50 Peter Shankman Quotes for Success

Peter Shankman, the founder of HARO, or Help a Reporter Out, is a social media entrepreneur and influencer.

Recognized worldwide for new ways of thinking about the customer experience, social media, public relations, marketing, advertising, and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), Shankman often keynotes events.

Photo Credit: Peter Shankman

The New York Times and others have quoted Shankman in advice and “how I got here” stories like this one on how to best work with journalists.

His comments are TED-like so any business person would benefit from them. Here are 50.

  1. If you don’t write your own story, you’ll be nothing but a footnote in someone else’s.
  2. You don’t control the direction of your company. You are controlled by your customers.
  3. Find your weakness. Wrap yourself in it like an armor and it can’t be used to hurt you.
  4. Stay healthy.
  5. I’ve learned to set up certain life rules for myself which work to keep me on track. Getting up early, always exercising first thing in the morning no matter how tired I am. (and I’m usually doing it at 4am), and eating as healthy as possible.
  6. If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.
  7. While others are looking for fire, spend your time and energy looking for wood that’s yet to burn.
  8. Contact people at the time of day that they prefer.
  9. Two things happen when you’re nice. Number one is that people remember you.
  10. Get together with people in the way that they prefer. With Peter Shankman it might be running in NYC at 6 AM.
  11. What matters to customers, regardless of their economic background or expectation, regardless of whether you’re a corner deli or a 7-star resort…is the same thing that’s always mattered: TRUST.
  12. Being willing to try new things — I’ve started and sold three companies with nothing more than the experience I gained from the last one.
  13. Keep an eye on your friends’ mental health. (He mentioned in a public relations group event that, sadly, two of his entrepreneur friends committed suicide.)
  14. Dopamine comes from good experiences. It’s why I sky dive; it’s why I do Ironman triathlons.
  15. Hire good people.
  16. Allow your employees to work in the way that they can perform at their best.
  17. If you are ADHD working at home works well.
  18. Tell great stories.
  19. Be authentic when you answer a journalist.
  20. Don’t B.S. when you give comment for a news story.
  21. Listen to everyone but be keenly aware of whose advice you take. Be brilliant at the basics. That’s all you need to succeed.
  22. The entrepreneur economy is bigger than ever.
  23. Ease of use and video are two huge factors that are going to move the needle for communicators in the modern world.
  24. Understanding your audience is more important than ever.
  25. Understanding your clients and employees is key.
  26. Your audience is more important than ever before.
  27. Trust is the biggest thing that leads to purchase.
  28. Answer fast, like in 10 minutes if responding to a HARO, Help a Reporter Out, a company that he founded.
  29. You have to know your audience. That is a major key to getting social media right.
  30. Find the best time to call people, for example, that might be 4 AM for me right now.
  31. Be slightly better than the norm.
  32. We can earn and work from anywhere (now.)
  33. Little moments equal massive effect.
  34. The little things you do add up quickly.
  35. Doing little things is the basis for any improvement you ever hope to have.
  36. You can’t make anything viral but you can make it good.
  37. I wasn’t just managing my ADHD. I was using it to my advantage.
  38. There is no personal or professional anymore. There is simply your brand.
  39. Everything you do affects your brand.
  40. The pandemic has shown us that workers don’t need to be in the office every day.
  41. Be a zombie loyalist. Use great service to attract rabid fans.
  42. OH MY GOD I LOVE THIS! (In response to a cool image of him someone posted on Twitter)
  43. Be transparent, be relevant, be brief, and be top of mind.
  44. No one believes how great you are if you’re the one who has to tell them. You want your customers and your employees doing your PR for you and telling the world how great you are so you don’t have to.
  45. I don’t drink anymore because I only have two speeds — off and all the way on.
  46. I like to put 10x more help into the universe than I ask for. That’s the best way to live, I believe.
  47. Listen to your employees and let them work the way they want to work.
  48. Imposter syndrome is a real thing.
  49. Doesn’t matter how much success I’ve had, I wake up every day sure that today is the day that I’m found out to be a fraud, and when I’m not, it’s obviously because I’m not important enough for anyone to waste their time investigating me. Over and over.
  50. The majority of things I do aren’t normal but they work for me.

