Public Relations, Social Media & Local Kansas City Influencers

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Meet Jenny Kincaid

Phil Singleton: Hello everybody, and welcome to another episode of the Local Business Leaders Podcast. I’m your host, Phil Singleton, and today our featured guest is Jenny Kincaid. Jenny is the owner of Socialworx Public Relations, a Midwest media relations agency with strong local and national media context, and community connections. Jenny is mostly known for her expertise in public relations, and for her unique approach on community engagement, or what she calls social relations. Her agency takes relationship one step further by seeking people out who their clients should meet to help them further the business goals. And by building relationships that benefit clients personally, professionally, and philanthropically. Did I get that out right?

Jenny Kincaid: You did. Hi.

Phil Singleton: Thanks so much for coming to the show.

Jenny Kincaid: Thanks for having me. Happy to be here.

Phil Singleton: Awesome. We read kind of your quick bio at the beginning. Can you kind of just give us a little bit of background, from what started your business career? Maybe those first steps out of college or university, and how you got here today.

Jenny Kincaid: Yeah, I went to college down at Southwest Missouri State, which is now Missouri State, and I somewhat double-majored, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. I just knew that I liked being around a lot of people, I liked being in the mainstream. I grew up in a farm town, so I majored in Agricultural Business. Then, also graduated out of the marketing and sales side. I had a little bit of both. From there, I ended up grabbing a job at the National Golf Club of Kansas City. It was, back in the day, the clubhouse wasn’t even completely finished. In that role, I was hungry, I was eager, and I was happy to do anything that they asked me to do, which after about three years, I did everything. I ended up buying the soft goods out of the pro shop for the men and women. I worked in the real estate department. I worked with the media every time they were running around with Bill Grigsby.

I got my feet wet in lots of different areas, and I loved it ’cause I didn’t know what I wanted to do. From there, I worked for an oncologist for a little bit. Then, I had the opportunity to open a women’s boutique with a couple of other ladies down on the Plaza, and I did that for three, four years. In the meantime, I was getting a little bit bored, and I wanted to do more with my days, and had met someone in PR who needed assistance. I helped him part-time, and ended up going full-time with him for about five and a half years. Had a great experience. There just wasn’t much more that I could do. I quit, and I started my own business the next day. Here I am, eight and a half years later.

Phil Singleton: Awesome. So you’re a true entrepreneur, I love that. You tried some different things, you kind of learned from the ground up. Eight years, you’ve seen a lot of things change, I’m sure the internet has changed a few things and maybe public relations in general.

Jenny Kincaid: Yes.

Phil Singleton: Can you talk a little bit about what is public relations today and how has it kind of … how social media, and the internet, and Google, and all those other things changed what public relations is?

What we do in public relations nowadays is cause marketing, it’s influencer relations, it is dealing with the media, events, social media has played a huge role in that.

– Jenny Kincaid

Jenny Kincaid: Yeah, I think when people understand, or you know, my parents still ask me what I do after all this time. For my generation, yeah, a lot of people think of Samantha from Sex and the City. It’s kind of that, but not really. There are some parts about her job, but obviously not the rest of it. People think that public relations is just media relations, but it’s about managing your reputation, and involves gaining an understanding and support of your clients as well as the community that you’re in. Working those relationships from the media to influential groups and organizations, and building, and maintaining, and managing that reputation of your clients throughout on all those channels.

What we do in public relations nowadays is cause marketing, it’s influencer relations, it is dealing with the media, events, social media has played a huge role in that. It’s content marketing, crisis communications, sponsorships. We do a little bit of everything nowadays. We’re not just writing that press release and then sending it out or spraying and praying, is what I like to say. We are doing so much when it comes to every facet, and we really like to be your strategic partner versus just someone that you work with. When it comes to social media, it’s changed the landscape completely. Social media is a huge part of what we do and how we build that bottom line up every single day from the messaging, the content that we put on there, who we’re targeting, ads, who we’re working with.

As you know, influencer marketing, when it comes to bloggers and people on Instagram, has become a huge part of that. We work with bloggers and Instagrammers, especially in the Kansas City market, but across the country when it comes to partnerships with our brands and getting exposure.

Phil Singleton: That’s awesome.

Jenny Kincaid: Yeah.

