DTC POD Nikole & Ali - LVPR
Sure. So we started working together about 14 years ago. We've been in the PR industry since then and we now work at LVPR, which is a company that I founded and we work with a lot of startups and emerging brands. And due to that we decided that we wanted to start doing this passion project called the Littles. And the littles is a CPG startup advisory. We offer distinctive brands, a model that supports high growth potential, and it's really just like consulting for brands that couldn't afford maybe LVPR at the retainer level that we're at, but still need that strategy and advice that they could potentially execute on their own. So we're really excited and we would love to share more about it.
Yeah, well, we're really excited to get into it. I think PR is a topic that we love getting into. It's such an essential part for brands that are launching and even brands that are in market in terms of positioning, getting the right coverage, getting the right press and being able to scale things out. And we know you guys at LVPR, we've worked with a bunch of your brands, you've had a bunch on the show. And so why don't you just tell our audience who you guys have had the pleasure of working with over your career at LVPR?
Course. I mean, it's been actually really cool because we started with a lot of brands that literally were in their infancy, their startup stage, and then we've seen many of them through acquisition, which has been an amazing growth opportunity for us. So we worked with native, the deodorant and now personal care brand through acquisition. We worked with Hero Cosmetics, we've worked with Vine Box, which is an amazing wine brand. And we've also worked with a ton of cloud papers. One of our brands, it's a bamboo toilet paper and paper products brand to.
Nikole Flores 00:03:56 - 00:04:32
Us, the home decor brand, Mackenzie Child. Right now we're repping Kevin Aquan Beauty, which is makeup, state bags, accessories, Stow Joe, which is more know the new Tupperware. But really our sweet spot is brands with a good great founder story, some element of sustainability, some sort of give back audition, a product we love and a cult like following. And when we work with brands that hit most of these marks, we just see a lot.
Awesome. And I'd love to go into a little bit now, sort of what maybe some of the learnings have been over the time working with these brands. I know you guys have had the pleasure of working with some major brands that have gotten to a whole bunch of scale, but what do brands need to know when they're starting out with their launching and when they're thinking about bringing PR into the fold, what do they need to know? Where do you guys come in? What do you help with that really helps brands take it to the next level?
Yeah, I think the biggest thing is we do more than PR. So we also do social media management, we do influencer, we do affiliate marketing. So we've really kind of grown our departments. And the biggest thing is that if all those channels are not working together, it's clunky. So it's like one of those things.
Nikole Flores 00:05:21 - 00:05:24
That if you're not putting out the.
Same information and the same support in all these channels, you're not really optimizing your opportunities. And these startup brands are not always, they don't have the bandwidth, they don't have the team for a lot of this. And so where we come in is we really function as a partner to our brands, we don't function as an agency. We come in, we look big picture and we say, here's your holes, here's the areas that you need to put time into, here's the strategies, how can we help you? And I think that's what's really worked well for us because a lot of our brands have then since asked us to stay on longer grown our retainers, because they're like, we see the value that you guys provide. Yeah. What am I missing?
Nikole Flores 00:06:07 - 00:07:01
Well, there was like a lot of questions in there, but I think when you're launching a new brand, making sure that the brand messaging is tight and the product differentiators, like what sets you aside from everyone else in your space. Again, like a great founder story, just really helps because the consumer right now really needs to feel connected to the brand. There needs to be that emotional connection, that brand affinity and then really laying out not just your launch. I think brands always think about the launch and they kind of just let it go from there. But how do you continue to be a part of the conversation in terms of media and in social? So within your category, what are the moments every month that you can show up and have an opportunity, whether it's a sale, a promo, a campaign, a partnership, you can be doing things that are driving conversation on an ongoing basis.
A strategy. We really focus the long term strategy.
Ramon Berrios 00:07:06 - 00:07:49
Sorry, you're fine. It's really interesting that you implement all the playbooks at the same time of affiliate, influencer and pr because it makes sense to maximize momentum. I could see why, if you're doing PR, you're going to get interest from influencers, you might get interest from people who are better fit as an affiliate. And if you're just focused on one channel at that time, you're just going to let those opportunities go cold. When you talk about filling in the gaps and the holes for some of these companies, how much of that is like brand or is it performance? Is it more story? What are some of the most common holes that you see with brands when they're starting out?
Nikole Flores 00:07:49 - 00:08:24
The most common holes, honestly, it varies across brands. But I would say in terms of a newer brand, you would be surprised. But when they come in and we do those intro calls, a lot of people still don't know what affiliate is. They are not maximizing affiliate and they're like, oh, we did a little bit with PR, but we're not seeing conversion. Well, PR is not about conversion. Right. PR is about brand awareness. And if you're really looking to focus on conversion, affiliate, it's a really low risk marketing channel.
Nikole Flores 00:08:24 - 00:08:50
And we're seeing that about 90% of media publishers now are an affiliate. So for example, the Conde Nas, Meredith, CNN underscored Forbes wirecutter for New York Times. If you're connecting with those affiliate commerce editors or partnership directors, then you can work with them to create opportunities.
