Branding Matters

Bonnie Rothman & Judy Kalvin - Share Your Founder's Story

January 01, 2021 Branding Badass Season 1 Episode 3
Branding Matters
Bonnie Rothman & Judy Kalvin - Share Your Founder's Story
Show Notes Transcript

Bonnie Rothman is the President and Founder of Company B - a successful New York communications firm that helps brands connect with their customers through compelling story-telling. Company B was built on the promise of pinpointing a brand’s story to shape messaging, execute public relations and social media campaigns, and launch brands with exacting, exciting content. As a former contributor to The New York Times, and screenwriter mentored by Norah Ephron, Bonnie knows what makes a story take hold. She has worked with global brands like Kraft Foods, Kaplan and eBay, non-profits like the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and early and mid-stage tech companies. Her partner Judy Kalvin, has over two decades of experience in public relations specializing in creative services agencies and marketing tech companies. Judy’s top-tier clients have often been mentioned in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Forbes, Fast Company, Crain’s New York Business, CNN, CNBC, CBS and NPR radio. Judy often speaks on public relations topics at creative services conferences around the world, and in 2002 she won the New York City Council’s Annual Women of Achievement Pacesetter Awards. I invited Bonnie & Judy to be on my show to discuss why branding matters to them and to learn about Founders Stories and why they're so important in connecting brands with their audience. We also discuss why now, more than ever, companies need to take responsibility and action on issues they believe in to create real change.

💥IF YOU WANT HELP GETTING YOUR CLIENTS TO FALL IN LOVE WITH YOUR BRAND,  REACH OUT TO ME ON SOCIAL AT BRANDING_BADASS OR EMAIL ME AT JGOODSON@GENUMARK.COM

Joelly Lang:

Hi, I'm Joelly, you branding badass. Welcome to m new podcast branding matters Today I have two special guests Bonnie Rothman, who's th president and founder of Compan B, a successful New Yor communications firm that help brands connect with thei customers through compellin storytelling. And joining Bonni is her partner Judy Calvin. Jud has over two decades o experience in public relations specializing in creativ services agencies and marketin tech companies. Judy's top tie clients have often bee mentioned in such world renowne publications as the Wall Stree Journal, The New York Times an Forbes. Judy often speaks o public relations topics a Creative Services conference around the world. And in 2002 she won the New York Cit Council's annual women o achievement pacesetter awards. mean, talk about two incredibl women. I invited Bonnie and Jud to be on my show today t discuss why branding matters t them. And to learn about founde stories and why they are s important in connecting brand with their audience. I als wanted to discuss why now mor than ever before, companies nee to take responsibility an action on issues they believe i to create real change. Ladies welcome to branding matters Thanks fo

Bonnie Rothman:

having me. thrilled to be here.

Joelly Lang:

Oh, it's so nice having you I really am excited. He we're gonna talk about founder stories today, because I think that is so important. And I thought well, what better way to kick off the show, then to you to share your founder story with us. So maybe Bonnie, you can start tell us a little bit about your background and how you got to doing what you're doing and how you and Judy got together?

Bonnie Rothman:

Well, I think we should start in the middle.

Joelly Lang:

Okay, and

Unknown:

Judy, and I good place. Judy and I were sold. And like we were solopreneurs. And like many women entrepreneurs, we were looking for colleagues and people to bounce ideas off of and Judy had founded a networking group and in our community. And we discovered one another and

Joelly Lang:

work together and do more of these. Yes,

Unknown:

exactly. We decided we said, Well, you know what, we're a good team, we felt that we were able together to offer something really unique and special to our clients, and give them really to senior level people who could service their business and really are just hell bent on getting success for them and making sure that everything we did for them was really true to their brand and was going to be able to, again, have ROI for them. That's wonderful. So

Joelly Lang:

do you mind how many years ago was that? When? When did that happen? About

Unknown:

10? ago? About 10? Probably about 10 years ago.

Joelly Lang:

So yeah, 10 years.

Unknown:

That's great. And

Joelly Lang:

so far, so good, and knocked out a lot of amazing things since then. so wonderful. So fast forward. So you have this company now. And it's grown. And as I mentioned to you, buddy, when you and I talked Originally, I went on your website and was stalking you. And I saw you say, and so you're all women in your company, is that correct?

Unknown:

We currently now have all women as team members, we it hasn't always been that way. We have had some been through our doors and go go on to other things. But right now we're all these hard working women. And we look for the best people to do the best work. And we're super proud of the team that we have in place right now.

Joelly Lang:

That's wonderful. Congratulations. So let's get right into talking about branding. So what in your mind? Do you think it takes for a brand to connect with fair audience? Do you want to go first, Judy?

