Kellee Johnson 6:23
yeah. So Ballast, you know, the little literal term is an engineering term, it’s not a materials carry temporarily or permanently to give desired stead, steadiness or stability. And I feel like we do that for our clients. So we’re going to help you tell your story. Sometimes CEOs know what their story is, or it needs to be refined, others have no idea and they want to turn to us. So then we say, Well, what was your most important audience? Who is really going to be targeted to? And then what channels because there’s, there’s dozens of channels now as you know, with social media, and all kinds of things that we’re going to talk about in a second. And then how are you going to move forward to reach your your business goals, if our PR goals or marketing goals are not aligned with the business? We’re not adding value? And that’s, that’s not good. So a quick snapshot, you know, if you come to me and asked me what we do, I will speak pretty high level and slide like this. We use a PESO model, paid, earned, shared and owned media. Now we’re gonna dive into what all those types of campaigns are, we really believe in what we call the inverted pyramid methodology for telling your story. So a lot of CEOs and organizations want to be the top of the pyramid, right? We are who we are. And I said, No, we’re going to flip that pyramid and flip, flip the script we call it. And we’re going to talk first about why people are going to care about your story. There’s always some some nugget that latches them in. And then we’ll find those third parties that will help you tell the story with you, not sometimes for you, but mostly with you. Because people know the company’s rigging their pool their own Kool Aid, right? So the third parties that can help you share your story, our goal, we put your story into action by laying that foundation figured out what the messaging is going to be, who are those influencers that can help you tell it looking at the content from all angles, and then aligning that to your brand? And finally, how do you outreach to those audiences to help them tell the story with you. And I’ve got a lot of different kinds of case studies, I believe very profoundly that you know, what we do can be quantified and qualified. And so we should be sharing what we do in these little nuggets that I like to say, because we’ve got a lot of them. And we’ve helped, you know, some companies shares go from $48 to $149, letting their hospital customers talk for them, or looking at who are the biggest foodie Instagrammers to help them America’s first online grocery company come back into the market space, all the way to caregiving company that was in a crowded space and 700 something other care, caregiving firms in the country was in Chicago, and we help them stand out to find the right kind of caregivers and a very high crisis of shortage of caregivers. So that goes back to the why and why are you doing what you’re doing? What problem are you solving? So we’re going to go into a couple of those, including a real recent one related to COVID. I think it’s quite interesting to see what why people call us right. They want to launch a company or a product or service. They oftentimes I mentioned, they’re well funded healthcare and technology companies. And that means they’re probably going to prepare for merger and acquisition potential. So how do we help them get noticed by the right people, a lot of times they want to stand out from the competition. Somebody coming in their space, they get nervous, they say we’ve owned this space for 20 years, we don’t want anyone to take over, we help them figure out how they can keep that that standout status. They have something big they want to announce. They build relationships stronger with with audiences, they don’t get habit. And then sometimes they just want to go they want to grow, whether it’s nationwide in this country or even outside and ultimately all of what we do moves the needle for these organizations in a pretty neat way.
Jeremy Weisz 9:49
But with how big go back really quickly to announce something big, how far in advance. Are they contacting you for that?
Kellee Johnson 9:57
We’ve had months and we’ve had weeks We say days like seven to eight days, sometimes including this recent COVID antigen rapid rapid antigen test, that won a big prize. I wanted to put an announcement out like four days later. And you know, it was quite a scramble. And I have that I’ll share that with you later. So sometimes people plan and sometimes they don’t, sometimes they don’t know, right? If they’re going to win something they they’d like to plan on it. But but you just don’t know.
Jeremy Weisz 10:24
Is there an ideal situation like we’re planning something big, let’s say they do have the luxury of time, and it doesn’t just come out of the blue, what would be an ideal time to call someone like you to work on it.
Kellee Johnson 10:39
We we work swiftly and I would say ideal is three months, we use the normal who’s in one month. And the anomaly is the one week. But we can do it. We pulled it off.
Jeremy Weisz 10:52
Thanks. I just wanted to ask that.
