[00:00:00] Nancy Marshall: Welcome to the PR Maven podcast, a podcast all about growing your network and building your brand through traditional and digital networking techniques. I’m Nancy Marshall, the PR Maven and CEO of Marshall Communications. I’ve been strengthening brands through PR for over 35 years, and now I’m celebrating the success of executives, influencers, business owners, and entrepreneurs from all around the world. All of whom have cultivated their brands and broadened their networks through traditional and digital networking methods. Each week, I interview one of these interesting and influential individuals and provide an opportunity for you, the PR Maven nation, to gain insights from their strategies and stories.

[00:00:53] So stay tuned for this week’s episode. And thanks for listening.

[00:01:06] Hello, PR Maven nation! Welcome to the PR Maven podcast, and I’m so excited about my guest for episode 141. My guest today is Christine Tieri, who is a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach at Chris Tieri corporation. Chris, welcome to the PR Maven podcast.

[00:01:29]Chris Tieri: Hey, Nancy. Thanks so much for having me. I’m so excited for today.

[00:01:34] Nancy Marshall: I’m excited, too, because you and I have been part of the Agency Management Institute for a long time and we’ve had a lot of fun at the various meetings and locations all across the country.

[00:01:46] Chris Tieri:  Yes, and I will say you brought me into that. You were the one who reeled me in, so I thank you for that.

[00:01:55] Nancy Marshall: I’m glad I reeled you in. That was a good catch!

[00:02:03] Christine Tieri is a business and leadership brand strategist, national speaker, and Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach. Focusing on her strength of vision, ideation, and strategy, Chris works with her clients to discover their unique strengths, make a meaningful impact on those they lead, and set up strategies to accomplish their wildest goals for success. A former ad agency owner for nearly 25 years. Chris knows a thing or two about brand building, strategic messaging, and three martini lunches. My favorite thing!  Actually, I did do those back in the eighties when it was still fashionable. I have no idea how I made it through the day.

[00:02:50] Chris Tieri: I thought it was still fashionable though, Nancy.

[00:02:56] Nancy Marshall: Well, it will be on the day that we get together – whenever that is, hopefully soon. So Chris, tell us about your career and how you got into it in the first place.

[00:03:08] Chris Tieri: Well, I got into it because I started off wanting to be in interior design, actually, and I started taking interior design classes in college. One of the first projects we got was designing a restaurant from start. It wasn’t just the interior flow and where the boots went or anything like that. It was things like what the name of the restaurant was, what the graphics were. I found myself spending all my time on the marketing piece of it and the brand. What’s the name of it? How will it look? What for color scheme, you know? What will the ads look like? I realized that, really, advertising was my passion. So, I switched my major and I was an advertising design major at Syracuse University. I went through school there, and they have a building down in New York City called Lubin House. They used to send all the creative’s portfolios down there. My portfolio went down and I got picked up by a creative director and I started my career in New York city. I was an art director down there for about five or six years. Fabulous, fun time! They just throw you in and you have to sink or swim, and you just swim. I really enjoyed my time in New York. By the time I was, I don’t know, 23 or 24, I had done dozens of TV commercials. Nobody really asked how old you were or how much experience you had, if you could do it, you just did it. I’m like, “Okay, here goes nothing.” I was really on kind of a fast track down there and it was exhausting, frankly – fun and exhausting at the same time. By the time I was 27 I moved back to New England. I’m from central Massachusetts. I hung up my own shingle and started my own ad agency. I’m partnered up with a great friend of mine for many years of that When she sort of retired from agency world, she was a little smarter than I was – got out a little sooner. All joking aside, I continued and then I ended up selling about 10 years after she had left. Now, I’m a former agency owner.

[00:05:15] Nancy Marshall: Yeah, which I always say that’s what all of us agency owners are.

[00:05:22] Chris Tieri: You’re striving to be a former in your field.

[00:05:25] Nancy Marshall: Just kidding! Today does happen to be the 30th anniversary of my agency.

