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The Power of Publicity: Insights from Expert Mercedes Barba

Mercedes Barba is the founder and owner of Mercedes Media, a publicity firm dedicated to helping entrepreneurs harness the power of media to establish credibility, increase their visibility, and attract clients to their businesses. With 15 years of experience and an Emmy nomination to her name, Mercedes vision is to underscore that media is an invaluable asset accessible to every entrepreneur. Its unparalleled potential for business owners, combined with Mercedes industry insights and strategies, empowers entrepreneurs to unlock their own opportunities for securing media features.

Listen to the full episode here.






[00:01:39] Mercedes Barba on what she’s most passionate about

[00:04:58] Mercedes Barba on the client he got on Good Morning America

[00:06:28] Mercedes Barba on her childhood

[00:08:54] Mercedes Barba on why she got into journalism

[00:11:47] Mercedes Barba on her first job out of college

[00:13:35] Mercedes Barba on her early jobs in New York

[00:20:00] Mercedes Barba on what business owners don't understand about creating video content

[00:24:37] Mercedes Barba on founding her company, Mercedes and Media

[00:26:28] Mercedes Barba on her approach to PR that sets her apart

[00:28:05] Mercedes Barba on creating a pitch that makes the editor open it

[00:31:48] Mercedes Barba on advice for getting your foot in the door

[00:34:17] Mercedes Barba on getting media exposure without breaking the bank

[00:36:48] Mercedes Barba on her favorite client success stories

[00:41:03] Mercedes Barba on how people can connect with her

[00:41:48] Mercedes Barba on her female role models

[00:44:15] Mercedes Barba on her professional mentors

[00:45:54] Mercedes Barba on Girls on the Bus

[00:47:41] Mercedes Barba on the lesson she’s learned on this journey that stuck with her

[00:49:20] Mercedes Barba on the question that we should be asking her that we're not

[00:50:46] Mercedes Barba on her secret to rewarding life

[00:51:53] Mercedes Barba on the mantra she lives by

[00:52:37] Mercedes Barba on her dream for yourself and her dream for women




Passionistas: Hi, we're sisters, Amy and Nancy Harrington, the founders of The Passionistas Project. We've created an inclusive sisterhood where passion-driven women come to get support, find their purpose, and feel empowered to transform their lives and change the world. On every episode, we discuss the unique ways in which each woman is following her passions, talk about how she defines success, and explore her path to breaking down the barriers that women too often face.


Today we're talking with Mercedes Barba, the founder and owner of Mercedes Media, a publicity firm dedicated to helping entrepreneurs harness the power of media to establish credibility, increase their visibility, and attract clients to their businesses.


With 15 years of experience and an Emmy nomination to her name, Mercedes vision is to underscore that media is an invaluable asset accessible to every entrepreneur. Its unparalleled potential for business owners, combined with Mercedes industry insights and strategies, empowers entrepreneurs to unlock their own opportunities for securing media features.


If you're joining us here live today, feel free to drop a comment or question in the chat and we'll do our best to get them answered. Now, please welcome Mercedes Barba.


Mercedes: Thank you so much, Amy and Nancy, for having me. I am so excited to be here, uh, and, uh, and share my passion and my, my knowledge about publicity and how that can change a business with your audience. So thank you for having me.


Passionistas: Excellent. We're really excited to have you here. And speaking of passions, what is the one thing you're most passionate about?


Mercedes: Oh, gosh, recently I am realizing this. I am so passionate about helping small business owners, uh, get visible and put themselves in front of their target audience and their target clients.


Um, so as you mentioned, um, my name is Mercedes Barba. I spent the last 15 years as a journalist. Covering, you know, I'm originally from Los Angeles, which is where you two ladies live as well. And I moved to New York City back in 2015 because I felt drawn to go there, right? I'm always one of those people that if I feel need to do something, like I go with it.


I'm trying to be better about listening to my intuition. As women, we have, you know, this built in Voice that sometimes we ignore and when we ignore it, we get in trouble. But, um, I'm trying not to ignore it. And so anyway, so when I moved to New York City, there was something drawing me there. And so I have my master's in journalism as well, news and documentary from NYU.


And when I graduated, I fell, you know, when I was living in LA, I was working in entertainment. And when I, when I worked, when I moved to New York, I started working in business and entrepreneurship. So I was covering a lot of small businesses, a lot of, uh, you know, people that quit their six figure jobs to open up a hotdog There's so many reasons why you should do your podcast.


You should do a podcast to help yourself. Or you can do a podcast to help others. And I think that we, as entrepreneurs can be really kty. And when we sort of bring the passion together, this is a good platform. They blow up, you know, and I've worked for some pretty heavy hitters in the industry, NBCUniversal and NowThis News and Time Magazine.

And when we started featuring them, I, I saw instantaneously like how a media feature changes their business. And I always knew, of course, the power that the media holds, of course, but it wasn't until I was like, whoa, you know, these people. We, we changed their lives and there were so many entrepreneurs that would send me emails like, thank you for covering my business.


Like, I, it has changed, it has changed everything, you know? And, and for me, I was like, just kind of doing my job, right? And if it was a cool story, I was like, all right, great. We're going to cover it. So, um, Once I started realizing the power that the media holds for small businesses and entrepreneurs and women and women of color and, uh, and not, not having our voices represented in the media, I started realizing, you know, this is something that I really want to do and something that I really want to help and using the skills and the qualifications that I've learned being on this show.


I'm on the other side of publicity, right? Being on this side of journalism where the publicists are pitching me. Um, now I'm on that side and I'm the, I'm the publicist and I'm the one using my connections to get my clients featured. Um, recently my client, actually yesterday, my client landed on Good Morning America.


And that was something that, uh, that obviously I facilitated and I pitched them. And that is my passion. Like seeing that for me, I, it blew my mind. And I was, I was like, I could have, I was, I could have, I was jumping up and down. I could have cried because I was so happy seeing my incredible client, um, be featured on Good Morning America, right? A national syndicated publication. It, it, it was everything. And, and that is, is why I do what I do.


Passionistas: Well, that's incredible. What is, what is it that your client that got on Good Morning America?