Kellee Johnson 10:54
Sure. So I’ll take you into you know, I told you about a little bit about the PESO model, right? So PESO stands for paid earned, shared and owned media, different types of media that we work with. And those are the four buckets I mean, there. It’s a very big segment, there’s 550, different marketing and PR initiatives within the PESO model. And then sandwiched in between the pain and the Earned is your thought leadership, how do you stand out how you continue to go in as a thought leader, as an organization or a CEO? And then in between the Earned and the shared? It’s going to be something we call influencer engagement, right? You know who those influences are out there? How do you get their attention? How do you keep them engaged? And then how do you take it even further for they start engaging their network for you on their behalf? So I it comes back to that third party storytelling and the inverted pyramid and then planning and we have a six step methodology for how we get our clients maximum visibility. So here’s the pay. So are you at a very high level on paid, earned, shared and owned and ideally, Jeremy, those those three month planners, the people that will play on like a big announcement three months later, are probably the ones that are going to want to a big partner, like balanced group to partner with them for a year. So that’s what most of our agreements are. We want to be a partner to somebody, we don’t want to be a transactional. I need a press release out tomorrow, or can you post something for me that’s we looked at
Jeremy Weisz 12:11
in a larger strategic campaign?
Kellee Johnson 12:14
Yeah, absolutely. And I mentioned, there’s lots of channels. So on the paid side, we looked at website audits, we do look at social posts, there’s digital strategy on Google pay per click and search engine marketing. And as you can see her a litany, I won’t run through all of this, but paid is a very strategic part, a lot of its data driven, and a decent budget, right, because there’s services fees that you pay us to manage them. But then you also have Google and LinkedIn. But I think it
Jeremy Weisz 12:41
is interesting to go through because there’s some on here that I like shopping networks, I wouldn’t necessarily have thought of that.
Kellee Johnson 12:50
Yeah, e-commerce, right. So it depends if you’re b2b, or b2c. But there’s all kinds of paid approaches that you can do. And sometimes we’ll just do the paid part. But we believe in the value of integrating if someone has the time and the resources and the budget, integration is the way to go. Because you want people to see your brand in lots of different places, not just on one page, good. But you know, the algorithms change, Google’s changing their algorithm now, and Facebook does all the time. So it’s hard to keep up if you’re not truly in the digital space. And this is the thought leadership, I mentioned that kind of seesaw between paid and earned where you do your research to figure out what the marketplace is talking about what are people’s why’s, most people have a good sense of why they exist, or they wouldn’t have started the company in the first place. But helping them refine, it is something we’d love to do. And a lot of that comes with that third party focus. So we start every engagement by saying, Hey, give us 1012 1520 of your stakeholders for us to interview, because we’re going to go get their perspective. And we’re going to blend it with your perspective. And oh, by the way, on top of that, we’re going to do some Google searching. And we’re going to come up with what other people are positioning, things that relate to your industry in the marketplace. And so we blend the three primary secondary and, and your your stakeholder interviews with the leadership team into the narrative. And sometimes the user, I can just tell you what it is, like, I know you can tell me what it is. But you know, what is the marketplace believe that? And will it be credible, when we start telling it if it’s just one sided leadership point of view, sometimes they end up mirroring themselves. So that’s good thing. But a lot of times, the extra marketplace might say something a little bit different. So it shapes our our narrative. We were out there social listening, there’s lots of tools like radiant six or Crimson hexagon, that if you’re a global brand, you want to know every time your brand is being mentioned, at any time around the world. And the bigger you grow that that’s the challenge, you know, to keep your pulse on it. And then you know, your domain, your web, how much how attractive is your web to Google searches? That’s going to go back to the domain authority and your search engine optimization. And then again, we’re big believers in quantifying How does your campaign do and all the different analytics The tools that come with that. Burned art is one of my favorite types of media. Because I started I cut my teeth at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg, Florida as part of my master’s program, and I tell you, they are good. And as a student, I can take a one week course with journalists from all around the country. I mean, there was some smarter rabbits to cover the Pentagon for years and deep on that wrote that he wrote third Thurgood Marshall, his auto biography, not auto, he wrote the biography. And he and this is these are journalists that care about what they do. And it was eye over moment for me when I realized these guys care about their role, but they’re not licensed. And in our field, licensing has been a talk for decades and you know, Maryam Wait, well, over the half of the hump of my career, and they’re still talking about it. So we have a very big responsibility. We work with journalists to get things right the first time and make sure the data and statistics are quantifiable. And that they can go back check them. And that’s a that’s a pretty big role, you know, for when you write for millions of readers and viewers every day,
Jeremy Weisz 16:04
has a big responsibility.