[00:05:30] Chris Tieri: Oh my goodness! Wow, congratulations! See, I wish that champagne came a little earlier. That is worth celebrating.

[00:05:38] Nancy Marshall: I should tell everybody, in full transparency, Chris ordered me a bottle of champagne through Drizly that is going to be delivered right after this is over. It’s the first time I’ve gotten a Drizly delivery!

[00:05:55] So, how and why did you make the transition from agency owner to coach?

[00:06:02] Chris Tieri: One piece of my business that I always loved, but I didn’t even put a label on but when I thought back about what I liked most about owning an agency, was actually bringing along my employees and helping them develop their natural strengths, and even client’s. I would work with CEOs, or especially the entrepreneurial CEOs with the smaller businesses who sort of needed coaching along with their business. Again, not without labeling myself a coach, or even knowing what I was doing at the time, that’s really what it was. One thing I had used in my agency that I loved was Gallup StrengthsFinder assessment. They now call it CliftonStrengths.

[00:06:47] There are 34 strengths and the premise is why spend all that time and energy fixing your flaws, when, if you spent that same amount of time and energy enhancing your natural talents then the sky is the limit. Not that you should ignore weaknesses, but you don’t need to focus on them as much. Focus on what makes you, you, and what makes you great. I really believed in that and my employees got into it. We used to hang our signature strengths on our doors and people would really get to understand each other a little bit more. I just love that piece. When the opportunity came to sell my agency, I tried to think of all the things I loved doing that I didn’t want to give up. That was one of them. So, I actually went to become a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach and went to class in Chicago and took the test and all of that stuff. Now, that’s where I’m at and I’m using a lot of it. I’m still doing brand consulting, but I use a lot of the strengths finding in everything I do.

[00:07:45] I also do executive coaching and team coaching and that sort of thing.

[00:07:51] Nancy Marshall: I have on a sticky note here, somewhere on my desk – oh, here we go – because you did it for me, that I am strategic, a maximizer, focused – which, I’m not always -, futuristic and empathetic. Which, is really helpful!

[00:08:08] Chris Tieri: That is why you are super at what you do, right? You maximize a situation for a business. You know, you’re gonna leverage PR you’re gonna leverage marketing. You’re going to put it together. But the thing I love about you is that you’re empathetic, it’s what makes you such a great interviewer.

[00:08:24] I have to confess that out of the 34 strengths – you can see what your top five are, but I got to see the whole 34 – empathy is number 34.

[00:08:37] I’m a little embarrassed on that one, but we do share strategic and futuristic, and I’m not surprised.

[00:08:45] Nancy Marshall: Yeah, I definitely would say I’m a maximizer.

[00:08:52] Chris Tieri: I’m an achiever, too. I sometimes say my strengths, but if you put together achiever, communication, futuristic, and strategic, I sometimes come in like the Tasmanian devil. I’m like, woo! It’s a little too much for people. You also have to know when to back off of your strengths. When they’re all in full force – and you might experience this as well because, you know, we’re similar – you can scare the crap out of people. You have to know when to pull out which strengths and use them.

[00:09:22] Nancy Marshall: [00:09:22] In one of my first jobs, the woman who was the senior admin said, “You are a human bulldozer!

[00:09:34] Chris Tieri: Thanks, I think?

[00:09:36] Nancy Marshall: Oh no, I don’t think she meant it as a compliment. So yeah, that’s exactly what you’re talking about. Sometimes you have to learn how to tone it down a little bit. The other thing is sometimes you have to learn how to make small talk with people first. I do that now. Back then, I didn’t have time for small talk, though. I would launch right into it. Just get it done.  I had my teeth gritted like this!

[00:10:01] Chris Tieri: That’s because you were trying to maximize – no waste here. Just maximizing.

[00:10:08] Nancy Marshall: In the future, I want this job done. So tell us about your passion project. I can’t wait to hear about this.

