100 episodes

That Solo Life: Co-hosted by Karen Swim, founder of Words for Hire, LLC and owner of Solo PR Pro and Michelle Kane, founder of VoiceMatters, LLC, we keep it real and talk about the topics that affect solo business owners.

That Solo Life: The Solo PR Pro Podcast thatsololife

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 9 Ratings

That Solo Life: Co-hosted by Karen Swim, founder of Words for Hire, LLC and owner of Solo PR Pro and Michelle Kane, founder of VoiceMatters, LLC, we keep it real and talk about the topics that affect solo business owners.

    On Trend with Chip Griffin

    On Trend with Chip Griffin

    AI, business development, pricing, the future of PR - all the latest trends. Oh, the things we get to talk about when we’re joined by Chip Griffin of the Small Agency Growth Alliance. Listen to this episode to get the latest scoop.
    Learn more about Chip and SAGA here.
    Michelle Kane (00:02):
    Thank you for joining us for this episode of That Solo Life, the podcast for PR pros and marketers who work for themselves, people like me, Michelle Kane of VoiceMatters, my wonderful co-host, Karen Swim of Solo PR Pro. And today we have a guest. We are absolutely thrilled to be joined once again by Chip Griffin of the Small Agency Growth Alliance. Hello, Chip.
    Chip Griffin (00:26):
    It is great to be back here. I love being with the two of you.
    Michelle Kane (00:29):
    Ah, likewise, likewise.
    Karen Swim, APR (00:31):
    We are so excited. This totally makes our week. Thank you so much for hanging out with us, .
    Chip Griffin (00:36):
    Thank you for having me.
    Michelle Kane (00:37):
    So we're talking trends today and top of mind for most people in PR and beyond is of course AI. It's, you know, it's being thrown around in the news and people either are using it or are afraid of it, are just completely ignorant of it. But it's here. And, you know, Solo PR Pros, we like to think of ourselves as savvy smarties. We're just wondering what's, what's your take of what you're seeing out there right now?
    Chip Griffin (01:12):
    Well, my wise guy answer that I gave to an agency owner who asked me a couple of weeks ago about it, I said, “AI, what, what's that? I haven't really heard much about this.” And he had first thought I was serious.  In any case, I mean, look, AI is absolutely top of mind for just about everybody right now. It is something that, I don't think I've had a conversation with any agency owner who hasn't brought it up. It is something that all communicators are talking about. Some are afraid of it, some are excited about it. Very few are really squarely in the middle as far as I've seen. And I think that really it's just incumbent upon folks to learn as much as they can about what new opportunities exist out there and figure out how they can implement it within their own businesses. Whether you are a solo or in-house or whatever, there's a lot of things that you can do with AI to make you more effective, more efficient. And I would be focused on that rather than on the, the scary side of it that a lot of people like to dwell on from time to time.
    Michelle Kane (02:09):
    Right, right. Like the recent letter of doom from hundreds of tech leaders, .
    Chip Griffin (02:17):
    Right. Well, and you have to keep in mind that, that a lot of time, I mean, if you have the people who are already involved in AI saying, “Hey, we need to regulate it,” usually that's because they want to protect their own stake. And you see this in many industries. The large players often call for more regulation because it keeps out upstarts and it protects their position. So I would take that with a grain of salt, personally.
    Michelle Kane (02:40):
    Yeah. Nice big shaker of salt.
    Karen Swim, APR (02:44):
    Yeah. It reminds me of every technological invention that has ever happened, how there is this fear that it's going to disrupt our way of life. And I'm not saying that the concerns around AI are not well founded. They are. So, as communicators, I agree with you, we need to use it. We need to learn it. And we also do need to be aware of the risk and the concerns around it so that we can guard against that. So one big one for me is understanding how AI can be used to spread mis information, which is a growing problem, and it has been for many years, and it continues to be something that we really have to deal with. So you really have to understand it so that you can educate your clients and so you know how to monitor their brand reputation, because you don't want false statements attributed to clients. You know, if anybody's operating without crisis pla

