Lee Richter: The Power Of PR

About LEE RICHTER

Lee Richter is an award-winning, dynamic business innovator and a visionary recognized again by the San Francisco Business Times as one of their Top 100 Women Business Leaders in 2019. For more than 25 years, she has launched a dozen successful businesses in the financial, education and lifestyle sectors. Her unique vision and drive revolutionizes business as her companies produce hundreds of jobs, educate tens of thousands of people and make millions in revenue.
Lee is a member of the Forbes Business Council and a business strategy genius. As the CEO of Richter Communications and Design Group, she is passionate about designing and launching marketing campaigns and products that represent her mission and her values. Her business acumen and talent has generated national and international results with clients such as Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Robertson Stephens, Autodesk, Stanford Research Institute, Edmunds.com, The Pet Concierge and Del Webb among others.
Lee would tell you that her life would not be complete without her family, friends, dogs, cats and community. She is a loving and devoted mother to her daughter, Abbey. Lee teaches Abbey how to be empowered every day, and with Lee’s help, Abbey became a best-selling author at the age of 9. Lee also helped her husband, Gary Richter achieve his dream of becoming a small animal and wildlife veterinarian and they own Holistic Veterinary Care in the San Francisco Bay Area. Lee and her family love to travel and explore the world together.
As a #1 Best-Selling author, Lee lectures and coaches globally to help companies improve their Public Relations and Marketing Strategies.
Bio Source goasklee.com
Alan
Can you give some background of how you got to where you are?
Lee
Excellent. Yeah, I’d be happy to thank you for asking. I’m originally a Jersey girl grew up in the northeast, on the Jersey Shore, and about a half an hour outside of New York City. And basically started being an entrepreneur when I was six years old when I got a SAG card and started doing commercials. And I was in the advertising industry, from the age six to 12. And did national commercials, did catalogue, photo shoots and things like that. So I caught the advertising bug early and the entrepreneur bug early and the creative spirit has been in me ever since. And growing up in the northeast, I worked at the Twin Towers actually had many years where we worked in a studio like this that was just basically a place that controlled sound and light and and created a scene. So early on, I learned what it was like to be a brand ambassador and be a spokesperson for brands and through high school, enjoyed learning and connecting and be with other kids. Then went to Delaware with my mom. And in Delaware, I had bigger dreams, my dream shifted a little bit. I connected with a lot of other people whose parents were entrepreneurs were really, really successful and I started having mentors in my life. My parent’s friends and things would teach me how to read the Wall Street Journal and how to pay attention to stocks and bonds and I caught the financial bug. So my first career actually was with Merrill Lynch. While I was in college, they came for a career day. And we ended up doing the disc profile, and I fit their perfect profile. And at the age of 21, they offered me a job. And I took it and I was in Wilmington, Delaware and started my 14 year financial industry experience. And it was really phenomenal. It was during the 1980’s and 90’s. It was during a time where, you know, we use quote, trends and wrote hand tickets, and now everything’s electronic. But back then you had to be so mindful of every single transaction. And everything was a phone call and a handshake and meeting people in person, and literally certificates coming in person and being signed and turned in for you know, multi thousands and sometimes millions of dollars. So, it was an interesting time in my life where I learned finance and during that time I met my husband and we were actually in spring break at the Bahamas. We were in the Bahamas in 1988 and he still had 10 years of college ahead of him. So I got back into academics, got a degree in journalism and learned Public Relations and Marketing, and also became a University of Florida graduate and learned football. And I really, really love college football and spent a lot of time enjoying that part of life being in college again, having football. Actually the quarterback, which was Danny Wuerffel was in some of my classes at the time, and that was exciting. And I just learned another skill. So I put finance with public relations in journalism. And I created my own agency. And so I put entrepreneurship into place. Merrill Lynch became one of my first clients and couple other companies that I worked with at the time also hired me as an expert for them. And you know, from there, I just launched my own business, so I’ve been doing it ever since I moved to the Bay Area in 1998, launched Richter Communications and Design Group in downtown Oakland, California, right at the City Hall. We’re in the rotunda building which is spectacular, probably one of the most beautiful buildings in Oakland, and started PR marketing here in the Bay Area. And during that time, worked with Stanford Research Institute and the E-Learning forum and got really not only doing finance, but I was also focused into Silicon Valley because here I was. And from there, it’s just spawned a whole bunch of opportunities. Because being attached to Silicon Valley, we’re open to big thinkers and global leaders and world impact. So whether I’m in finance or helping a client that’s in lifestyle, which is food and wine in Silicon Valley, either way, I’m connecting with communities that have something that they want to have global impact. And that’s what I like about where I am right now is the people that I’m surrounding myself around with yourself included, are having a global impact and I’m feeling like I’m arriving to a new phase in my career.