[00:10:17] Chris Tieri: So, I don’t even know kind of how it started, and I don’t actually even know what it’s going to be. Right? I’m a storyteller, as you know, and I love people telling stories, and I love humor. I’m trying to think of putting it all together and what that means. I came up with this concept – laughter leadership, motherhood, and wine. I thought, I would love to get to know more ladies who love to laugh, who are in leadership positions, juggling motherhood, and who like a good glass of wine at the end of the day or the weekend, or whenever.  Sometimes noon, you never know.

[00:11:01] I have this idea. I don’t know if it’s a book, a podcast, or just a collection of stories. I don’t know if it goes anywhere or if it’s just my own personal passion project, and it just sits on my desk. I would love to chat with other women because I think there’s synergies, right? Sometimes we feel like we’re alone. You’ve got the kids – and our kids are grown, but I mean, you remember what it was like trying to juggle sports schedules, SATs, and school and college applications. Also, you’re trying to juggle your employees, who sometimes act like toddlers anyways. There’s a whole synergy. There’s a juggle that happens. If you don’t have humor, how do you get through? [00:12:00] I feel like I kind of went through it without as much humor as I would have liked. That’s what I want to maybe bring to it, to help others who are going through that right now.

[00:12:11] That’s kind of my passion project. You know, I’m here if you, or any of your listeners want to sign up to give me a story about laughter, leadership, motherhood, and wine. Also, I’m going to do a spinoff – ladders, laughter, leadership, fatherhood, and beer – so we can talk to them all.

[00:12:32] Nancy Marshall: Well, I did participate in a workshop that you put on on a weekend. Was it in January?

[00:12:38] Chris Tieri: Yes. It was a goal-setting workshop.

[00:12:40] Nancy Marshall: Yeah, that was really awesome. It was really refreshing and revitalizing. Yeah. I really enjoyed that.

[00:12:47] Chris Tieri: You know, at the beginning of the year, everybody’s always setting goals. It was called, Girlfriend’s Goal Crusher Workshop. I thought it would be fun just to get girls and their girlfriends together. We had some guys on the line as well. We were mapping out goals for the upcoming year. I think it was fun to do together.

[00:13:08] Nancy Marshall: Yeah, definitely. I really enjoyed that. I need to do it again!

[00:13:13] Chris Tieri: I know! A lot of the feedback I got was, “Can you do a follow up? Can we have a monthly meeting?” We need to be more accountable. Maybe next year I’ll put together a little bit more of a longer program for that.

[00:13:26] Nancy Marshall: Yeah, that would be great. I would enjoy that. So what is strengths finder and how do you use it with your clients?

[00:13:33] Chris Tieri: Sure. So again, I shared how I used it with my own agency. With my clients, what I’m finding is, it’s really coming in handy for people who are transitioning from one job to another, a different industry, or just somebody who’s being promoted to a different level. What’s really great about it is people get nervous at transition and they wonder if they can do it or if they’re going to be good at it, and when I help them identify their strengths it’s almost like a validation. Nobody gets their strengths back and says, “Oh, I’m surprised I’m futuristic.” They say, “No, that makes sense.” Right? Usually, I mean. I haven’t gotten that yet. Once they kind of own it and they start owning their strengths they have a much better time feeling good about whatever’s next for them. A couple of clients stand out for me. One was being elevated. She went into a director position. She was a part of a team and she was chosen to be their leader. She’d been friends with them for years and all the same sort of peer level. And now, she was going to be their leader, which is a hard transition to make because everybody kind of views you as “one of them,” you know? We worked together to help her lean into her strengths, so she could be a little more authoritative, but still friendly, but take charge and know that she was the decision maker. I think she really went a long way with her confidence in that area.

[00:15:10] I had another gal who was transitioning completely from one career to something completely unrelated. We worked through it with her strengths and she realized that, “Yeah, I can do this. My strengths are going to help me with my new career path.” And she was less afraid to kind of make the jump. That’s a great place for me – the transition place.