Nikole Flores 00:08:50 - 00:08:55
Exclusive opportunities for these media outlets. That's actually going to drive sales when a story comes out.
Ramon Berrios 00:08:55 - 00:09:02
And is there such thing as the right timing for this? Could it be too early to tackle on that for a brand?
Nikole Flores 00:09:02 - 00:09:31
Yeah, I think that if you're going to start doing pr, affiliate needs to be set up, meaning at least you have to be on the platform because a lot of these publishers, like I mentioned, let's say it's a product roundup on well and good of the best supplements for 2024. If you're not set up an affiliate, they might not choose you because they want to include brands where they have an opportunity to make a commission based on every sale.
But we always say, when brands come to us, we always say you have to be set up an affiliate before we even work with you. So that's kind of one of our disclaimers. But typically we work with brands that are about to launch in at least 60 days, maybe a little bit earlier, but everything needs to be lined up and ready to execute in order for the success to all happen at one.
Okay, guys, well, I love that. I love the framing that you guys also have in terms of aligning all those channels and making sure to distinguish between affiliate, between influencer, between brand awareness, because these are all, like Ramon, like you had mentioned, they're all building blocks that all stack together to communicate that message. And what I'd love to do and why I was really excited for this episode is because we just happen to be launching a brand in 60 days, and obviously there's a lot of things that are going to have to be done from the PR side. So what I'd love to do a little bit is maybe we can workshop what some of those things might be from the context of our brand which will give everyone else some kind of ideas in terms of how you guys approach things, how you guys would think about setting something up. So for anyone who's listening, this is the first time we're announcing it. So what I'm working on is an olive oil supplement brand. Right? So it's a capsule in capsule olive oil supplement brand. There's obviously a ton of benefits that you get natural benefits from olive oil, but part of the problem is to get those heart healthy, longevity focused benefits, you need to consume around four tablespoons of olive oil, or 500 calories worth of really high quality, extra virgin olive oil a day.
And that might be tough in western diets. So what we've done is we've extracted the really high quality parts of the olive in terms of their phenolic compounds, specifically this one called hydroxytyrosol, where there's a ton of medical studies with all the effects that you're able to see. And we've distilled it, and we've capsulated it into a capsule and capsule called Olivia. So I can show it to you guys right here. First time. Yeah, there it is. So that's the capsule. And as you can see, we've got really high phenolic content.
Olive oil. And encapsulate on the inside is a capsule of hydroxytyrosol, which is that phenolic compound that I was talking about. So it's something that we're really excited about launching. And again, we're about 60 days or so away from launch. This is our first production batch that you guys can see here. We got the goods right there. Yeah, they're here. They're here.
It's ready to go.
Take a day.
What's that? One a day? Yeah. And it's only four calories. So you got all the benefits from olive oil in a four calorie capsule.
Love that. Okay, you want to do.
Yeah. So with that in mind, this is the first time you guys are hearing from it. So I'd love just the first thoughts in terms of reaction to the product, what we should be doing, what we need to be thinking about. Yeah. Run us through it.
Nikole Flores 00:12:41 - 00:13:47
Okay. The first step would be a competitor audit. So we would see who are your competitors, and what is their proposition, and how do we differentiate you in the space. Right. My second question would be, do you have certifications or anyone with a medical background that can help be a spokesperson? So there's opportunities for the founder, but then there's another layer of credibility that you get with a spokesperson, with some sort of health or nutritionist or medical background. And then from there, work on the brand messaging and draft day, your launch press release, right, where you detail out where you're going to be available, the ingredients again, like any certifications. And then we could do a couple of things. I think with brands, it depends on budget, right? So once we get a sense of what your out of pocket budget is, it could be something like setting up virtual meetings with health and wellness editors at the top media outlets are so well and good mind, body, green, very well, health.
Nikole Flores 00:13:47 - 00:14:26
All those kind of media outlets where people want to read about supplements and nutrition, women's health, men's health, et cetera. So that's like a low lift, low cost thing, right? Because you could just set up like this, like Zoom meetings with editors. You send them a beautiful pr, they're called PR package or press mailer with product and an insert about informative details about the brand and usually like a surprise and delight component that in addition or pairs well with the kind of product or category you're pushing. So, yeah, I mean, those are just off the top of my head, a couple of things.
I love that. And then the next question I'd have would be in terms of, like you said, there's all these different things that we want to start to manage. Right? We want to make sure our messaging is good. We want to make sure we've got the legit legitimacy taken care of. What does it take to run this process? How do you guys get involved? Are you just checking in with us? Are you giving us a checklist? And, yeah, how do you guys oversee and make sure we're hitting all those milestones, so to speak.