Unknown:

Yeah, I will go first. I think whether we're talking about a consumer brand, or if we're talking about a business to business brand, it really is focusing on your audience's needs. What is it that your business or brand provides? And how do you show that you understand who your target audience is and what their needs are in business, we have to align with brands that match our beliefs, right? a buyer aligns with a brand that matches their beliefs. So the best way is to really have a critical understanding of your audience, and what your audience needs from you. It's not about you, but what your audience needs you to give them

Joelly Lang:

and having shared values, right? Like you have to obviously have the same mindset. People like to work with people who feel the same way. What do you think, Bonnie?

Unknown:

I really believe that when we choose to do business, whether it's the store down the street, or the media database platform that we need in our business, it's it makes a statement about who we are, and how we think and what we believe in. So I think that we make these choices Based on feelings about ourselves and how brands reflect back on how the brands reflect back on us. So we're looking for those shared values. I think that's why brands that putting sustainability or diversity inclusion, and really standing behind those things really taking action on those points of view, are going to do very well in 2021. Because people are really looking to make those human connections with whom they do business.

Joelly Lang:

Yeah, definitely. So do you think as far as what's going on now in the world, finding those like minded people who you share the same values with? With everybody being online? Do you find it, it would be easier for brands to find the people who have the same values or more difficult?

Unknown:

No, I mean, I think that it's it's a matter of clarity and storytelling, and also clarity and action. So I think it's easier now for brands to get their stories out there, how well they're telling their stories is a completely, you know, another factor, as I said, and as we know, the proof is in the pudding. I think that more and more as we make choices, you know, in business, and for on a personal level, we're going to be looking to make sure that the choices that we make are okay, for example, stopped buying one being brand, because of the political views of the CEO of that particular company this year, you know, they didn't align with my own values. And even though the price was right, I'm not buying those beans anymore, I'm gonna buy the more expensive beans or the beans at the next grocery store, right? I really do think that most people who have the luxury of thinking along those lines are doing are doing so.

Joelly Lang:

And you brought up a good thing about pricing, because at the end of the day, pricing might be a little bit higher. But if the values don't align, then you're going to go with the one that doesn't align with you. So that's a great example of a strong brand. You don't have to sell yourself on price, right? I mean, that's back again. So you've mentioned stories. Can you elaborate now on stories? And what makes a good story? And how do you create that story to tell your audience?

Unknown:

Well, Judy, and I spent a lot of time thinking about what makes a good story, the most important thing is that there is a conflict that needs to be solved, somehow the conflict could be and I've written about this a lot. This is Judy, that could there could be an enemy, there could be an obstacle, there could be a puzzle, there could be a trap. But every good story has at its center, some problem that needs solving, it could be a little problem, it doesn't have to be something major. Every story needs a protagonist, sort of the Gestalt of storytelling, a guide, who's someone who's going to help solve the problem. And generally, that's the brand's role in in brand storytelling, right? The person with the problem or the organization with the problem is the customer. The guide is the brand and they're solving, you know, they're overcoming an enemy, an obstacle, a puzzle, or a trap. If you're a gamer, you know, someone who's a gamer, they're pretty familiar with those smiles for? Yeah, there's your four. Yeah, he's thinking a lot about about those things. So how to overcome them in a game? Right? Yeah, that's what games are so compelling. I mean, you're, you're constantly figuring out how to solve problems.

Joelly Lang:

And so it was that what the brand does, then is to solve the problem that the consumer is having, ultimately, right? Isn't that their goal?

Unknown:

Right? It could be it could be for a consumer, or, again, could be for a business, you know, solving, from a business to business perspective as well. Because you get a lot of loyalty when you have somebody who solves your problem, right? I mean, if you have, you have your electrician come in, and he's, you know, fixes a problem, you know, you love that electrician, and you're going to use them again, similarly, with brands, they solve your problem, you will be loyal to that brand. Because you won't, you might not trust, the other brand is going to do, as Bonnie said, could be even beans, they may not taste the same, you know, your recipe may not come out the same. So people are creatures of habit. And if something solves their problem, they will go back to it over and over again.

Joelly Lang:

Right. And you know, you talked about loyalty, loyalty is so important, I think now more than ever opposed to someone who is constantly going to the next best thing and that you know, the shiny penny over here. And so to create that loyalty amongst your customers, you have to have that trust factor, as you mentioned, and the values that you have to have the same shared values. But do you ladies think is a way to create that brand loyalty so customers don't leave and go to the next shiny Penny or the next customer? What do you think it takes to have that?

Unknown:

Well, we're obviously believe big believers in the power of public relations to get that good story out there.