Alan
Lee you started a number of companies. A lot of the laypeople, entrepreneur, they’ll say, I got one company and I’m good. But you go beyond that and see opportunities where none are seen by others. How do you decide whether or not a new company needs to be formed?
Lee
That’s a really good question. Each one has actually been to fill a reason in our life. So originally, my husband being a veterinarian, we started with a veterinary hospital. From that it launched a holistic veterinary hospital from that and launched an online education center. So because of the success of one it led to the path of the need for another, and we separated them because they had different focuses and different teams. And if ever, we did want to focus on one, we could do whatever the team needed at that time. So teams can focus and also be really successful in that brand and only that brand instead of crossing over and trying to decide which brand to pay attention to. So when talent appears, that is when we look at us, it’s an opportunity to put that talent to good use?
Alan
How do you keep the energy going for multiple ventures at the same time?
Lee
I just love to create, so it is energizing for me. And I could see that and I have the capacity for it. And that’s one of the things I learned in my past careers. And also, even using things like the disc profile, or the Kolbe, or working with my coach Dan Sullivan, is from them. I’ve learned I have the capacity to do these things. So other people might want to come to me and say, I don’t think you can do it. You should only focus on one and that might be the path that’s right for them and for me because I have the capacity and I get energized by it. And I have the success track record to show that already works that I just, you know continue to launch. I’ve seen other people do it and they’ve inspired me So funny because even Puff Diddy was one of them because he was on the Letterman show and he was at they were asking him the same thing. How do you keep track of all these companies and he’s had like, several companies go very close to billion, if not more. Magic Johnson did the same thing, multi billion dollar companies. And they were inspired, they are energized by it, they can manage it. And eventually somebody else wants to take it and run with it. And they allow that to happen too.
Alan
What’s an ideal client for your PR agency?
Lee
My ideal client used to be other entrepreneurs and I wanted to inspire them I was in business groups and I would take on projects just to give them a launch to the next level. And as my company’s grown, a lot of my ideal clients are actually my own brands now. So 90% of my time is really taken up just manufacturing ideas and teamwork and things for my own internal brands. And then I take about two 12 select clients a year, three per quarter, and do VIP days and deep dive with them and help them launch to the next level. Because as a multiplier, it gives me joy to, to light them on fire and share them with the world. So it’s usually myself and then about 12 other cases a year. Right now I have several PhDs at Stanford that I work with one on one and then teach them how to bring their brand to the marketplace and connect with their ideal clients so that it gives them joy, not just teaching, but also sharing with the rest of the world.
Alan
What would you say the number one challenges today in bringing products out to market?
Unknown Speaker
We used to think that people used to have to see it three or four, even seven times, and then they would understand the brand, but now it’s more like 20 times or more, which is crazy, because I remember when I went to 14, and then when it went to 18 is like you have to have 18 impressions for someone to get that well, because there’s so much demand for eyeballs and there’s so many choices these days. They’re seeing so many things so they have to see yours over and over and over again to even notice. I think most entrepreneurs don’t stick with it long enough. They give up too early. They’re like, Oh, I did it five times I sent him those five emails. They must not like me, I’ll turn it off. And it’s like, No, they haven’t even really seen your stuff yet. So I think Yeah, people give up too early right now.
Alan
You bring up the emails and in this world of bots, and the the multiplier effect. What’s your opinion on the bot?
Lee
I needed one recently. So I’m so happy that I had a team member who knew how to implement it for me properly. As a consumer. It is not my favorite because it can intrude on my time. It can feel like it’s not real or it’s not personal. But in my particular business, we launched a product online. It started getting so many phone calls we were we went from 200 to 500 phone calls, literally overnight. So each day, I was used to 200 phone calls coming through my front desk at this one business and it’s a bricks mortar and I was used to it and then all of a sudden was 500 because this product was taking off so much and people were googling us and finding us. So I had come in someone come in and solve it by putting a bot on our website, having them answer three questions first. And then once they answered, they knew how to help them and serve them better. Once we put the button place, it was more manageable for us. And it was a really useful tool. So number one, I had to know the right use for it. Number two, I had to do it to solve a problem. And number three, I needed the right person to help me do it.
Alan
I want to turn the tables on this last segment and and jump into free speech. First of all, let’s let’s talk about what is a free speech?