Nikole Flores 00:14:58 - 00:15:54
So we are very, like Ali said previously, work more as a partner, not an agency. So we set know bi weekly calls and at the start of it we do a launch kickoff call, which is essentially we assess what you're missing. And yes, we kind of give you a to do list of like, hey, here are all the things you need to get in order in order for us to start working on whether it's kicking up the affiliate program, the press release, the brand messaging, the mailers. Right. We need essentially your pr and business objectives so we can do strategy that ladders up to them. Like, are you focusing on sales and conversion, brand awareness, retail? Are you trying to attract retail? Every brand has different objectives. So I think the great thing is it's not a copy and paste approach. You really have to personalize your strategy for every brand and every founder.
Yeah, I would just add on to that. Everything that we do for brands in the littles is really strategy based, so they don't have the ability to hire a team, which would be LBPR. So what we give them is we assess the situation. We say, here's what you need to do, here's your program, you guys implement it, or we can help you. But the goal is really to give them that blueprint of what you need to do to start and all the different channels and activations that need to happen.
And I'd love to talk a little bit about Ramon. Did you want to jump in with something?
Ramon Berrios 00:16:28 - 00:16:43
Well, I just wanted to ask for some of the brands you work with. How do you know, what are the indicators that, oh, this is going to be a home run? What are the actions and things that those brands or customers do and those common traits that you just know this is going to be successful?
I mean, we're just genius. I don't really know. No, I'm just kidding. I think that's really been a cool thing for us, is when we started LVPR, we fell into this category. And so through the years we've been able to see a lot of it, I think depends on the founder. A lot of it is their personality, their passion, the innovation pipeline. There's a lot of different things that we look at, but at the end of the day, it's very much a gut thing.
Nikole Flores 00:17:15 - 00:17:17
I think it's a little bit of.
There's categories that are hard, there's categories that are easier to pitch product in, there's categories that are oversaturated, saturated, and there's, like, innovation ones. So I think we just kind of look at all of that. We look at a lot of the areas that media or consumers could poke holes in. Is there credibility? Is there an advisor, is there a medical person involved?
Nikole Flores 00:17:43 - 00:18:42
Even things aesthetically, right, like a website, I think that's your first introduction. Or nowadays, right, your Instagram page, where people can learn, right, they can go into the highlights and see the how to's, the benefits really building out assets for. Because media, at the end of the day, they're consumers as well, so they're going through the journey the same way that we are. The only difference is that they might be testing it and then deciding if they're going to review it or include it. But I think thinking about holistically, right, like all your channels, like your brand voice, like how you're communicating in your email, marketing, all that matters. And like Ali said, most of the time, the people that are doing that are still the founders. A lot of these startups, so they wear a lot of hats and we empathize with them a lot. But I think that after you work with a certain amount of founders, you kind of see who has it and who doesn't.
One topic I'd love to cover with you guys is I know you're working on the littles, where you guys take the partnership approach with brands that are just like launching and starting out. So why don't you walk me through what those engagements sort of looks like. I remember when we were just talking about it, it sounded really cool because it was almost like you guys were taking this approach of almost like an accelerator. A strategic advisory for CPG brands where if they don't have the option to sign on a major pr firm where they can handle the retainer and all of that sort of stuff, they can actually bring you in as a strategic partner on the equity side where you're able to come in, help them run all your playbooks, and hopefully get them, like you're saying, from a strategic side and point of view, get all your ducks in a row so you're able to launch cleanly as opposed to, okay, maybe we nailed one thing, but all our other channels were all over the board, right? So why don't you just walk us through a little bit of how it works, what you guys are excited about, and how you're seeing everything come together.
Nikole Flores 00:19:39 - 00:20:22
Yeah. So right now, if you go to WW dot, the littlesadvisory.com, you'll see that there's an application form. So this is a good way to kind of vet who's ready for someone like us and who's not. And there is also the website, a list of criteria that will also help the brand to decide whether they're a good fit. So they have to be at a certain stage funding wise, they have to be based in the United States, they have to be under a CBG category. So I think that's the first step. And then after the application goes through, we review it. If they're a good fit, we set up an initial call and just understand the brand objectives and their needs.
Nikole Flores 00:20:22 - 00:21:09
And again, we customize based on what they need, we customize a strategy and then negotiation starts in terms of some people just want to do cash, some people want to do cash and equity if it's a longer term engagement. For example, one of our LVPR brands decided to offer us equity, and we're doing that, right. So we're doing a portion of equity and a smaller retainer fee, but for a longer contract for three years. So we can start as small or as long of an engagement as the brand wants. Right. We always recommend a minimum of six months and really to really see success, because how much can you really see in the first couple of months where you're still strategizing, planning and kind of.
Getting the ball rolling?
Nikole Flores 00:21:12 - 00:21:14
But, yeah, that's kind of a snapshot.
Of what it looks like. Well, and I'll just to add on to that, I think one thing that we talked with the founder the other day about littles and something that is important to us too, is that we.
Nikole Flores 00:21:24 - 00:21:25
Believe in the brand.
So we're not really here to just take equity immediately. I think it's really important for us to kind of see how the brand grows, how they progress, and really get the passion behind it in order to find those brands that we really believe are going to be an opportunity for equity. So I think that it's cool for us because we've had to pass on so many brands in the past with LVPR because of their budgets, but this gives us an opportunity to really cater to these brands that we want to work with but we couldn't previously.