Joelly Lang:

Right. You know,

Unknown:

we believe that people need validators word of mouth and third party are incredibly powerful ways to build brand loyalty. If you see a story about a brand you're interested in doing business with that is a powerful validator, if it's a positive story, of course, and that's when that's a powerful validator for the brand's promise. And if the publicity is crafted in a smart and authentic way, that it's even more helpful, you know, an ad. Social media is also from influencers can also be incredibly persuasive. If the influencer is aligned to the brand in an authentic way. I'll give you an example. It's my new favorite. I read about it today. Pepsi today or this I think, within the past week launched something called the Pepsi bodega. Give back holiday campaign, Pepsi is basically gifting giving money to bodega owners throughout New York City to thank them for their service during COVID. So what they did was, they recruited influencers, the bodega, bodega boys, they have a podcast and a show on Showtime, and they're these comedians from the Bronx, and they're going around to bedeck. Jonah bodega is a bodega is a little corner store that they're dotted all over in New York City. And they sell everything from Christmas trees, to brand muffins, to bleach to, you know, why sell okay to sell everything. And they're they're located in many, many underserved neighborhoods, in some neighborhoods. They're the only grocery store for blocks around they really service the neighborhood. So they're knitted into the New York City Community. And what Pepsi did was they sent out the bodega boys to give cash to bodega owners throughout the city, as thanks for their service during COVID-19. Wow. It's an unbelievable campaign. It's an example of sort of really authentic branding. Pepsi is actually based in New York, just north of Manhattan. The bodega boys are influencers, obviously, in they speak to their target audience are these funny guys from the Bronx, hung out at a bodega. And I just think it's a brilliant campaign where you can become a believer in the Pepsi brand for doing good with smart influencers. There's been a lot of good press about the campaign. And if you watch the video, which I shared on my Twitter feed today, I was crying. When I watched a video of immigrant who came to New York dreamed of owning a bodega, scraped $100,000 together, open it up. He's had this bodega for 30 years in his neighborhood. And Pepsi gave him a year's worth of rent to me started crying and, and the guy's father had died from COVID. So the whole i was i was sobbing.

Joelly Lang:

So they're putting their money where their mouth is, right? They're not just saying they want it. We're all in this together, you hear all the time, but they're actually doing stuff about it, which are not done, we see them. And that's where, you know, you get that loyalty.

Unknown:

Exactly. And you and you could, you could bet that people are going to want to buy Pepsi, and the bodega owners are going to stock Pepsi. And it's, yeah, it's brilliant all around.

Joelly Lang:

So talking about stories, we all have stories. So when you talk about a brand sharing their story with people, how do they do it in a way that comes across as being real and authentic and not being bragging and sounding inauthentic? You know, how do they take it from? We're so great, and look at us? And we're number one to connecting with people? Because I think that in itself would be a challenge. Does Bonnie want to answer that?

Unknown:

I think the key is the last word you said it's about being human. In order to be authentic people buy from people, right, you have to have a human side in order to sound authentic. And also to not appear to be bragging, we always say we look at for example, like b2b marketers have traditionally sort of shied away from that. They like to talk about their products and their services, etc. And that just falls flat that doesn't connect with anybody. So that they need to do is show their the human people side of their stories, especially in their public relations plays. Like for example, when Pepsi did that, that's going to be authentic, because they because they connected with people. And that's what human beings want to hear. So we are always urging our clients to sort of reframe their stories around you know, people, and especially now in times of COVID, it's especially important. And then the other side of it is listening to what your customers you know are going through and what they need. So you need to think about what's your target audience grappling with right now? What's our take on the problem? And what story can we share that your audience is going to care about? And that's that's where we find that useful. To really tap into authenticity that way, we have have a client and HR Association for people who specialize in compensation and benefits. So they're the numbers crunchers. They're, they're so proud to call themselves the nerds of the HR world. And they really think about policies and making sure that everyone gets their health insurance and their financial financial planning in place, their 401k is, etc. This is their job. But when COVID hit, we had to think carefully about the stories we were telling about the Association, which was largely surveys about changes in policies and things like that, which typically in any other year would have generated a lot of news for this particular organization. But people were really struggling during COVID, and including members of the association. And so what we did was we worked with the CEO to craft 14, byline, so 14 stories that he wrote, that all of which spoke to the emotional concerns that leaders were experiencing during COVID, every single one addressed a different facet of, of the tough decisions, and, and the emotions that leaders are going to have to make. And it was a really powerful campaign for the association, and really explained what the organization stands for tying back to their values, which is that we're, you know, an organization even though we worry about fair pay equity, it's real at the end of the day, it's really all about people.

Joelly Lang:

Well, that brings me back to when you talk about brands and businesses sharing their story, how do they link that back to their purpose?

