I'm Sarah, a digital correspondent, consultant and founder. AMA! 🔥

Sarah Evans
70 replies
Hi! I'm Sarah Evans, founder of Sevans Strategy and Sevans Digital PR, I'm a digital strategist and global brand correspondent, who works with companies worldwide to create and improve their social and digital strategies, advising on branding, marketing, advertising, and public relations. Here to answer any and all questions about PR, Social strategy, consulting, advertising, branding, and more 🔮 I will be answering questions this week.


Aaron O'Leary
Hi, Sarah thanks for doing this AMA! I have a question when starting your company did you develop any strategies that helped you land a steady number of clients? 🙏
Sarah Evans
@aaronoleary Here is the single most important thing I did when starting my company: 1. Kept my day job for stability (and because I still actually liked it 2. Built up enough retainer clients in my evening consulting to take the place of my current income "Work yourself out of a safe, steady job" was my mantra.
Aaron O'Leary
@prsarahevans Love that you mentioned keeping the day job, a lot of people start with leaving the day job. That's comforting.
Vashishtha Kapoor
@aaronoleary @prsarahevans That is perfect Sarah. You're so me. I have been practicing the same thing for a long time. Though, I am not the part-time owner of an agency. In my case, I am building a side product which makes more than my 9-6. However, since you mentioned stability, what do you consider in stability and for how long I should be observing if my side income is stable enough or not? :)
Sarah Evans
@aaronoleary Yes! It was the best decision ever. Not everyone has this luxury, but I was honest with my boss about my future goals. When I was finally ready to move on, we did a three-month exit strategy so I could help them find my replacement and I could train them. I still have a WONDERFUL relationship with the president who celebrates my successes with me.
Sarah Evans
@aaronoleary @vashishtha my definition of stability has changed drastically in the past 11 years. To be very honest, I started this company before I had children and my husband had a safe/steady job with insurance. Trying to this transition today would look very different. It meant I had to be able to pay my basic bills and not (severely) compromise our way of life. Everyone has a different threshold of comfort and safety so I'd encourage you to list out what that is (and if you have a partner, include them in the conversation). The other key piece -- know what your plan is if it's not working in six or 12 months. That way you don't panic or feel like you lost -- you're just pivoting to another version of your plan.
Lluís Ventura
Hey @prsarahevans, thanks for this thread! (and for your upvote the other day to Comeet). I'm seeing a trend on social about the fact of building in public your product. What does this exactly means and how it is properly done? (because those who claim it, just talk about their successes and building something is ups and downs). THANKS!
Sarah Evans
@lluis_m_ventura Hi Lluis! Thank you to you and your team for being awesome Makers. I'm always in awe of those who can create. I want to make sure I understand your question correctly -- and if I'm wrong, feel free to let me know and I'll edit my response. I call this "Public Growth Boosting," or a way to keep your product relevant by using your growth stages as stories. My personal opinion is that this is a WONDERFUL strategy for startups who don't yet have "media" or "newsworthy" moments in time. It's extremely tough for startups to get tier 1 media mentions out of the gate unless they have an exceptional backstory: celebrity client, raised $XX millions of dollars, public launch with one million users, solve a major health issue, etc... Public Growth Boosting works best when it includes the following: -Honest, real moments, hurdles or milestones the company experiences -Documentation of learning moments -Helpful, prescriptive tips for others to avoid mistakes -Celebrate the big things Keeping these in thread-like moments on Twitter or Highlights on Instagram, for example, let others follow your story. Then, when you have those BIG media moments, you have a ton of backstory and content to provide and you can also see how far you've come!
George Apostolov
Hi Sarah, Thank you very much for doing AMA. I have just launched Telltrail today. What would you suggest I do to improve my standing when my product was hunted by me instead of a famous hunter?
Sarah Evans
@telltrail Hi Georgi. I'll go take a look at Telltrail. What I've found to be the most effective strategy pre-launch is getting support at least a week in advance. -Current Makers and Hunters -Family & friends -Social and professional connections I like to create personal messages and do outreach to those I know will support me and the launch. The Product Hunt algorithm seems to reward older, established and/or active accounts over new ones (day of launch may equal paid or bots), so your pre-launch effort really matters. Like most successful things, strategy, messaging and visuals matter -- so invest there.
George Apostolov
@prsarahevans Thank you very much for your advice Sarah. I understand now that I need to invest more into networking pre-launch. And I want to thank you for up-voting Telltrail today. You are really helping me very much by doing that.
