Public Speaking Secrets
Using PR to Grow Your Speaking Brand

Amanda Williams is the founder (but also goes by the title of ringleader and professional attention seeker) at Yellowpanda PR. When we first met a Digital Marketer event in 2015, she was responsible for building the public images of politicians through media relations, online marketing and personal branding. These days she manages the personal brands of trailblazing young entrepreneurs in addition to PR launches for startups through to iconic international brands like Disney Pixar. 


In this episode find out how you can:

  • Cut through the noise and be seen as the go-to authority in your space
  • Create a platform to drive change and have a greater impact on the issues you care about
  • Leverage your digital presence to match your offline achievements
  • Get invited to speak by influential groups to prestigious events
  • Understand the value of personal branding and are committed to building your reputation for the long-haul

Victor Ahipene: Speaking nation, what’s happening? Super excited to have you back. I’ve been off the mic for a little bit getting things done in the real, real world. But I am back with a whole bunch of awesome interviews with people who are designed to help you learn the secrets to getting your message onto stage and in front of more people.


I’ve got a good friend of mine today, Amanda Panda Williams, who is the chief cheerleader for and ringleader for Yellow Panda, which is a company that helps people who are looking to get their message out there. Do that with PR and personal branding. She has done and an extremely awesome way. I’m looking forward to getting someone who’s often doing the behind the scenes for the amplification of the message rather than the person actually out on the stage, but she does that as well. With all that being said, welcome to the show, Amanda.


Amanda Williams: Thanks, Victor. It’s great to be here.


Victor Ahipene: Now, give us a bit of a quick background. What is it exactly that you do in regards to kind of the PR and personal branding and how did that all kind of come about?


Amanda Williams: I guess it comes from my background to start with. I’m working in politics as a major advisor. So my role back then was essentially looking after the public image of politician. That was everything from sort of digital footprint, websites, and social media.


I’m dealing with the media, doing those video relations. I’m doing that sort of Stripe payoff stuff, but also working on local issue campaigns, writing speeches. I’m basically doing everything I can to support them as talent in politics. I guess it was sort of a natural sort of progression then to may once I left politics to start doing that for entrepreneurs.


Victor Ahipene: Nice. If we were to look at, I guess what PR kind of all entails, because I talk about this in different things that I’ve put out. I help people get onto stages and to me there’s online and this offline stages, but a stage is just to me are way that you can amplify your message to have a bigger impact to people.


It’s not what a lot of people think of as your traditional stage that you’re standing on your keynote presentation, your sales presentation, and your workshop that you might run. It can be a stage like this, a podcast. It can be a webinar that you run, an online summit. Then there’s also this other stage. I know you help get people on to say a morning TV show or the news and things like that, like these digital and written print medias that are a massive stage that have huge authority. Talk us through a little bit of that and why I guess it’s important that as a speaker we start looking at this as one of the stages we should be getting our message out into.


Amanda Williams: Yeah, I mean like you just rattled off such a long list already of all of the things that you need to be doing to stand out, to be building yourself as an authority. Then there’s all those extra things that we do as well. Essentially like my role is to be the pimp of all of those things, a pimp of public images. That doesn’t just start with getting on the stage.

As you said, it’s about trying to get those opinion pieces, full leadership paces. It’s about building your personal brand up through your own content, your own blog paces by dominating your own social media channels so that you get to the point where, if the media are looking at someone to interview on a certain topic, they are reaching out to you. Essentially it’s about having eggs in all of the baskets so that like all of this work that you’re doing and sort of putting yourself out there publicly becomes sort of your business card and it just opens doors.


Victor Ahipene: What those doors and you can use examples, happy if you don’t use names and things for your clients. But, a lot of people will be like, “Oh yeah, cool. I get in the newspaper or I get a magazine or onto the radio.”  But that might run workshops or do sales presentations or whatever it may be and they’re going to like, “This doesn’t give me this tangible money in my bank straight away.”


Amanda Williams: Yeah. Funny you mentioned that because I literally just uploaded a new blog to my website last night, which was talking about, is PR any good for online stores? It was talking about how difficult it is in PR a lot of the times to actually measure like ROI. Sometimes I’m lucky enough for my clients to let me have a bit of a peek behind the scenes. In one case, having a look at some of the metrics in a Shopify store and say how many sort of visitors came across as a result of a pay activity.