[00:15:35] Now, I’m working with some teams, too, to help teams identify how they can work together better. This one might have this strength, this one might have another. How can they all work together to accomplish their team’s goals?

[00:15:49] Nancy Marshall: I think that’s great.

[00:15:51] If people are sometimes just given permission to own who they are. I know that back when I started my business, my own father didn’t think you should have your own business because he thought you could never get away from it. He thought that it was much better to work for a big company where the company has all those stresses, and you just work for them. But the guy I was working for at Sugarloaf was like, “No, you Nancy, you are an entrepreneur. You’re cut out for entrepreneurial life and you should just own that.” I’m so glad he did. He kind of gave me permission go out on my own.

[00:16:36] Chris Tieri: That’s awesome. And, that’s exactly right. They have this phrase in StrengthsFinder. It’s called, “Name it, claim it, and aim it.” That’s sort of the process you go through. The first part is naming what your strengths are. Once you take the assessment, they do label it, but they don’t want you to be sort of confined to labels. Instead, just really understanding what your strengths are. Claiming it is owning it. That piece that you said, “This is who I am, I’m going to own it and I’m going to be the best possible.” Aiming it is, now that you know who you are and what your strengths are, what am I going to do with them? I love that progression of the “Name, it claim it, aim it.” They also say something like, “love it live it,” and I love that, too. You get the idea of once you understand what it is, how are you going to use your strengths and how are you gonna really lean into them?

[00:17:28] Nancy Marshall: Right. I also like the philosophy of focusing on your strengths. For example, I’m not very good at accounting, so one philosophy would have had me spend all my time learning accounting. Instead, I hired an accountant and I told them I really need you! But, my accountant would not at all be good at what I do here.

[00:17:58] Chris Tieri: Absolutely!

[00:18:01] Nancy Marshall: Chris, what lessons have we learned about effective leadership from COVID?

[00:18:06] Chris Tieri: Oh boy.  Well, here’s something interesting. I consult with the Old Sturbridge Village, and I was just working with the CEO recently. At the village, there’s over 200 employees, and for a nonprofit, destination focused organization, we were able to keep most of our employees throughout COVID. It was really miraculous! And, it was at the leadership of Jim Donahue who really put that front and center. We were talking about COVID and how different people were affected and how the managers really had to be open to all different sorts of reactions. Usually, we’re open to all different styles of workers and differences in our employment, but COVID brought out so many different things and people. Some people are like, “Okay, I’m going to adjust, put my nose to the grindstone, and get through it.” Other people were freaked out, you know? People had worries beyond work, like their families, illness, and what not. You just didn’t know. He thought that making sure we were all empathetic during this time was super important. Of course, with my empathy at number 34, it maybe wasn’t in my department. But, I think empathy is really the way through, for leaders during this time – and not trying to get the most productivity. Being a maximizer or with me, an achiever, we question, “What are we doing? How are we getting it done? Why are we wasting time?” That couldn’t happen during COVID. You needed to give people space and you needed to give people a responsibility to get the things done in their time, in their way. I think the most successful leaders were ones who could tap into empathy.

[00:20:04] Nancy Marshall: Well, I’m just so thrilled with the way my team at Marshall Communications was able to adapt to working from home. We ended up closing our office. Yesterday, we completely moved out of our big office and we now have just a tiny little one-person office space. We’ve decided just to permanently work from home.

[00:20:28] Chris Tieri: You trusted that your team could get everything accomplished you need to remotely, as much as you could when you were in person. I mean, obviously or you wouldn’t have let your office go. That’s great that you were open to that.

[00:20:43] Nancy Marshall: We have a lot of methods of accountability. One is a lot of weekly meetings, and Charlene touches base with each person individually each week. We all do our time slips every day.

[00:21:02] Chris Tieri: One real thing I don’t miss at all about agency.