Kellee Johnson 16:05
Yeah, to journalists, I really respect journalists, because they look through lenses. They’re trained from baseball, to be fair, accurate and balanced. And, you know, sometimes they’re their own personal, they don’t really share the personal feelings a lot because they’re so wanting to get the other side, right, and show two or three sides to every story. So that’s a tough stakeholder to manage. And that’s why getting a journalist or a producer or an editor to say your story is worthy means a lot. And that’s why they call it earned media. It’s tough to get influencer engagement sits in between their two we can do, we’ve done some advocacy relations work where a startup in Cell Therapy had, you know, was not known at all, they’re just coming out of clinical trials. And we found the nonprofit’s that support their field of orthopedics and pain management and sports management and regenerative medicine, which is held therapy. And at the end of six months, there was 10 organizations that were then super impressed with Why did I know about you guys, and they became our advocates, on social media on speaking engagements and patient trials for recruiting as well as conducting trials. So it’s a pretty big deal when you know who those advocates are in your industry. And you can approach them and say, hey, there’s somebody you need to learn about. And then all of a sudden, the light bulb goes off, and they say, Gosh, let me get this out to my network, too. And that’s really beautiful in advocacy, Investor Relations, do we have a we had a nationwide medical waste company that said, Oh, waste management’s getting into health care, we should be worried even though we dominate the space, because waste management serves every single household in America. And so they specifically the VP of Marketing told us, we hired you, because we need you to help us stand out fast. And that’s when we said, well, who are you talking to? And I looked at their website, and I talked some people I’m like, pretty much an investor relations company, right. It’s all about the staff and the shareholders instead of the market that they serve, which is 5000 hospitals nationwide, and primary care clinics and offices. And so this is an example Jeremy that I mentioned early about, the stock price went from $48 to 147, in seven years, because guess what others were talking about them and not that and we we tied the narrative into greening healthcare. So keeping drugs out of public water supply and keeping plastic, recyclable sharps containers, also out of landfills. So it was a great message. And when the hospital’s customers started talking about it in the marketplace, they didn’t need to. So Jim Cramer of Mad Money started calling us you know, you see the quantifiable results of when third parties start talking. So there’s a lot of different types of influencers like that. Shared media is also called social media, right? It’s shareable. It’s It’s beautiful for that reason, but it’s also a two way, sometimes three way dialogue. And when social media first started coming out, I know CEOs and corporate executives were very nervous about, well, gosh, it’s a two way dialogue. We’re not used to that, right. We’re used to our website, or our blog, or our email campaign saying exactly what we want to say. And now we’re opening it up for the world to comment on. And it was a big aha moment for a lot of companies. And today, thankfully, 1012 years later, it’s the norm. and engaging online is something that is expected of a brand and marketing and that too, sometimes it’s tying customer service into social media, the team reports rather nurse or service, which is under marketing, and therefore they can nip an issue in the bud minute immediately when it starts to be talked about on social media instead of letting it get on the front page of The Wall Street Journal the next day. So share it is very important. I know
Jeremy Weisz 19:34
you Kellee and other people. common one is commenting about airlines, because flights are not and how people react. I mean, they’re all going to be they’re all going to have issues of being late or delay there. I would never want to be in that industry. It’s just so you don’t control of the weather. You don’t control a lot of things, but you do have control about how you respond to those situations. You know,
Kellee Johnson 19:59
right and a lot Have passengers sitting the airport have a lot of time to get on their Twitter or LinkedIn, or Facebook and say, United or American or delta Come on, you know, why did you cancel my flight I want to get home tonight. And I have gotten responses quite quickly. All it does is make you feel better that somebody listened to you. But it didn’t change the fact that you got home at three in the morning. But it’s a brand talking to you when you feel lost sometimes with millions of stakeholders. So you can see there’s tons of channels, right to talk talk to on social media, texts, early news, Snapchat, it’s it’s a it’s a brand thing, right? If you’re a b2c, or b2b, or even government be the G, it’s it’s, you got to pick the right channels are where your stakeholders are. And that takes a little bit of research to figure out developing content and making it consistent and engaging and not always about you is huge. Companies sometimes want to talk about themselves. And we always say let’s inform people educate them first. And oh, by the way, if we happen to talk about our brand, 20% of the time, that’s great, but you don’t want it any more than that. Or it gets to be just genuine and people tune out. They won’t, they won’t comment or share or engage with you. Again, always go back to metrics and measuring goals. Every one of the platforms has an analytics tool, as well as Google Analytics. So you want to look at your website, and where are you sending traffic, we like to say your website is the hub, every campaign we do and paid, earned shared it own drives people back to your website. So it’s got to be a good site, it’s got to say what you want, it’s going to be easy to get through. And again, quantifying where the traffic is coming from each of those channels to their site. And finally, own media. I mean, this is again, 100% of what you can and want to say. And a lot of that makes people feel really good. I think blogging is important. topically, I still think it should not be too commercial, it should be more educational, sprinkled in with the occasional your brand and identity there. But there’s lots of things you can own and say 100% of what you want to say. So I really, you know, I again, I think tying your customer relationship management program into your own media is important too, and making sure that you’re connecting in some way in some channel with your stakeholders every single day. videos. YouTube is the largest search engine and social media platform in the world. And most people don’t know that it’s almost 2 billion users watching almost a billion hours of video every single day. So it’s a channel we’re going to start using a lot more because it’s more engaging, even every single photo post. If you’re not using video, you’re missing an opportunity. Even Jeremy, you’re podcasting, right, we’re recording this because people like to see people, especially during an age of isolation, when for over a year, we haven’t been able to do a lot of that
Jeremy Weisz 22:47
this will be going on YouTube as well.