Unknown:

So every single story had a theme, which was basically the overarching theme was world at work cares about the people in the company, we are concerned about humans working on 14 stories, talked about some human problem, like one of the first stories out of the gate was don't look now you're here human side is showing encouraging leaders to be more empathetic, explaining how empathy is going to play well in the CCE in the C suite. valentimes, the COVID. And there were many, many more examples of that. So you know, the overarching strategy was, you know, work is about the people. And then each of the 14 stories sort of laddered up to that,

Joelly Lang:

which linked it back to their purpose and what they're all about. Exactly,

Unknown:

yeah, say,

Joelly Lang:

yeah, yeah. Well, that's great. I mean, you hear those stories, and it's so inspiring. Do you think that there's a lot of companies or brands out there that are not walking the walk, but they're talking the talk, so they say that their care, and they say that they're helping and a fit, and their stories are telling that, but they're not doing anything to actually prove that whereas in this case, it sounds like he was,

Unknown:

I think that that's probably true. And it's a challenge that many companies are facing now. There was a story in the Wall Street Journal just last week, that talked about what was happening in the workplace. And Weber shanwick conducted this big study about attitudes about the workplace. And it said, this is just sort of diversity and inclusion said that half of the people who were surveyed said their company says all the right thing about diversity. But they don't do they don't do what they say that that's only just one stat that I have at the top of my head.

Joelly Lang:

That's sort of the consensus that you're hearing a lot of people say that, you know, now that it's almost in fashion, to care and to be empathetic. So you know, these, a lot of these brands are putting that face on and saying they care, but are they actually putting their money where their mouth is. And then there's other brands that are and they're stepping up and they're doing,

Unknown:

we caution, especially obviously, the clients that we work we work with, that those brands that are talking about not walking the walk, it's going to come back to bite him very badly. And so it really is in their best interest to to dig deep and think about that and make sure that they are and that they're communicating it, whether it's through to their their own people who are their biggest audience, you know, not just to the the folks who they're selling their products to, but to their own people that are working there and really are seeing things, you know, day to day. That was those folks. And I think we'll probably talk about this more later. Those are your best ambassadors or the people that you have. They're working for

Joelly Lang:

you. Mm hmm. Yeah. So let's so we've talked about brand stories, let's move on to founder stories, because that was where I sort of heard you speaking. And I find that such an interesting topic. Can you elaborate a bit on founder stories and why they are so important, especially now more than ever?

Unknown:

Yeah, I mean, that we were talking about this before. that's a that's a really, really, really good question. I mean, we are very, very big on founder stories because it really can provide that emotional buy in and give your stakeholders a reason to care. It makes the problem that you're solving very relatable. You mentioned that you had your own favorite founder, the Colonel Sanders, guy, right. And so there's a reason for that, because you can really use those stories. You saw how they used this story throughout their marketing and their PR. And the challenge that companies have is that you don't frame the story around the company founding itself. But you really need to fashion sort of as an aha moment at the start of solving a problem. So and Bonnie, maybe you could talk a little further, I think about sort of when you don't have the actual founder, but what how you look at that at that story. Yeah, so So I mean, of course, we all love founder stories. I mean, they become legends. We'd love the story of Steve Jobs and in his garage, and you know, Walt Disney and you know, my favorite, which you probably heard Julian, that other podcast with Sara Blakely, of Spanx to cut the feed off her pantyhose so that she could wear sandals with a pair of pants and still look sleek and smooth. An entire category was born and she was one of the first self made billionaires I think in the US is incredible story. million millionaires. I know and she I mean, she's a master storyteller. I think that if you're gonna study founder stories, just look at Sara Sara Blakely likes Lee's twitter feed and her LinkedIn page and just scan it. And you'll, you'll get the idea pretty quickly about how brilliant she is at it. But if you do not have a founder say you, you know, you're the you're the CEO of a new company. There are ways to sort of talk about that aha moment, you might go back, for example, and talk about your first customers, those early adopters and pioneers. An example that I have is kind of famous is that Pampers first came to market. I think in the early 70s. They were the first disposable diapers to sort of tell the story of is sort of an incredible now to think that disposable diapers were were new. But to tell the story now Pampers went and found the first people who use them, and then did a whole campaign around the first users in Peoria, Illinois, the original test market of Pampers diapers it's it's hysterical. When you think I wonder

Joelly Lang:

how that would fly today with all the environmentalist and everyone. Right? They'd be like,

Unknown:

I know.

Joelly Lang:

Sorry, continue with your

Unknown:

but I think that, you know, early, early adopters are probably a good way to sort of talk about solving the problem because the company was founded on this, as Judy said, you know, this idea of this problem that they're solving. So to find some early users who were enthusiastic about your promise, is a really good way to sort of land your founder story, you can create a fun timeline, you can create all sorts of fun content off of that, you know, using the real, the people who first interacted with your product. Okay.

