easy.
Gresham Harkless 7:17
Yeah, absolutely. I'm glad was 10,000 hours concept where? Yeah, see the repetition of all the things behind the scenes to get to where you, you know, shoot the free throw or you throw the pass or catch the pass. You've done it so many times that it becomes easy, because you've worked so much at it.
Sarah Evans 7:31
Yeah, we are. Big Michael Jordan fan. So there you go. inspo.
Gresham Harkless 7:36
Yeah, absolutely. Last Dance reference. Oh, yeah. So that was amazing. to kind of see all that in the behind the scenes that we sometimes don't see to what makes somebody become great.
Sarah Evans 7:45
Absolutely. I think we're on our fifth time watching that.
Gresham Harkless 7:48
Yes, I might have you beat bear. So my guilty pleasure for sure, during all this quarantine time. So I wanted to switch gears a little bit. And I want to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an app or a book or a habit that you have or something that makes you more effective and efficient.
Sarah Evans 8:07
I want to give actually a really practical tip, especially for the audience listening because many people say how can I get media? How can I get more attention, I actually created out of HARO--help a reporter out, which is a service offered by cision. Journalists can send queries to that three times a day you get an email. And you can read through these queries and submit or pitch yourself for media opportunities. And there are really high level quality media opportunities in there. And I've created a few hacks out of this to make it work better for myself and all my clients. And there's two things that I've done. One is to set up an email label with keywords that I'm looking for in those emails. So the title could be something like important arrow or insert your keyword if you're in fraud prevention, it could be fraud prevention hero. And if those keywords are contained, you get a separate email based off of all those emails, so you don't have to scan and look through everything. The other thing that I've done is create various templates on how to respond to the to the media based on those deadlines. So you don't have to reinvent the wheel every time you do outreach. And if one of your goals is to gain more influence or attention, it's something that's essential to check out sign up for and find a way to work for you many times it can seem overwhelming, but using a few hacks like that can really make it a lot easier.
Gresham Harkless 9:27
Awesome, awesome. Awesome. So now I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget. And this could be a word of wisdom or piece of advice. It might be something you would tell a client or if you happen to a time machine, you might tell your younger self.
Sarah Evans 9:40
I think it's learn what to let go of what you are not best at. That is something that took me a little bit of time to discover. And now I can very easily say this is not my wheelhouse it needs to go here whether I need to outsource someone, send it to someone on my contractor. Team, whatever it is, I need to get rid of that. And also learning to say no to the business that isn't a right fit. It is really painful as a business owner to say no to money, but I will tell you when you take on the wrong work and bring that money in, it costs you much more in the long term. And, and I learned that through repeated mistakes, and now have conditioned myself on when to say yes, and when to say no.
Gresham Harkless 10:23
Awesome, awesome, awesome. And so now I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is 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?
Sarah Evans 10:35
It really means I learned more every day, what I don't know. There's nothing scarier than throwing yourself into an absolute leader position. And having to learn by fire, learn by mistakes, learn from experience, obviously, there are thousands upon thousands of resources in in the interwebs, in the internet world where you can go, but there is nothing that prepares you for actually getting in and doing the work and you will make mistakes. I feel like that that is the key thing is to make big decisions, and you make big mistakes when you're a CEO.
Gresham Harkless 11:08
Yeah, absolutely. And do you feel like you have to kind of, I guess, because I think the phrase, be comfortable being feel comfortable, be comfortable feeling uncomfortable, so to speak. Or you're out when you automatically know that then when those mistakes happen, and when those things you know, come up that you don't expect them to come up or something you may not know, you're not completely thrown off, because you know that that's part of the of the process. You know,
Sarah Evans 11:31
I think it never feels good. I don't know that I am ever comfortable feeling uncomfortable. Every time it happens, I almost have to take a step back and say, okay, like you know that you're going to have this feeling now how do you deal with it, I almost have like, a coaching moment with myself or self talk, I don't know that I've ever reached the place of being comfortable in that because I do thrive off of excellence. And I want to do well yet, there are always mistakes, whether it's learning a better process, or you you've inverted numbers in a report, you know, whatever that is it. You just have to learn from it. And the one thing that I strive to do when I make those mistakes, is not just apologize, but always apologize on it and change the process. Here's what I'm going to do differently now that this has happened, it doesn't fix this situation. But I need to protect it from happening again.