[00:21:04] Nancy Marshall: It’s not my favorite thing either.

[00:21:09] We’re going to hear more from Chris in just a moment, but now I just want to remind you that my latest book, Grow Your Audience, Grow Your Brand, is available if you go to – prmaven.com/giveaway. You can actually download the whole thing on Kindle. So, that is your bonus for tuning in today! We’re going to hear now about my message mapping course, and then we’re going to be back in just a moment with more from Chris Tieri.

[00:21:42] Narrator: Do you want to grow your client or customer base, perhaps increased brand awareness, maybe tell your unique story more effectively? Of course you do. But you may be worried that you don’t have enough expertise to make that happen. Well, no worries PR Maven Nation. Let the PR Maven herself, Nancy Marshall, show you how easy it is to get your message across effectively using a powerful, yet simple tool – a message map. Nancy’s training is often called informative and constructive, well-designed and impactful with a perfect blend of theory and a real life experience. You will leverage Nancy’s expertise to create your own message map when you register for this comprehensive online video training course, which is broken down into four easy to understand modules.

[00:22:32] Normally this course is priced at $147. But for listeners of the PR Maven podcast, that’s you PR Maven Nation, it’s only $29 when you enter the code word, “podcast,” during enrollment. It even includes a workbook and bonus content to guide you through the process. So, go to prmaven.com, and click on the Message Map Mastery Course to enroll today.

[00:22:57] Remember, enter the word, “podcast,” during enrollment for a special, discounted price of $29.

[00:23:11] Nancy Marshall: Welcome back to the PR Maven Podcast, and today we’re talking with Christine Tieri. I want to mention that the podcast is also available on Facebook and YouTube. Also, this is a new thing, we’re using StreamYard. And I do have to give Chris some credit here because she and I did some work over last summer on my branding, the branding of the PR Maven, and the branding of Marshall Communications. Expanding this [podcast] into video was one of the things that came out of those conversations.

[00:23:48] So, it’s all happening. You know, sometimes when you have new ideas, it’s like, “Oh gosh, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get to that.” But if you just implement them, it’s like, seeing the trees from the forest, you know? One tree at a time.

[00:24:05] Chris Tieri: Right. And a good support system like Emma!

[00:24:08] Nancy Marshall: Yeah, exactly. That’s critical, for sure.

[00:24:13] So, Chris, you’re an expert in personal branding as well as organizational branding. And what is your definition of a brand?

[00:24:22] Chris Tieri: So, I like to say that a brand is your unique point of difference, your differentiator, your distinction, what sets you out if you’re a business brand in the marketplace, and what sets you out of your personal brand from all the other peers in your group or leaders or whatever it is. Really just the separator, the big unique thing that makes you, you.

[00:24:46] Nancy Marshall: Right. And I like to think of how people feel. Not only how they think about you, but how they feel in their heart. If you say a certain brand that I like – I love the ski resort, Sugarloaf, where I used to work – that just makes my heart happy. If I hear something like Walmart, I don’t have that same feeling. I mean, sometimes Walmart is nice, but does it make my heart sing?

[00:25:16] Chris Tieri: No. And you know, what’s interesting, it is a feeling. The brand is really the image that somebody else holds in their eyes. It is the feeling they get. I’m going to screw up this Maya Angelou quote, but it’s something like, “They won’t remember what you say. They won’t remember your words, but they will remember how they make you feel.” I definitely screwed that up, but the point being that, yes. How does somebody walk away feeling when they’ve interacted with you, your brand, your product? Yes.

[00:25:50] Nancy Marshall: Yeah, so our job as brand managers is to kind of keep our fingers on the pulse of how people are feeling about our brand and course correct.