Rikki Hillenbrand
Hi @prsarahevans and thanks so much for lending us a helping hand this week! 💃 A lot of start-ups are stuck in this situation: having to bomb out an incredible marketing strategy and action plan before being able to take on a marketing and communications hire that is an expert in PR, branding, etc. to help with this. Do you have any tips for dealing with this situation, not being a professional or having any background in this crucial area and still succeeding? 🚀
Sarah Evans
@rikki It's almost cruel, right? Great Makers and CEOs don't always make the best publicists or understand the entire digital PR landscape (including nuances of media). You bring up something I've been thinking about for quite some time (and simply haven't prioritized) -- creating startup cohorts who can share the cost of PR counsel (and marketing, branding, etc...) to help them build out their strategy(ies). At a basic level, I like to create quarterly PR and media overviews versus thinking too long term and getting locked into something that can't be delivered on. It looks like this: -->List the three (3) things you want to accomplish ----->Identify Story Opportunities ----->Breakout by month or quarter ----->Target PR goals & key messages -->Types of stories and ideation ----->Media (General) ----->Trade ----->Thought Leadership ----->Online Forums ----->Templates & Collaborations ----->Social Validation -->Editorial Calendar ----->Quarter / Month / Day I also find that a lot of startups get so detail oriented they lose sight of just getting media opportunities to help secure third party validation, SEO and amplification opportunities (which I can talk more about). If you can respond with specific areas you need answered regarding PR, I can work on building startup templates and resources for the Product Hunt community.
Hi @prsarahevans, thanks for doing the AMA! Q: What key data do you take a look at when helping brands with their branding and digital strategies?
Sarah Evans
@gabe__perez Hi Gabe. Thanks for asking a great question! Coming from the PR side of things, I'm focused on the following at a high level: Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned categories, with an emphasis on organic opportunities. I have an entire digital PR guide where I break this out: https://www.sevanspr.com/digital... I'm typically working with startups on message branding versus the visual, but for digital strategies we often times have to get a little more scrappy and REALLY think about actual tactics that will work. These typically work hand-in-hand with SEO so we have a solid amount of on-page and off-page opportunities. For example, I'm working with a few just-out-of-startup phase companies where we are using a lot of #threadboosting: Instead of the concept of taking over something or simply inserting yourself into the conversation, {threadboosting} implies value, thoughtfulness and positivity. It is more than a quick one-off moment to take, steal or “jack” attention. -Capture, re-purpose and add original commentary to a trending Twitter thread -Respond to and/or create unique content for a trending Linkedin post -Comment and/or share a highly engaged Facebook post Theadboosting works in both synchronous and asynchronous platforms. I like that Linkedin shows trending and top posts in your feed even if they’re a few days old. It gives you an opportunity to contribute to something that isn’t fleeting or too far down in feeds that it doesn’t matter. The tools I use to support #threadboosting engagement: -Slack -ToDoIst -Biteable, Canva
Calum Webb
Hey Sarah, appreciate you doing this AMA! I'm seeing more and more products online, particularly DTC food & drink products, which have excelled largely as a result of investing in developing a unique and recognizable brand. Do you have any tips for establishing a truly unique brand online?
Sarah Evans
@calum Hi Calum. Hope you're safe and well. There is such an opportunity with DTC food and bev. Products of that nature are able to hit more of the senses and require a different approach to branding. These brands are able to have an actual personality that differentiate them from others in their category. Honestly, they're some of my favorite to watch and interact with -- and that doesn't even count if I like their product or not. Lessons can be learned from these successful brands and be applied to the startup space. I'm just going to jot down a few ideas about this in a do/don't format: DO: -see what brand personality traits you like and see where they overlap with yours -do internal exercises to think about what your brand voice sounds like, who you talk WITH -does your brand have an opportunity to "grow up" publicly and are you okay with that? -what do you want people to think, here, see, etc... when they think of your product? DON'T -Try to emulate an established brand: they've built it up over time and it's like a toddler trying to act like a teenager
Sarah Evans
Hi everyone! So excited to do this today. If you need to reach me outside of the AMA, you can always find me on Twitter: @PRsarahevans. I tweet about all things digital PR resources, entrepreneurial inspiration and lots of media, speaking and job opps.
Eddie H.
Hi Sarah, is there such a thing as ad fatigue? A user gets so inundated with ads from a particular brand that it turns them off? If so, how do you strike a balance?