    • 33 min
    Make it Make Sense: How to Level Up Your Client Service Game

    Make it Make Sense: How to Level Up Your Client Service Game

    Do you make it easy for clients to do business with you? Are your systems designed to communicate with ease? It all comes down to good customer service. There are times when that can be the thing that leads a prospect or client to choose you or the competition.
    Michelle Kane (00:17):
    Thank you for joining us for this episode of That Solo Life, the podcast for PR pros and marketers who work for themselves like me, Michelle Kane, with VoiceMatters, and my wonderful co-host, Karen Swim of Solo PR Pro. Hi Karen, how are you today?
    Karen Swim (00:33):
    I'm doing fantastic, Michelle. How are you?
    Michelle Kane (00:35):
    I'm well, I am well, oddly perky. Must be the coffee kicking in .
    Karen Swim (00:42):
    I'm oddly perky too. And I think that that is, because sometimes chaos forces you to roll with the punches. Oh, true. And you just are like going to roll with it. It's fine. I'm fine.
    Michelle Kane (00:52):
    Keep swimming. We'll get through .
    Karen Swim (00:56):
    Michelle Kane (00:57):
    Well, I am, I'm excited about the topic today. We're going to talk about, how do I phrase it? The way we work, right? How do we communicate with each other? How do we communicate with vendors? And I'm, and we're talking about from the viewpoint of we are solos, but we are of course also small businesses and how that impacts, you know, how you accomplish your goals at work, how you get things done. You know, are you a project management person? Are you, you know, always on Slack, that kind of thing. Just our, just going to talk about some best practices. Oh, and maybe some pet peeves too. Who knows
    Karen Swim (01:34):
    . Yeah. Because small business is obviously quite important in the larger, you know Yeah. Ecosystem of getting things done and work and hiring people. But you have small businesses that truly look like small businesses because they lack a certain level. I don't even want to say sophistication, because that's the wrong word. Right. But they're missing components that you'll get from a bigger business. And as solos, we want to always make sure that we are, although small, that we're mighty. And that we are delivering service levels that are equivalent to our larger counterparts. And that we're not missing key, key things that we can be doing that can make us stand apart. Because you can be small and look totally small, and when you look totally small in the wrong ways, because you know, there's a difference between having a boutique or a micro agency where you get a higher level of personalized touch.
    Things are not, you know, as templated where, you know, they're getting a level of quality and they're getting senior level help that they might not get. And then being small and looking small as in like you're an amateur. Right. And that, you know, and so I know that within our community, it's one of the reasons why our solo PR community in particular pushes back hard against the term freelance pr. Right. And I believe that it's because for so many freelance at one point in history did connotate someone who wasn't truly running a business, but was just kind of taking a gig here or there. And it felt like one level above hobbyist. I will say, and I, dear solos, I love you, but freelance no longer has that negative association. But I completely understand, you know, the distinction as well. And I never re refer to myself as a freelance PR person, but I'm also not offended if, if that's how somebody wants to categorize me, as long as they, you know, are treating me like an agency and paying me like, you know, they're supposed to and not pay me. Like, you know, I'm,
    Michelle Kane (03:52):
    Yeah. Just don't have this money
    Karen Swim (03:53):
    Experience and job. Yeah. Like, oh, I just need to buy a Starbucks today. Isn't that cute? And I don't really care. . Yeah.
    Michelle Kane (04:00):
    Yes. . Yeah. And,  I think a lot of it has to do with communication between yourself Yes. And vendors between yourself and your cl