Mercedes: Yeah, she, her name is Sharon Rose Hayward. I, she is my, my, my everything, my dream client, my just an amazing soul and an expert in her industry, right?

She is a women's career coach and she talks about a lot about closing the gender wage gap and salary negotiation. And she offers actionable tips to help women in corporate America, uh, negotiate the salary and the life that they want. Right? And what, what can women do, um, in the workplace to close that gender wage gap, right?


I think right now we're, we're about 112 years out or something like that to closing that. And so her passion is helping women. You know, close that gap. And so the, the story that we did for Good Morning America was why it's important to talk about your salary with coworkers and friends and family and keeping that conversation open and not forcing anyone to tell you their salary, you know, but being open as women and, you know, people in the workplace to, to, to be comfortable talking about it.


Cause it's important, right. And we all want to be paid fairly. And, um, and so that was a story that, that, that we did for GMA and they loved it. And. We're hoping to do more and we will.


Passionistas: That's fabulous and we should have her on our podcast.

So let's take a step back. Tell us about your childhood in LA and were you always somebody that wanted to help people? Is that where this passion came from?


Mercedes: I think so. I think I've always wanted to be an entrepreneur. My parents were, uh, in real estate, commercial and residential. They were like a powerhouse together.


And I just remember driving all over with them, you know, to show property and they never had that typical nine to five job ever. Like they were always working downstairs in our office. And, uh, and I would hear them on the phone, you know, making deals and things like that. And. I think that for me, like, was a really big inspiration, like, seeing my parents do that.

Right. And, and, you know, I had my other friends that their parents were at work, like typical office job and mine never were. And we were always kind of, I was always driving around with them and in LA, you know, it's so funny when I moved to New York, this is not a thing, but in LA we had the Thomas Guide, right?


I'm sure you ladies remember the Thomas Guide. For those of you that aren't from LA, the Thomas Guide is this like, Guidebook map book of LA and my tiny little squares and little tiny little streets and it and, and it had a grid, like letters on top and numbers on the side. And you would match like a seven, right?


I would go to the glossary and my dad would say, okay, look for this tiny little street, you know, I gotta find this, this, this building. And I would look...


Passionistas: It was like hundreds of pages too.


Mercedes: It was hun, the book was hundreds, like this thing. And I just like, that's one of my earliest memories is having my dad like, all right, like, I need your help.

Like, you know, find the tiny little street, like, where do I make a right? And I'd be like, anyway, so just seeing them, the two of them together, being able to do that, for some reason has always instilled this like entrepreneurship. You know, version of myself that I, that is, has been boiling in my gut for years and years.


And now it's finally coming out. And I think all of the, the incredible experiences that I have living on both coasts and my education, uh, my parents are really big on education. So I have an undergraduate degree from a Cal State here in LA and my master's from NYU and all of that schooling and the network that I built in school and my classmates and my professors has helped me get to this moment.


And I think a really big part of that was leaving LA and moving to New York City and realizing that there's a whole nother world, an incredible world of business owners out there that are doing really incredible things. And I want to help them and I want to get them all visible. So that, I think that's what started all of this.


Passionistas: So what was the, what was the initial pull towards journalism specifically?


Mercedes: I, you know, it's a great question. I was in marching band, uh, from my, I was in band from fifth grade, sixth grade, all the way to senior year of high school. And. I had a band teacher, my band, my, my marching band teacher. I know it's like, it's so funny.

Uh, marching band was amazing. It was my favorite part of being in high school. We did all these amazing competitions and things like that. But I remember my, uh, my music teacher, like when I was a freshman, I had him all four years. He was like, Hey, Mercedes, you have a really great voice. You should be in radio.


And I was like, huh, that's weird. That's interesting. Like, and my dad always read the LA Times every day, even to this day. I mean, he gets it religiously. He's like, one of those people that opens it up, right? One of those rare people that actually reads the newspapers and he would always watch 60 Minutes.


And, and for me, I was like, oh, that's really interesting. Maybe so. And I've always been very personable and, and Not nervous around cameras or anything. So I was like, okay, like maybe. And, um, and that was sort of my, my draw towards journalism. And I wanted to do a lot of on camera work and I did. And, you know, once I did on camera work here in LA, I did a lot of red carpets and press junkets and interviewed a ton of celebrities like Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel and Morgan Freeman and Jim Carrey.


And, um, I was like, all right, this is cool. I'm going to move to New York now. Like I've already, I've accomplished that. That's great. Now I'm going to move to New York and do this whole new thing. And now in this post COVID world, I actually am back in LA. I came back and I'm realizing now, like, all right, what's my next thing?


Like my, my, my body is telling me like, what's the next thing to do? Like, You already moved to New York, you came back, you did this, you did that, now what's next? And what's next is, uh, what I'm doing now, and it's helping entrepreneurs get visible. And I want to build a, uh, and I am building, um, a PR firm that helps small business owners and, and people that don't think that they're able to have media and, and aren't deserving of a media feature, and everybody is.


Right? Um, and we will get you there. With media and publicity, it does take a little bit of time to get the ball rolling. But once you do, the momentum is like, you know, it's like a ball rolling down the hill. It just takes, takes everything out with it. And you get all these features and it's a really incredible thing. And that's what gets me out of bed every morning.


Passionistas: That's so great. We'll have to compare notes and see if we were ever on the same red carpets together. That's right. Because we did a ton of red carpet work probably around the same time as you did. So that's, I was thinking that too. Yeah, back in like


Mercedes: 2011, 2010, something like that.


Passionistas: Yeah, we did it from like 10, 2011 to, I don't know, well, we did it all the way through COVID, but we did a lot of it in the early tens.


Mercedes: Oh my god, I thought we were on the same red carpets. I'm sure we know the same people.


Passionistas: Yeah, so funny, so funny. So what was your first job out of college?


Mercedes: Out of college, I was, where I was, I was an intern in a small TV station in Santa Monica, uh, which is where I was, I was doing a lot of those red carpets. But my very first job ever, uh, was In N Out Burger. In N Out was amazing, was amazing. And it taught me customer service. It taught me how to, I used to love doing the drive thru where you have the headset. And I would pretend like I would, because that was a time where I was doing a lot of red carpets too.