Lee
Well, from a marketers perspective, it is a marketing tactic. It could be under event planning, and then what that would be is how do I get the person who is talking about our brand out into the marketplace where they’re creating positive impact and building community? Sometimes there’s also an income stream attached to that as well. We would have to look at, are we doing this for positive impact, and giving back to the community? Or are we doing this to create an opportunity to either collect emails and be a lead generator, or to actually have sales while we’re there. Sometimes we get paid on the back end by doing a rev share with the people that are putting on the event. So there’s many, many different ways to look at a free speech. But there’s always a way of a marketer bringing it back to this as a tactic to connect with my audience to build a deeper relationship. So when I look at marketers, and I look at free speeches, different ways that you can get out there and get your voice known could be locally like at the Chamber of Commerce, it can be on a show like this with you. It could be on a podcast it could be on TV, basically, it can be delivered anywhere. It could even be just in the neighborhood church because they’re having a Sunday night community activity. So what you want to do is look at who’s your ideal audience how you want to reach them and how you want to serve them, and then maybe how you want to give back in the community. So I could think of a few people to use as an example. But let’s pick a mutual friend of ours. His name is Randy Garn. We both love him. It’s one of the reasons we even know each other, we cross paths because of his beautiful energy he shares in the world. And as an ultimate entrepreneur, he gives free speeches all the time. And some of the places I’ve seen him are places I’ve paid to be an attendee, but he has been invited as a special guest because he is a genius to share. Part of it is just being a great father some of it that he shares his genius of entrepreneurship. And some of it is just in personal development because he has spent a lifetime perfecting how to be a great communicator, great connector, and he always leaves people feeling better at the end of their conversation and visit with him. So people love to hear from him. So if I look at his agenda and when he does free speeches, one might be to represent a company that is ownership in. He has part ownership in a company called parachute. Parachute is an online access economy site, he might go out and do a free speech to drive sales or get leads for parachute or even just raise awareness of how great a company they are and what they’re doing in the marketplace. So in the end, what he wants to do is generate a result which is deep in the community or increase awareness, but in the beginning, it’s a free speech so he can be out and be seen. Another way he might do it is be a guest on your radio show just like this. Another way is to be on a podcast and him either interviewing other leaders or him being interviewed by other leaders. And he could be on a summit he could be in a mastermind and each one could be a free speech, but in the end can generate awareness around something that he’s focused on.
Alan
Do you advise people to jump in the free speeches or do you first look at what industry they’re in?
Lee
It’s a combination. And that’s actually a really good question. Because in the beginning you want to look at, if I’m going to spend my time doing something for free to have to travel is it in person, what do I want to accomplish in the end, and I think that it just matters on the industry and the situation. But I think in every industry, we can find a purposeful reason for them to go out and create a free speech and connection, no matter what it is, whether it’s coal mining, and how to be safe, or it’s being a veterinarian and what you need to know to integrate Eastern and Western medicine, or how to just be a great dad in the world.
Alan
So brand awareness and free speeches tying those two together. An individual comes to you Lee and says, I need to get the word out on this brand. You got a good case studies have where free speeches have really worked to help launch companies out.
Lee
We have a nonprofit that we launched about 15 years ago and is called The Pet and Wildlife Fund. It’s PetAndWildlifeFund.org, and it was a way for me to have the veterinarians who just love pets and wildlife, to spend time and free time connected with the community. So through the pet and Wildlife Fund, what we did is we set up every Sunday to be at the farmers market so people in our local community could meet the vet in person can ask them questions outside of the exam office with a certain clock running on how much time they have together. Here, the kids can come up and ask questions, they could bring their dog and show them to the vet. But while we were there, we did what we called a pet Mayor contest and people could vote for the pet Mayor by donating $1 for charity to help pet some wildlife in need. And they got little I voted stickers with the paw prints on it and the kids were so excited about it because they were involved and they had a voice through their dollar donation, they got to make a difference and a positive impact. So what it did was it was a marketing tactic on how to create a way to connect with the community, but how to make the Doctors really happy too, because here they were giving back and this is their joy. And their joy is to take care of pets and wildlife in need. And now it’s creating a budget and a circle of support for them to actually do it so much so, sometimes they would come in on their days off to do a surgery for free just so they number one can do something good. Number two, be great at their skills but number three, help the community. It was a win-win-win all the way around. So by doing that not only do we connect with the community, but it raised awareness in the community of who we are and what our culture is and our culture is to take care of pets and wildlife in need. And it also gave awareness to the kids that pet doctors are real people too. They got to connect with them differently and some of them are like I remember meeting you five years ago and that day I decided I’m going to be a veterinarian or I decided I’m going to take care of animals and you know it was just approachable for them so it was really nice all the way around.
Alan
So when you look at when you look at the industries today, do you see any trends that you feel are really a wave of the future that are kind of untouched right now?
Lee
Just Monday, I was in Beverly Hills with Peter Diamandis and I was there with a whole bunch of people thinking about longevity in the future. And I was there because I want to see what kind of things can we bring back to the veterinary industry, from the medical industry like what kind of insights and so much is going on around technology and health and longevity, but also, you know, AR and VR and how that’s going to affect our client experience our user experience, how is machine learning going to affect the way we serve our clients and how we can serve them better? There’s a lot coming down that we don’t understand how it’s going to integrate yet, but we’re aware that it’s going to change all of our lives.
Alan
For a person that wants to reach out to you for Design and PR services, how would they do that?
Lee
Lee@GoAskLee.com

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