Kellee Johnson 22:49
Yeah. Oh, good. So I’ve spoken about the inverted pyramid, I believe strongly in it that you know, the right side of this diagram, why people care should always be where you lead with a story, and then finding those third party folks to communicate with you. And by the nature of doing those two things. Well, you’re going to shine, you just well, you’ll you will be the story even though you don’t think at the beginning. Here’s the I mentioned six steps of how we look at getting our clients in the news, right building that foundation of research from a leadership perspective, from primary interviews, one on one with folks to the secondary research of your Google searches. And what is the industry saying and who are who is your competition, a lot of our startup CEOs will say we don’t have any, that’s why we’re started. That’s why we’re cutting edge. It’s why we’re disrupting something. I said we always run it through a journalistic lens. So if a journalist if I if I call a journalist and say you need to meet the CEO, they’re they’re solving a such a big problem. And they’ll say, Oh, yeah, that’s similar to x, y, z. And you want to say no, it’s not. But that’s how journalists think. So we try to train CEOs and C levels to think that way that there’s always somebody you’re going to be compared to, and it might be two or three, we want you to shine, we’re going to try for you to shine the highest, but there will be comparative companies that are put up against you. So again, influencers look at engaging content all the time, don’t get complacent at all, align what you’re doing with a playbook. That playbook should be recalibrated all the time, what’s working, what’s not next, driven by the metrics from those platforms we talked about, and then constantly outreaching to build relationships for our organizations with those influences that I mentioned. So click on
Jeremy Weisz 24:27
those really quick on those six. So we have the foundation the core messaging, the influencers, number four content, calendars, five brand alignment, and six outreaches. They’re a common one that people make biggest mistakes on are common to that they’re they’re missing. In this.
Kellee Johnson 24:47
Think core messaging, if you don’t get what the marketplace will believe. And you want to just go with your own story that’s own media. Again, that’s what you would find on your website or email marketing or your blogs 100 Because I know what you can say, I think that they miss the lens that the world is going to put you through instead of just their lens. And sometimes they’re too close to it. And that’s why the stakeholder interviews like just point out, I mean, every six months would be ideal. But a lot of people just do research once a year, sometimes we uncover where third parties are going to tell us more. And sometimes we uncovered service issues or sales issues, that they for some reason, they feel more comfortable telling a third party like balanced group instead of going right to their, their, their partners, partners email or their voicemail or live. So we bring it to their attention. So I think messaging and being realistic and especially authentic in this day and age, it’s no longer about what the company wants to say. But how is it being perceived through a lot of different filters?
Jeremy Weisz 25:45
Yeah, I could see how someone telling a third party is way easier than telling them themselves. And they’ll be more open and honest, typically.