Joelly Lang:

So what I'm hearing is there's almost like, there's different stories or so for example, Judy, we you mentioned about Colonel Sanders, which I love the Colonel Sanders story, and because here's someone who failed over and over and over and over again, like every job he got, he failed, and he was everything else. You know, he was a lawyer, he was a, he was a midwife. He was a railroad conductor. I mean, he did everything he, you know, his, his background was tough. His dad died when he was younger. And that's how he learned to cook because he was five years old cooking. But anyway, so he constantly failed. And then he found his success when he was in his mid 40s. Right? And then the rest is history. So for someone like myself, who is had many challenges, and drawers and kids and restart started over and over and over again, when I read a story like that, it gives me inspiration. Because I think, Wow, if someone like that can do it at later in life, and here I am, 5354. Now, you know, and I can start over and I've had challenges. And so that motivates me. And that inspires me. And then with the Sara Blakely story, there's the problem that is being solved, right. I think for his story he was he was really like looking for something that he could feed his family and just survive. And for her, it was sort of this. I'm so sick of I remember she used to say she was so sick of seeing her toes through her her tights, right her nylons when she would wear sandals. So that's when she started cutting it. And so she solved the problem. And so those are two different I think motivators. So what do you think it is about the stories that inspires people, and why people are interested in stories.

Unknown:

Anybody who has a vision, people are really drawn to that and doesn't have to be somebody who's you know, in his dorm room at Harvard and discovers Facebook. But as you said, somebody in their 40s, who's failed three or four times, who has a vision, and who finally, you know, brings that to fruition, and it's very inspiring, and that's why founder stories just really resonate with people and I've had cases where, you know, I've worked with a founder who was tragically killed. And the fear was, you know, what are we going to do now that our founder is no longer here. But her vision was baked into everything that that company did. And they've been able to carry on and be incredibly successful. But they never forgot what their history was where they were grounded in her vision. And so their sweats where the legend part comes in that you can carry that through, and and have that into the DNA of your brand.

Joelly Lang:

And that's what inspires people. Yeah. I felt like you were gonna add to that.

Unknown:

No, I was cheating. I was on the same track. We've worked together for so long. We think we think like, okay,

Joelly Lang:

so

Unknown:

that sounds.

Joelly Lang:

So, Judy, Eddie's sorry, Bonnie shared about her founder story, is there a founder story that you can think of that is inspirational to you, that inspires you?

Unknown:

I love founder stories, I've got a lot. There's actually a craft brewery in Bend, Oregon. And its names is called the shoots. And the founders is very colorful guy named Gary fish. And he was one of the pioneers in the craft brewery business and was one of the first ones to start about 30 years ago. And since then, of course, has been like 1000s of new craft beers. And so they decided a couple of years ago that they had to, like, completely like, relook at their brand. And what they did was, they brought back the founders story, this guy, Gary Fisher was this pioneer, it really created this whole new way of making beer. And you know, he hadn't changed. He was no longer like in the day to day operations of the company. But I loved his story and how we were able to weave it into the whole rebranding of the beer, and helped it to regain its prominence in the, you know, in the industry in the marketplace.

Joelly Lang:

I have a friend of mine, actually, who is has a crapper, like so many people. And I love it. He uses the term social lubrication. And that's where to use this to bring people together, you know, so I love these craft breweries and their founder stories. That's a great story. We talk about founder stories, do you find that some of these founders, it's a challenge for them to be vulnerable?

Unknown:

I mean, I think it's hard for people to be vulnerable anyway. But how do you convince them or bring that vulnerability out to execute it into the story, if you can find their passion, and their purpose and really share what they're trying to change? I think that that's compelling and authentic. A lot of entrepreneurs have a lot of bravado, and they are hesitant to show their vulnerability. It might not serve them, but sharing what they're aiming for, I think is authentic. And I think that people who start businesses start because there's, they see a hole in the market. I mean, I started my business, because I wanted to bring more robust storytelling to the communications and less commercial, more authentic sort of longer format. I saw that as a market. So that's my passion. And my purpose. I think that entrepreneurs that you know, whether you're launching an AI company, to help sales people do their jobs faster and more easily, you know, you've been there in the trenches with them. And that's sort of that's the story that you can tell, you can say, Oh, my God, I've spent all my time, sort of like mining through David's databases, now I can just be creative and entertaining, and really talk about my service more easily. So I think that vulnerability is one piece of it. But passion and purpose is just as powerful, if not more so. Okay.

Joelly Lang:

That's interesting. Let me ask you a question here. This is this is getting my wheels turning here. What about failures? Because people you talk about entrepreneurs, and I'm sure there's gonna be a lot of entrepreneurs listening to this, you know, right. And with COVID I, there's been more unemployment than ever before. And so as a result, people have been forced to become entrepreneurs, right. So they're listening to these leaders and these founders stories. But I mean, do you think failure is a part of success? And do you think by being vulnerable and sharing about your failures, it helps you or hinders your connecting with your audience? You know,