Here are two of Peter Shankman’s social media profiles:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/petershankman/

Twitter: @PeterShankman

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Michelle McIntyre, a PR consultant and IBM vet, runs her own consulting practice and works for Aircover Communications. @FromMichelle on Twitter

7 Pieces of PR Advice from an Iconic Tech Journalist

Today at an event attended by public relations professionals, iconic technology journalist and Author Brad Stone gave advice on pitching Bloomberg News. He manages a team of journalists there. 

He also just published a book called Amazon Unbound: Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire. 

He added that previously Bloomberg focused only on public companies; that has changed.

He was asked by the event moderator if he missed in-person events like conferences. He said yes, he has, and not having them has been a challenge. For example, he misses hallway conversations.

Here are seven tips he offered when pitching Bloomberg:

  1. Be persistent.
  2. Offer something interesting and impactful that a reporter doesn’t already know. 
  3. Don’t be sensitive about hard questions.
  4. Finding the right reporter is key.
  5. Don’t try too hard when you know you don’t have the goods.
  6. Don’t sell too hard.
  7. Sometimes a pitch is successful just by chance.


In summary, please keep these tips in mind and simply think before you shoot an email off to Bloomberg. You might be surprised at what you accomplish if your timing and message is well thought out. 

On a final note, are you aware of a unique part of the Bloomberg business, the tech side? The company employs thousands of technologists who define, architect, build and deploy complete systems to fulfill the needs of financial market participants globally.

I’m a curious person by nature and when a friend who also does PR brought up Bloomberg Tech the other day I wanted to know more so I checked it out online. I used to think of Bloomberg as mostly an editorial operation. It’s not.

[The orange cup and pink notebook photo is from Canva Pro.]

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Michelle McIntyre is a Silicon Valley PR consultant and IBM vet. @FromMichelle on Twitter. Thanks PRSA-SV team for scheduling Brad Stone as a Friday Forum speaker.

Want to Garner Positive Press from a Crisis? Think Again, says Beverly Hills PR Pro Howard Bragman

“Companies are under greater scrutiny than ever before,” warns Howard Bragman, founder of La Brea Communications public relations firm in Beverly Hills, Calif. The firm serves celebrities, doctors, CEOs, elected officials, regular folks and others. He lists Monica Lewinsky’s father as a client. An endorsement quote from TMZ’s Harvey Levin graces the home page of the firm’s website.

He was the speaker at this week’s PRSA-SV weekly event. 

Definition.net defines a crisis as “An unstable situation, in political, social, economic or military affairs, especially one involving an impending abrupt change.” 

Creative public relations professionals might see a problem as an opportunity to get a quote or an opinion in a media story. But Bragman says very few communications folks can successfully do this. He cautions not trying to benefit from bad things happening. 

Bragman who has been doing image work for a few years says now there are many ways to stir up image trouble. A PR crisis used to involve sex, drugs and rock and roll. But now there is social media and more of an emphasis on political correctness. An interesting side comment he made related to politics is the trend for Republican men to not want to get the COVID vaccine.

Bragman commented on ‘larger than life’ tech industry leaders like Elon Musk. He says they are like celebrities: They tend to hang around celebrities (which is true: Musk did marry a performer) and live “larger than life.” Another example is Ashton Kutcher who is known for backing tech startups and his acting career. Kutcher is both in a sense — a celebrity and entrepreneur — which is not uncommon these days.

In advising people like Steve Jobs, Bragman says, “Be careful about taking their authenticity.”  I agree with his assessment: Advise CEO celebrities to not break the law but generally be themselves. 