    • 17 min
    Media Madness

    Media Madness

    With media outlets shuttering and reporter beats expanding, getting our clients’ stories told continues to be a challenge. The good news is PR pros are resilient, creative, and smart. In this episode we talk about all the ways to navigate this wave of media madness with success!
    Michelle Kane (00:02):
    Thank you for joining us for an episode of That Solo Life, the podcast for PR pros and marketers who work for themselves like me. I'm Michelle Kane, my company is VoiceMatters, and I'm here as always with the wonderful Karen Swim of Solo PR Pro. How are you?
    Karen Swim, APR (00:19):
    I am doing great, Michelle. How are you?
    Michelle Kane (00:21):
    I'm well, I'm well, thanks. And I'm kind of excited about our topic today. Oh, what the heck. I love all our topics, but we're just going to focus on media madness. You know, it's been really kind of a bummer lately. All of these outlets shuttering, BuzzFeed, Vice, Fox, no, Vox is still happening.
    Karen Swim, APR (00:40):
    Vox is still there…
    Michelle Kane (00:42):
    Let's not put that out there. .
    Karen Swim, APR (00:44):
    But hey do rely on donations. They do great work by the way.
    Michelle Kane (00:47):
    They do, they do. I think it was Vulture and it's, I mean, not only is it sad when good outlets are just closing down due to finances, but it kind of makes our job as PR pros more of a challenge, especially if you are working in sectors that would pitch often to those outlets or just rely on them, and as news consumers for covering areas of our world that really need that kind of coverage. So we just want to chat today about “Hey, how's it going with your pitching?” And how can we best adapt to this in service of our clients? So fun .
    Karen Swim, APR (01:37):
    Yeah. And we don't want to trot out the same, like, don't only push the lever of earned media. It's really about the landscape is pretty ugly right now.  And in some sectors, it's slow. It's not that you're not going to get coverage, but things take a lot longer than they used to. And part of that is due to the changes that have happened in the media landscape. People not having always one assigned beat. They're covering multiple beats or publications using a lot of freelancers, and so they don't have people on staff. And then people just being bombarded, probably a little burned out, and a little scared also because they have many attacks against their income sources. You know, freelancers have had to go with the California fallout and that cut their income because they could only work so many stories before they were considered to be employees. I mean, there's just been a lot in media over the past several years. Now there's the AI thing, and I will say that it's not just about outlets and journalists. What I'm seeing, and I'm sure that you all are seeing this too, is that there are fewer and fewer quality stories.
    Michelle Kane (03:03):
    Mm-hmm. . Yes.
    Karen Swim, APR (03:03):
    So really to just general topics. I'm not talking about covering politics or the economy. Those reporters have a beat, and the publications that do that work still do it very well. And you get high quality stories. The long form reads are still great stories. You know, The Atlantic, they always do a nice job with their long form stories. I'm talking about those day-to-day news stories. I'm finding that the quality is so shallow and it's just, it's like, okay, why did you even bother to write this? It's almost like they're just filling, you know,
    Michelle Kane (03:44):
    Filling unsold ad space.
    Karen Swim, APR (03:46):
    Say it. Yeah. It's, it's not great. Yeah.
    Michelle Kane (03:49):
    And yeah.
    Karen Swim, APR (03:51):
    And so when it comes to clients, in terms of finding quality places to tell those stories it may have shifted. I think one thing is that we have to remember that even if your expertise is not in internal communications, that there is a place for the PR pro to ensure that those stories are not only being told externally. Thi

    • 18 min
    The Future of Work

    The Future of Work

    What’s the latest in one of our favorite topics, the future of work? Within corporate America, we are seeing a shift toward calling employees back into the office either on a full-time or hybrid basis. And then there’s the workforce itself. Some people like working remotely or on a hybrid basis. And what about the work itself? Are there opportunities for solo PR pros? You bet. Listen and get inspired.
    The Future of WorkThat Solo Life Episode #199
    Michelle Kane (00:02):
    Thank you for joining us for this episode of That Solo Life, the podcast for PR pros and marketers who work for themselves, people like me, Michelle Kane of VoiceMatters, and my wonderful co-host, Karen Swim of Solo PR Pro. Hi, Karen. It's another episode, another week.
    Karen Swim, APR (00:20):
    Yes. Hello Michelle. How are you doing this week?
    Michelle Kane (00:24):
    I'm well, I'm well as, as you're listening to this it is May of 2023 and things are popping all of a sudden. It's,
    Karen Swim, APR (00:34):
    Michelle Kane (00:34):
    I think with the, I don't know, event season’s coming, clients are just kind of shaking off the winter doldrums, and it's, it's not a bad place to be at the moment. How about you?
    Karen Swim, APR (00:47):
    Same. Lots of activities and lots of invitations, business and personal, but it's really, you know, it's an interesting time because we are still in this major period of change. And, you know, the economy is crazy, right? Like the numbers don't match the mood. Like, it's weird that inflation's declining, but when you look at those numbers, you're like, but really, is it?
    Michelle Kane (01:21):
    Yeah. I love that you said that.
    Karen Swim, APR (01:24):
    Yeah. Isn't really, because things still seem awfully high to me. And the Fed keeps raising interest rates and, and although there's a lot of activity, it also still feels very sluggish. Like things are just slow moving.
    Michelle Kane (01:41):
    Yes. Yeah. And it's so weird. It is weird. And we could probably do a whole episode on that, because I'm thinking too, there are the numbers, there's the reality out there, and then there's, like you said, the mood, and it's like, is the mood coming from what we're hearing of everything being bad, bad, bad. It's like, well, it's watchful. It may be bad, it may not be great. And I think once we get this whole debt ceiling, blah, blah, behind us, a lot of us will exhale.
    Karen Swim, APR (02:08):
    It's like a global mismatch in every area of life, you know, like this. But it's not really warm.
    Michelle Kane (02:15):
    We're all like, weird socks, ,
    Karen Swim, APR (02:19):
    But the ground is still dry, like , I don't know. Like, things are happening and they're not producing the results that we're accustomed to. So it's just almost like living in two dimensions.
    Michelle Kane (02:34):
    Speaking of, yeah.
    Karen Swim, APR (02:35):
    Michelle Kane (02:37):
    So, we wanted to touch on the future of work. We discuss that term about in many of our episodes, but just thinking about, you know, with people being called back to their offices and employers, some employers not really aligning with the realities out there of how people function best in a company. And also, of course, seeing as we are solos, how do we fit into all of that, and how can some of what is happening really work to our advantage? Just a small topic, no big deal, but
    Karen Swim, APR (03:21):
    it is. Yeah. And future work is one of my favorite things to, yeah. Out in the world. I, I love this topic. Every aspect of it as it applies to corporations that applies to employees and also to solos. This is just one of the things that I love to talk about. And so the future of work landscape is, it's interesting because we have so many structural shifts in the way that we think about work and what constitutes work in the way that days are structured, in the way that jobs are structured, in the way that, you know, in the location, the physical location of where work gets