Phil Singleton: Couple things. I was just reading, actually, obviously it’s end of July now, but there’s a guy kind of in the space that I’m in more. I think he’s more in public relations and stuff, I don’t know if you know Neil Patel or what he does, but the reason I bring him up is because Buzzfeed did an article on him. It was actually another company he was affiliated with, and they mentioned him. He’s a big influencer in the SEO space, and even to some degree content marketing, digital marketing. Lot of touchy areas in terms of native advertisements, buying exposure from journalists and influencers and that kind of stuff. It’s a tricky thing.

My business, because we’re trying to get people placed in places, too…mostly to get them help them out with Google rankings and things like that, but there’s still a lot of crossover because you’re trying to get brands mentioned, you’re trying to build up authority, and influence for the client company by leveraging other people’s influence. But there is a little bit of gray area stuff in terms of how do you get it out there, what kind of content do you get. There’s this whole concept of native advertising where you’re tying to actually put educational content out there, but some cases you have to pay to play a little bit. So, how does that work in the social … public relations, kind of social media marketing space? What does that look like these days? Is some of it you gotta pay for exposure? Other things throughout there just trying to place good content? The line seems to be gray to me. I’d like you to comment on that if you could.

Jenny Kincaid: Sure. There is a little bit of a varying line. When people work with us and hire Kansas City PR agencies to help manage their brand or get them brand exposure, we try to limit their advertising or limit how much other money they’re gonna spend with people. We do work with the influencers and it’s a tricky relationship because we rely on them and we wanna be a resource for them to make their job easier. That goes for media across the board, but there are those pay to play publications, stations, there are some of those bloggers that are getting inundated with requests nowadays that they do need to charge and we understand that. There’s a value…

Phil Singleton: Because they gotta make money, too, right?

Jenny Kincaid: They do.

Phil Singleton: You can’t just influence and not bring any money in.

Jenny Kincaid: That’s right. That’s right. We look at that very carefully. What we really look at their engagement versus how many followers they have. We do wanna see and work with someone who has a huge follower, but is it the right person? If we’re working with someone in one of our financial clients, we wanna make sure that influencer, they might have 20,000 people on their Instagram, but are they the right demographic for this financial client?

So, there’s a lot of things that we have to look at. We wanna make sure that their demographic reaches our demographic. We wanna make sure that their brand standards and there’s a lot of cohesiveness. If we do have to spend some money we look at a lot of different things to make sure it’s the right fit and if it fits into the budget.

Phil Singleton: Right. How does it work … maybe break down your business a little bit in terms of how much of your clients are targeting national business versus the ones that are just trying to get business here local, and kind of the differences in what public relations looks like for national clients and one’s that are more focused on local customers.

Jenny Kincaid: Sure. We work with a couple national brands right now. With that, we work with other PR firms that they have enlisted in different parts of the country. We really take on the Midwest. Our focus would be the Kansas City market, St. Louis, Omaha, Topeka, Wichita, and we work that Midwest market. And then, we have local clients that are really just focused on getting their brand out locally and with that we work with the media, again here. I’d say it’s probably 50/50 as far who’s doing what.

With some of our clients, they are obviously very heavily into the Kansas City market, and so we’re looking into every opportunity we can to create a partnership or relationship here with the community, with influencers, with organizations, and with the media. Then on the outside, when we’re looking at national media, we’re already pitching for fall and holidays, so we’re working 190 days out. We’re always looking at three, four, five months in advance if we can, find out who’s covering what, when’s the deadline, what’s our pitch gonna be, what are the key words that we need to look for and make sure that we have those in our pitch, what’s that content look like, what does our content map look like for that client, and then, how can we send those articles in and try to get a contributed piece?

Kansas City Influencers

Phil Singleton: Awesome. So, that’s a big part of it. How about just locally? What is, as I think just through my head, there’s tons of obviously magazines, but the Kansas City Star. We’ve got Kansas City Business Journal, there’s just kind of niches ones, like I’d think bigger. There’s a bunch of magazines like Kansas City Homes and Style. There’s a ton of really specific targeted ones. Are there other ones out, the big ones out there that are … how many are there do you think? Are there dozens you guys work kind of them all locally? Also, just curious, I should know this myself, but local influencers, who are they?