That activity specifically was a TV segment on the today show so that’s pretty premium. It’s national TV. We actually got inside the store and saw that we had around almost 10,000 visitors hit the website as a result of that going to air. So, in terms of ROI, its a little bit of [inaudible 00:05:54]. This morning actually, because I’ll put a post-up on LinkedIn about it. The suppression by bright and I’m started up going to math, but if we look at a modest set of conversion right around 2% so we say 2% of the 10,000 people that visited the website bought a product for 89.95.


We’re looking at close to just over $17,000 in sales for being on TV. Like that TV segment to buy, which is not the way you want to go because that’s advertising. That’s getting people [inaudible 00:06:19] it’s a metering that you want to actually be a guest. It’s what will social proof. It would be tens of thousands of dollars to actually just have a segment that went to three to five minutes on a national television show. So when you’re looking at ROI there, when the average industry retainer for PR is around 12,000. I don’t charge that much. But, definitely if you’re doing monthly activities where you’re getting that kind of traffic to a website, whether you’re selling a product or you are trying to get [inaudible 00:06:55] so you have a service that you’re trying to sell. It’s 100% worth it.


Victor Ahipene: I mean that’s the cool thing because I look at it from— it’s building this whole ecosystem of social proof because even if you’re trying to get onto a stage, they’re going, “All right, how can I de-risked this investment of hiring you or even just letting you in front of my protected audience?” Whether that be a company, whether that be an event.


They go, “Okay, you have been on a nationwide TV show.” That is going to put down one barrier of, are you good at presenting or another TV show maybe going, are you good when you are on TV? Yep. That’s cool. Then you look at the ad side of things, you can start using that as CNN or you grabbed that snippet and you put it in there.


This is like secondary, it’s not even invisible ROI off the back of that because you’re sitting there going, “Well we had an ad with a random picture of our product. Now, we had a clip when we were showing it on national television and that is giving us a 10 times return on investment and that one’s giving a two times return on investment.”


Amanda Williams: Yeah, like particular segment, once it had been uploaded to Facebook and re-purpose as a Facebook video has gone in front of about 60,000 people, I think last count. It’s had over 6,000 engagements. Like repurposing that content 100% what you want to be doing with any of those media are chasing like coming back.


You mentioned before too about the credibility and people want to say [inaudible 00:08:28] present. A lot of the time, television wants to see how you present before that even put you on television. So it’s really important to actually have some examples of yourself, public speaking on camera at least, like some kind of show real will go a long way in actually showing your presentation skills because I have very little reluctance to have fresh talent on might have never been on TV before.


As part of the sort of pitch kit and the media kit, the way we build our clients up, they’re ready for that opportunity is that we would actually have some of that video footage to be able to pitch along to a producer beforehand as well.


Victor Ahipene: Cool. We’ve kind of got a bit of an understanding of like, “Hey, this is how a PR can benefit our branding, benefit our business.” If we’re starting to look at, “Hey, how do we go out and start getting some of that PR attention.” What are some of the ducks that we need to have lined up in a row?


Obviously, outside of say a going and getting someone awesome like yourself to manage that. If someone’s looking to start getting some traction and there were even just lining up the things that they need before they go hire somebody, what should they be doing?


Amanda Williams: So I think, again just going back to what I just said about sort of having some of that information available to producers or anyone that you’re pitching to. Let’s start with a media profile, like an interview talent sort of shape. We do those for our clients.


So we’ll have, who they are, a short title about what it is that they do, a really short bio. It’ll have a bunch of talking points. The different things that they can actually speak on to from experience. Then we’ll have some like key milestones and sort of a bit of a brag section about things that you can brag about.

We also throw in a few quirky things too like we got a client who actually had been in an MMA fight. We actually spoke about the similarities between getting the crop beaten if you want an MMA fund selling multimillion dollar business that actually got picked up by business news Australia.


It’s about getting really creative about how do you present yourself as a star essentially? How do you present yourself as a talent and making sure that you’ve got all of those things generally on like a two page brief. Then I generally make sure that that’s in a Dropbox folder along with complimentary sort of assets, like images in case they want to use a head shot or they want some photos or they want, like I said before, some video footage.


I’ll be presenting a bit of a show reel, any previous media that you’ve been in before, all that sort of thing. The first thing is to really get like your pitch kit in order. I guess like that talent interview profile shape because as you know in the podcast, first thing they want is to know, what things can you speak about? What sort of questions should we ask you?