Kellee Johnson 25:53
Yeah, yeah. If something’s not a product not working, we hear about right. And our interviews, they’re not extensive interviews are just enough to get a sense of the perspective and point of view about the company that is our client, and they’re in the industry they’re competing in and why, what what it means to them. So it’s intriguing, we love We love the research, the research, and the metrics are what drive I think why we can quantify what we do so well, because we’re looking at a lot of different stakeholders, it can be stressful, I mean, we have our client, but then we have their customers or their investors or the news media or the communities they serve. And so we’re balancing all these different stakeholders every day in our heads for our campaigns for them, and it gets a little stressful. But once you learn to look through that multiple kaleidoscope of a lens for for clients, they don’t do it every day, they shouldn’t do it every day. That’s what our job is, the light bulb goes off and they’re like, ah, I get it. Now if you got to connect all these different dots, to see how your core messaging is being perceived in the marketplace, and then recalibrated with metrics, what posts are doing well, what how much traffic is being driven by your site and why. So we’ll talk about some some different strategy. We talked about the paid and the organic social media, there’s, there’s sometimes digital marketers love to be just the paid side, but we’re seeing more and more that want to get on the organic content as well. Or just own social media in general. And keeping up with the platforms. Not everybody is right for TikTok or Snapchat, you know, you’ve got to really say, maybe I should be smarter, just focus on two good channels to begin with, we’re gonna start a digital health platform for seniors 75. and above. That is not the b2c market, it’s the b2b because the healthcare payers, insurers will pay for their members to use this service. And so by the nature of their platform, it fits right onto their TV and can be easily accessed with a remote control. They’re generating user content video all day long. And so he said, it’s a no brainer, we’ve got to get, you’ve got to be on YouTube, right with the right types of messages to reach not just the senior senior members and their families, but more importantly, the ones that are gonna be paying for those services for those seniors. So looking at a b2b YouTube strategy has been kind of fun, and YouTube is just as big. We’re gonna love it. I’m excited to get started. These are, you know, some of the third party implied endorsements that the news media give you, when they do write about you, I said, it’s hard to get in all these, when you see a story in the newspaper, it didn’t just happen to appear that day, months and months of work went into that. And the editors and reporters take their jobs very seriously, I would say TV and print are very different. So when you do interview for TV, you got to prepare for quick sound bites and a visual picture that you’re painting with your words, whereas a print reporter is cerebral, they’re gonna go deep, and they’re gonna be probably interviewed two or three different times for 1000 word story. So they’re very different types of interviews to get into. But the bottom line is, they’re, they’re not easy to get into at all.
Crisis and reputation management. We haven’t talked a lot about that. But everything you do ties into reputation management, and you can be very proactive by constantly scanning them Google Alerts and the industry and your customer base to see like, what issues are out there that could affect our industry. And then hopefully, you know, it doesn’t end up into a crisis. But you’re planning for that by identifying every single potential issue in your industry. When I worked for the juice company, Tropicana. Every winter, inevitably, we were on the the crisis quality team, and people back wash their pills when they’re taking their juice in the morning, right. So all of a sudden, they think the products been tampered with. So it was almost inevitable that that we had to plan for the tampering, pipe tampering type of issue that could come up in our industry. So the point is, is whatever industry you’re in, make a list of issues that could happen and just be ready for it. Put them in some type of playbook, whether it’s digital or in your head or written down somewhere. It’s important to know so that you can address it the board gets into a big, big trouble, be strategic about it, right. What risks do you have? How do you position around certain conflicts Whether it’s labor, labor or product quality or supply chain, or is there going to be enough of something to to meet the US is need in this case, you know, BP above and and masks for crisis like what we had globally, it’s every industry probably has at least 20 different issues they can manage. And then when you have to react to a crisis, and we had a recent one of a former employee, accusing an employer of money laundering and racketeering, so when it’s happening, it’s happening fast. And you’re on the phone with the legal the legal team, the president all the way up right to and into these many different departments to manage it every single day. You don’t really sleep during crisis. So it’s not a fun place to be in. But sometimes being reactive is not a choice. Things happen. And then recovery is how do you restore that reputation? How do you get others to start talking about you to help ease that pain and then also be authentic with the public by saying, Mia culpa, this is what happened. This is what what we’re doing to make it right. And here’s what’s going to change. And until you say those three things, a lot of the people don’t believe that you’re being genuine about the prices, it’s it’s going to happen again. So these four proactive, strategic, proactive, reactive and recovery are all what make up reputation management. And it’s always good to have a plan. If you are in that reactive, in the moment, the hot seat, Warren Buffett, we love what he says get it right, get it fast, get it out and get it over in prices. So have a 24 hour blueprint for what’s going to happen at first 24 hours when something really bad happens. Usually, you know, the the highest rule to remember is put the public safety first, no matter what’s happening. And then be accessible, don’t you know, give information, make it timely until the issues resolve and take responsibility for the problem and solve it. Let people know what you’re doing to solve it. What’s going to change if you don’t say what’s going to change everyone thinks is going to happen again, and prioritize your audiences and get out there often. I would say like a 24 seven Central Command Center sometimes or digital today, I used to be in a war room have a conference room. And that’s where people slept on tops and whatever to solve what needed to be solved. But set up a central base somewhere and and let one person know be that single point of contact to know where the issues lie and and also to be a spokesperson for the media To be honest, no apologize again, when necessary. Don’t hide stuff. It’s so obvious when companies are hiding things, saying no comment is a way of that. I think that survey show no comment always means guilt. So it’s just, it’s just appropriate to see what you can at the time you have the information. And then again, monitor and log all the news the reporters have a job to do I know they might sound like they’re bugging you, like give me an answer, give me an answer. But they’re trying to update the public with some critical information and a lot of a lot of times and then you know, they have deadlines, be respectful of them. And that creates that relationship where nine times out of 10 if you show cooperation, you know that they have a job to do to they will treat you well and fair in an interview.