[00:26:01] Chris Tieri: Well, that’s what your book is about, your audience. You need to know what they want and how they feel when they interact with you. That’s how you’ll grow your audience. So that’s really important. I had done a lot of brand studying over the years, and there was a group I was with, who was big into talking about how the brand comes from within. That is super true, but they didn’t put a lot of emphasis on the audience piece. That was the part that got me every time was, “Okay, you can do and say B, but if your audience – the people who you want to influence or be in your circle – are not resonating with what you’re saying, then either you need to change your message or you need to change your audience. The audience is a huge part of that equation.

[00:26:51] Just because Susan is one of our favorite people, I’m going to mention an audience audit. That’s when I really got into how to bring the audience into the brand development. Understanding who they are and what motivates them and making sure there’s alignment there, because if you don’t know your audience or know what drives them, how do you know if your brand is really matching up? Or again, get a different audience.

[00:27:21] Nancy Marshall: I always remember the case study, when you two work together on branding a dry cleaner. You identified all the different categories of customers. Even though it was one dry cleaning service, there were different types of customers and each one was motivated by a different aspect of the operation.

[00:27:45] Chris Tieri: Yeah, it was fascinating. That one was great because everybody understands what dry cleaners do. So, it was super easy to get that concept. The four audiences, if I can remember them, were – not that they’re all male – “the shirt guys.” They were guys who just wanted their shirts picked up, washed for two bucks, dry cleaned, and pressed. This starch, that starch, you know? They didn’t even want to talk to anybody. They want to hang them [clothes] on their door, somebody picks them up, and somebody puts them back. Then there were these other people who wanted to come into the dry cleaners, they’d go to Starbucks, they would go to the dry cleaners, and then they’d go to yoga. They wanted to have this interaction with their dry cleaner. They needed to know them by name. It was part of their daily routine. There was another group who was super picky. They had five dry cleaners, and it was cashmere sweaters and this and that. If you lost a button, they would throw you out to dry. They looked great cause they had a high price point, but they were your toughest customer. The last group was fans – people who just loved the brand, and you could raise your prices, you could do this, you could do that, and they’d still stay with you because they loved you for who you are.

[00:29:01] One other thing, not to just talk dry cleaning, but we found out that was across all segments was this dry cleaner was really into being environmentally correct. They had what they called perk free cleaning. Perk is a type of chemical, so they were free of that. Before we met them, they were spending all their advertising money talking about being a “greener cleaner,” because they were perk free. All of their advertising dollars were talking about this.

[00:29:28] When we asked the question, “Do you know what perk free means?” half of their audience didn’t know. Half of their consumers had no idea what it meant. Of the ones who knew what it was, we asked them to rate where environmentally friendly was on a scale with numbers 1 through 10. It wasn’t even in the top five. It was, “I want my shirts clean. I want this. I don’t really give a crap how many chemicals are used on it.” So, we’re spending all this money on something that wasn’t motivating the consumer. It was a huge “aha” moment for them. Really interesting, looking at your audience against your brand.

[00:30:06] Nancy Marshall: Right. You can learn so much from your audience. So, Susan Buyer, audience audit, we’ll give her a shout out.

[00:30:19] Chris Tieri: It’s her birthday! It was today, I think.

[00:30:23]Nancy Marshall: Oh, is it?

[00:30:25]Chris Tieri: It might’ve been yesterday.

[00:30:26] Nancy Marshall: We’ll have to send her a shoutout!

[00:30:31] Many of our listeners are interested in strengthening their personal brand. How should they go about doing that?