Before you can even answer those things, you really have to think about, it’s not about like personal branding and becoming an authority is about how you help other people. It’s got nothing to do with you. It’s that how do you serve other people? What are they interested in? Those are the things that you need to make sure that you’re actually pointing to with your talking points and your topic. You’ve actually had happened in your life. You’ve got to have those real life anecdotes to go with it.


Victor Ahipene: Yeah. It’s definitely the “what’s in it for me?” situation. Okay, I’m awesome at all of this, which can benefit whoever you’re putting my message out to rather than it’s exactly the same when you go and give us a presentation. The person who just talks about themselves and isn’t relatable, it just goes down like a lead balloon. From say a a person who that they’ve put some of that stuff together, when are the times, I mean obviously it’s every time is a good time, but what sort of things would you be going to the media about, say from a press release side of things?


Amanda Williams: A couple of things to look out for like, what time of year it is? I guess anything specific around this time of year. The other thing is just like watching to news Jack something like a car in a fire or something that’s happening, but you can like just jump on the back haul. We’ll piggyback essentially. I’ll give you an example of that. We actually just helped launched a new food and beverage app on the Gold Coast. It’s an ordering app, so it’s called Y queue.


You skip the queue, you order, you turn up, and collect your coffee or food or whatever it may be. At the time, there’s a lot of negativity and escalades around the eight to deliver and the delivery app industry and the issue that it’s causing for food and beverage businesses in terms of being profit destroying, et cetera, et cetera.


That had been a national story break on the today show on this particular day about it. The first thing I do is contact a local Gold Coast channel 9. Well my contact channel 9 and so this national story about on a local level, including the fact that this new app had been developed and that over a hundred Gold Coast businesses had already jumped on board because I was so fed up and frustrated with the [inaudible 00:13:31] and wanted to basically give it a go. We’ve got some great coverage to have.


We got television coverage and news set of coverage. We’ve got magazines coming out, food bloggers, like a bunch of people. It was just really clever to be up to jump on that national story. Let me talk about, I’m not just jumping on and piggybacking national stories, but also specific times this year. At the time of this podcast right now, we are actually, we’ve just come into some of this week and we’re going to Christmas holidays.


A lot of publications especially online, even television are looking at the file type articles that do relate to this this time of year, but they are hungry for content. We can actually write a decent up ad or a decent article or a blog even and pitch it out. You’ve got a pretty good chance they’re getting kicked off.


Victor Ahipene: I think that’s part of everything that you should be planning, I guess in the seasons of your business is like, “All right, when do I want to be? When am I releasing a certain thing and what sort of PR can I have to build into that to get those hundreds or thousands of people coming to my website to either sell my product or build anticipation and all of these things really built in?” Because I really love, I talk about like the different authority strands is kind of– I call it the star, but it’s you can be speaking that build your authority.


You can use the press or the media like the T of it. You can be an author and you can be I guess doing your own media or it can be your results or your experience that you’ve got and all of them feed into one another. Because if you’re about to get interviewed, I introduced onto onstage, we’ve got Amanda who’s been in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times or the this and the that. As soon as you walk on stage, you’re already held at a higher credibility or efforts.


You’re going into the media and it’s like Ted speaker. Well, okay, going to take this person on because they’ve got their credibility and all of these things. You don’t need all of them to be successful in your business or in your speaking. But what you got to realize, you talked about it earlier is the opportunities. They all open another opportunity for the other. You might write a book or a viral blog piece and then the media pick it up. Or an event organizer picks it up and then they reach out to you and then you speak there and then it just flows on from there.


What other things that you would do to I guess leverage or what would be the best things to be able to leverage off to either get more publicity off, if it’s a local piece to try and leverage that up or what things you can potentially do with leveraging that or utilizing that media into your business or into your brand.


Amanda Williams: Yeah. Going back to what you said about having a bit of a plan and having sort of a bit of a goal as to what you’re setting out to achieve. I just want to quickly mention [inaudible 00:16:42] this is me if I didn’t that so many people are too late when they think it’s, “Oh we’re going to get payout. We’re launching like next, next week. We’ve got to do this now.” Generally I said everyone, it takes three months. Sometimes they can take three months, the strategy, the coming up with a pitch, waiting for something that is going to come along in the media that you can actually jack on onto.