Yeah, I love that in terms of just finding alignment, and I think that's really important for founders. And Ramon and I have both been through this. In terms of starting companies, it's like you really want to find people that are aligned with you in terms of the long term interest. And sometimes you might work with a consultant on a small project, but in terms of the long term interest, is there true synergy between what it is that you want and what does the brand want? So for you guys to forego a retainer because it's a project you really believe in, in the long term, you guys are aligning incentives to all get on the same page, right? As opposed to just saying, oh, we don't care about what you do and where you are in a year from now, so long as you pay our retainer up front, like, no, you get a little bit more alignment. Exactly. And I think we're starting to see this a lot more. I know a lot of founders who are taking more organic approaches to fundraising. Typically it was only like VC, and the only value add that you were getting was capital.
Then you had all these vcs who are trying to get in deal and they're like, oh, we're all value add. We're a VC and we're a PR firm, we're a VC and we're this. And then I think where we're seeing things start to go is like, founders are able to really choose the partners that they want to bring into their ecosystems, whether it's a creator, whether it's a strategic PR firm, whoever it is, to really complement their existing skill set. And I think that's going to be a trend that we're going to see more of as capital environments get a little bit harder to raise in. I know, especially in direct to consumer, the markets and the amount of capital being raised is definitely drastically different than it was a year or two ago. So it's just really interesting to see these innovative models pop up 100%.
Nikole Flores 00:23:43 - 00:24:10
And, I mean, that's what we saw. Even at LVPR, we saw that some of our brands weren't scaling as fast or they were cutting budgets because they weren't able to fundraise in this year's environment. And we said, okay, well, we need to see what's the next innovation of if they're not fundraising and they're not going to be able to scale up retainer wise, but we are really, truly invested in their know how, can we.
Continue to be a part?
Absolutely. Okay, next question I have for you guys, getting back to Olivia, because now we've got an idea of a concept that we want to launch. We're going to launch it. What questions would you have for me, and what guidance would you have for us to successfully launch this platform or product and take it to market?
You love asking that. I know. Okay, well, my first question is, why are you doing this?
Nikole Flores 00:24:38 - 00:24:40
What's the reason? What's the story?
Who's on your, like, talk me through that, and then I'll go from there.
Perfect. So the founder of the brand and the person who's really running it is actually my girlfriend, Sabrina. So you should definitely be talking to her. But the way the brand originated, obviously, a couple years ago, tragically, her father passed away due to probably heart related complications. Due to Covid. Right. So she was really into trying to understand health. She had questions about her own health.
Is this hereditary stuff? Is it something that she can solve with natural remedies? What can she do to sort of take control of it? Following up later, after she had that scare and devastating thing with her dad passing, I started going through my own heart problems where I don't know if it was, like, after Covid related or what, but I started fainting. I started having arrhythmias. My heart would, like, speed up, and then it would stop beating. So just like, really weird sort of stuff happening. So she was like, okay, I need to figure out what's going on. Then enter one of my good friends, who is a cardiologist from Harvard and NYU, and he's also greek, and he has been studying and doing a lot of research into olive oil. The compounds, the benefits. And in traditional, in european cultures, there's less incidence of heart related problems, lower cholesterol, better longevity, and better overall health in a lot of cases.
And they've isolated a lot of these compounds. So over the last couple of years, there's been some really interesting and very compelling data coming out around hydroxytyrosol specifically, as well as these other phenolic compounds in olive oil. And that does do things, including, literally, like reducing the plaque that you have in your heart, lowering cholesterol, improving vascular health. Right. So that was kind of like how the concept of the brand was born. And then from a product perspective, it was like, in terms of what we saw in the market, it was, okay. Olive oil is becoming more of a thing. You see influencers and people who are in the space talking about health and wellness, natural health.
How do we solve things naturally? And even as far as things like Starbucks is putting olive oil in their coffee, for example, because it's a thing.
Nikole Flores 00:27:05 - 00:27:05
And there's a lot of great things to be said about extra virgin olive oil. So all that came together, and then came the product side of like, okay, how do we solve this? Because form factor becomes a problem. Western diet becomes a challenge, and calories become a challenge, too. Right? We can't create a product that is going to be 1000 calories or 500 calories every day, because, sure, the health benefits are great, but people, it's just not going to be realistic, and the form factor has got to matter. So that was kind of the inspiration from the brand, and Sabrina was able to take it and start to put it together. And obviously, I'm nosy and my head's in everywhere. So that's kind of how I got involved with it being in the d to C space. But, yeah, that's a background about the product, the problem, and what it does.
Okay, so you obviously saw a hole. So in terms of differentiators, is there competitors on the market that you guys would say, like, you're up against, or do you feel like your product is completely innovative and nobody's doing exactly what you're doing?