    • 19 min
    Putting the ”PR” in Professionalism

    Putting the ”PR” in Professionalism

    Are you weary of people calling themselves PR professionals who seem to be storytelling their careers? The few who talk a good game, leaving a trail of disgruntled clients? In this episode we talk about ways PR practitioners – from those new to the profession to seasoned pros – can represent our profession well.
    Michelle Kane (00:02):
    Thank you for joining us for another episode of That Solo Life, the podcast for PR pros and marketers who work for themselves, people like me, Michelle Kane, with VoiceMatters, and my wonderful co-host, Karen Swim of Solo PR Pro. Hi Karen, how are you today?
    Karen Swim, APR (00:19):
    Hey, Michelle. I'm doing great. Solidarity to the writers who of this recording are on strike. We stand with writers, hang in there WGA, we hope that you get what you need and deserve. And if I were in California, I would be out there with you on the picket line.
    Michelle Kane (00:42):
    I fully agree. Fully agree. I hope that the WGA gets everything they are asking for because they are the backbone of all of the projects on which they serve.
    Karen Swim, APR (00:54):
    Michelle Kane (00:55):
    You know, if you like watching things where words come out of people's mouths, , you need to thank the writers.
    Karen Swim, APR (01:02):
    Absolutely. And that's kind of a funny segue. I mean, serious topic, but yeah. Writing, storytelling. Hmm. And PR peeps who might be storytelling their careers just a tad too much.
    Michelle Kane (01:20):
    Just a little bit. Yes. We're going to to carefully edge into these waters. I'm sure we, you'll soon be nodding listeners, these people that come into your path, these self-declared am I going to say the word, the G word, gurus, the people that come across as very flashy, but you soon find out there's precious little substance, however they present themselves as seasoned PR professionals. And, you know, it just really, it doesn't do any of us any good. It's not a service to us. In fact, it's a disservice of the hard work that truly seasoned professionals put in. And you know, I say this a lot and I think just as technology grows, and I'm not even talking about AI, I'm talking about the Canvas of the world, the people who, “I have a MAC, I'm a designer.” That whole mindset of you can do anything. Well, yes, but to a point. To a point. Even though, we're not licensed, we're not doctors. We don't get to call ourselves “Dr. PR professional,” there's still a lot of training and experience that goes into doing what we do well.
    Karen Swim, APR (02:41):
    There should be yeah. And I mean, while we have the APR credential and some people do have a degree in comms, the access point to practice the profession, like so many these days is, is very low. You could just set up shop and call yourself a digital PR person. I came up in PR from a very non-traditional way. And the reason that I pursued my APR is because I wanted to have that foundation. I wanted to have the language, I wanted to have the breadth of information to be able to really practice as a professional. So this discussion today is not saying that you have to go the traditional way in order to be a professional, but what we are imploring people to do is to strive to be a professional.
    Please do not be out there, as Michelle said, calling yourself an expert, calling yourself a professional, calling yourself professional when you can't even write a PR plan. There are just some things going into running your own business that you really should know how to do. And you should know how to do some of the things well. You don't have to know how to do everything. You don't have to be perfect at everything. If social media is not your jam, that's okay. You can partner with people to walk you through that. But if you do not know how to research, plan, implement, evaluate, notice how I used RPIE. Please learn. Please learn. I beg of you to go learn. This came out of previous discussions because I think it's very frustrating when