So that is crisis. Now we serve have served a lot over the last 17 years of different types of clients. And so because we have a medical slant, I did this little helical spiral 31 little molecular DNA, DNA. It has it so it’s been a fun ride. I never thought it would be 17 years so far. But yes, indeed, a lot of times when we start projects, when people are the most objective will say to the C level team, so in three months, or six months or nine months, what does success look like to you? And sometimes CEOs are very well, they get to the CEO spot for a reason, right? Because they are leaders, they are decisive. And one CEO said to us, he was in the medical simulation space where he helped doctors and hospitals and their administrative team say, hey, if we have a chance to work on a simulated patient, we should, right? Because it’s going to minimize medical errors. And so this gentleman looked at me, he said, I want to be on the cover of Fortune magazine as the most feared man in medicine, because if we have a solution that can help them reduce the $100,000 100,000 medical errors that are happening every year, then shame on that sea level team for not bringing the solution to these doctors to practice on a simulated patient instead of a real patient. So he knew he knew it. Exactly. And that helps us shape. Okay, who does he want to reach with what message and it was it was fear? Like why make medical errors when you don’t have to? So that’s always a great question to ask of anybody when you are looking at what does success look like in 369 months? I mentioned this cell therapy client in Colorado that’s ortho biologics focus. They’re phenomenal. It’s a really smart team. They work behind the scenes for about eight years before they said hey, it’s time to start getting our message shapes and figuring out what audiences we need to talk to for when FDA approval might come. As our products being evaluated right now, it’s a really, really cool thing to use your own cells to heal your body, it’s just, they just kind of know what to do when they’re dropped in the body. In this case, it’s for knee pain, and which one of us doesn’t have knee pain or joint pain of some kind, right? So today, the way it’s done is you replace the entire joint, there is no v left, right? It’s metal or plastic. But when you can start looking at your own cells to heal the pain and the functionality that you’re limited with, as you get and as you age, that’s minimally invasive, there’s less cost and less time involved. And it’s been really exciting to look at, they have the resources to put an integrated plan together, paid earned shared and own media. And it was a silver trumpet award winner in 2019. That was for our advocacy award for bringing unknown organizations to them that they had no idea about, and vice versa. And in the space of sports management, pain management, regenerative medicine, to put them on the map, right, even though the product may not be approved, or if it is, it will be several years out, they still wanted to know about it. And in the scientific world, they’re used to waiting several years for something novel to happen anyway. So website traffic of 63%, this is a one year campaign, there was a variety of media channels that covered the this company, there was, you know, with the FDA, it’s constantly being reminded that you cannot make any kind of safety or efficacy claims. So if a if a solution is durable and effective, and the data and showing that great, let’s talk about the data, but that we really careful with these types of clients when you’re not making claims that you shouldn’t be making. So I’ll give you a great example, the Denver Business Journal, covered the company and a an editor wrote the title, this could potentially eliminate total knee replacements. And, gee, that sounds really great for our client, right? Happy Day. But when you look back and say what will the FDA say about this, and if we promote this piece, that’s probably not a good thing, because it means we agree with the fact that it could eliminate it when we can’t make those kind of things ahead of time. So sometimes you win, sometimes you lose some, it definitely did direct a very high level strategic partner to them, but we had to pull the article down, because by putting it on our site, and that we were promoting what the title said, and we can’t promote that under the FDA. So it was one of those Oh darn moments, you know, where we do? Put an
Jeremy Weisz 37:21
Kellee Johnson 37:24
So anyway, the the earned media was very helpful in some regards. And you just have to be very careful when you’re dealing with regulatory approvals, social media, same thing, lots of shares happening, lots of key opinion leaders from some of their influencers, like the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic, we’re starting to notice them. So people are watching. And that’s a really good thing. And that’s what we were hired to do. Same thing with a website. You know, the views go up with blogs, with videos with email campaigns, driving people to it. This is constantly what you want is an integrated approach to getting your stakeholders to see you in lots of different channels.
