UnNoticed Entrepreneur - public relations for business

This personal brand expert shares how creating a culture of evangelist employees and active listening can help you #getnoticed.

March 15, 2022 Jim James
UnNoticed Entrepreneur - public relations for business
This personal brand expert shares how creating a culture of evangelist employees and active listening can help you #getnoticed.
Show Notes Transcript

We all know that employees are a huge factor in a company's success. But my guest today, Chellie Phillips, Founder, and Owner of Successfully Ever After, strongly believes that's it's more than just the company's success, but an entrepreneur's and company's personal branding. As she says in this episode, 'it has to start with the actual mission that you have in getting the employees involved in that vision for where the company is going and what you want to achieve.’

Chellie explains in this episode how you can #getnoticed through active listening, reaching out to media (great tip from her as a former journalist), and especially, sharing the limelight with others. She also shared how creating a culture of evangelist employees with shared values can help you and your company's personal brand and success, why your branding is important to be real and authentic, and some tips on how she keeps the alignment with all of her employees within her business.

You can also grab a copy of her books here.


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Jim James:

Hello, and welcome to this episode of the UnNoticed Entrepreneur with Chellie Phillips, whose joining us from south of Atlanta, Georgia. Chellie, welcome to the show!

Chellie Philips:

Thank you so much for having me. I'm looking forward to having a great conversation today.

Jim James:

You and me both, and now you're an author and a former journalist. And you and I are going to talk about how entrepreneurs can help to engage their staff to help build the brand as well, I think, is that right?

Chellie Philips:

Yeah, that's true. I said, "You know, it's important for the entrepreneur themselves to have their strong personal brand. Because it impacts the recognition and the ability for people to connect with their product or their service, but it's even more important for them to be able to engage their employees in that process as well. Because we all know that each person that's working or involved there has their own set of friend groups, they have their own relationships. And people love to buy from people that they know, like, and trust. And if your employees are out there talking about what a great thing is happening inside your organization, people are more apt to believe the people they already know. Then what they're hearing from a stranger.

Jim James:

So to know 'like and trust'. Chellie, take us through that then, can you? Because it sounds easy enough to do, but how do you take what you've built as an entrepreneur and, and get your team to understand it and to get engaged with it and then, and then to share it because that's the third part of it, where they become evangelists for the company, isn't it?

Chellie Philips:

Yes, it is. You know, I say first it has to start with the actual mission that you have in getting the employees involved in that vision for where the company is going and what you want to achieve. It can't be a mission statement, can't just be something that is written on a piece of paper and stuff up on a wall. It's gotta be something that is living and breathing. And when your employees can connect with that- and when they can relate what values they have- to the values that you as the entrepreneur or the business owner wanting to impress on people, then they're more apt to feel ownership in that. And when you feel ownership in that, you want something to succeed as much as the next person does. It also sets it up for it to be, you know, a place where people love coming to work every day. It impacts the job satisfaction level. And we all know that when people love what they're doing, and they enjoy showing up, they're going to have higher productivity, the morale is going to be better, and you're going to have a bunch of problem solvers on your, on your hand, instead of a bunch of negative nancies. They're going to be sitting there helping you improve processes, and they're going to be sharing ideas that are going to help you grow and succeed even more.

Jim James:

So you just share with us how to do that because we've all of us that have run companies with 10, 20 people tried you know, town hall meetings, emails to explain what we're doing. What's the best practice to, to share over time and consistently? What division is and how to get people to articulate that on your behalf?

Chellie Philips:

So, the first thing I think is, is with the, the owners themselves. Their branding has to be authentic, and it has to be real. And the way people connect with you as that business owner is, is learning the stories you have. Why are you in this business? Why does it matter to you? What is the impact that you're trying to make? You have to become real to the people that work for you. They have to be able to see you as that leader. They have to be able to identify with you. And stories are what connects people. So, if you're out there talking to your staff and you're talking to your people and being real with them and being authentic, sharing the struggles, like what was it like when you first started. You know, was there fear involved about taking that first step and going out on your own? Was there, you know, did you deal with people who said, you know, "Oh, you're crazy! You've lost your mind. Why are you walking away from X, Y, Z to, do you know, ABC?" If they can really get behind you and that vision and connect with you as a person, then it's even that much more easy for you to be able to share the vision of the company. And like I said, when people can relate their values, I did a, a workshop the other day with a company. And about two-thirds of the room said one of their values was giving back to the community. Or in some way helping, a lot of them talked about helping animal rescues or helping feed the needy or doing things, you know, working with the elderly in some way, but it was all about giving back. So, maybe you have a philanthropy program, or maybe you're empowering your employees to help solve customer self-service issues in a way that they don't have to go through five or eight steps of approval. If you can connect that value, say I'm able, and I'm empowered to do something to make someone else's life easier or better, it may not be going out. And, you know, helping out a food bank, but it still tugs on that same string. And they become more connected to that process and more apt to be sharing out these things online to their social feeds.

Jim James:

So, let's talk about that then, Chellie. How, from a practical point of view, are you getting alignment? Are you, are are you, for Are, are you, for example, doing workshops? Are you creating, you know, video content? What are you helping your clients to do to articulate that amongst their, their audiences?

Chellie Philips:

So a lot of it depends on the size of the organization. You know, if you're a, you know, five to 10 employee kind of thing, I think the best thing that you can do is get face-to-face with them. Let them know who you are as a person and, you know, learn who your people are and what matters to them. Have those conversations. We're using a lot of interoffice communication tools. Either thing like slack, there are things like Microsoft teams, there are all kinds of you know, platforms that you can use. But it allows people to communicate with each other, and I've seen a lot of organizations now where they even have, what's like, you know, fun channel. Share a picture of your pet, you know, anything that is, you know, that's going to engage their employees and keep them sharing about themselves and letting people know that they are valued as people, not just employees. But it also gives a chance for each, each of them to answer each other's questions. So, they're not having to wait necessarily for XYZ supervisor to, you know, find them and answer the question. They can post it out there, and the first person, you know, that can respond like, ''Oh, here's the document that you're looking for,'' or ''Here's the information that you needed.'' And so, when you have a group of employees that feel connected. And that they feel like they have access to information, then they're already more satisfied and more engaged in the process. And so, you know, we all know that when you increase that satisfaction level, you're also increasing the productivity because they're not wasting that time, you know, waiting on information to get back to them. You have happier customers because they're getting their problems resolved faster. And that employee is also happier because they feel empowered to do these things and actually help with the success of the organization.

Jim James:

Chellie, can I change the tune a little bit and talk about getting around an event like Ukraine, for example. We could do it too about core values and about how companies might, for example, the food bank. We're seeing a lot of companies, big and small, getting involved in various Russia Ukraine activities. What are you seeing now amongst your clients and companies in America, around sort of the values around something like this and making statements around big events that are happening in society and politics?

Chellie Philips:

Yeah. I think you're seeing more and more companies actually speak out about things that are happening in the world. And, you know, I think the first step in doing that is having a conversation with your employees. Do you have employees that have family that is involved either extended or, you know, or, close by, maybe you have some that have friends overseas, maybe you have, you know, maybe they're directly impacted in some way. And make sure that you are actually giving them a platform to share, you know, either their concerns, their fears, or, you know, if it's something, you know, maybe they heard the great news about it. Like, you know, They were able to get out of an area that was, you know, they've had a chance to speak to somebody or something like that. But I would let their employees help drive that message, and find out what their core concerns are and what they are comfortable talking about. And then I would start internally. Maybe have a, you know, send something out on the messaging system that we were talking about. Today, we're going to all have a chain where I'd like for you to post your thoughts on what's happening. And how is it affecting your daily life? How is it affecting your family? What are the questions that you have about it? You know, sometimes just being that, that source of information, because you hear so many different things online and on the news and on social media, that kind of thing. Sometimes I just need, is this what's actually happening? Is this, you know, and they also want to know how it's going to impact the business. Do we have to worry about whether we might shut down because of this? Or is it going to cause layoffs, or is it going to cause your downward dwindling sales, which means we may not get raises this year. I think the more upfront you can be with that, and you can assuage some of the fears that they might have, or some of the concerns they have, that's almost more important than making a huge public statement. Is that your employees understand where you stand and that they understand, that you know, that they have concerns and issues. And that you address those internally before you make an external state of any kind.