He cited the importance of knowing the laws that affect a situation. He commented, “Be sensitive when discussing solutions but bring in an attorney when needed.”

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Michelle McIntyre is a PR freelancer in the Silicon Valley, IBM vet and syndicated blogger with 500,000+ impressions on Quora. @fromMichelle on Twitter @Michelle408 on Clubhouse.

Thank you PRSA-SV board for scheduling this informative Friday Forum event.

8 Modern Tips on Landing A Job or Closing a Deal

Here are eight modern tips on landing a job from today’s Public Relations Society of America Silicon Valley chapter Friday Forum event speakers. This advice can be applied to sales pitches and deal closing as well.

  1. Write well.  
  2. Make sure you present well in Zoom, Cisco WebEx or Microsoft Team meetings. For example, maybe your room background is messy or you have a nervous tic. This could hurt your chances of landing the job, getting the consulting gig or making the sale.
  3. Demonstrate an emotional quotient or EQ during the interview. Speakers said they can tell how someone will be in a job by email communication and the first minute of an interview. This applies to sales as well. People buy solutions from folks they get along with.
  4. Ask an internal reference to back you. If you are applying for a job at IBM, HP, or Google, find a friend at one of those companies to put in a good word for you. The person who hired me at IBM had hired me at a PR agency a couple years prior: She was the hiring manager and my internal reference.
  5. Be a hustler! Follow up. Send a note after each interview.
  6. Unique avenues to success garner attention. An example is not getting into University of California Berkeley right away but instead transferring from community college.
  7. Don’t over follow up. A candidate for a PR job called nine times one morning. This was overkill. As previously stated, this applies to selling. Therefore, be a hustler without being creepy when following up after a sales call or job interview.
  8. Try something old school like a snail mail note. This actually may be the most modern tip on the list because most people don’t do this, therefore a handwritten note or card would stand out. Be aware that the hiring manager is likely working at home.

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Michelle McIntyre is an award winning Silicon Valley PR consultant, IBM vet, and a ranked future of work influencer with a half a million impressions on Quora. The moderators and speakers at the PRSA-SV Friday Forum event referenced in this story were Vanessa Yanez, Ellie Javadi, Brooke Kruger and Kathleen Shanahan, all public relations and image professionals with hiring experience.

5 Must-Have Work from Home Tools Like an Artistic Room Divider

If you are a work from home professional consider these five helpful tools. I am particularly pleased with my new laptop clip-on ring light and stylish room divider.

Kimberly Stoddard, a PR practitioner in San Francisco, demonstrates her new stylish room divider that makes an ideal online meeting background. Photo credit: Kimberly Stoddard.

Clubhouse – Clubhouse is a social media app that allows you to create a profile, build a following, follow people, and listen to, participate in or run “speaker panels” via audio chat. I call it the “old school radio app” because it involves hearing people speak. You can raise your hand and be called on to speak. I care because it’s hot in the public relations and startup arenas. The negative is that it’s only available via iOS which is iPhone.  My experience on Clubhouse has been fun; it’s a nice change from writing comments, like on Twitter.

Room Divider – Fellow PR practitioner Kimberly Stoddard told me that her new room dividers ordered online helped beautify her Zoom background and block out the moving boxes. She had just gotten to her new place when I first saw them. She said this because I commented that her background Monet art looked gorgeous and natural: I asked her about it. The negative is that they are pretty large, typically six feet tall, so they take up space. I just received an elegant Asian style room divider that created a new office space in the corner of the living room. Another benefit is if you are participating in online meetings from a bedroom, the room divider can block out the view of the bed in the background.

Grammarly is a program that auto-magically adjusts grammar. Fellow consultant, C.J. Lipe said, “When I work with a client in drafting content, such as a blog, article, or newsletter it helps me catch punctuation and grammatical errors. It often gives suggestions or triggers ideas for making changes that may not be so obvious in the moment due to ‘tunnel vision’.” The negative, according to another friend, is that it adjusts the passive voice when he doesn’t want that to happen. He can’t figure out how to turn that off. So maybe it’s a bit too auto-magic sometimes.