Open Arms was the Chicago based professional homecare agency saturated with, you know, 700 plus different other caregiving agencies around how in the world were we going to make them stand out, especially, you know, if you go back to the why people are going to care. And you go back to the inverted pyramid of finding those third parties to help you tell it the why was this there’s a tsunami of aging Americans coming out 10,000 people a day are aging into Medicare. So that means caregivers are going to be needed. And guess what, it’s not a very high paid position. It’s not a very thankful position. It’s a very difficult position. And so the news became the shortage of caregivers, if every one of us should be concerned that has parents in the 70s and 80s, that are going to need a caregiver because guess what if we can’t find them, we’re doing it. And there’s a lot of family caregivers, over professional caregivers, it gets a little it’s very taxing on the family members to be at that stage and managing kids as well as jobs on top of caring for a parent. So anticipating this shortage, the agency needed to grow pretty quickly by identifying those qualified caregivers. So we did, we had a Daily Herald column, we had a hierarchy in front page of the business section right around the holidays when everyone’s going home when they’re reading and enjoying the holidays, and figuring out like, Okay, I’m with my grandparents, I’m with my, my, my parents, what are we doing it let’s talk about it as a family. So those two articles alone drove a ton of traffic and awareness to them. We found out that again, our clients are good partners. They tell us when when things happen, and so we know that if you will revenue and average from three different prospects from just put up an article of over $150,000.50 5000 people viewed at targeted social media campaigns and in just four months, so again, they are very well run. Julie plata runs the open arms and we’re very pleased to partner with them and it was also an award winning campaign. Since sweet was the one I mentioned to you about simulation, this is the gentleman that said one of the most feared man in medicine on the cover of fortune, we did not get on the cover of fortune. But we did get US News and World Report, which was, at the time, 2 million in circulation. And over, you know, dollar equivalency, if you had to pay to get in that publication, it would have been over $200,000. So you kind of weigh like, how do I measure getting a client in the news and that’s how you would measure is through what you would have to do pay to pay your way in advertising in that publication. So it just so happened that the the reporter of that publication happened to edit the best hospitals in America edition every single year. So he knew what he was talking about. And he was a great writer. So in in two years, the business went from $100,000 as a startup to 6 million in revenue almost overnight, with big articles like that, as well as their their life science partners are their medical device products. The tronic j&j, I was life science, all the big ones started calling them saying how do we engage you to help our doctors, our pain leaders work on something that’s not going to injure or create a medical error in the marketplace? That’s really fun. And that’s, that’s amazing. So friends today, speaking of full circle relationships, this was not a pleasant topic to talk about this next one, get STD tested, calm. But um, it was an important topic. And again, going back to like, What is the message here? What’s the why people are going to care? Well, there was 2009, it was Lehman Brothers crash, and people were getting laid off left and right. And guess what they were doing. They were stuck at home all the time. So every single department of health in the country was reporting an increase of STDs. And so we latched on to that statistic. And we said, you know, people need to be worried. This trend is continuing. And so overnight, an NBC story was picked up, and NBC affiliates, other stations across the country, they said, Oh, this has already been packaged as a really great story. Let’s localize it in our market. So that that story in the US market space over 800,000 people and it would have cost about $35,000, if it was advertising and not PR doesn’t sound like a big number. But armed with that a Wall Street Journal, a health editor. Notice that we pitched her for six months, she didn’t pay attention to us. We finally I picked up the phone and called her one more time. And she had just gotten back from her ob gyn on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. And she said to him, I have two college age girls, how worried Do I need to be about familia, and he said very worried. And guess when she called The next day, me. And she said tell me more about this online STD testing company that you’re working with. And so between the NBC story and the Wall Street Journal story, it led to all kinds of new partnerships for them new funding and new subscribers. And guess what the original clientele that they thought they were gonna have, which was millennials ended up being the 45 to 55 year old cheaters. So that was an aha moment. With a company like that stericycle. I mentioned earlier, they, there were $3 billion dollar company, and they were getting big dominated healthcare, by medical waste management was getting into medical. And so they got nervous, and they wanted to stand out. And so over the course of seven years, we were able to get hospitals all across the country, hundreds of them to share their story with they wanted to talk about breathing healthcare. And so it it’s a natural fit when you can let hospitals talk about your products and services. So you don’t have to. And pretty soon it was on the map in a big way. And the share price kept reflecting the fact that the marketplace was telling their story, not just them.