Jenny Kincaid: Right. Well, there’s a lot of magazines, you’re right. We’ve got Her Life, Simply KC, we have…

Phil Singleton: 435 South

Jenny Kincaid: 435 South. We have the new one that just came out last week in Kansas City, which is probably gonna be, well it is gonna be a competitor to Spaces. So, we have Ingram’s, The Independent. There’s a huge variety of magazines here in Kansas City and a lot of ’em are really great about writing about local clients. So, there’s an opportunity for us to work with them on a regular basis. We had a couple feature cover stories back in May, which was really exciting. We have a lot of opportunities to work with them.

From an influencer side, oh my gosh, there are several. We work with Kasim Hardaway quite a bit. He’s a food guru. He has a…

Phil Singleton: Is that a local person? I sound really silly here ’cause I’m thinking of people that are … I can’t even really name that. I know one news guy that’s got a huge blog is Tony Botello, Tony’s KC. He’s a very, very … but that’s a whole nother kind of … he’s more of a local reporter, news breaking type thing, so I don’t know how many people would wanna actually target that for coverage in that one, but he’s definitely one. The blog’s big in terms of the following.

Jenny Kincaid: Yeah.

Phil Singleton: So, who was the other one?

Jenny Kincaid: Kasim and-

Phil Singleton: Kasim.

Jenny Kincaid: Yeah, K-A-S-I-M. He is a food guru here in town and he’s done exceptionally well over this last year.

Phil Singleton: And this is a local influencer for food. Awesome.

Jenny Kincaid: Yeah. Cella Jane Blog, which she has 330,000. She’s from here in Kansas City. She’s a mom, a wife. She talks about fashion and kid’s clothes. She has a great, great blog. There are just so many-

Phil Singleton: Sarah Scoop is one I’ve seen. Is she local?

Jenny Kincaid: She lives here in Kansas City, but she definitely has a national appeal.

Phil Singleton: That’s a national. Okay.

Jenny Kincaid: Shanna Hutchinson is a health … hers is Wellness for the Win. She is health food, work out, she has a great Instagram and blog. There are a lot of people here in the Kansas City market that have really done exceptionally well from a blogging and Instagram, social media standpoint.

Phil Singleton: Awesome. With you guys, you’re obviously trying to maintain relationships with all the niche magazines and media places that are a little more traditional, but then also trying to develop relationships or have relationships with some of these online influencers that don’t have the traditional…

Jenny Kincaid: That’s right, Instagram and bloggers. When I rebranded a handful of years ago, we have been asked, and we still do get asked every week, I think it’s at least once or maybe even twice a week, “Where can we hold an event? Do you know so and so?” It really just became kind of this connecting place in my head and my phone was just constantly ringing. So, I renamed community engagement social relations because social works for you professional, personally, and philanthropically.

Having been involved with nonprofits for 15 years now and before I started my family, I was a busy body. I went to all the happy hours and grand opening, and was fortunate enough to be a part of the grand opening of the Power and Light District and several businesses down there. It’s my job to know a lot of people to make connections, to know what’s going on in the city, and for my staff, too. It’s part of their job description to know everything that’s going on so we can a benefit of the client, in the terms of creating relationship or making introductions.

We’ve been hired just for that. We don’t have the time or the bandwidth. The company will come to us. We don’t have those things to meet people, but we wanna get in front of this nonprofit or we really wanna get involved with these organizations. So, we’ll make that introduction for them. We’ll nurture that relationship and once it’s made, then we’ll back off.

Phil Singleton: That’s so awesome.

Jenny Kincaid: We take out all the dirty work, all that busy work for either an individual or a company, create that relationship, and then we just walk away and let you guys handle it from there.