I think it's pretty novel. We're definitely the first capsule and capsule olive oil hydroxy tyrosal supplement in the world. So I think if I had to evaluate the market, I'd say in a lot of ways it's probably early, right? I think we saw probiotics, for example. Everyone was doing probiotics and then now you see the growth in that supplement category. And I think as trends play out, you can either be in the early side of them or where you're going to have a little bit, there's going to be a little bit more education involved.
Nikole Flores 00:28:37 - 00:29:12
The first thing I would recommend would be like an education based campaign because we saw this a couple of years ago with tinctures, because we're talking about natural herbal remedies and tinctures were not popular. We also saw this with CBD oil maybe like ten years ago. So you see products that are now accepted and mainstream, but you always have to start somewhere. So I think that definitely education would be number one, including maybe partnering with content creators that focus on longevity and health and wellness. And they can be your ambassadors.
Yeah, I think that's one of the things that we're really passionate about too, is when we do desk sides or when we launch a brand or we introduce it to the media, it's really the education. So if the category is something that people aren't as familiar with, we did a little research and there's not a ton of articles out there on this category. So we have to make it mainstream. We have to explain to them why they should cover it and where this fits in their editorial lineup. So I think that the education piece is huge.
Yeah, absolutely. And I think kind of what I was saying before is brands have, there's all different times of market timings. You can either be early, you can enter right as the market's hot, there's already a bunch of pent up consumer demand, and then you just kind of replicate whatever else the first product to do it is. And you can grab a bunch of market share that way, or you could be on the tail end of a trend and then it would be like me and Ramon starting a fidget spinner brand today. I don't think that would do too well. It seems like that wave is over. So it's just interesting to kind of see. And when you're coming up with a brand where you fit within that trend and like you were saying, understanding, okay, if you're early, you're going to have to take the education angle and you're going to have to pick the right creators and you're going to have to do all this because again, you don't have a mature, ready to buy audience in the same way you would if we're know, look, five, six years down the line from now.
Ramon Berrios 00:30:37 - 00:31:22
It seems like that sort of reminds you of, like, what are those landers called, Blaine? I forget, like, the landing pages that convert clickfunnels. It's a funnel, but it's like infomercial ish. The educational pages. Yes. Partnering with media publications that can really just do. It's not just an article about the trend. I mean, it's a funnel intended to drive the person through that journey until leading them onto the product, hopefully causing a conversion. Not just because it's educational means.
Ramon Berrios 00:31:22 - 00:31:31
No, we won't get any sales. We have to educate everyone first. There's a method in a way, to making it still be performance driven at a certain point.
Is that right, Ramon? Yeah, I think you were talking about advertorial, but I think that's the same idea, right?
Nikole Flores 00:31:39 - 00:32:11
Yeah. I mean, you could do paid editorial. There's so many different word catchphrases for it. Native editorial. Paid editorial. It is more expensive. Pr is definitely way less of a spend in terms of if you're starting out, but, yeah, if your budget allows it, it's always good to incorporate some paid strategies with high converters like Alabuzzpeed, those listables that are just clickbaity. And you're going to read them just because.
Nikole Flores 00:32:12 - 00:32:44
But the other way to do performance things, you could get on your stories or Instagram lives or TikTok. I mean, TikTok is great because that audience is searching for educational things, right? Like, they're searching for trends. So if you do that kind of content and then you're promoting your product, linking it for purchase on Instagram or in the TikTok shop, there are ways to educate and then also convert or track conversions.
I'd love to talk about some organic social stuff, because there's a lot happening in this world, right? Like, we've got TikTok, which is its own beast. You've got Instagram. When you're thinking about bringing a brand to market, how are you thinking about helping them with their organic strategy? An organic social strategy, of course.
I mean, I think this is a very nice lead in because it's one of the things that we've actually grown in, in this past year. So I never wanted to do social. It's not our thing, whatever. But we saw all of our brands not using their channels effectively. It wasn't reflective of their pr, it wasn't reflective of their website. Such a missed opportunity and so what we really have started to do is help our brands be more strategic. And so it's like, more like, what's your editorial calendar like for your social channels? How are you engaging? How are you creating this community? Because that's really what it's about now. And so for us, what we typically do is align all the different channels together so they're all working on the same message or promoting the knowledge or whatever the case is for each brand.
But I think it's so important to get your social loaded early. Have your content ready, have, like, we call it an asset. Like, have your library ready so that you really are utilizing it well. And then the commerce opportunities between Instagram and TikTok are huge. So it's just like a great conversion.
Well, and let's talk about that content asset base, because I think that's critical, right? I think you see it when you see a great CPG brand. Like, they've got unified messaging, they've got creative that looks sort of the same across channels. How do you build one of those? What do you recommend? What do you see? And then where is it okay to break free from that, right? Like, Ramon and I, a lot of times will talk to different brands who've seen a ton of success on TikTok, for example, and some of their best videos and their best performing creative is the ones where it doesn't feature literally any of that content. Right. It's just totally off the script and it pops. So how do you think about, a, creating a base of content assets for the brand that they can work from, and b, how do you also help them navigate the world of TikTok and organic social, where there may not be so much template and so much structure in place?