Ring Light – My home office has big windows and despite heavy curtains it is hard to adjust the light. What makes matters worse is that I have a sun tunnel. This does not help boost my image during Zoom, Microsoft Teams or WebEx meetings. When I asked for suggestions for laptop meeting lights, I was given two tips, Lume which was $75, and ring. Ring is a style of light not a brand. The one I found online was only $25. It works well. The possible negative is that the large laptop clip is a bit tight. Is this bad for my laptop? Time will tell. Some friends swear by Lume Cube brand.

Canva – Canva is a freemium program that helps a non-technical person to create quality social media graphics. I like it because it is easy to use and I get compliments on the images I’ve created with it. Guy Kawasaki strongly recommended it to me years ago when I started consulting and I’m glad I took his advice. Granted, I think he was Canva’s paid influencer at the time, but that’s okay. He is unlikely to work for a company he doesn’t truly believe in. The negative is that Canva has added a lot of features over the years and is now a bit complicated to use. I do pay $1 for their photos from time to time. I also buy Shutterstock photos. Photos are needed for blog stories.

Stock up on a few new tools like a laptop light and a stylish room divider and give your online and personal brand image a boost.

As an aside, thanks Kimberly Stoddard for sending a photo of you and your new room divider.

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Michelle McIntyre is an award winning tech PR consultant in the Silicon Valley. An IBM vet, she specializes in helping artificial intelligence, collaboration, data analytics and storage companies garner valuable attention. @FromMichelle on Twitter @Michelle408 on Clubhouse * Thanks to Meetup Bootstrappers’ Breakfast participants for generating some of these tips.

The US Demographic is Fast Changing; 3 Tips on Reaching Ethnic Communities

The demographics of my town of Saratoga, a quaint village nestled in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains – and by the way close to Apple, Cisco, Intel and Netflix headquarters — switched from mostly white to Asian probably around 2018. According to 2019 Census data, Saratoga is 49 percent Asian and 43 percent white.

This data is important and educational. Marketers need to realize how big the ethnic communities are in the U.S. and utilize smart tactics for reaching them.

If someone wants to reach the diverse audience here in my Silicon Valley village, made up of affluent technology executives, engineers, software developers, doctors and lawyers, teachers, plumbers, retirees, stay-at-home dads and moms, singles with no kids, and families, it’s wise to also talk to ethnic media when they are pitching stories.

Here are three tips on smart media relations or “PR” outreach to these groups:

  1. Tailor messages to community values. Vietnamese values are not necessarily the same as Indian ones. By the same token, some are.
  2. Use a trusted spokesperson. A colleague was the one that reached out to Sing Tao Daily for a PR campaign recently. I handled the main Silicon Valley newspaper as well as the broadcast networks like ABC, Fox and CBS. When it comes to Sing Tao Daily, my associate speaks their language and two of the people she highlighted in the story pitch were Chinese. Her help was greatly valued.
  3. Offer a stipend to trusted journalists at multi-cultural outlets. Julian Do who drives ethnic media services for clients like Blue Cross gave a unique tip during a gathering of PR professionals in Clubhouse recently. He said these media outlets are hurting for money and giving financial help by way of stipends helps immensely. He said it works adding that it does not influence the story. He compared it to buying advertising.

A good rule of thumb no matter what community you are trying to reach is to give something to the group that its constituents want or need.

Journalists like stories about the people they serve: Their readers or viewers, e.g. if it’s broadcast, like to hear “like” examples. Instead of pitching your standard U.S. company press release on a new product to an ethnic media outlet like Telemundo TV, form a story pitch around an interesting Latinx person at your organization who has impacted the community in a positive way.