Unknown:

it just reminded me what you said, because like, Bonnie said, she, you know, she started her company for a purpose. I never thought I would be, you know, an entrepreneur, that was never what I wanted to be. I always wanted to work for a company, I thought that I would, and when I got laid off during the whole.com, bust, and you know, it was just was a really also very bad time, similar to what it's been this past year with the pandemic. I just decided, you know, I was going to give it a shot and let's see what happened. I never thought that That it was going to work. I never thought that that was something I was going to do. Yeah, right. But But I think to your point, everybody fails at some point or another. So we learn from our failures. And we figure out what we didn't know what didn't work and why it didn't work. And you think about it, and how you don't want to do that, again, you don't want to repeat it again, and you use it to be successful. So I think that number one people that makes you human, because you know that that is part of your human story is that, you know, you failed that this particular first time we tried something, it didn't work, and but it worked the second time. And I think that it then forces you to find what you really are good at and what and and what you really can be successful at doing. So I think a failed failures could be baked into somebody's story for sure.

Joelly Lang:

Bonnie, do you want to add to that?

Unknown:

I totally agree. I think fail failure is a part of winning,

Joelly Lang:

right. And so that's why I guess I was getting at is being vulnerable and be able to tell people because I think the bravado and the you know, the appearance of the successful business millionaire, you know, we don't the story of how they got there, and all the times they failed. We have this event in Calgary, they'll just share this with you. And it's okay, if I say this, because this is my podcast anyway. It's called fuck ups Calgary fuckup nights, and they bring on top top leaders to come on and share how many how they fucked up to get to where they are. Pardon my French, but it's so fantastic. And they get they get leaders like top top leaders. But people want to hear that, right? They want to hear about those stories. And so they talk about how they tried and they failed, they did this and did this and eventually, you know, wasn't a straight line. As you see them climbing to the top, it's up and down. It's like a roller coaster. So being vulnerable, I guess is being able to share those failures to, I think, connect with people. Let's talk about employees. You talked about that a bit earlier, Judy, because really a brand is only as strong as their culture internally. And so to have a strong culture, it's important to have strong brand ambassadors. And that starts within the culture. An example that I shared with you with Bonnie and I guess with yourself is westjet. westjet is an airline in Canada, they are giving Air Canada run for their money, they've done really well. They're not that old, they might be I don't even know if they're 20 years old, but they do these incredible videos every year, and they were doing them way before COVID even started, I think they've been doing them at least five years, if not more. And they always do these great Christmas miracles, where they bring gifts to people all across Canada, and they the people in the videos are the employees and the you can see the pride when the employees talk about what they're doing. And so having that sense of pride within an organization, you become this brand ambassador that and you go out and share about this company that you work for and that pride. So what's your take on how important employees are to being brand ambassadors? And how much should that be woven into the brand purpose and the stories? Judy, do you wanna?

Unknown:

Yeah, I will start that. And that's a great example. I love westjet I even remember from several years ago, watching I love those videos of like, you know, where they show these gifts coming off the you know, the, from the air airplanes, and you know, in these people's faces, and, and they're not

Joelly Lang:

getting any kickback for sharing Western.

Unknown:

Right, so But even here, even here in the US, we know westjet because because of that. So look at how powerful that is. I mean, I will challenge you that any advertisement you see out there that that includes employees is extremely effective, and really feels real that you know that you are really getting a heart. And and when you have employees speaking for you, it it really goes a long way. And it's really a way to build build a culture. And so we said that they really are your most powerful influencers and your greatest assets. So if you can figure out a way to use them in your marketing and your PR efforts we are, we're very much all for that. The people who understand they understand your brand purpose, they understand your values, they understand your promise. And you they have to be the strongest believers in order to tell your story. That's why they're so powerful. So if you're going to build a strong culture, with clear messaging, you need to also then make sure that everyone sort of understands what that is. And that way you get everybody, as we say, sort of paddling in the same direction. And then from the PR perspective, what we always tell people is, then you make sure let's say you're going to utilize them in your marketing PR efforts. You have to make sure that you've prepared them in a way you prepare them so well that they are authentic, and they do understand and know sort of the start line and what the finish line But you can't just throw them out there. I mean, Bonnie, you had that great story about the coke Pepsi story that I think you should share exactly how not to prepare somebody just to tell your story. Go ahead. So, yeah, so so it's a great story. Coke introduced new coke and and New York Times, it was sort of a colossal failure. It lasted about a whole hot minute. But the New York Times sent a reporter out to the halls of Pepsi to find out what Pepsi was thinking about it. The head of PR for Pepsi at the time, told a guy who was in the marketing department to talk to the reporter, and the head of PR left and the reporter came in and asked how this Pepsi employee felt about the new coke. He said, I hear tastes a lot like Pepsi. I think I'm gonna have to try it. Oh, no.

Joelly Lang:

Are you kidding me? Is he still there?