Jim James:

Chellie, that's really good advice, because there's a lot of insecurity, isn't there? And what you're advocating there is, is the listening as well to the, to your team, as well as just sort of making a public show. Aren't you? I think.

Chellie Philips:

Yeah. You know, I call it active listening.

Jim James:

Sorry. There's a bit of a dropout in the, in the signal there. So go ahead. Talk about active listening and its role in, in marketing your brand.

Chellie Philips:

So, active listening is where you're not listening with the intent of answering the question. You're actually listening for the whole bit of information that comes through there. What are the concerns? What are they actually asking for? Because so many times we'll start listening to somebody, and our brain jumps ahead to, "Oh, this is the answer that they want." And you miss a key piece of what they're trying to tell you or what they want to discuss, because, in your mind, you've already formulated, "Oh, this is what they want to know." When in reality, it's something else entirely that they're trying to get to, but because you tuned out already formulating your answer, you missed out on the key that they were trying to give you. And if people are not feeling heard, or they don't feel like they're being listened to, you know, that's almost as bad as not even giving them a forum at all. It's like, they feel like it's a fake forum. Like, oh, they don't really care. It's just; it's just all mouth speak that they're not really listening and they're not really engaged with me. So we work with clients a lot on, you know, like having these listening sessions sometimes especially during evaluation time, is a time that you can really, you know, people come in, they're nervous about an evaluation. And so, sometimes the best thing you can do is just be quiet, listen, give them a floor to share, you know, what are their, what are their aspirations? What are their goals? What are the things that they see as positive this year? And so that, that in turn plays into that job satisfaction and that employee engagement that you have as well.

Jim James:

Now you are obviously a great listener, but you also learned that skill as a journalist, didn't you, Chellie? Do you want to share with us what you learned as a journalist and, and how companies then should engage the media and a journalist with their story as well? Slight change attack there from internal, but share with us what would be some of the key learnings for people from a journalist.

Chellie Philips:

Yeah. That's one of the best ways that you can build your brand when you're getting started, especially start with local media and reach out to them and share your stories with them. I was a journalist for several years before I moved into corporate public relations. And, you know, the thing I loved was everybody's story's different. And so ,so when you sit there, and you start listening to how they decided to make the choices that they made, what, you know, what was the thought process that went into it? What was their background that led them to this? This is the ultimate thing that I'm going to do in life. You know, and letting them tell that story, you know, you have that connection with them because people want to connect with other people. And so when, when you tell that story, and you're not afraid of getting a little bit personal that is what makes people connect with you. And so, you know if you're, if you're a business owner and you're wanting to grow your recognition in the community, and then, you know, eventually statewide or worldwide. Start with your local media, invite them to have a coffee, sit down and learn the story of you and why your organization was created. Talk about the backstory, give them a chance to really learn who you are, be personal, be authentic, you know, there's nothing more real than, than sharing some of the hardships along the way. People relate to someone that faces adversity and overcomes that. And almost every business owner that I know, whether it was from startup, or whether it's in the initial building phase and even into expansion, there is always things that crop up that you weren't expecting along the way. And if you can share that, how you overcame those or the lessons learned that someone else can benefit from, you're not going to have a problem getting these stories ran. And then that just gives you more things that you can share out. You do share featured content out. You can even highlight your employees. You know, here's why we've hired, who we've hired because they are X, Y, Z, you know, great at something and, you know, share how you are building that organization even from the hiring blocks going forward.

Jim James:

So Chellie, there's always a central dilemma it seems for companies when they're building a brand; one is that they recognize that they've got if you like the founder's story. But then they also want to be seen as a corporate brand, you know, and that, you know, big companies actually buy from other big companies, not from people. What's your view on how to reconcile that problem for companies as they grow the view to be a bigger brand, a corporate brand, and then maybe lose some of the personality.