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Michelle McIntyre is an award-winning public relations consultant and IBM vet in the Silicon Valley. She’s @michelle408 in Clubhouse and @FromMichelle in Twitter. Some of these tips came from a PRSA-SV Clubhouse panel event.

5 Tips for Startup Founders Like Be Nice and Work with Friendly People

Here are five premium pieces of advice offered by the speaker at my tech startup founders Meetup this morning. Alastair Hood, Ph.D., CEO, the founder of utilities analytics startup Verdafero had a unique angle to share. Founded in 2009, the company is web-based software that helps businesses more smartly manage their utility usage. 

What was unique was that Mr. Hood often peppered in comments about being nice and working with friendly people. I liked the tone of that and believe that I was hired several times as a PR consultant because I simply got along well with the marketing or PR leads or founders. 

Here were five key takeaways:

  1. Don’t take money from investors if you can help it. Their vision might not be yours. I’ve heard this time and time again. But my two cents is to scale big time after you gain a bunch of customers, you may need to take money from a trusted source.
  2. Always be nice to people, especially when bootstrapping. You may need a favor from them later. He shared that he ran into Mark Zuckerberg once.
  3. Don’t fall for the Silicon Valley bullsh– story. I believe what he meant was don’t think that starting a company is all glamour and big payouts. You have to work hard, meet with many customers and prospects and take risks.
  4. Look for other avenues to generate revenue while you are developing your solution. Perhaps a customer prospect would be interested in your consulting services while your software as a service or saas software product is being finalized.
  5. Work with people you like. You will spend a lot of time with them. Along the same theme, he added, hire a friendly attorney. I asked if all lawyers who work with startups require a major retainer and the response was, no.

It was seriously refreshing to hear about the importance of collaborating with nice and friendly folks. 

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Michelle McIntyre is the founder of Michelle McIntyre Communications LLC, an IBM vet and Silicon Valley PR diva. She loves to garner big attention for large and small companies including VC firms and has achieved 11 awards for outstanding results. @FromMichelle on Twitter

Worried About Ageism? Here are 2 Job Hunting Tips from PR Experts

Fifty year public relations industry Vet Gerry Corbett hosted a PRSA-SV talk today called “Ageism in the Workplace is Getting Old” with guest speakers and PR Practitioners Patti Temple Rocks and Scott Monty. 

Patti Temple Rocks is the author of “I’m Not Done. It’s Time to Talk about Ageism in the Workplace.”

Here are stats and advice that was shared: It mostly revolved around applying for jobs.

Ageism is Worse During the Pandemic

Ms. Rocks says that ageism is worse now because companies are cutting budgets during the pandemic; one way to do that is to get rid of the highest paid most experienced people. She added that ageism is rampant in tech and at PR agencies.

The following statistics which come from the website Builtin.com were shared by the moderator. Only 10 percent of people ages 65-69 work. Half of people 55-64 are employed, and half notice ageism when they enter their fifties. 

How can seasoned professionals rise above being viewed as too old?

First, when you look for a job utilize your network. Cold calling a company probably won’t work. In fact one speaker believed that sometimes artificial intelligence algorithms weed out older workers’ applications automatically. If you contact people who know and like you, you’ll have a way better chance. Another speaker commented that even young people get ignored because they didn’t use a friend at the company to get an interview.

Secondly, tailor your resume for each opportunity. This makes sense because if you have been working 20, 30, 40 or even 50 years you have done a whole heck of a lot. Instead of listing everything, choose things that showcase activity and results that are relevant to the job you’re applying for. It’s hard work figuring out what to say and not say but it pays off. And you don’t have to list things chronologically. 

The speakers agreed that ageism at the workplace is common but there are ways around it. Be smart when you reach out to companies for work.