[00:30:39] Chris Tieri: Like an organizational brand, there’s a few things you should look at. I call them the brand building blocks, but I think I just sort of made them up. You look at your purpose, right? What makes you get up in the morning? It has to be some bigger worldly purpose. Simon Sinek’s, Start With Why, famous Ted talk from years ago is still relevant. It’s an 18 minute Ted talk, definitely worth it. Listen to it, if you haven’t. It really talks about that inner motivation for organizations, but also, you can apply it to individuals. If you answer, “What drives you to get up in the morning every day?” you’re going to be happy and satisfied, within. Then, it’s finding that brand distinction or that differentiator. If you do the strengths assessment through Gallup, then to me, those strengths are your differentiator. When you put them all together, that really differentiates you. To prove that point, Nancy, you are one out of 200,000 in your top five strengths. There’s 1 in 200,000 people that have your same top five strengths, but 1 in 33 million have your five strengths in the same order. Which, is pretty amazing. That is pretty unique. I mean, people say one in a million, you are one in 33 million. When you look at those, that order of your strengths, that is a distinction because it’s only you out of 33 million who have that particular strength order. So, I love using that for distinction, but you can also find that out on your own just by knowing what makes you, you. Proof is another building block. Once you kind of know what makes you, you, what are the ways that your brand, organizationally or personally, are proving it out? There’s going to be some sort of proof. For instance, target. You mentioned Walmart, but target is a little bit more stylish. How do they prove that they’re more stylish than Walmart? Well, they hired designers to do a lot of their products. They put their stores in a much better, brighter light that’s a little bit more fashionable. You don’t feel so, “eew,” shopping there, right? Less “eew” at Target.

[00:33:05] For you, Nancy, what’s your proof for your point of distinction? Being the PR Maven and all that. Well, if you start looking at all the things you’re involved in, like the podcast that helps others learn all these secret tips and tricks to putting yourself out there. Those are the things, the proof. You’ve written, two books, or three books on the PR side, right?

[00:33:27] Nancy Marshall: I’m a Forbes columnist.

[00:33:30] Chris Tieri: There you go. Those are all proof points that you are an expert in you, in the PR Maven. So, um,

[00:33:37] Then comes a promise, and this is where the audience comes in. What’s your promise to your audience? How are they experiencing you and are you delivering that day in and day out? Again, that applies for personal brands or business brands. Are you delivering on your brand promise? Lastly, this one’s kind of easy, but personality. It’s what people see and experience. If you’re sort of a fun, happy-go-lucky person, and you come in and there are these big “power suits,” there’s a little bit of a disconnect from who you are. I think with personality, you might have to tune it up or tune it down for different situations. Certainly, you need to be true to your personality so that when your brand is experienced by somebody, it feels real and authentic.

[00:34:23] Nancy Marshall: I actually have to say, for me, within the past, maybe, five years that I feel like I fully embraced who I am and been able to incorporate that. I think previously, I was always questioning myself, “Oh, maybe I shouldn’t be like that. Maybe I should be different.” Then I’m like, “No, I should be who I am.” It’s easiest just to be yourself.

[00:34:52] Chris Tieri: Exactly, right.

[00:34:56] Nancy Marshall: I know you have done a lot of research. We’ve talked about some of the research you did in the past. How does research help with branding?

[00:35:04] Chris Tieri: Well, as I mentioned, I like audience research. There’s also other types of research – competitive research or brand or PR brand perception research. I’m actually doing a project right now with a client who were two companies that merged into one. They want to understand how their brand is being perceived, now. We’re doing some pre-brand perception research to understand what people thought the brands were, themselves, before they merged. And then what that is now that they’ve been merged for a couple of years. That’s really interesting, too. It’s a little harder to get to because you have to ask questions and then decipher what would they mean. You can’t just come out and ask somebody, “What’s, what’s your brand perception?” They’re not going to really be able to answer that. There’s one way I like to do it, that I call it the brand look alike. For instance, if I’m doing research on a bank, I might say, “Okay, we’re the ‘Marriott’ of the banking industry. We have branches everywhere and we accommodate our customers.” Or, “I’m the rolls Royce of the banking industry because we only appeal to luxury and wealthy clients with big investments.” I love doing that and having people explain why they’re the “X” brand of a certain industry. People get into it. At first, they’re a little bit like, “How do I do this?” But, when you start giving them examples, like, “I’m the Levi’s of the restaurant industry,” it’s kind of fun to do. Clients are always like, “Oh, I didn’t realize I was the McDonald’s of, or the Walmart of…”

[00:36:54] Nancy Marshall: Yeah, that’s cool!