Unknown:

I wonder. Right? Right. Yes, he did. He did. Yes. He, he did his job. But and but you know, and he's quoted in the New York Times, it just, it's just hysterical. It's, it's, it's exactly what not to do. So it's kind of a classic story, if you're going to use your like, like Word to the wise, if you're going to use your employees, in your brand stories and in your marketing. And if you particularly if you're going to put them in front of members of the media, it's really, really important to make sure that they're prepared. And the best way to do that is to brief them, give them give them a script. Give them a little bit, to mention the competition. And, and to make them feel comfortable, you know, and not too not too comfortable. to just say what exactly what was on their mind.

Joelly Lang:

Sorry, go ahead. Well, I

Unknown:

so say you just don't want to just throw them to the wolves. Oh, doesn't that doesn't? Yeah, it doesn't help anybody.

Joelly Lang:

So that's a that's an interesting marketing story. So just to talk about this a little bit more so with employees and culture, and I think now more than ever, because of what's going on in the world, it's so important for employers to really take care of their employees, right, we're all leaving, we're all working remotely now. And we're feeling really isolated. And so I think employers have a more responsibility to stay connected with their employees and really show them that they are valued, and they you know, appreciate them and that when you talk about we'll get through this together is really being there for them. So with social media, and everybody online and all these employees online, where they don't have script, and they don't have their employees, I mean it they're gonna go on and they're gonna talk people go on, they talk about everything, right? They go on Twitter, and they're not happy about something, they're gonna tweet something. So with the way things are right now, how do you think employers can I'm just throwing this at you, because I, my wheels turn while you're talking? How do you think employers can make sure that their brand's promise is intact, and do it in a way that is authentic with their employees being dispersed where they don't have that they can't, I don't wanna say control them, but they can influence some what they're gonna say, because I think that would be a different challenge in today's world. Do you, Bonnie, want to answer that as far as what extra measures, I guess, in this remote environment brands? And specifically, senior level management would have to do?

Unknown:

Right? Well, I think that, as Judy was talking, and you were saying, Joey, that it's really important that culture is fully baked throughout the organization. And now more than ever, it's really important to have touchpoints, where employees can connect, to hear from leaders to connect with one another end to end communication is more important than ever. COMM internal communication is critical, if in a dispersed culture, to make sure that everyone feels like they're part of the same organization that they have, that their work is valued, that they're treated fairly, and that they're pushing for whatever good means for that company. Communication, clear communication, overarching internal communications plan, that's well, that's robust. That's repetitive, that's clear, that's resilient is I think it's critical in ensuring that no one goes rogue on social media.

Joelly Lang:

Mm hmm. Yeah. And having that sense of pride, where as an employee, when you feel that from the powers that be you if you do share anything, it's it's genuine and talk about authentic because you're speaking from the heart, for example, I do a lot of gifts for my customers. Right now. We do employee gifts where they're sending them out remotely to their customers. And then you have these customers going on social media with the gift from their employees going, Oh my god, I love working here. Look at this beautiful gifts that my my employer just gave me, right? That's a real, natural, authentic social media blurb that, you know, is going to, I think connect people with that brand on that level with the employee being the ambassador. Does that resonate? Right?

Unknown:

Totally. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. And it's just, it's just a matter of now really utilizing technology in ways that they just may not have used it before. You know, whether that's through zoom or slack or, you know, whatever you just have, it's just the means of communication that's changing, not the communication itself. Right.

Joelly Lang:

So that brings me to my next thing. Do you think with what's going on today, that brands have more or less influence over people on social media?

Unknown:

I mean, absolutely, I think is really the answer. I mean, I think that when you think about how we were really thrown into chaos initially, and that brands really kind of had to pick up the slack for some sort of lack of response and, and leadership that we had. And the thing was that for the brands, who understood that, who acknowledged the fact that we're in a different situation now, right, you're not shopping the same way. So, you know, you're not looking for the same things. Or you might have a problem finding these particular products. So brands that really acknowledge that things were different and figured out a way to help their their customers and solve whatever problems they had, are always going to have a sort of special place in these customers hearts. And I think that those are the ones that will continue to be important. Yeah, like Pepsi. I mean, I totally agree. I think that absent of leadership to hang on, hang on to political leadership to hang on to, which has been the situation here in the US, during COVID. Yeah, I think that brands stepped up many brands stepped up to the plate, and helped, you know, from small fashion brands who were making masks, you know, at the beginning of pandemic, when people couldn't find PP, to sort of two big brands who were providing funding and food and all sorts of material to struggling communities. I think that that brands have more influence on us. People make,

Joelly Lang:

and you think that's gonna So fast forward to the COVID, post COVID world where there's a vaccine now so I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, hopefully, do you think that influence is going to continue? And how do you think it's going to change? Or do you think it will change? Well, I

Unknown:

think we're in an interesting time where I think brands have learned even more how compelling that can be. So my hope is that they'll take the ball and run with it and continue to make a difference in ways large and small through their actions that they take and the stories that they tell about this action.