Then, speaking to journalists, doing the follow up and then actually saying adventure ends with story, like it’s generally around three months. So people need to be thinking like at least three months of events. That’s my warning there. In regards to the content that you’re putting out, as you said you can be found as well, so it’s not just about pitching but making sure that you’re riding regular paces though. As you said, going and speaking on stage is really putting yourself out there so that you can actually be found by journalists as well. That’s really important.


Then, another thing I might add as well is that and you already know this, but speaking scares the shit out of people and so few, too many people are actually doing it. So if you’re willing to actually get up on a stage and talk, you’re going to stand out against so many other people who are basically just chicken. I mean they say that the sooner you can get used to like just putting yourself out there and being comfortable in whatever public situation you are in, the better around talent you are to be getting like full of big media opportunities.


The more you will stand out and that’s what it’s all about is about trying to stand out. Then finally what you saying about, repurposing that content and putting it out there as well. Definitely pushing everything out through social channels is really important. A lot people to even go back and they share old content and news pieces like on anniversaries, like, “Oh my God, a year ago we’re on television. I might check these out.” That sort of thing. Writing speaks about the experience and sharing it up through that way as well. Asking friends to share it.


Offering complimentary businesses too to share it with their audience as well. It really is such a golden opportunity once you have it in your hands. Once you’ve built this really cool article that’s printed on a legitimate new thought or website or blow authority or this video footage from this TV segment. You can put it anyway. You can kind of go to town with the spam thing because that sort of thing is quite rare and unique. So yeah, 100% goes to that and yeah, make sure that you let people know that that’s what you think saying.


So a lot of people will put the logos as seen on their website. I’ve heard of people too recently making sure that they’re trading their cover images on my Facebook and on their LinkedIn as opportunities to also say as seen in and actually designing cover banners that actually push out some social proof as well.


Generally speaking, Australia have an issue with whole poppy syndrome and whenever we’re on the state, we always get picked on for it. You guys have a problem with tooting your own horn, whereas a lot of people in the rest of the world don’t. We really should be doing it more especially we’ve earned it. We’ve actually genuinely earned, we’ve worked really hard towards thing, a person that can cite something, have it printed in media.


Then you should be really proud of that and you should definitely be putting it out there especially when it’s becoming like everything’s so easy to like fake it to make it these days’ especially social media. When you have that rare opportunity to actually drive social proof home then drive it. Don’t look at [inaudible 00:20:14] in the mouth.


Victor Ahipene: Yeah. That’s the big thing as well that not even just speaking, but if you write a book or you get published in the media or whatever it is, you have separated yourself from the crowd. I know that’s a scary thing for a lot of people is not having that tribal mentality and being, I don’t want to be the one that sticks out which is the Australian and New Zealand way.


But what you’ve also got to understand is if you’ve got competitors or whatever you want to call it, if you’ve got other businesses in your industry which you likely do, if they’re not doing that, it means that you’ve got an anterior advantage over them. Because you’ve got the social proof or you’ve gone to the lengths to get yourself into the media with that paying for an ad in the newspaper and you’re getting a free column written about you or you’re writing that column or they’re paying for that five minute spot on TV and spending $20,000.


Instead you’re getting it for free and you can spend 20,000 on promoting that to your own following and all those sorts of things. Yes, a lot of people say, “I’ve written a book and I have.” I was speaking to someone I like, but look, you actually went to the effort of doing that. Whether it’s an amazing book or a crappy book. You’ve done something that a lot of people won’t ever do. So yes, sing your own praises because a lot of people were too scared to put themselves out there for fear of not even failure for fear of sticking out and—


Amanda Williams: Oh yeah, 100%. I talk to entrepreneurs who are absolutely crushing it. A lot about young entrepreneurs when we’re talking people under 40 who are turning up a millions of dollars each year in that businesses who have legitimately said to me, “Oh, I’m really like courses about going out on social media or like talking about business and what I do.


I’d really like to become more of [inaudible 00:22:01] in my industry. But every time I go out and stick my neck out and post about work, all my mates on there and rag on me and like pay me out. I really don’t like that.” I think, Ooh, it’s almost lacking. You got to ruffle feathers and the mission is actually to find the hay. The mission is actually to get people like annoyed, like actually get onto people’s skin. Because if you not doing that then you don’t have an opinion.


You just not putting yourself out there. It’s really interesting because I actually thought of this the other day. I’m going to run a blog on it soon. You know the old phrase like it’s not what you know until you know. I feel like in 2020 we need to update that. I mean right now 2019 we need to update that. It’s not what you know, but who you know and who knows you.