[00:36:56] It’s a fun way to get at the answers that you need.

[00:37:02] Big brands like that, we all do have a perception of them.

[00:37:07] Chris Tieri: That’s right. I’ve seen some people pick a color. What’s this brand color? But, that’s really subjective because some people like beige and some people hate beige. What does it mean? That’s why I like to use a big, well-known brand, even though somebody might bring their own lens to it. You can pretty much get to what they’re trying to say. It’s like a shortcut.

[00:37:37]Nancy Marshall: Chris, is there a book, an app or a website that you have found helpful, and why?

[00:37:43] Chris Tieri: I would say, anything Seth Godin. He’s my favorite, starting with, Purple Cow. I probably was introduced to him before that, but purple cow – the book is really old now – is so relevant. He reinvented it. I just love this book, it’s all about how everybody expects a brown and white or a black and white cow. You’re driving along the road and you see a cow, and you see a million cows, and they all kind of look the same. But, if you saw a purple cow, you would stop immediately to get a better look at that cow. That’s as simple as it gets. To me, that’s me that’s brand. Then, he goes through and gives examples of the “purple cows” in the industry. The Southwest and the apples. To me, it just says it all right there. As you know, purple was the color of my agency and there was my “purple process.” It wasn’t because of the purple cow, but I would always give everybody a purple cow book. To this day, it is extremely relevant.

[00:38:47] He also wrote, Linchpin. I mean, he wrote a million things. For personal brands, Linchpin is a good read. It’s all about picking yourself up. Don’t wait around for somebody to pick you up. Pick yourself up, get out there, and do your thing. And, you’re going to start aligning with people who like you for you and appreciate what you bring.

[00:39:05] The last book – well, I mean, again, he has a million books – is, Tribes, another one that talks about audience. It talks about how you have your own tribes. You don’t need mass marketing anymore. It’s hard to even break through the clutter of mass marketing.

[00:39:24]Nancy Marshall: Right.

[00:39:24] Chris Tieri: Everybody has their own tribes, and you can find them now on the internet. Especially my work with Old Sturbridge Village, they have a tribe. They have types of people who like them. Not everybody’s going to like them, but if we can appeal to that tribe, well, then it’s perfect. So, anything by him, and I would sign up for his daily blog. He’s religious about writing a daily blog. Some are short, some are long, but they’re always like, wow! He gets it.

[00:39:55] Nancy Marshall: He sounds disciplined, too.

[00:40:00] Well, Chris, this has been really great. I’m so glad that you joined us. Now, if people want to get in touch with you, what’s the best way?

[00:40:08] Chris Tieri: I’m on LinkedIn at, “christieri,” one word. That’s a good way because you can private message me there. I’m on Facebook, but I mostly use Facebook for fun. So, don’t hold it against me if you see me having cocktails on the front porch or something. I mean, it’s already out there. I’ve labeled my pageant project with the word wine in it.

[00:40:34] Nancy Marshall: Well, there’s a reason I’m hanging around with you, too.

[00:40:40]Chris Tieri: So, Facebook for fun, LinkedIn for business. You probably won’t see me too much on Twitter. Although, I have a handle and I’m on there. It just goes too fast for me. You can always reach me on my website, too, at, christieri.com. You can email me from there. It would be great to hear from you all.

[00:41:04] Nancy Marshall: Well, thanks so much for joining me today, and I’m sure everybody in PR Maven Nation enjoyed our conversation.

[00:41:13] Chris Tieri: And, a shout out to all our AMI family that we miss so much, Nancy. Even though I’m not an agency owner anymore, I look forward to getting our tribe our tribe back together at some point for a little reunion.

[00:41:27]Nancy Marshall: I do, too.

[00:41:28] So, whether you were listening in live, or whether you’re watching the replay, I want to thank you for joining us! I hope you have a great day, PR Maven Nation!

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