Uh, I would pretend like, all right, like I'm going to stand up and, and talk through this speaker. And that, that had, that crafted, you know, who I am today. And, and yeah, yeah. And I was also a waitress for many years, uh, working in Santa Monica. And I also waited tables in New York and I was a bartender. So that also like, you know, you got to kind of be a little showy and on stage a little bit.


And I think that's, that's helped me. Immensely in just being very comfortable to talk with anybody.


Passionistas: It's amazing. Yeah, you can pretend that the drive thru window is the TV screen.


Mercedes: I would beg them, please put me on drive thru today. And they were like, okay. Thank you. And I would like talk. I loved, I loved it.


It was my favorite. And just multitasking, like being able to like put the order in, talk to people, take the money, like put French fries in the grill, you know, the, in the oil. And it was awesome. It was awesome.


Passionistas: I'm totally dating myself, but I used to love. Working retail. 'cause you could do the credit card machine. Are you, are you old enough with the credit card machine?


Mercedes: I loved that. I've seen that. I've seen that a few times. Yeah.


Passionistas: My favorite thing to do. Um, I totally can relate. Um, so when you moved to New York, what was, what were the, you kinda talked about it a little bit, but get in a little deeper on what you were working on there, what those shows were and.


Mercedes: Yeah, yeah. So when I moved to New York, um, I, I was at NYU and it was at the time where I was sort of trying to figure out my life. And I was like, well, I obviously I want to be a journalist. I'm in grad school for journalism. Uh, what do I want to do? And I was like, well, I don't want to do entertainment anymore.


Cause I did that and it's cool, but I want to see what else is out there. And so I remember my career services director. She's the woman at NYU that places you in jobs. She called, I walked by her office one day and she called me in and she's like, get in here. And I'm like, what? She was amazing. Her name is Sylvan Soloway.


And she was like, NBC, CNBC has an internship, a fellowship, and it's a scholarship. And I want to submit you. Um, and I was like, what's CNBC? I'd never heard of that before. I'd never heard of CNBC. And it's because my parents aren't, they weren't into like finance. They were like a real, you know, realist. Like it never, I never.


Watch that. And I didn't have cable growing up where I lived and so I watched basic, you know, Fox 11, right? All that stuff. And so, um, which doesn't exist anymore. So, you know, I was like, CNBC, I don't know what that is. So I was like, okay, let me try it. And it was the most incredible experience. Um, so CNBC, which is NBCUniversal's finance channel, um, I was working on the digital side.


So when it comes to television, there's two sides, there's a TV side and there's the digital, which is the dot com side. So I was a dot com, I was on the dot com side and I was a video producer. And, uh, so basically what I would do is I would carry around camera gear. Uh, I would shoot video. I would shoot interviews.


Sometimes I would put a camera behind me, sit in front of, you know, you ladies know how it is, sit in front of the, the, you know, in front of the camera and ask questions. I would set up lighting. I would put microphones on guests. I would do, I would do a lot of, uh, man on the streets where I would interview random people on the streets.


And then I would come back to the office and I would edit it all, right? On Adobe Premiere, where you like. Ladies know exactly what I'm talking about. And it was, it was such a grind and you're sweating and you're carrying camera gear and, but it was so cool because I, we interviewed Mark Cuban, we interviewed Misty Copeland, we interviewed, I mean, God, I can't even, like so many like entrepreneurs.


And that's where I realized like, wow, entrepreneurship, like. Channeling back my, what my parents told me about, or, or what I saw from them. I was like, wow, look at these people. Like I interviewed a woman who, uh, who quit her cushy six figure job to, to launch a jewelry line, and it got into Bloomingdale's and Nordstrom, right.


And talking, and I'm like, you know, the questions of like. How? Like, how did you do that? You know, because everybody wants to, to have a big business and a lot of it was just like, well, I just did it and I tried and I came up with this crazy idea and I went with it and I believed in myself and didn't quit.


And so I was working on a series called CNBC Make It, which still exists. It's a very, very popular series that CNBC has. It's a very inspirational, aspirational story, storytelling of entrepreneurs. And, uh, and now it's a really big flagship. And I was sort of the beginner like launch of that back in 2015 or 2016.


So, um, from there, it just kind of kick started my passion for video storytelling. And so I ended up moving over to Money Magazine. Uh, where I, I ran the video team there and I had a number of video producers under me and we would just create money content. So we did a lot of Investing 101. We did a lot of interviewing entrepreneurs and CEOs.


We interviewed Tony Robbins. We interviewed all the guys from Queer Eye. Uh, I mean, we would interview like random small business owners and, and, and, Again, I was seeing this, like, wow, like, we're featuring them on Money Magazine. This is legacy magazine from the 70s and now they're blowing up. And, you know, all of this is like, I'm storing it in this, like, filing cabinet in my brain.


And I'm like, wow, wow, wow. And, uh, I moved over to a millennial news company called NowThis, which is very popular on social media. I worked there for a while. So video was always my thing. Um, and, uh, and then recently I sort of moved over to the editorial side. So I do a lot of editing stories now. Um, and I still work, my nine to five is still journalism and I still work as a senior editor, um, which I think, uh, very soon I will leave and pursue my business full time because I think I'm at that point now, which is scary, but exciting.


And, um, and those are the we did. I got nominated for, we got, we, it was a collaborative effort. We got nominated for an Emmy for a short documentary we did at Money Magazine. Um, from a producer that I hired who is an amazing video producer. And, um, and she was like, I want to get nominated for an Emmy. And we did.


She said, I want to win an Emmy. And she made a documentary and we produced it together. And, um, and it got nominated for an Emmy and, and, you know, and it, it, I have, I have exhausted. In a good way, my career as a journalist. And now I'm like, all right, now I want to climb a new mountain. Like I want to help people.


And I want to, this is what gets me out of bed every morning is seeing my clients on GMA and, and others. Right. And that's what I love. I love to get those texts like, Oh my God, Mercedes. Like I got a bunch of new newsletter subscribers and a new followers. And I'm like, yes, like, this is why we do it. Like you are deserving.