Yeah, you have to definitely have to have different strategies for Instagram and TikTok. I mean, they're very different channels. We've seen a lot of success with our founders being just like normal people on TikTok, being relatable, letting the community get to know them. That's been really successful. But I also think, yeah, to your point, there's a big focus on just content creators, not polished. Everyone just wants authentic, genuine content. And it doesn't have to be product first. It needs to be like relatable content.
And so we're really seeing, at least on our end too, which has been really interesting. We're seeing a shift from paid sponsored influencer marketing posts to just straight content creation for a lot of brands. And it's more affordable. You're able to really fill your content bank at a lower cost and also kind of figure out what's working, like what content works for your brands. It's easier.
Nikole Flores 00:36:44 - 00:37:39
Yeah. And to add to that, when you're thinking about the content bank, you need a couple of different things for a couple of different channels, right? So you need the plain product, like on white, for example, clear background for certain editorial website opportunities or they might want more lifestyle content, someone, people interacting with the product, like taking the product, holding the product again still in an organic way. And then like you said, there's like the static bank versus video. So with video you can have more polished the benefits of this product, which is more branded, right? But again, still touching on the education, but you still want that UGC like user generated content of them just authentically using it their day to day. And it's not so brand forward, it's more. There's other word, right? Organic or authentic incorporation of product.
Ramon Berrios 00:37:39 - 00:38:28
And it makes sense for why brands are replacing influencer with organic content. Because it costs money, it's expensive to generate all of this content. And if you're going to be serious about it, you need high level of outputs because you need quantity to get to quality and know what works and what doesn't work. And there's just almost no budget to do both very well simultaneously. They both require a team of outreach, negotiation. The brands that are doing organic content, right, it is eating into the budget of influencer because they're spending 10,000, $20,000 a month producing organic content. And then you start seeing performance from it. And it also feeds the ad platforms because now you have that content too, that you can repurpose and use on the ad platforms as well.
Ramon Berrios 00:38:28 - 00:38:33
And so I just share this because a lot of brands say, well, why can't we just do both? Let's do both.
And that's really cool.
Nikole Flores 00:38:37 - 00:39:16
I think it depends. That's why it's so important to understand. One of the main questions we ask is like, let's be realistic about your budget. What is your out of pocket marketing budget? And I have a hot take here because every founder that we talk to doesn't want to give you the number. But then they're so annoying. There's so much time wasted because we give them all these ideas and it's not within their budget. But they wouldn't tell me the budget, so we would have been more efficient quicker and just been able to activate faster. If you just give me a range and I'm like, okay, these are the ideas that you can afford, right? This is like your bucket.
Nikole Flores 00:39:16 - 00:39:19
Instead of, oh, I want to do all this, but I can't afford it.
Ramon Berrios 00:39:21 - 00:39:54
Step one for the founder is like, know that you're on their side. Whatever the budget is, it's not for you to blow it with one creator or one media publication. Your goal is to maximize the success of the dollar spent. And so I think people are used to working with agencies that just might be on their side or things like that. So do you have ranges of budgets? Are we talking 5000? Is it 10,000 if you're under 20,000? We're not the right fit.
Nikole Flores 00:39:54 - 00:40:27
So we scale, at LVPR, everything's under 15, but it's tiers, because again, everyone can't afford everything and some people can, and they want all the bells and whistles. So I would say that for young startups we could be flexible starting at six, but mostly our clients come in 85 1012 15, like that range, which is still very competitive. I mean, we used to work at agencies, New York, Chicago, everywhere else. And most of the retainers that I worked on were 20 plus.
This is LVPR too. Oh yeah. So LVPR has those offerings, but we also do office hours at LVPR, which is more just like strategic sessions. But then if you go to the littles, it's less expensive. So it's kind of like offering.
Ramon Berrios 00:40:46 - 00:41:02
And does that include media publications or access to some of the media publications? Or is that something that's like. Or does that depend can be sort of la carte, like, hey, we have this opportunity that just came up, it's this much more. You can take it if you want.
Nikole Flores 00:41:02 - 00:41:53
It, you don't have to with PR, whether, wherever you are, if you're a PR agency, all the routineers include media. It's media relations. It's basically like the basic, like the number one bullet at whatever level you have. Which means we're reaching out to media and introducing them to your product, sending them product, pitching them ideas for stories or interviews. Around the product. So at whatever level you come in, that's always included, if that makes sense. When we're talking about scaling up, it's if you want brand partnership, because there's a lot of negotiations and outreach for that. If you're wanting activations or ongoing press mailers, which is like the compiling of actual packages and handwritten note cards for the press, all those things.
Nikole Flores 00:41:53 - 00:42:15
If it includes affiliate. Right. Because affiliate is a totally different channel from just pitching editorial. If you want thought leadership, does the founder want to be on panels and podcasts and speaking opportunities? So I think, again, it's customized based on, one, what you can afford, and then two, what do you want to focus on? Because we know that not everyone can scale everything at the same time.