Chellie Philips:

You know, I think that's a mistake, a lot of companies make is losing the personality. I think personality is what sets you apart. But I think there's ways that you can collaborate, you know, especially from business to business. As far as growing your brand, if you have a great relationship with another company, joint post, share what each other's doing. That way, your market, your people are seeing you in their market, and people are seeing them in your market. And so, you know, you can help each other grow. There's nothing to say that, you know, like I tell my clients all the time, there's a lot of success to go around. It's not so much a competition that you have to beat someone you know, else out of the gate, you know? There's plenty of success. And so not being afraid to share the limelight with somebody sometimes is even more powerful and impactful in a brand because it becomes not so me-focused, it becomes us-focused. And when people see you as someone who is going to bring people together, share that spotlight. You know, shine lights on things that are great inside the industry. Then you become that, that you're positioning yourself as the person to go to for either connections or information. And you also become very reliable because people trust you when you share stuff about other people. It's not just me, me, me, me, me all the time. It's very authentic in a way that you can create a community of sorts, with not only the other business owners and the industry. But also with the people that are following you and even the media that might be following you in different contexts. Cause there's a lot of industry publications. There's a lot of other things like that that you can get in front of. And whether it's speaking at it you know, a conference or a seminar and you recognize other people and talk about the good things that are happening, not only inside your organization, but externally as well, then it does nothing but actually adds to your value as that entrepreneur.

Jim James:

Chellie, I love this idea of, you know, sharing the limelight with others and inviting them into the spotlight. That's a really wonderful way of expressing that. Thank you. And I haven't heard articulated like that before, so that's really, really nice. Changing again slightly, you are an entrepreneur. You've run businesses; you've run a half marathon, as you told. You're fantastic. and very speedily to all Uphill in Atlanta. How have you been getting noticed and building your own brand?

Chellie Philips:

So, I try to practice what I preach. So, you know, one of the things that I tell people is consistency is key when you're building your brand. So if you follow me, you're going to see that I blog pretty consistently. I'm sharing out information. I share out content from others, like just like with this podcast that we're talking today, I'll be sharing this content out once you release it to the public so that my audience gets to see it, which exposes them to you. And, you know, maybe they get a takeaway from some, some other shows that you have that actually help them succeed even more. So it's, I try to practice what I preach, and it's about being authentic. It's about being real, showing the behind-the-scenes sometimes. It's about showing up and responding, you know, if people reach out and have comments and they're posting on things, I do that. I make myself available to speak at seminars, and I'm doing workshops. And I think it's just about being real and having that follow through too you know, one of the things, some of the mistakes that I see in people making branding is they forget that consistency part. They think it's okay "I have to do it when I first get started, and I'm going to make this big splash, and then everything will just continue on, on its own." Well, that's not the case. There's so much noise out there online and in the world that you really do have to be that consistent face, that consistent message, that is showing up there. And you also have to be real. People can spot a fake in a heartbeat, and you know, if you're not being real and you're not showing, you know, what's really happening inside your organization, or you're, you're not handling the people that are on your social feeds in a way that's respectful, and, you know, that is engaging in that kind of thing. People are going to notice. And so that's my big takeaway that, you know, show your personality, engage with your tribe that's following you and learning about you, and be consistent. And eventually it's going to take root, and it's going to show up, and people are going to start just knowing, "Hey, if I want to know about branding or I want to know about building an engaged workforce, I'm going to come to Chellie. If I want to know all the latest things that are making entrepreneurs successful, I'm going to find Jim." You know, and so it's just a matter of just showing up- and just being that face and being consistent in it.

Jim James:

Chellie, thank you for being consistent with me today and for all the fantastic ideas and values, and insights you've been sharing. And if you want to find you directly, obviously I'll put your details in the show notes, but just a quick call-out where can they come and find you?

Chellie Philips:

So, if you want the books, the easiest place to grab them is from Amazon or any kind of, you know, like, sites like that. LinkedIn, you'll find my blogging every, every twice a week, personal branding and corporate culture. And then, of course, I'm on Instagram and Facebook and all that as well. So I would love to engage with you and have a conversation with you online.

Jim James:

And if you want to find Chellie, that's C H E L L I E and then Phillips P H I double L I P S. Of course, I'll put her contact details in the show notes. Chellie Phillips joining me just south of Atlanta, Georgia. Thank you so much for sharing the mic with me today.

Chellie Philips:

I've had a great time having a conversation with you today and what you must success going forward. Thank you so much.