    • 25 min
    Everything Everywhere All at Once: Social Media in 2023

    Everything Everywhere All at Once: Social Media in 2023

    The current state of the social media landscape is anything but stable. Twitter continues to devolve. TikTok is going strong, but will its use be banned in the United States? It’s a challenge to keep up with the changes in current channels and evaluate new options. In this episode, we discuss this uncertainty and how you can keep your focus on using the right channels at the right time for your clients.
    Michelle Kane:
    Thank you for joining us for an episode of That Solo Life, the podcast for PR pros and marketers who work for themselves. People like me, Michelle Kane, with VoiceMatters, and my ever-steady co-host, Karen Swim, of Solo PR Pro. Hi, Karen. How are you today?
    Karen Swim:
    Hello. I am good. We got a little peek of sunshine this morning, and it was way overdue since we had lingering winter weather here in Michigan. I feel pretty good, because the sunshine definitely recharges me.
    Michelle Kane:
    It's so true. You don't realize until you haven't had it for a few days and you think, "Ugh, come on, sunshine." Yes, yes, definitely. We had a little taste of summer, but now we're back to actual spring. I don't know. It was sunny up until probably an hour ago.
    Karen Swim:
    Michelle Kane:
    I've been kind of refusing, I'm like, "I'm not wearing a jacket. I don't care if I'm cold. I'm past that."
    Karen Swim:
    I've been stuck in winter clothes because I couldn't take it anymore, and I was freezing. It hasn't just been lack of sun, it's actually been ... it's just been winter here. Everybody's still in their winter gear, which kind of stinks considering it's the ...
    Michelle Kane:
    It does.
    Karen Swim:
    ... end of April. Hopefully.
    Michelle Kane:
    Well, as the Great Purple One said, Sometimes It Snows in April. Sometimes, as we're going to talk about today, sometimes changes in social media and our landscape can also make you a bit bonkers. We're good. It's not just Twitter and the whole mess over there. It's, where are people spending their time now, and what components have changed? How does that impact how you find your audience?
    It almost feels like the beginning of social media where I think, not that we've become complacent, but for a while, we kind of knew, all right, that's that, that's that, we know where to find everything. Suddenly, they moved our cheese all over the place.
    Karen Swim:
    Michelle Kane:
    We'll just touch on that today, and talk about our experiences, and please do hit us up at SoloPRPro.com and share your experiences, because we really want to hear about it.
    Karen Swim:
    It's interesting. I saw yesterday someone talk about a reporter was discussing that Twitter in particular became part of our habits. It's pretty much ingrained. We, for the past decade, we would go to Twitter and we would use it for real time news and were accustomed to PR professionals developing relationships or maintaining relationships with journalists there, we would source queries there.
    We would see what people were up to. It was built into our daily habits, much like Facebook was the place where we just learned to go to keep up with family and friends. Now there's so many revenge Twitter sites.
    Michelle Kane:
    I love that, revenge Twitter sites.
    Karen Swim:
    People are dispersed. Now, even [inaudible 00:03:26] has notes. People are communicating over there around posts that are authored, which is sort of a new old version of what the blog post used to be. The blog post would be the community gathering place. Everybody would go and comment on blogs every day. Then you have these algorithms that have changed everywhere. You've got ...
    Michelle Kane:
    Karen Swim:
    ... Google changing, you've got even YouTube changing. YouTube is another social media site, and their ad revenue has dropped to 6.7 billion in the first quarter of this year. With their 2.6% year-over-year decline, people are really wondering, okay, creators, but then also enterprises. We have clients, we all have clients that have YouTu

    • 18 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
9 Ratings

9 Ratings

NataleeTewey ,

Powerhouse Women To Follow

Michelle and Karen are incredible women who know what they want and are trailblazing their industry. I highly recommend listening if you want to up level your life and business.

kencarfagno ,

Solid Mindset for any industry, especially PR Pros!

I know Michelle from my Philly Area chamber and wanted to check out her podcast. Karen and Michelle have a natural flow, which makes it more enjoyable to listen to. I was also pleased with the content itself. I am in a completely different industry and was pleasantly surprised with the business mindset and life philosophies offered by the hosts in various episodes I've checked out. Here's what I'd say. If I am getting something out of this show and I'm not a PR Pro... imagine what you could get as a PR Pro!

MelaVW ,

Super Relevant for PR Business Owners

This podcast is starting out great! It has advice that goes beyond a niche audience, but it’s also a source of education and inspiration for business owners in the public relations field. Independence is tough so content focused on thriving is important!

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