I'm a big fan of a media feature and you know, I, I don't want my, my clients to be spinning the wheels of social media and trying to, you know, what do we do here and how do I make a Facebook ad and let's just try to get you on Glamour or Cosmo or, you know, Associated Press or Time or GMA or Today, right? And let's try to get you in front of those eyeballs like that. And so that's what I love to do.


Passionistas: What year do you, did you get your Emmy nomination? That was 2017, I think. All right. Well, we were there. We did red carpet. We do red carpet at the Emmys every year. We have, we have so much in common. We have a little checkbox. Like every time you mention a name of someone you interviewed that we interviewed, like Mark Cuban, Tony Robbins. Like you mentioned the Queer Eye guys.


Mercedes: You ladies are, I mean, you ladies are amazing.


Passionistas: That's so funny.


Mercedes: You really are. You really are. Like it's, it's crazy how similar our stories are. That's how we got to sit down for coffee one day and really talk it out.


Passionistas: Definitely. Definitely. Soon. Very soon. What do you think business owners, what do they don't understand about creating video content to help grow their business?


Mercedes: I think a lot of it is like, you know, I'm in this amazing, amazing coaching program and I just got off a group call today about, and we were talking a lot about social media videos and, you know, that's my wheelhouse, like.


And, uh, and even I get scared to show up on social media, but I've been doing it like you ladies. I've been doing it forever. Like, why am I nervous about it? I think it's because you, putting yourself out there is a very vulnerable feeling and scary. And you're like, oh my God, are people going to think I look weird in this video?


Are people going to even resonate with what I'm saying? What if they hate it? And what, you know? It doesn't matter, right? Like if you are putting yourself out there as this, as your true authentic self, you know, screw the haters, right? If people are going to hate on you, they're not your people anyway, right?


You want to talk to the people that you're talking to. I think one of the biggest mistakes that I see And I make this mistake all the time is, uh, not giving everything away up front, right? Like in video, you've got three seconds to get someone's attention. And if you're not starting off your sentence and your video with a very newsy hook or, uh, or a very like something grabby, Um, that's, that, that, that's a big mistake, and, and that's gonna get people to keep scrolling, and you want to stop the scroll.


Um, when I worked at NowThis News, and, and NowThis is, again, the millennial news company, if you've ever seen those, like, square videos on Facebook with text on screen, um, that's, that's what they do, that's what they coined, that, and when I worked there, The very first sentence, they called it the first card, right?


What is the first card of your video? And we actually had very specific Slack channels that we would workshop the first card. And the first sentence, like what's going to stop the scroll? And I think that's why now this is like so good at what they do, because we would workshop, almost like workshopping a headline for a story, which we do at every publication you work at.


What is going to stop the, you know, what is going to get people to click? And so I think the biggest mistake for entrepreneurs is, uh, is not, not giving it away upfront. You know, you don't want to say like, Hey guys, today I'm going to tell you about X, Y, Z, you know, you want to say it, like, say it. And stop, stop their scroll.


So I think that, and I think just being scared, you know, and when you're ready, you're ready. You can't force somebody to jump on camera when they don't want to, but, um, when they're ready, you know, like I'm, I'm ready now and I'm starting to put myself out there more and it's like, Scary. And I just hit post and I don't look at it and you know, and then all of a sudden you're like, oh, I love this.


And people resonate with it, and you're like, oh, okay. That wasn't as scary. Let me, like, I gotta stop psyching myself out and this imposter syndrome comes in and that you have to really kick away because. That could really derail you and it happens to everybody. It's not just me or yourselves, right? Um, and so I think, uh, for entrepreneurs, I think that's, that's the number one, just give it away up front.


Passionistas: We've also found like, don't overthink it. Like, when you're there, like, I agree about all the prep and like, what's the hook and all that stuff, but like, we started, it took us forever to be on camera. We just are such behind the scenes people. And we, um, when we finally were like, everybody was like, you have to, you have to be the face of what you're doing.


You've got to do it. We're like, okay. And now we just shoot these silly little videos, but we like, do one take. Unless we'd make some major mistake. We do one take, we watch it back. We, when we edit it, we make sure it looks okay. And then that's it. We don't, you know, we used to edit every interview so that we took out every single um. Um, and then I remember like, no, you just have to be, let people be who they are, be your, and you be who you are, be yourselves.


Mercedes: A hundred, a hundred percent. And when I say like, yeah, like, you know, I don't want people to spend three hours on one social post. Like you should spend five minutes. You know, on something like don't overthink it.


Just when you get inspiration, just pull out your phone and record it. Even if you're not going to post it. You know, I, I did a couple of reels today that I'm like, okay, maybe I'll post a little later, but it's good practice to just like, get it out, you know, and, and you get it out and that's it. And you see how people resonate with it.


You see what works. You see what doesn't work. My favorite saying is done is better than perfect. Like just get it out there. Get it out. Like you have to be visible in order for people to know that you're there. Um, and, and like you said, like you are the face of your business and people resonate with other humans, right?


That's, that's how, who we are as human beings and seeing, uh, faces out there is, is great.

Passionistas: So, um, tell us about founding your company, Mercedes and Media, in 2023. What inspired you to start it?


Mercedes: Yes. So I always knew, like I said, I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I just sort of one day was like, I woke up, woke up one morning and I was like, you know what? This is the day I'm going to do it. I'm going to launch.


I'm going to launch a business. And what I did is I started talking about it. And telling people, I'm launching a business, I'm launching a business, I'm doing this thing, I'm doing this thing. And I made so many mistakes in the beginning, and that's fine, that's totally okay. I spent a lot, wasted a lot of money on things that I probably didn't need to, high branded, you know, high, high resolution photos, which I love, but Do I need them?


Maybe, maybe not. A website that I just built right, you know, right away. Maybe some coaches that helped me along the way and things like that. I think a lot of it, I was just looking for validation. Like, okay, as long as I'm doing something, if someone's validating me, then I, I'm, I'm on the right track. Um, I, I'm at that point now where I'm like, okay, the imposter syndrome kicks in, but I just try to ignore it.


Um, but investing in yourself is a really, is really important. Like if you do need the help, like I did, you know, And really, I think the most important part of my career has been getting that help, hiring people that can help you, uh, whether that's a VA or whether that's a business coach. I love my business coach.


