Kellee Johnson is the Principal of The Ballast Group, an award-winning, integrated communications strategy firm. The Ballast Group helps leaders shape and articulate stories while reaching audiences and channels that matter. They have helped well-known companies such as Hyatt, Kaiser Permanente, Stericycle, Safeway, Target, and Cisco in all aspects of marketing, consumer products, healthcare, and high tech. Kellee founded The Ballast Group after serving as Director of Corporate Marketing for Abbott Laboratories and managing corporate communications for Tropicana, a multi-billion dollar division of PepsiCo.

Kellee’s company also excels at positioning these organizations and others as thought leaders, featuring them on the US News, News and World Report, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, and other traditional media. In addition to her work at The Ballast Group, Kellee is a mentor for DePaul University’s Coleman Entrepreneurship Center and 1871 Chicago, a board member of the Lynn Sage Breast Cancer Foundation, and a former member of the Rollins College Board of Trustees.


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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Why team, pipeline, and client satisfaction are top of mind for Kellee Johnson
  • Core values to look out for when building a team from scratch
  • How Kellee’s family and collegiate background shaped her core principles
  • What is an effective pipeline?
  • How Kellee is driving client satisfaction
  • The inverted pyramid methodology — and its steps to finding a great story for your brand
  • What is the PESO model, and how does it work?
  • Kellee’s biggest client satisfaction mistake
  • Bonus: how Kellee helped a client get press on their development of the rapid antigen COVID tests

In this episode…

Is your company doing great work without getting noticed by your target audience? As a business leader, you’re not alone. We are always looking for the best way to articulate our stories and reach our target audience in the channels that matter. However, we often come up short. How can we change that and drive growth for our companies?

Kellee Johnson, Principal of The Ballast Group, has developed the PESO (Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned) model to get your brand story out and generate leads. What is the process of the PESO model, and how does it work?

Listen to this episode of the Inspired Insider Podcast with Dr. Jeremy Weisz to learn about driving growth through the PESO model with Kellee Johnson, Principal of The Ballast Group. They discuss the elements of the PESO model and how to achieve each one. Kellee also talks about what to expect from press attention, how to manage it, and how to share your story with an audience. Stay tuned for more.

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Episode Transcript

Jeremy Weisz 0:19

Dr. Jeremy Weisz here, Founder of InspiredInsider.com where I talk with inspirational entrepreneurs and leaders and I’m gonna introduce Kellee Johnson a second Kellee I always like to mention past episodes that are interesting. And some of the ones that are top of mind today for me, Andrea Heuston, she’s Founder of Artitudes Design, and she hosts The Lead Like a Woman Show she’s coming out with a book so and she’s just an amazing human being. She should probably have you on her show. Also, Kellee and Andrea Herrera of Boxperience. she delivers customized wooden crates, filled with goodies. I geek out on cool direct response packages that are joyful. And that’s exactly what she provides. And Julie Clark, I did that one A while ago founder of Baby Einstein on she grew it to $20 million, with five employees sold to Disney. But the most the most interesting part and inspiring part was she calls herself a cancer assassin. So she battled cancer twice. And she doesn’t like survivor. She likes assassin because it empowers her. So that and many more check out InspiredInsider.com and this episode is brought to you by Rise25 and I Co-founded Rise25 with my business partner John Corcoran. And we’re always on a mission to help build relationships and further relationships. And what we do is we help people connect to their dream 100 relationships by helping them run their podcast. And for me, Kellee, the number one thing in my life is relationships. I’m always looking at ways to give to my best relationships. And I’ve seen no better way over the past 10 years to profile the people in the companies I admire on my podcast. So if you’ve thought about podcasting go to Rise25.com we’ve been doing it for over a decade. Today’s guest I’m really excited. Kellee Johnson, if left to my own devices, Kellee I feel like this interview would go for three hours because there’s so much to talk about from my research. But Kellee Johnson founded The Ballast Group, and it’s an award-winning integrated communication strategy firm. And this is after she served as Director of Corporate Marketing for Abbott Laboratories, Managing Corporate Communications for Tropicana, which if you’ve heard of it, and most people have, it’s a multi-billion dollar division of Pepsi. The Ballast Group basically helps build domestic brands of global companies provides lead generation and grow strategies for startup companies as well. And they’re focused on all aspects of marketing, consumer products, healthcare, high tech, and they’ve helped companies that we’ve all heard of Hyatt Kaiser Permanente, Permanente, Stericycle, Safeway, Target, Cisco, and many, many more. And they position companies as thought leaders and you know, they can they’ve gotten their clients into the US News, News and World Report, Wall Street Journal, CNN, and so many more. And, you know, Kellee, what’s awesome and impressive is that you give back? It’s not like you’re just running your company. You are a mentor for DePaul University’s Coleman Entrepreneur Center 1871, you’re on the board of the Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation, and even former Rollins College Board of Trustees. So, Kellee, thanks for joining me.

Kellee Johnson 3:27

Absolutely. It’s an honor to be here. I really appreciate what you’re doing, Jeremy, for a lot of people, and I’m excited to be here.

Jeremy Weisz 3:35

You know, the, you just you have this combination of kindness, expertise and authority. And when we talked before, I was like, what’s top of mine? And you said team, pipeline and client satisfaction. So expand on that for for a second. What you mean by that?

Kellee Johnson 3:56

Yeah, every day as a business owner, as an entrepreneur, as a person, right? I think of my team and team could be everybody around us all day long in the business sense. It’s obviously my team and I have a unique business model. So my team could go anywhere at any time, right? We were the first cloud based PR firm because a medical technology PR firm, 17 years ago, when we started, we didn’t really know what to call it back then. But now it’s pretty much morphed into becoming the cloud based environment in the gig economy. And so your my team could go anywhere, right? They could work for many different organizations. We pull in subject matter experts to help us we serve a lot of complex industries that are highly regulated. So whether it’s healthcare, medical, high tech, it calls for expertise. And so I have a core four I call it right and there’s probably eight of us at any given time working on projects, but I pull in those subject matter experts they may give you give up Vallis group five to 10 hours a week, but it allows me to fill the client’s needs pretty efficiently. Bring in the expertise that I might not know how to hire. And it also allows me to put my team, the right team into what the client needs rather than what I have as an employee. So the cloud based model has always been a part of it. I checked in every year one. First two questions, I asked myself, can I find the right talent? pretty consistently and over the clients care that we’re cloud based, we can work from anywhere in the world, the answer is always find the right talent, amazing people all across the country, and the clients don’t care as long as you get results. So that that teamwork, the pipeline, as an entrepreneur, you always know you cannot rest on your laurels, you have to constantly thinking about pipeline and how you build relationships, and to keep things moving. And then of course, client satisfaction, they don’t care that we’re cloud based, or where our team works, because we get results. So it’s that constant communication with all of these different stakeholders that Jazz’s me,