Phil Singleton: I think what I’m … which is really interesting in the beginning, is taking a step back ’cause obviously it sounds like there’s a lot of discovery, strategy, really trying to get your head around the company, figuring out what channels and relationships you can leverage that you’ve worked over time to help benefit them, type of things. So, it’s not just go send out a press release for X amount of money. It’s more like let’s really be strategic about this. I really like that part ’cause the way you’ve explained it, it seems like it’s really like, “Hey, we’re gonna …” There’s a lot of different places you can go, even in Kansas City. You can’t maybe hit ’em all, and it doesn’t make sense to hit ’em all. So, let’s get a strategy behind this and execute the tactics in the way that are really gonna give you an ROI it sounds like.

peso communications strategyJenny Kincaid: Absolutely. One of the things that’s a common misconception is that you can’t measure public relations, but I’m here to tell you that you can. We measure it by the relationships. We follow the PESO Communications model, which paid, earned, shared, and owned media. We look at every relationship that we create for you and we make sure that you give us a top 10 list every quarter and say, “Okay, where do you wanna be seen? What media outlet?” That’s our goal and we work towards that, or, “Who do you need to get in front of? What does that look like and how are you gonna help them? What’s your benefit to them? What’s their benefit to you?” Then we create a strategic plan around that.

The same goes for content. If you are an excellent in your field, and I want you to help us tell that story so we can get that content in front of the right people at the right time that will bring people to your website, and hopefully impact your bottom line and increase sales. That’s what it is for companies and when we look at how we could measure it, we wanna take a look at your Google Analytics. We also wanna take a look at your social media analytics, and say, “Okay, last 48 hours you’ve had 500 hits to your website. Well, that’s a direct result of this article that just came out or this inclusion in an upcoming event or some type of partnership.” So, we look at it in various ways.

Phil Singleton: That’s awesome. I’m hearing that obviously you work the traditional channels, you’ve got relationships with the online social media channels, and you mentioned, also, events. How important has that become and what does that look like and how do you guys deliver event tech marketing? Is it you putting the events on? Is it you getting exposure for people at events? How does that work?

Jenny Kincaid: It’s a little bit of both. We usually don’t plan the events anymore. If we do, it’s in conjunction with someone in house, whoever our client is, but we do focus on pre and post media, as well as media during the event. When I think of media, I’m also thinking again, those social media gurus, Instagram and bloggers. They have a huge hold on the community. We wanna look at those as partnerships and bring them into the fold, as well as traditional media outlets. It’s giving them sneak peaks. It’s inviting ’em, giving ’em VIP access. It’s giving them an inside look at how businesses run when some media does not cover that. I think here in Kansas City, being a huge entrepreneur market that it is, if you wanna know how a business works, how are they succeeding, and what are those fine details that makes them tick? If we can give anybody an inside view, we wanna do that.

Phil Singleton: Alright, cool. I wanna get … kinda wrap things up, ask some of your things that your favorite things about and places to go in Kansas City, but before that, is there any, let’s say, obviously for people that are looking for digital marketing services or for public relations or social relations, services like you offer. In a lot of cases, people that are hired guns, so to speak, they’ve gotta have a budget to work with, obviously, but do you have any tips for the really small companies that don’t have the budget to work with, but wanna kinda see if they can somehow bootstrap some stuff and get started if they don’t have, maybe, the budget to hire a professional at the stage of the business they’re in?

Jenny Kincaid: Sure. It’s funny that you ask that because as of this week, we are launching a little master class for that exact person. Yeah…

Phil Singleton: We’ll link to that in the show notes and promotions.

Jenny Kincaid: Yeah. I should. I should sent that to you. We’re launching it this week just for those people who can’t afford a monthly retainer. There’s some simple things you can do. Find out what your key word is, pick five key words, do your research either on the [inaudible 00:19:07] toolbar, tool key, or even Google AdWords and find out what key words are trending. What are the most searched words in your industry? Then create some content around those so that when people are searching for that, you are writing content that is related to those. If you’re doing any kind of content, put it in there. I usually ask questions when I’m searching for something. How to find pink paint. It’s always a question, so frame your topics in question form, or how people are actually gonna ask ’em. Do your research. Follow your reporters on Twitter. Find out what they’re writing about. Create a list. Comment on their blogs. Comment on their posts. Create a relationship with them on a personal basis before you just start sending them information.

Then when it comes to pitching media, keep it short. Keep it sweet. Give ’em all the information that they need to have, and then leave it to … you want them wanting more, but you also need to remember that you’re not pitching just them, you’re actually pitching the story to the audience of the reader of their column. You have to think about it that way, too.

Phil Singleton: I really, really love the key word research thing ’cause I’ve been … once you get into any kind of digital marketing space, it seems like it always comes back to, “Hey, we gotta figure out who the ideal client is and what kind of content they wanna consume.” To me, if you don’t know what your ideal clients, customers are searching for, how do you really know what kind of content to create or what kind of marketing message to do, what kind of advertisement to create.