He's amazing. Um, and, uh, and I just did it. I just one day, I was like, all right, I'm a publicist now. Who wants to work with me? And people were like me. I'm like, Oh, really? Okay. Let's, And a lot of it is figuring out as I go. Like, I was never a publicist. I never had a formal training of, like, publicity, but I was on the receiving side for so long that I know how they do it and I know how to storytell.


And that's the most important part of it. And I have a lot of the contacts and, uh, and, and people trust me and, um, and we get them featured on GMA. So, it's amazing. It's been a lot of like, learning, yeah.


Passionistas: So what is that approach? What is your approach that sets you apart from other people?


Mercedes: I think the, and that's a great question, uh, I think the approach that sets me aside is, or sets me apart from other publicists is like, I was on this side for so long.

Like, I got so, I have received over the course of my career like, so many pitches that are like, No. Like, no. Uh, that doesn't work. And, uh, for me, like, I know from a journalist perspective what I, what, what pitches I want to receive. And I, I do, I do that. Right? I don't, I don't turn people off. Like, when you are pitching, and a lot of entrepreneurs can do their own publicity.


Is it hard? Yeah. Does it take a lot of time? Yes. Which is why they hire a publicist because it's a lot of networking and it's a lot of emailing and it's a lot of following up. And, um, and so, but when you are, if you are planning to do your own PR, you have to network. Um, you have to make sure that the journalist that you are pitching is, uh, covers the story that you're pitching.


Like if you're pitching them, like for example, in my nine to five, um, I do everything investing and retirement related. So if someone's pitching me a story about mortgages, I'm like, I'm not, that's not my, that's not my beat. My niche. So, um, you have to make sure that you are targeting the right journalist for your industry.


And a good way to do that is to set, um, Google alerts, right? Check out Google alerts, set up a Google alert for something in your niche, and see what comes up. And, and check, check out the journalist that's writing the story and the publications and you'd be surprised what publications are covering what and what wide range of stories that you could probably fit within there.


Passionistas: So let's talk about that pitch. What is it in the pitch that makes the editor open it?


Mercedes: Oh, that's the, that's the million dollar question. Everybody is so different. So what, what at least worked for me and what I do with my pitches, With my clients and the journalists that I'm pitching is I look for something that is personable, right?

So I'll go on LinkedIn. First off, so there's a few platforms that you can look at people's emails. There's like Rocket Reach and there's a few other ones. And in PR, there's something called a MuckRack. Uh, and Prowley, those are a few. They're very expensive, but I use Prowley and I actually really enjoy it.


And there's a media database in there. And so if I'm looking for a very specific journalist, I can type their name in. Um, sometimes these media databases are outdated, uh, but, so I'll go on LinkedIn and I'm like, okay, yeah, they still work there, alright, it says present, they're still there, cool. And I'll look for something on their LinkedIn that can sort of connect me, um, if I don't know them.


Uh, for example, the other day, there was a journalist that Uh, that wrote like, I just got a promotion and I'm going to Greece for two weeks. So my email, I was like, Hey girl, congrats on the promotion and hope Greece was amazing. You know, I have a great pitch for you. Right. And so these are the, these are the, the, the ways you want to kind of grab their attention.


A lot of the times I'll connect with them on LinkedIn as well. Um, and, uh, and that seems to prove, you know, it seems to, to, to work. Cause sometimes they get hundreds of emails and it gets to them. They get lost. And if I'm like, Hey, I sent you an email, like, Oh, let me check it out. Okay. I responded. Cool. You want them to respond, right?


And you want to build that connection. And entrepreneurs can do PR themselves, but I have found that it does take a lot of time and it can be very discouraging. Very, because you can send a hundred emails and get no responses. And there's been so many times where that happens to me. Another, another really great way to get featured in the media is to really keep up with the news and what's going on.


So for example, my, my Sharon Rose Hayward, my amazing client, who's a women's career coach, um, Obviously the story of Caitlin Clark, the WNBA player that came from college and she was the first draft in the WNBA and her salary was like 78, 000 or something like that. So I found a bunch of journalists that are covering salary negotiation and things like that and I pitched her out and I said, hey, if you guys are writing a story on Caitlin Clark and you need an expert source, Boom.


Like my source is here. She's available. And I texted her and I'm like, you're available today. Right? She's like, yeah, I'm like, all right, cool. Um, and Essence got back to me and Essence was like, we want, I want to hop on a call with Sharon today. I just need 20 minutes every time. Done. Got her on the, got her on the phone and they wrote up an article about WNBA, you know, So, salary and, uh, and the headline says, this expert says, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.


And that's her. That was her. She was the expert. So, it's always really important to stay up to date with what's going on. And when you see something, or even data or studies, right? There's a, I have a, another client who's a, um, is in sustainable swimwear and there's a big study that came out that sustainable swimwear in the next 20 years is going to be the leading, you know, number of.


Certain number, billion dollars or whatever industry. And I pitched her as a source. And I'm like, hey, if anyone's writing a story on sustainable swimwear, my girl here is amazing and she can talk about her business, right? So always kind of keeping up. Google Alerts is an amazing thing. Uh, Google Trends is, is good. So.


Passionistas: That's incredible. And for people that are intimidated, like, I'm never going to get that first big story. I'm never going to get that call, you know, that connection to essence or whatever it is. What advice do you have for them to kind of get their foot in the door?


Mercedes: That's a great question, Amy. And, um, there are a few smaller sort of, uh, other platforms out there, um, that are kind of low hanging fruit that 90 percent of the time, take every pitch.


Um, and that's a really great way to get your feet wet. Authority Magazine is everywhere. Authority Magazine is always looking for stories. You basically, they give you prompts and you answer them. Uh, Authority Magazine. There's another one called Voyage in LA. We have Voyage LA, but there's Voyage Atlanta, Voyage Dallas, Voyage New York.


Voyage, right? They're everywhere. Uh, there's a third one, but I'm totally blanking on it right now. But some of those like low hanging fruit, uh, ones, uh, are really great and really easy to get your feet wet and are not scary and helps with your SEO, right? Cause if you have something from Authority magazine, like out there and people are Google searching you, it's good.