Just to jump in there, I'd love to have an understanding of the brands that you guys are working with. So let's assume that maybe a brand has raised a little bit of capital. Maybe they're on their 1st, 2nd, 3rd sort of production cycle where they're starting to sell, they've got some revenue coming in the door. What's your sort of sweet spot? Because I know you said ideally we start with them 60 days before launch and we can either work together in the capacity of LVPR or the littles, but if it's not at that early of a stage, where do you see brands coming in? Where they've got the budget they can spend and then you can really create a bunch of value add for them?
Nikole Flores 00:42:56 - 00:42:57
That's a great question.
I mean, I think it's different obviously for littles and LVPR, but LVPR wise, we typically work with brands that are somewhat funded. What state telling? I'm the worst at this.
Nikole Flores 00:43:10 - 00:43:24
Usually from Seed, I would say from Seed round to series b, but we see mostly like seed bridge rounds and series a in the LVPR wheelhouse. And then at the littles, it's friends.
And family seed much small early, but.
Nikole Flores 00:43:28 - 00:43:30
The biggest thing, I mean, we say.
We'Re generalists, so we do all kinds of brands. They just have to hit those five criteria that she said before. And that's pretty standard for both littles and LVPR. I mean, we really care about the founder, we care about sustainability, the charitable give back, the quality product, and obviously cult lake following, but that we genuinely believe in the brand and we can check all those boxes. We've been so successful. We also come in on the trade side, like if they're trying to get into retail or if they have a really cool marketing story, so we look for those elements, and then we know we can be successful a lot of times. I also think we get a lot of brands that maybe had bad pr experiences and are a little scarred. And so we're also very realistic, and we manage expectations really well.
And that's helped us a lot, too, just like transparent.
Nikole Flores 00:44:28 - 00:44:33
And Blaine, I want to make sure we answered your question, because it was examples of brands we work with now.
I mean, maybe it was a stupid question. It was just about, like, obviously, not every brand is 60 days away from launching. So the brands that are, like, later stage, yeah, where can they come? I think you guys answered it. The next question I was going to have, because I know when you're doing a brand launch, how important getting the right pr is. And that goes for whether you're a consumer brand, whether you're a software product. Ramot and I have been through this. We launched a software product. We had great pr in the beginning, and it kind of creates this sort of halo effect where everything after that starts to really fall into place, because then people look you up, you show up on top of Google, you have great press, and you've kind of got this whole halo around you.
So I'm curious about if you could tell us about any brands that you guys have worked with in the past where you've had a major pr win for them that maybe they wouldn't have had. Because I know a lot of times people are like, oh, what does PR really do? And I think we've definitely flushed that out a bunch. But I'd love for you to share any examples of some of the brands that you've worked with where you got major wins for them. And they were like, oh, that can be really transformational to an early stage growing brand.
Nikole Flores 00:45:43 - 00:46:06
Yeah, I have a good example. We work with this brand called Beanbox. It's a coffee marketplace. And we worked with them now for at least, like, three years, I want to say. But when they came in, I think, same thing. They just wanted to test the water. So they just did, like a little small holiday contract. Like, very small, I want to say it was like $4,000 or something.
Nikole Flores 00:46:06 - 00:47:01
And we looked at their offerings for holiday, and nothing seemed to leap out off the page for us. So we said, you're a coffee marketplace. You have so many brands, and they're all small batch and cool. Why don't you create a holiday advent calendar? And it's like, you have a beautiful package box, and each day there's a different coffee to taste. So they did it, they pulled it together and they put in the order and we were able to get tons of placements because just generally, advent calendars, we knew already performed historically really well with the press, and we landed a Today show placement. So two things happened. We sold through the whole inventory, so it was like 10,000 units. And the product wasn't cheap.
Nikole Flores 00:47:01 - 00:47:48
I want to say it was like $65. But then in addition to that, we got a call from them to renew and increase our retainer for January because the Walmart retailer watched the Today show, saw it, and put it in order for holiday 2022. And not only did they want the same advent calendar, but they wanted like exclusive Walmart stocking stuff for options. So out of that came their first really big retail partnership. So I think not only did they sell through the product from like a sales z to c perspective, but then this opportunity, like you said, right, the halo effect, someone saw it and said, actually, I want to put it in order. So I think that's a really good example of what PR can do.
Yeah, I love that. I think it's so tough when you're sizing these things up because I think everyone is thinking in direct sort of ROI terms, right? Especially when you've got something, you're like, okay, I have limited budget. Okay, I'm going to put money on Facebook. I'm going to put money here. And I don't know how much I have for PR, but I think the right placements and the right activations can just totally transform a business. And that's something that we see time and time again. And especially in the CPG consumer good sort of world, it's always like every brand has their kind of aha. Or their magic moment where they either went on to shark Tank and then blew up or went onto the Today show or something happens and really good things happen.
So, no, that's a really cool example.