Because honestly like your influence and how many people are watching you and following you and know who you are. It opens up doors. I use it all the time to connect with people all over the world. I’m not shy of reaching out to like massive influencers, celebrities, and very well-known business leaders on Instagram.


Because I actually grew my own following on Instagram too, I’m thinking 17,000 at the moment. My Instagram obviously will rank like your messages when they come through in order of who’s got the most followers and that sort of thing. But because as I say that they say that I’m in business. They see my content. It’s all basically set up to be like this sort of online business card for them to sort of stuff me out, but everyone gets back to me.


I’ve built some really good connections and I’ve got some exciting things in the pipeline for next year. As a result of being able to create this partnership through my Instagram account, through the authority that I’ve built there. You think about the amount of people in business who B2B like, so important and so crucial. That’s the big picture.


That’s like PR is a long game because if you keep working at this over time, as a combination of doing a PR as a combination of getting out there and getting on stages and standing out and doing all the shit that no one else would do, you’ve got that opportunity to build that influence to that level where basically, open up doors. You can get in front of people that you would never normally even expect back to you.


Victor Ahipene: I want to just, before I forget to ask about it, are there any profiles, you said utilize these videos, clippings as much as you can or pieces from the media. As long as you’re giving credit, it’s all good? Any tip back or—?


Amanda Williams: No, I generally re-sharing. I mean, look, I’m in payoff so it’s all about, do it now. Don’t wait off with permission because it just won’t happen. But in my experience and between politics [inaudible 00:24:49] almost 10 years in the game. I’ve never had a problem with that. I mean, [inaudible 00:24:55] asked us to send us the footage to you and they send it to us.


Victor Ahipene: Yeah. I mean, I can’t imagine them being angry that they’re getting more publicity about this show. This is another show.


Amanda Williams: That’s it. I mean like a lot of the podcast is that we actually pitched to actually ask in the interview like, “How can you help us push this out? How will you help advertise this?” They want to know that you’ve got some channels that you can be putting it out to and that you can help promote them too. It’s like a win-win for everyone really.


Victor Ahipene: Yeah. Well, I think that gives us a pretty good insight. If people are wanting to get their ducks in a row to get started. Then look at what’s topical, start planning three months in advance, start looking at how PR fits into not just your speaking strategy but your business strategy.

Because regardless if you’re just trying to be a speaker, it’s still a business that for the majority of you out there, it’s another leg of your business. Choose what you’re going to attack. Attack it and then add on the next aspect of it.


Then go build that authority and then you can start utilizing it. Appreciate your time as always. You always have good chats, whether the mike’s recording or not. If people want to find you, get in touch.  What can they do? Where can they go?


Amanda Williams: Well, I live mostly on Instagram, which is @amandapandawilliams. It’s enough fun trying to lift my LinkedIn game as well. I’m on there too, but the websites, the agency is


I’ve got lots of helpful case studies on there that you might get some inspiration or ideas from pretty much spell out how we’ve managed to get success by client from this. So feel free to check out that and the blog and don’t ever be shy. I love speaking to people and making new contacts as you know. That’s why I’m in this game.


Victor Ahipene: Before we completely finish up, so I’ll will throw out all the links to Who are the people that you work with? Who’s your ideal person that you work with?


Amanda Williams: Essentially its people who want to have all of this done to them and predominantly I find that that is people who they didn’t made into business may be around five years. They’ve got the budget to be able to afford to have sort of that management because what I offer is more of a personal brand management/ PR/service as opposed to just PR.


So I actually work with entrepreneurs to get them nominated for awards, help land speaking gigs, and do a lot of the traditional payoff stuff and the content creation. Basically all the stuff that they’re too busy for, which is keeping them in visible. I take care of that.


I actually make a bit of a joke. It’s kind of like a weekend at Bernie’s package. They could literally be dead. They’ll be dragging them around, making them look alive everywhere. Yeah. If you are an entrepreneur who wants to step up your public image and your game to build some influence, you just don’t have the time or [inaudible 00:28:00] skill set to do that yourself then I am your best friend.


Victor Ahipene: Excellent. Well, I appreciate it. Again, we’ll link all of that We’ll check in those couple of blog posts that you mentioned as well to help everyone find that and get a bit more insight, but appreciate it. I’ll look forward to catching up, hopefully in person again soon.


Amanda Williams:  Yes. Thanks so much for having me.