We want your digital footprint to be robust and we want it to be there. So being able to, to get all of those features, like even the low hanging fruit ones is a really great way. Then what I would do. And this is, I do this a lot. Um, I go on chat GPT and I say, Hey, my business is XYZ. Like what are some of the publications that are covering stories on XYZ?


And it will give me a million or blogs or podcasts. It'll give me a bunch. And, um, I use it just to kind of for ideation. Uh, and you know, if I'm working, I have another client that lives in Denver and I don't know that the local Denver media, right. I don't live there. I know the LA media, right. Um, and so I go and chat GPT and I say, Hey, tell me some of the local call letters, right?


Or the local Morton Morning Show in Dallas, uh, or Denver. And it spits out boom, boom, boom, boom, KQED, KWRX, like all of these like different, you know, Fox 11, ABC 7 Denver, right? And I use that a lot. So don't underestimate the power of AI to help in answering any question that you have, because it can really give you some great advice instead of reinventing the wheel.


Passionistas: Gotta love the robots.


Mercedes: I love them. I'm down with them.


Passionistas: So the cost of PR. Especially to small business owners and women who have non profits, it just seems so daunting. So is there, is it possible to get media exposure without breaking the budget, without breaking the bank?


Mercedes: That's a great question. So I do charge significantly lower than other PR firms out there.


Um, I will be raising my rates soon because it, I'm realizing they are very low. Um, but it's a good thing because I want to help small business owners. I want people that don't have millions, you know, seven figure business get PR. I do. Um, there's some PR firms out there that charge anywhere from 5, 000 a month, 10, 000 a month, right?


I've seen, I've seen crazy, crazy amounts. Um, there, there is a free newsletter that uh, entrepreneurs can sign up for, it's called, uh, it used to be called Help A Reporter Out, HARO, but HARO recently died, or it got reabsorbed into something else, and it got taken over, and now it's rebranded as HERO, Help Every Reporter Out.


And so you get an email from a gentleman named Peter Shankman, who revived it from the dead, and um, and it, you get it twice a day in your inbox, and it's basically like, hey, this journalist from USA Today is looking for someone that can speak on this topic. Cool, like send a response. I use it all the time, right?


There's a lot of really great queries in there, um, that are free and that anybody can, can sign up for. Um, if you want to get on podcasts, podcasts are a really great way to do it. There's a ton of really great Facebook groups, um, that, actually I was connected to you by somebody that I met in a Facebook group, uh, for podcasts.


And, uh, there's a really, really great podcast groups out there. Book a guest, need a guest, I think is the name of one of them or something, something like that. Don't quote me on it. Uh, but there's some really great ones out there and it's a really great way to get your feet wet in media before you really dive in and, and you can see the power of something like that and, and what that holds.


Passionistas: Yeah, it's, that is how we met, Kat, as well, through, through that group. And it is, and I also, I think what's so amazing about what you do as well is, because yeah, we've done Harrow, and we've done Be a Guest, Need a Guest, and all that stuff, but you have, The experience and the personal connections, you know, what people are looking for, um, and it's really, it's, you know, it is the industry.


It's a lot of it is also who you know, and you know, a lot of people. So you're bringing that to people who don't maybe not, you know, normally have access or can afford to have access to that, which is Absolutely incredible. Um, so you talked about one or two success stories, but do you have any other favorite success stories from working with your clients?


Mercedes: Yeah, uh, well, right now we're, I'm working with my Sustainable Swimwear client and we're trying to get her featured in these gift guides. And I'm realizing like, oh, that's a different animal. Uh, these gift guides, sort of like what you see on Glamour or Cosmo, where it says like, here are the best 25 swimsuits for the summer, or the best, you know, bikinis for, you know, or the best online places to get bathing suits or whatever.


So those are called guides. And, um, those are all through affiliate marketing. So basically like Cosmo or Glamour or whatever publication. Uh, gets a kickback by recommending some of these, uh, swimsuits or whatever product, I mean everything, you've seen these like Amazon, you know, here are the best 10 things to buy on Amazon that are under 5, right, and stuff like that.


So, these publications get a kickback from it. So, if you do own a product line, And you are selling a product, um, you do have to sign up for an affiliate program. Shopify has one. There's a few other ones. Pepper Jam is another really popular one, but I think they charge a lot. Um, but what you do is you create an affiliate link.


And when you're sending out emails to journalists, you say, Hey, You know, if you use my affiliate link, you get 15 percent commission. And that's what these big publications are looking for. So I think for me, it was sort of realizing, because again, I've never been publicly trained in this, right? So I'm like, but I know.


And I'm like, oh, we need to get an affiliate link. So how do we do that? Oh, we did it. All right, cool. Shopify has it. Awesome. We love that. And so sending out, That link to journalists has been really helpful in saying, Hey, I can up the 15 percent commission if, if you're considering inclusion, maybe we can do 20 or 25.


Um, also sending out samples because, um, for example, right now we're, we're working on getting her in, I think it's, ap, uh, and it's their editor picks. And, um, and they were like, we wanna feel the, the suit we wanna, we wanna see for ourselves because we're recommending it to our audience. So if you do have a line, a, a product line or anything, you send samples and, uh, and, and, and follow up with a journalist when they get it and, and see what they think.


And, uh, that for me has been something really interesting to learn. Uh, and something really fun, and uh, and that's been awesome. Um, I had another one of my clients in Denver get a local feature the other day for ABC7 Denver, and it's a mother and son, and they own a reusable shoe cover company. So basically the story is, the little boy lived in San Francisco, And when he would go to Montessori school, they would change into indoor shoes.


So you're not tracking dirt in from outside and they'd sit on the floor and do reading time. And so when the family moved from San Francisco to Denver, the little boy went to school and he realized, wait, we don't have an extra pair of shoes here. I don't want to sit on the floor. And the mom was like, well, do something about it.


So the little boy drew up. Uh, the prototype for what they call Shoe Shoe, it's a shoe cover for your shoe, Shoe Shoe, and uh, the mom sewed the prototype in the kitchen and the little boy Is the CEO of this company. And, um, he took it right now he's in middle school, but he took it back to his elementary school and they're doing a pilot program with the school.