Gresham Harkless 12:21
Yeah, absolutely. And I think so many times, if you take those kind of roadblocks, or those, you know, speed bumps, or whatever might come up and might happen. And you use it as a way to get better and get stronger as you do. As you mentioned, take a step back and be able to say, Okay, this is how I'm going to do it better. Next time you continue to kind of, I guess, understand that those things that happen will eventually make you better, because you continue to kind of move forward it and learn from those.
Sarah Evans 12:48
Yeah, I mean, you have to only way you can grow. And it's it's not fun, and there's no one else you can blame. Although sometimes I I've made a few mistakes where I know children hanging on my legs under the table in the past six months have definitely resulted in some of those mistakes.
Gresham Harkless 13:03
Right? That makes so much sense. And I think especially during this time, I think at least I think, you know, there's a little bit more grace from everybody, because you know, we're all kind of going through the same kind of disruption. But being able to kind of understand, as you said, kind of in the beginning, I love that perspective about you understand that you're not necessarily going to know everything and are going to be able to do everything. But you continue to kind of move forward and you take the steps and have that high bar of excellence will help you to get as close as possible as you can be to that.
Sarah Evans 13:33
Yeah, I think that's my mantra. I don't know what I don't know. In fact, there was one period of my marriage, or my husband would ask me questions, and I felt like I had to have an answer or a response. And one day, he said, is that even the right answer? I said, I don't know. I just feel like I had to respond. And he said, Well, why is it because I'm getting asked questions all day that I have to know the answer to. So I think I've conditioned myself to respond. And finally we like he It was such a personal moment. But he helped me realize I can say, I don't know, I don't have the answer. But let me let me find out.
Gresham Harkless 14:03
Yeah, and I think that's extremely powerful. And I think he brought up a point that sometimes we forget, as leaders is I know, I have what I like to call a decision fatigue sometimes because like you said, You're making so many decisions, you have to answer so many things that sometimes you just are just answering things just because that's what you have to do. But kind of being aware of that and aware of that, you know, in that that role in that leadership role is important. But it's even more powerful to understand that we don't have to know everything. It's kind of a freeing feeling. And when you're able to kind of step into that you can find the answer. But if you're saying okay, I don't know, but I can try to find it. I think that that's extremely powerful.
Sarah Evans 14:40
Yeah, and it's honestly, it's core to public relations. Even when you work for a large organization. It's one of the central points people go to for information. And even if you don't know the answer, you're usually the people who can get people to the right answer. So I modified the entire way I respond to things and think if I don't have it, where can I send people or can I get it for them in Give it to them.
Gresham Harkless 15:01
Yeah, absolutely. I feel like that's what a lot of people always want is just, you may not necessarily know the answer. But if you're going to put in effort or try to find out what that answer is, then are the right person I should say even to, I think that is definitely a piece for a lot of people. So truly appreciate that definition in that perspective, and I appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do is passionate Mike, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional, you can 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 and your team are working on.
Sarah Evans 15:30
I would love to chat with any and all of you. You can find me online on twitter at PR Sarah Evans with an H. My email is PR Sarah email@example.com. And I'm all sorts of places but I love talking to small business owners and other folks who who can feel and empathize with the the highs and the lows.
Gresham Harkless 15:53
Yeah, absolutely. And we will have those links and information in the show notes. But definitely I love that you're able to kind of help highlight and help strategize with these businesses and organizations because I often say the name of the game is visibility and being found and to be able to get your name your information out there is so important so that people know exactly what you do and maybe even deeper level why you do it. So I appreciate you for helping so many organizations do that and I hope you have a great rest of the day.
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