Sarah Evans
@eddieaich Hi Eddie. I absolutely believe this exists, if for nothing else, my own anecdotal evidence. In the marketing world there is a concept of #micromoments -- all of the notification and mini or quick touches you might receive. There's a stat somewhere that says on average we get about 150 per day. Crazy, right? That's IN ADDITION to typical ads. My "simple hack"? Spend a little less on ads and invest a little more on the value add -- talking to customers, iterating based on their suggestions, invest in subject matter experts. I start to tune out brands that over advertise to me if there is NO OTHER interaction with them. Unless it's a phenomenal deal or discount, I'm not really excited otherwise. You should start to categorize your ads into categories (if you're not already): -Deals -Discounts -Do Moments (all of the use cases, best practices, all of the things you can do!)
Fast Boss
Hi Sarah! What are your recommendations for starting a strategy for SaaS innovative B2B product? Where to focus my ads?
Sarah Evans
@fast_boss Hi fast boss, love the name! ;) To be honest, this is NOT my super power. Being a digital PR expert, I focus much more on the earned and organic moments in time. So, I'll tell you what I do know about this -- this is one of the places where influencer marketing has an awesome opportunity. I wrote about @TopRank's (@Lee Odden) recent "State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report" and it showed this is a place that hasn't been truly effectively leveraged. The true key here? It needs to be an always on program, not just moments in time. Simply put, less ads, more investment in leaders who would actually use your product who talk to others who use your product. https://socialmediaexplorer.com/...
Nihat Avci
Hi Sarah, Would you like to share a helpful software related to marketing, presentation, or branding you have been already using in your workday? For ex; http://miro.com/
Sarah Evans
@nhtvc Ahhhhh Nihat, this is music to my ears. I am a productivity enthusiast and talk about my stacks (Hi @YourStacks!), tips and tools almost daily on Twitter. I'll share a few groups here, but here's one of my favorite stack breakdowns: https://twitter.com/prsarahevans... FAVE RESOURCES to track job changes, corporate structure and executive moves and exits: - @theorgcom: transparent org charts -@muckrack: media moves -@flocknet: Twitter bio-based -@LinkedIn: personal connections Want to make your tweets "pretty"? My fave tools: floom[.]app/service/tweet-to-video-premium twimmage[.]com twinsta[.]io tweetcyborg[.]com lp.buffer[.]com Subtle promotion, I also share ALL of my digital PR tips in my weekly newsletter PR@ctical (here is today's issue: https://prsarahevans.substack.co...)
Vincent Yee
hello Sarah, how do i help clients justify the ROI and cost for Branding and PR?
Ian Butler
First off thank you for doing the AMA! If you had to pick your most impactful early stage marketing tactic what would it be?
Sarah Evans
@iantb01 "build a community when you don't need one" --> that has served me well my ENTIRE career. It comes down to not always having ask things of people, but building meaningful reciprocal relationships. I want to say more, but I truly think this encompasses the heart of early-stage marketing, building a solid foothold of supporters, friends and advocates.
Ismail Mesbah
Hi, Sarah thanks for doing this AMA! I have a question when starting a product beefing, how do you go about creating a customer or client persona? and how to find the right audience for you product? thanks!
Sarah Evans
@mesbahismail Hi Ismail. I don't want to mislead you on this one because it's another area where I'm not "best in class." Can I be honest about personas? I actually hate them. Eek. That's a strong word. I view myself as individual/unique as you likely do, so who wants to be put in a category with everyone else "No one puts Baby in a corner." (Showing my age here.) Instead of personas, think of user habits and "do moments," how will different groups of people USE this? Go from there.
Andrew Sorohan
Hi Sarah, - thanks for being with us and doing AMA! We also just launched Ephy on PH today. We are getting user sign-ups from all over the world - since there are slight differences in how even the same target users perceive messages/branding in different parts of the world - what's the right way to find the perfect balance in our branding?
Sarah Evans
@andrewsorohan Congrats on your launch! Will go check it out. I like to create messaging pyramids and not necessarily be all things to all people. Who said it has to be that way? ;) Not me. What resonates in Europe may not in the U.S., so change, pivot and develop the branding for each audience (maybe that's through specific, nuanced messaging versus the visual part of it). Take notes on what is working, ask questions, call the early adopters and you'll gain so much insight (not to mention building long-term advocates!). Good luck! You've got this.