And, uh, and the little kids use it when they come in from recess, they put the shoe shoe on and, and they don't get the floors dirty and, you know, whatever. And we're trying to get her on larger publications like GMA and today, but we got her on ABC seven Denver. And that story was amazing. And I was like, Oh, I was so happy that That they went to the school, they photographed the kids.


Uh, there was a reporter there. She asked this, my, you know, Yannick, his name is Yannick, the CEO. They asked him questions. I was an 11 year old CEO. Like, you know, stuff like that is just the coolest thing for me to see. Um, and that, that's definitely one of my highlights for sure. And the mom called me and she was like, Mercedes, I can't thank you enough.

Like you've changed everything, you know? And it's like, ah, yes.


Passionistas: That's so cool. You got to get them on The Tank.


Mercedes: I know, I was thinking about that. Like, I wonder if Shark Tank, like, I know.


Passionistas: Yeah, they do like Kids Weeks. They do, right? That's all kids.


Mercedes: Yeah, I should pitch them.


Passionistas: So, um, how do people connect with you if they want to work with you?


Mercedes: Yes. So I'm very active on Instagram. It's Mercedes and Media. Uh, or you can go to my website, mercedesbarba. com. You can send me a form, uh, that you would like to work together. We can even just hop on a call and I'm happy to just talk about PR with anybody and talk to you about the benefits of it, talk to you about the pricing, uh, give you some tips to even try to do it on your own.


And. See if you, if as an entrepreneur, you can do it. Um, you can, I've seen entrepreneurs every day get their own media features. Um, so that's a very doable thing, but I'm here to be a resource for anybody. If, um, if anybody just wants to talk or talk about business, I'm all ears.


Passionistas: So who were some of your female role models when you were growing up?


Mercedes: Oh, good question. Uh, ah, I'm like blanking right now.


Passionistas: Either personally or someone you saw in pop culture that really inspired you.


Mercedes: Oh, Juliana Rancic from E! News. I'm sure, I'm sure you, maybe you interviewed her too. We actually never did. Not either. Juliana Rancic, like she was, and Kat Sadler. They were on E!


News and I would just like sit in my room and watch E! News all day and be like, oh, I want to be them. I want to do that stuff. Red carpets. And, and then when I did it, I'm like, oh, this is a lot of work. I don't know if I want to do it anymore, but they were really, really big inspirations for me. Uh, Barbara Walters was a really big inspiration for me too.


I read her memoir years ago. Uh, Oprah, of course, right? Seeing all of these, like, women newscasters and, and, and female talk show hosts were, were amazing. And I think just, like, being interested in what's going on in the world and the news and, you know, my dad reading the newspaper and my, my mom, like, Uh, being entrepreneurs like that for me has just like crafted my brain in this very unique way.


And, um, and I want to, I want to do that. I want to build something, some legacy for my son so he can see his mom like doing it. You know, I want him to, to learn that entrepreneurship is that the future is doable and is probably the future. You know, I just crafted this, like, this post that's going to go up on my Instagram tomorrow about corporate America.


And like, even though it's an amazing experience and I learned so much from working in it, you know, there's a fear there of like being at a job for 40 years, And then. Okay, it's your retirement party and all they give you is a little cupcake and they're like, thanks for the 40 years of your life, you know, and then no one remembers who you are.


Like, that's not, for me, that's not what I want. I don't want to just be given a cupcake after giving 40 years of my life to something. I want to give it to my son or I want to show my son, like, look, you can do whatever it is you want to do. You are, you can go to college or not. You can launch a business or not.


You know, I want him to see that sort of how I saw my parents. Uh, and be able to, to, to learn and, and do his own thing.


Passionistas: That's beautiful. Um, what about mentors, professional mentors? Have you had any of those?


Mercedes: Oh gosh, so many. Oh gosh. Uh, Adam Ariema was my editor in chief for many years. He is amazing. He's editor in chief of CNET right now, which is a huge, huge tech publication.


I mean, he's, he's brilliant. Big time, but he has always believed in me when I never believed in myself. Because she's like 98. So, and I think Sylvan Soloway, my career services director at NYU really believed in me as well when I was like, I don't know if I can do this video job. And she's like, yes, you can get your ass over there. I'm like, okay. Okay, so then I, and I'm so thankful for her because I would not be where I'm at without her.


Um, everyone at CNBC that helped me grow, right, all of my friends that, um, that I've met as journalists and my journalism friends who, who were all in the same boat together and we all suffer, you know, together and, um, Um, and, and having them as my mentors. And I, um, I also teach, uh, I'm a professor at a community college nearby where I was, I was a student at in the same program.


And, uh, I try to be a mentor to them. Right. I try to help them like, look, you guys, like, The world is changing. Like you want to be a journalist, like you need to learn video. You got to do this, this, this, uh, but you can also launch your own business, right? You can also do whatever it is you want to do. You don't have to stick within the box.


You know, the confines of like this nine to five thing that we're being fed. Um, you know, especially with, with this digital world that we live in, it's life is different now.


Passionistas: Have you watched Girls on the Bus? No. Oh, it's a, um, it's a show on Max, you know, and it's four women on the political campaign trail, journalists on the scripted show.


Oh, okay. But there's like the older, older woman who's like in her fifties, who's the traditional media person. And then there's the one, you know, woman who's like a, you know, basically an Instagram influencer and, um, But it's really great and it's really cool different perspectives on like the approach of journalism and what journalism is now and what the future of journalism is.


Um, and it's just a fun show. So you should check it out.


Mercedes: Oh my gosh, I'm gonna watch that today. I've been looking on, I've been, I've been just watching Sex and the City on repeat.


Passionistas: Oh, no, definitely, because it's got a Sex and the City thing, too. It's like four women of different ages hanging out. They get into their personal lives and all that.


Mercedes: Okay. I'm going to totally check that out tonight.


Passionistas: You will love it. You will absolutely love it. And one of our Passionistas directed an episode.


Mercedes: What?


Passionistas: Oh, okay. And another one we, um, have you ever heard of The Passion Planner?