Joelly Lang:

The problem. A lot more stories coming out after this. We'll be right. I'm sure you'll be busy working on those. Well, I mean, so interesting, such great stories. Okay, I have to ask you this question. Now, finally, because I've been waiting all the time. So this has been amazing. But I want to just quickly talk about Nora Ephron because she's an idol of mine. And he knows all her movies when Sarah, Harry Met Sally, and then can you just tell us quickly about your experience with her? Because I'm sure everyone else wants to know.

Unknown:

So thanks for asking. It was it was a while ago, I was writing screenplays and I met Nora through an organization I belong to called New York Women in Film. And she taught me how to cook a mushroom, a single mushroom. Single, single, single mushroom, she put a pile of butter in the pan, put one mushroom in and at a time and brown it that would be a lot

Joelly Lang:

of cooking.

Unknown:

I know crazy. And she told me she's very thin. And she did you know, didn't eat carbs. She told me she was uh, you know, she was a protein girl. So that was that was kind of fun. I what I can say about working working with her on my screenplay was that she was just incredibly generous with her support with making helping me make connections, and just just an A warm and open person. Interestingly, she she was vulnerable. She did when when, you know, she did talk about all those screenplays that she had stuffed in a drawer in her beautiful apartment in New York City that we're never going to see the light of day. So you know, even our F Ron, who we think of as being just so gifted and successful and driven and such a role model. I think she said she had a trunk full of a trunk full of unproduced screenplays. That's amazing.

Joelly Lang:

Yeah. So did she teach you anything else other than how to make one mushroom? mushroom from a writer's perspective? Yes.

Unknown:

At the time I was writing ensemble film. So really, really helped me understand how the Shape Dynamics between different characters in a story which isn't something that we do so much MPR unless we're, we're producing videos where we have to create tension between characters. So she was incredibly helpful to helping me understand how to how to make my script better.

Joelly Lang:

I bet I bet that's amazing, priceless. And Judy, what about you? I want to know about this New York City Council's women have achievement pacesetter award. Can you tell us about that? Congratulations. That's something.

Unknown:

Thank you. Thank you. That actually came out of that was shortly after I had started working as an entrepreneur out on my own. And then 911 happened. And as with everything else, everybody was trying to figure out what they can do.

Joelly Lang:

We bought the narc when 911 happened?

Unknown:

Yes, yes, yes. Wow. That was Yeah. So I was at the time living in Forest Hills, Queens, and somebody just called me and said, you know, we have to do something. So I organized a vigil candlelight vigil in the area. And I enlisted the help of our council woman there. And it turned, it just started as this really tiny little thing. And it just became this enormous attended event, it was just something that's sort of just, it just everybody needed something. And so it just kind of like organically happened. And I guess you know, somebody planted the seed, and I just went with it and just did it. It was just one of those things that I wanted to do. And after that the council woman was so appreciative of, you know, of the work that I had done to put it together and how it helped the community. You know, it's all part of the whole healing process and everything. So she she nominated me for the for the award that year.

Joelly Lang:

Wow. That's amazing. Well, congratulations. Thank you, Bonnie. And, Judy, I really appreciate you being on my show. Today, it's been a real pleasure. If anybody wants to learn more about Company B, and how to get ahold of you, what's the best way for them to do that? Well, they

Unknown:

can check out our website, Company B dash ny.com. or reach out to me directly Bonnie at Company B, dash and y.com. And we are offering a 30 minute story booster session. So you can reach out we can schedule a session, and you'll come out with one good story idea that you can pitch in place in 2021. So we're excited about that.

Joelly Lang:

That's great. And are you on social media, both of you?

Unknown:

We are you can find us both on LinkedIn and on Twitter. And on Facebook.

Joelly Lang:

What's your what's your handle on Twitter?

Unknown:

I'm at Bonnie Rothman on Twitter. And Judy.

Joelly Lang:

Are you on Twitter? And

Unknown:

and I'm Yeah, I am. I am. I'm at at j Calvin with a K K L. Vi n and via email. It's Judy at Company B dash ny.com. Okay, wonderful.

Joelly Lang:

Well, thanks again. Ladies. I really appreciate it. We'll talk to you again real soon.

Unknown:

Thank you. Great. And there you have it.

Joelly Lang:

Thank you guys so much for tuning in. I hope you enjoyed the conversation, and maybe even learned a few things that will help you with your branding. And most of all, I hope you had some fun. This podcast is a work in progress. So please make sure to rate and review what you think. And please subscribe to branding matters on whatever platform you listen to. And feel free to share with your friends or anyone you think might also enjoy it. And if you want to learn more about the branding badass, that's me. You can find me on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn under you guessed it, branding badass. Thanks again, everyone. And until next time, I just want to say here's to all you badasses out there.