In this episode of the SLN Podcast, Mike Gugat speaks with Ermis Sfakiyanudis, an entrepreneur and Executive Chairman of Uproar PR.  Ermis is a Maryland guy through-and-through, having grown up in the state, receiving his engineering degree from the University of Maryland, and now residing in Annapolis. We talk about his early career as an engineer, following in the footsteps of his father, and later having his father work for him. Ermis always had the bug for entrepreneurship, leading him to acquire the award-winning PR firm Uproar.

Podcast Highlights

6:29 – Lessons learnt from Ermis’ father: “Really the biggest things I learned were how to bring on the right people. How to deal with banks and finance to grow properly, not to overextend yourself, but how to take educated risks. Those were things that I probably would have learned by stepping on landmines myself but I was able to learn from one of the best.”

9:10 – Launching a venture backed startup: “So there are so many things when you’re dealing in products where you have to really understand what your value proposition is, who your target audience is, what pain you’re solving for them. And then how do you clearly articulate that value proposition so that when you go sit in front of a venture capitalist and you’re pitching, they understand very quickly that they should back you because you’re solving a problem.”

13:35 – Working with a Salad Dressing company: “I helped them a little bit in the early days with the organizational side and the operational side, not long, but we did at that time, bring in, Uproar PR and we were able to get some great coverage and things like Oprah’s favorite list and food magazines.”

17:00 – Acquiring Uproar PR: “I became friends over the years of working together and when the opportunity arose to buy the company, I jumped at it.”

18:00 – Uproar’s understanding of the media: “We really understand the fitness market from both sides, which is important. So we understand the media and what they’re looking for. So that you’re not pitching them these redundant stories.”

20:20 – Understanding your target audience: “Understanding who your target audience is critical to getting the right type of earned media, and then positioning that in a way that shows how unique you are and your offering. There can be competition and you don’t have to be solving all the world’s problems with your product, but you do have to have a reason for existing and be able to articulate what that means to your target audience. Why should they pick you over someone else that’s in your space?”

23:04 – Omni-channel marketing: “Earned media is a big piece of the awareness side of things. Then you have to amplify those messages across all the digital channels that are available to you. Sometimes maybe even outside of digital, you know, events, you have outdoor spaces, you have things where you can message to your audience. Once you understand who your audience is and how they absorb information.”

29:21 – How do you create awareness around your solution?: “You have to let people know that you exist in order for them to use you. Right. How do you do that? And do you differentiate your message when they’re on Facebook or Instagram or reading Sports Illustrated Online. How do you get that message to be, this is not just another ad home fitness application that was slapped together in response to COVID. Right. And so that’s how we’re helping our clients is to really think through, to be their strategy arm to be their messaging arm and to help them really refine that conversation out to their various channels to drive interest and at least have people consider them as a platform for, for home fitness.”