So, I love the fact that you, even in your space and your angle, that you go back to the basics and say, “Hey, let’s …” It’s pretty freely available to go out and figure out how your people are searching for the products and services and information that are related to your business. The tools are out there and a lot of businesses just don’t know. They guess, “I think they’re searching for this or I think they want that.” Well, there’s plenty of tools out there we can take the guess work.

Once you have that universe of key words, man, you can do a lot of things with it. It makes, I think like you’re saying, your social media, your public relations, much more strategic and puts a lot more benefit into it. Otherwise you’re just kind of hip shooting, right? “We think this will work, let’s create content around that or let’s do a press release on this, or let’s write content around people who actually are searching for and trying to get 10X out of it instead of one or two X.” I love that you brought that tip back. I think that’s important, but also everybody’s, pretty much.

Jenny Kincaid: Yeah, when you think about public relations it is around content and it’s around that message. You gotta dig deep and find out who that … It goes back to your brand and your brand persona and your brand personality, and then finding out who your target market is and what are they looking for and then how can you be that problem solver or that resource? A good strategy always has measurement and some thought put into it.

Jenny’s KC Favorites

Phil Singleton: Love it. As we wrap up here, let’s just kind of bring it back to Kansas City and tell us what you love about this town and specific, anything that literally … I personally, I think our audience likes to hear this, too, but I also personally like that you’re about places that you might like to go and even if there’s any companies that you admire the way they do things, anything like that. Just let’s give some shout outs here at the end of stuff that genuinely like.

Jenny Kincaid: Oh, gosh. There’s so many. I love going to The Majestic for a good steak. I love going to Bella Napoli, however you say it, down in Brookside, when I used to live in Brookside and getting a good Italian sandwich. There are hidden gems, I think, all over this city. I’m from the Northland originally, so I like a good taco with our powdered cheese on top.

Phil Singleton: Where can you get that? I don’t think anybody’s recommended a taco place, yet.

Jenny Kincaid: Up north, what’s it called? Taco … In-A-Tub Taco. I drew a blank there. In-A-Tub Taco. I grew up with those. It’s the powdered cheese and they deep fry your tacos. Those are pretty fantastic. I love sitting out on any patio, but I’m kind of a hole in the wall gal. So, we have a little place up north called Shooters, that we can play darts and just hang out. Just a hole in the wall place, which is fine. I love Matt and Emily from Standard and I love getting a pair of jeans there when I can. There’s just so many good people in Kansas City and there are so many good things happening. I love going to World War I Memorial and looking at the view up there. My office is downtown, so I’m hitting local businesses all the time. Made in KC Coffee is just up the street. I love what Lead Bank is doing. They built their Crossroads location down right on Main Street, but they are constantly highlighting local business owners who are doing things really, really well, and they’re not even their clients.

Phil Singleton: And which one’s this?

Jenny Kincaid: Lead Bank. L-E-A-D Bank.

Phil Singleton: I love that. That’s so awesome. That’s really what we’re trying to do here with the podcast, too. People know more about stuff and local. You should buy local, support local, there’s lots of great local things that we can do here. I think Kansas Citians like to buy local, from local people.

Jenny Kincaid: Oh, we do.

Phil Singleton: But given the choice.

Jenny Kincaid: There’s so many. I can’t even name … we spend so much time popping in and supporting local businesses, I could go on and on and on, but it’s a huge movement here in Kansas City and I just think that that’s the way that it should be.

Phil Singleton: Awesome.

Jenny Kincaid: Yeah.

Phil Singleton: Well, thank you so much for joining us today and at the end, tell our listeners how they can reach you and learn more about you. Website, where your most active on maybe social media, and I wanna make sure that if you have a link to an offer for folks to join a course or something, especially for those that are looking to step up their social media, public relations game, to get that going, too.

Jenny Kincaid: Sure. I will send that over. We’re launching it this week. You can find me on Twitter @JennyKincaid, Socialworx PR, and that’s with an X, not a K. Our website is, and we’re also on Facebook.

Phil Singleton: Awesome. Thanks again, so much, Jenny.

Jenny Kincaid: Thank you. This was great. This was great, thank you.