Jacqueline von Tesmar
Hey Sarah, welcome! How have you prevented, or dealt with burnout?
Sarah Evans
@jacqvon SEND ALL THE HELP! I completely STINK at preventing burn out. I find that I live in the camp of, "do as I say, not as I do." ;) Here's what I am good at, identifying when I'm in the midst of burn out and doing something about it. Here's how I know when I'm in burnout mode -- I start reacting in the exact opposite way I typically would: short temper, easily stressed, feeling like I can't get anything done... When that starts to rear it's ugly head I do three things: 1. Pull up my freakishly organized task list and focus on what needs to be done today/right now; 2. Get those things done; 3. Take a break / self care (never longer than 12-24 hours) Investing in those prescriptive steps right away means I can come back better, faster, stronger.
Josh Rozin
Hey Sarah, thanks for doing this AMA. How do you determine a healthy relationship between a PM and Marketing?
Sarah Evans
@joshrozin Hi Josh. Very interesting question. I'm assuming you mean project manager for PM? Just want to make sure before I go down this 🐇 🕳 . :)
Brian Wallace
Great to see you here @prsarahevans ! Why do you think that Product Hunt has become "the spot" for new startups to succeed?
Sarah Evans
@nowsourcing Looooove this question. I've been promoting this strategy to brands since 2015 because I believed then (and now) that micromoments for startups and other types of niche news need places to gain traction and moment. It's impossible for every startup to end up in mainstream news (nor is it necessary), so WHERE can they be acknowledged, gain traction and momentum? Answer: Product Hunt (and other sites that cater to their user base or tech enthusiasts). It's one of the most valuable ways to share your official "launch" and it will likely become your #1 source of referral traffic for a long time!
Brian Wallace
@prsarahevans well said! I think that another nuance to this is the trust factor of who is hunting and making. I know that if I see you either hunting, upvoting, or commenting on a startup, I'm more likely to trust it, since I trust your judgement.
Amir Fekr
Hi Sarah, In your opinion, what is the least costly way to get a blogger/influencer review your product?
Sarah Evans
@maptimum I'm going to do my best to break this one down in a written format. I actually have quite a bit to say on the topic. First up -- I think approaching it from that perspective starts you off on the wrong track. If you're thinking about how to save, you're inherently not valuing the "influencer" or subject matter expert. Their time, reviews and content matter because they will GIVE you value. If dollars aren't changing hands, then the value lies in their network or community. If you approach them with a value mindset first (even if it's not actual money) then your entire strategy and sentiment changes along with it. I practice servant leadership with anyone who I am reliant upon to provide coverage or an endorsement or actionable task. All that said, the best way to get reviews is practicing a Give/Get method. If you're looking to "get" something from them, what is your "give" and is it valuable and/or reciprocal enough that it's a win/win for all of you? If the answer is no, then keep rethinking what will get you to that place.
Sergei Rnd
@maptimum @prsarahevans Absolutely agree on this! First you need to do your homework and understand what's valuable for blogger/influencer. Not all of them are interested in money, that certainly depends on the blogger and domain area, as well. The product itself does matter also. We've reached rather good results with the approach that we are building the product with the idea to help/improve the lives of others and that they (bloggers/influencers) can help us to achieve it by providing the feedback. So we appealed to the social drivers by sharing the general idea and inviting them to be a part of it. That worked good.
Nick Duncan
Hi @prsarahevans, thanks for the AMA! At what point should B2B SaaS startups invest in PR? Early on? Mid-stage? I realise its probably dependent on the type of SaaS product but do you see a trend for the best time to do PR?
Sarah Evans
@nickduncan Great question! For startup specific PR I believe it's based on stages. #1 DO NOT INVEST in a monthly retainer if you're early/early stage. The best structure works like this: -Purchase THREE, 30-day retainers with a trusted PR strategist and/or firm. Use those 30-day increments to plan and lay groundwork and build a sustainable PR practice. (Don't look for immediate PR opportunities if you're super new, because you don't have the fundamentals in place) -After you have all of your tools in place, messaging secure and a solid product, look for THREE MONTH RETAINER with an option to renew and establish KPIs with your agency or firm. It might not include tier-1 media hits, but it could be building out a third-party group of advocates/influencers, building out your editorial calendar for earned, owned and shared content, etc... -If you're not seeing media results, don't let it deter you. See if you can renew with them when you have actual story opportunities (they should work with you to educate what is actually news or storyworthy).