Ramon Berrios 00:48:38 - 00:49:25
What I was going to say is that the thing about that, it's like, it's so hard to put a tangible value to that because it shouldn't be undervalued. The fact that the table sort of flips where now the retailers are coming to that brand and you can't put a price on that, right? That could take years and years and years of work, and you just created that momentum for that brand where they now come to them. Same. It's happened to us working with creators. It's like this chicken and egg problem where, well, creators don't know who you are yet. So how do you attract not because you even have the budget means that creators are going to work with you or want to work with you. So that's like sort of the intangible value from this type of stuff.
Nikole Flores 00:49:25 - 00:49:26
Totally. Yeah.
I think just to add on to that, I think a lot of our brands, when we talk to them, they're like, oh, trade media, that's not a priority for us. But we've seen so many brands get buyers through just doing marketing and trade press and yeah, there's no value really. I mean you can't say it converted, you can't say the metrics, but the amount of brands that have had buyers call for trade pieces is huge and I wish we could quantify that more.
Nikole Flores 00:49:56 - 00:50:07
And just to, you know, today's show obviously is like a consumer press outlet and a trade outlet would be something. Are you guys familiar with modern retail? Yeah.
Ramon Berrios 00:50:08 - 00:50:08
Nikole Flores 00:50:08 - 00:50:54
So a good example is we had a brand we worked with by Dr. Lisa and they're huge in Australia but no one knew who they were in the US and they were just launching. So we placed editorial, right. So they're paying us to do it, but it's free. We placed a story with an interview with the founder and it was really about their big splashy US launch, really touting their success in Australia and all the product differentiators. Beautiful standalone know again, modern retail doesn't convert. No one's going to buy. But I did get an email from a client weeks later, not even maybe like a week later and she said I got so many investors that reached out to me like us investors to get on calls after that article because who's reading modern retail retailers, buyers and investors.
Nikole Flores 00:50:54 - 00:51:04
So I think to Ali's point being really strategic of like, okay the consumer presses might drive awareness and conversion but don't sleep on that trade marketing press that's going to get you the business.
Acumen that you're looking so.
Ramon Berrios 00:51:07 - 00:51:21
So that being said, let's us do the pr for your agency now with DTC pod. And would you tell us what are the brands that get you excited? What are the verticals you're looking at right now? Because they might just be tuning in.
Nikole Flores 00:51:21 - 00:51:39
Yeah, absolutely. So d to c but in the consumer space I would say personal care, wellness, food and beverage, beauty, skincare, body care, lifestyle. If it's something you can buy. I think that we're your people dogs.
We love dog brands. I'm a moma to three boys so I love kid brands. I love maternal wellness brands. I love brands that are making life easier for everyone. I just get super passionate about the story. So if literally there's a reason that they're doing this and it's changing somebody's world, that's what I get excited about.
Ramon Berrios 00:52:08 - 00:52:25
Also, a lot of those brands seem pretty fun to work with. One of our, I think our last episode was a dog brand called Sundays, and it was with their head of influencer partnerships and how they do YouTube. And it just sounds like all their collaborations are just really fun because they involve family and a bunch of different dynamics.
Nikole Flores 00:52:25 - 00:52:59
Totally. We worked on jeep the dog food, and that one is fun, too. But that's the thing. We get to do what we love every day, which not a lot of people can say that. And every day is a new, exciting day because when you're working across categories, you're not bored. Right? I hear a lot of pr people like, oh, I only do beauty, I only do fashion, and that's great, but I think you're pigeonholing yourself because I get learnings from different categories that can come across other categories. That's where unexpected partnerships come about and things like that.
Brands that we want to work with.
Nikole Flores 00:53:03 - 00:53:06
I'm not being like, whatever.
No, because we're like, we don't like, why not? Why not work with only what you want to work with? And I think that's been really hard for both of us in our careers previously, is you were served brands, but we're like, no, we're supposed to wear, we're good.
And I think if you can genuinely get to that place, I think that's so much better for both sides of the equation because you've been there, everyone's been there when you're working on a project that you don't really want to work on.
Ramon Berrios 00:53:35 - 00:53:35
So if you guys are saying, we only work with brands that we want to work with, and if you say no to a brand, that should be great for the brand, because then they're going to find someone who's the right fit for, and if you say yes to the brand, then it's like a hell yes and you're going to be able to really be into it and do a lot more. So, guys, I just want to thank you for coming on the show today. As we wrap up here, why don't you shout out your socials? Where can we connect with you? Are you guys on LinkedIn Twitter? Where do we find you guys individually? And where can we find out more about LVPR and little voices?
And I'll do lvpr. Lvpr is lvpr.com our socials are little voice PR Instagram TikTok LinkedIn I'm Ali Karsh on LinkedIn for the littles, the.
Nikole Flores 00:54:28 - 00:54:33
Littlesadvisory.Com the littles advisory on LinkedIn and on Instagram. And I'm Nicole Florence.
Thanks, guys.
Nikole Flores 00:54:34 - 00:54:37
Thank you so much for your time. This is so fun.
Yes, guys, bye.

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