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Michelle McIntyre, the founder of Michelle McIntyre Communications, is a seasoned PR industry pro who helps tech companies and their VCs get attention. She has worked at IBM and three PR agencies including WE for Microsoft. @FromMichelle @PRSASV on Twitter

7 Online Event Tips for Marketing and PR Professionals

Here are seven easy to follow video meeting best practices designed to massively improve your next online event. This will also boost the quality of your everyday remote work. The first one will take you “back to the future.”

Ethernet Wire Internet Connection — I first heard of using an Ethernet wire instead of wireless during my son’s freshman year at University of California Berkeley in the dorms. Amazingly, this was just last year. Ethernet is from the 1990s! This Back to the Future-type trick leads to faster and more reliable internet. Then I heard it again from a VLAB volunteer. VLAB has brought their emerging tech panels from in-person to online.

Back to the Future film photo credit: Alamy via BBC

Headset for Audio — Headsets or earbuds bring a microphone closer to the participants mouth. Make sure a headset is charged before an event. 

If Video Quality Fades Switch to All Audio or Phone — Immediately switch to all audio or turn off the online chat and dial in by phone if there is video disruption. Thanks Cisco Webex for this tip.

Shift Your Schedule — Join a video meeting five minutes early. This may mean setting your last meeting to end 15 minutes before the hour.

In Your Face Light Source — Webcams work best with a lot of light. It’s important that it not come from behind the participant like via a window. If there is a window there, close the curtain or shade. A lamp behind a laptop will help brighten a face evenly.

Focus on Eyeline — Placing your webcam at eye level looks best to viewers. Stack books underneath your laptop. This brings the camera more directly in front of the eyes as opposed to below. 

Work Outside the VPN — Turn your virtual private network or VPN off for higher quality online meeting or event service. I found this tip on the Webex website. They are known for security among other things so I’ll take their word for it.

Good luck with your next online meeting. I encourage you to share your tips with others. Thanks go to VLAB Volunteer Ms. Avery Hudson and Cisco’s Webex Collaboration website for these tips. 

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Michelle McIntyre is a Silicon Valley tech PR diva, IBM vet, founder of Michelle McIntyre Communications LLC, and a long time community volunteer. She’s the media relations lead for the Silicon Valley Monterey Bay Council of Boy Scouts of America and has served on several executive boards including district PTA. 

5 Ways To Stay Motivated as an Entrepreneur

Here are five tips to stay motivated from a Meetup called Bootstrappers Breakfast, a group that fosters early morning entrepreneur discussions. There were ten of us in the Zoom chat the other day: We all participated equally with the discussion led by Sean Murphy.

The challenge as stated was how do you motivate yourself to pursue new clients when you are busy serving old ones? It’s like networking for your next job when you are happily employed. That activity often falls by the wayside.

Here’s what participants had to say.

First, to stay motivated stay organized. Make a task list. One person put his in a Trello board. Another swore by his e-calendar and put all to-dos there. 

The second tip had to do with networking goals. Set up a weekly goal each week, e.g five meetings. Additionally aim to keep catch-up chats to 20 minutes. Super busy people will be more likely to say, “Yes” to 20 minutes instead of an hour.

The third piece of advice was to find a work buddy. Set up a Zoom chat and work together with your friend. State what you are trying to get done and they can ask, how is it going? 

The fourth tip is to attend a peer accountability Meetup. The one the Bootstrap Breakfast participant said he goes to regularly is for entrepreneurs. This reminded me of my book writing class at Stanford. We reported our progress to the instructors and classmates each week. I did finish my book draft by the way.

Tip number five is about reading books on developing good habits. The two recommended were Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and Atomic Habits by James Clear. If a habit to spend a certain amount of time each week drumming up new business is formed then there is a much higher chance that goal is achieved.

In summary, find your own personal formula for staying motivated to look for new business even when you have clients. Then you’ll have way less downtime as a consultant or entrepreneur.

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Michelle McIntyre who wrote this story is the founder of Michelle McIntyre Communications LLC. An award-winning IBM vet and social media microinfluencer, she invites you to follower her on Twitter @FromMichelle