So it’s kind of exciting. The coma Family Foundation is the gentleman who started Land’s End, and they are incredible at supporting Chicago and the surrounding areas and others to other states, other communities. And they they they saw that there’s a public private partnership that was going to be needed if they were going to build awareness for how there’s a certain population that goes to federally qualified health clinics, that is is missing health care, or they’re there. There’s no coordination of care between the ER they might go to or the federally qualified health clinic they might go to or a hospital. And so this platform brought together all these disparate points of view to help manage the safety net population is it’s a pretty big deal. It was a lot of across the country, but of a home network wise for other states that had big safety net populations that they weren’t able or understood how to best manage it. So we tackle this on a lot of different ways. It was earned media for the most part. But the Associated Press is a great organization that stories are picked up around the world. So if you get any Associated Press, you can bet it’s going to be picked up and a lot of different places. At the same time. If I were to Beaune piece came out and to help leaders piece, so we also did a blog for health matters. So the fact that these reputable news media organizations were talking about medical network it put them on the map overnight and they got invited to be recognized by the healthcare advisory board and this was a very new concept at the time. This happened. So it was fun. It’s fun to launch, things like that, but help good people. And a pea pod. Of course, everyone knows p pod. It’s now a European owned company with a hold and they had these meal kits that were coming out. They’re America’s first online grocer, right. They were the ones that delivered groceries first to your home. And they decided that they had the chef inspired meal kits, so they wanted the people to know about and mostly in the Chicago market. So we went out and we found 20 foodie Instagrammers that had a ball, we found this great venue and linkin park called the social table. And it’s two floors of executive kitchen and a great dining room to eat. And once you’re done, it’s cooking lessons, essentially. And we brought in these two chefs that that went ahead and Jonathan Zaragoza barriers are goes up, and Chef Cameron grant of Osteria Lindy and because they had two young kids coming out, we wanted to prep and those meals in this kitchen and bring these Instagrammer foodies into the same kitchen to rub elbows and to cook and to imbibe at the end. And so at the end of one night for three hours in a really cool venue with two cool chefs. And he’s amazing Instagrammers that have, you know, seven to 25 to 50,000 followers each, there was almost a million shared impressions that came out over the course of a week. So is there a fun influencer marketing event to work on? We did not know any of those foodie Instagrammers before that had happened. That’s again, the power of research and uncovering the ones that you think can make the difference for your clients. So those are those are some some stories, Jeremy, I’m not sure. But any questions about them? That you have?
Jeremy Weisz 46:44
That was fantastic. I love it. Yeah, no, um, I think you do an amazing job explaining guys, when you do work your magic.
Kellee Johnson 46:53
Thank you. Thank you, you know that the one week fine. I didn’t tell you about we don’t have it in slides yet. But it just happened recently, obviously, because of COVID. But this gentleman that I raised sailboats without Utah, hence, again, the sailing theme. He told me last summer, coming out with I’m going to come up with a code test. And I said, really, in the back of my mind, I’m thinking so it was 100 other people or maybe 500 other people. And he said, I’ll keep you posted. I said, Great. So fast forward four months. And he paused and said, Kelly, we went from 700 entries in 38 countries down in the top 20. So you might want to put on your marketing hat and be ready for us. So again, I said, Okay, let’s see what happens. And in one month, they were the top five, and they were the only antigen test that was selected to win a million dollars. So I said, Bill, what do you have right now for brand for an assets or anything and he said, I have a logo and I go, that’s it. Okay, let’s run with it. So overnight, we did a press release, we built the landing page, and to be able to send people when they saw the release, and in 12 hours, they got calls from distributors, manufacturers, employers to test their employees with a new test. The rapid test was 10 minutes instead of waiting 10 to 14 days for the molecular PCR test. So new test solutions were needed. And on top of it country officials from Italy Turkey and of course now India are calling to ask about the test. So there’s still some regular hurdles, regulatory hurdles to go through for him. But it was really powerful to see overnight that that that so much attention was was brought up with five news stories that appeared in 12 hours. So we love it. We love putting putting companies on the map.
Jeremy Weisz 48:26
That’s amazing. Kelly, um, first of all, thank you, where can people find out more? Where should they go check out more about you and your company.
Kellee Johnson 48:34
You know, you can you can email me or call me. But at the BallastGroup.com It’s a it’s a B A L L A S T G R O U P hard to hard to remember the spelling of the BallastGroup.com or my telephone 312-751-3959 and it’s just a pleasure to be on your show. Jeremy thanks. Twice.
Jeremy Weisz 48:55
Amazing. Thanks, everyone. Check out Ballastgroup.com check out more episodes of the podcast. Thanks, Kellee. Thanks, everyone.
Kellee Johnson 49:03