Mercedes: No


Passionistas: It's this really great planner. That's more, um, really kind of like, it's not just like, this is what I'm doing today. It really helps you kind of like, envision what your year, what your goals are for the year in general, and then break it down. And they, they keep referencing the Passion Planner. They've referenced it. Three times and they showed it. Wow, that's good publicity. Really, oh my God. When they showed it, especially, it was like, oh, they just sold so many fashion planners.


Mercedes: Oh, amazing.


Passionistas: So is there one lesson that you've learned on this journey that you've been on, that really sticks with you?


Mercedes: Oh, so many. I think just not giving up. And continuing to do what it is that you're called to do and listening to your intuition. Uh, for me, it's been a really big driver in what I'm doing the last six months.


I'm like, okay, what's my intuition telling me? No, it's not an opportunity for me. I, is it, is it causing more stress than, than not? Then no, no, I can't. And you know, I've turned down clients because of that. Uh, I, I just, I have to go with my gut because for many years I ignored it and it got me in trouble or it got me stressed and it got me this and this year I'm like, no, this is my business.


Like I get to make my decisions. And, um, I think, I think that's, that's a really, really big thing and not to give up and not to let that imposter syndrome like creep in and like cause doubt. Um, re recently, yes, this. Last week, like I had the craziest imposter syndrome where I was like, Oh, I'm going to give up.


And the GMA feature came out and I'm like, see, I am good at this. You know, I'm not like a schmuck writer or whatever. I do know what I'm doing and I am good. And, uh, that I think just like realizing those signs from the universe that are like guiding you in that way, like do this, uh, has been a really eyeopening moment for me.


Absolutely. Absolutely. We get those signs from the universe all the time at the right time, right? Isn't it the best? It's the best. Wow. There is a higher, higher energy, like guiding me somewhere. Yeah.


Passionistas: Is there a question that we should be asking you that we're not asking you?


Mercedes: Oh, good question. I was asked that in my interviews too. Um, no, I think, um, I just think, um, you know, for entrepreneurs out there that, that, that. Don't see the power of the media. It, I've seen it firsthand and it can really propel you into this insane spotlight and, and elevate your expertise and your, your expert authority in the space. It can put you in front of a crazy amount of eyeballs that you would have never, they would have never seen you on social media.


Um, it, it, it helps your SEO, right? It helps your search ranking on Google, the more keywords that you're associated with. So if you're someone who's in your niche with these legacy URLs like GMA and Today Show and things like that, the more Google is going to, my puppy just came in, the more Google is going to start ranking you higher in the search ranking.


So it is very important to have your digital footprint, uh, there. So that Google's, Google's the gatekeeper, right? Sorry. I just got this puppy like so excited. Five months ago. And he's so cute. Oh, so fast. He's a Cocker Spaniel.


Passionistas: What's his name?


Mercedes: My little Maxie. He's such a little brat. Chews up everything.


Passionistas: Oh, cute. So, um, so what's your secret to rewarding life?


Mercedes: I think, I think making your own decisions, like, you know, being, being right now, like in my corporate America nine to five job, I feel like all the time I spend, I'm spending on someone else. Um, You know, what makes a rewarding life is being able to, to craft your own schedule and You know, carve out time for family and my son and all of those things.


Um, I don't know what this dog wants. I think he wants to go out. That's what he's telling me. Um, yeah, so I think that's what makes a rewarding life is being able to make your own decisions and about your life. You know, we're only given this one life and, and what are, what are the chances that we are, have developed into humans, right?


There's like a very slim chance of that happening anyway. And we could have been a tree or a butterfly or, you know, a dog and, uh, and taking that, that chance and, uh, and going for it. That's, that's all you can hope for because what's the worst that could happen, but what's the best that could happen?


Passionistas: Do you have a mantra you live by?


Mercedes: Done is better than perfect. Done is better than perfect. Put it out there. Put it out there. If there's a typo in it, put it out there. You know, if there's a, you know, if you don't like the photo of yourself, pick another photo, but put it out there. Like, done is better than perfect. Cause you know, We, we, we can't be perfectionists in this world.

We have to keep producing content as entrepreneurs and, uh, and getting ourselves out there. So that's, that's what I live by.


Passionistas: Excellent. Okay. Max needs to go out. So two last, one last two part question, um, which is what is your dream for yourself? And what is your dream for women?


Mercedes: Oh, dream for myself is to leave my 95, which I think is going to happen soon and do my job full time. Like my PR business full time, I'm going to do it. And that's my dream. And when I get there, I'm going to be still so good about it. Um, my dream for women is I want women to, to understand, sorry, he's like knocking over a plant. Um, I want women to know that they have. Everything that they need to build what they want to build and do what they want to do.


And I just want everyone to, all women to realize that, like, we are all so freaking strong, right? Growing children, taking care of families, like all of these things that we have, all this intuition that is like innate, innate in us, right? Uh, I just want all women to know that, that, that you have already inside what you need.


Passionistas: Thanks for listening to The Passionistas Project. Since we're not only business partners, but best friends and real life sisters, we know how unique and truly special our situation is. We know so many solopreneurs, activists, women seeking their purpose, and more, who are out there doing it all on their own.


They often tell us that they wish they had what we have. So we're creating a space for them, and you, to join our sisterhood, The Where trust, acceptance, and support are the cornerstones of our community.


By joining, you become part of our family. We'll give you all of our CIS tips on building meaningful relationships through the power of sisterhood, and all the tools you need to thrive in three key areas. Business growth, personal development, and social impact. You'll learn from our panel of Power Passionistas who are experts on topics like transformational leadership, following your intuition, the power of voting, and so much more.


You can join us virtually and in person at storyteller events and meetups to connect with other members of the community. And you'll be able to participate in our online forums with other like-minded women and gender non-conforming, non-binary people who share your values and goals. Be sure to visit ThePassionistasProject.


com to sign up for your free membership to join our worldwide sisterhood of passion driven women who come to get support, find their purpose, and feel empowered to transform their lives and change the world. We'll be back next week with another Passionista who's defining success on her own terms and breaking down the barriers for herself and women everywhere.


Until then, stay passionate!


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