As part of our series about the “Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Turbulent Times,” we had the pleasure of interviewing Liza Anderson.
Founder and President of Anderson Group Public Relations, Liza Anderson, is one of Hollywood’s hottest entertainment, celebrity publicists with her magnetic personality and honest approach. Liza received her Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and minor in Political Science from University of California, Los Angeles after studying at the American College in Paris and the Sorbonne University. Using her diverse background and her love for film and television, Anderson gravitated towards conquering the world of entertainment public relations and branding, and began her career as an assistant at Baker/Winokur/Ryder (BWR) Public Relations. From there, Anderson made a home at the world-famous Warren Cowan & Associates, where she worked alongside the legendary “Godfather” of PR, Warren Cowan-founder of Rogers and Cowan, one of the most prestigious international PR companies in the world.
Anderson Group Public Relations is a world-renowned public relations, brand marketing and management firm with expertise in working with a group of prestigious and diverse talent including television and film actors, Emmy and Oscar Award winning performers, as well as experts with “influence” in the world social media, musicians, athletes, chefs, businesses, medical and fitness professionals, chefs, designers, beauty brands, fashion lines, as well as with experts in the hospitality/event space. Currently boasting a wide array of successful authentic, diverse and illustrious clients worldwide, Anderson Group is a bi-coastal agency with headquarters in Los Angeles, CA and offices in New York City.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
After working under some of the most respected and innovative minds in the entertainment and public relations industry, I took the lessons, skills, and work ethic that I learned from my mentors and founded Anderson Group Public Relations. Since opening our doors, Anderson Group has quickly grown to become one of the most diverse, respected and sought-after PR agencies in the industry, with offices in Los Angeles and New York. I now have an amazing team of heavy hitting account executives working by my side just in Los Angeles alone.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
When I first started doing publicity, I was a brand-new shiny assistant. My boss, at the time, asked me to send an email for a very high-profile actor client to a very prominent entertainment writer. In the email I spelled the writer’s very common last name wrong, and it was a mistake that only an entertainment outsider would make — — everyone in Hollywood knew how to spell his name correctly. I almost got fired over the misuse of one letter, and it was a huge learning lesson for me on so many levels.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Every day I’m grateful for my entire staff and co-workers, who are all so smart, creative, focused and just beyond amazing. There’s a great comradery and sense of teamwork amongst everyone at the company. Each and every one of them are a huge part of the continued success of our ever-growing PR agency.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?
When I first started over a decade ago, my purpose was to just survive and make sure everyone got paid every two weeks. It was only after the survival phase that I started truly looking towards a vision of being known as a top celebrity entertainment public relations agency: one that truly cares and gives a personal strategic campaign to each client, based on their specific professional goals.
Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion. Can you share with our readers a story from your own experience about how you lead your team during uncertain or difficult times?
The minute we knew we were going into lockdown, I panicked, and then, my first call was to our I.T. guy to get us all up and running remotely. My second outreach was to all the assistants in the company to get everyone set up on zoom for virtual staff meetings. Of course, life has changed a lot since then, but by keeping the avenues of communication open, consistent and constant, while in ‘crisis mode,’ we are still here and thankful to be doing well too. It was an amazing group effort but, through it all, I tried to stay as positive as possible, even on the days where it felt like we were doomed, watching Hollywood shut down right before our very eyes April of 2020.
Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the motivation to continue through your challenges? What sustains your drive?
Giving up was never an option!!! Period! What sustains my drive is my “fear of failure.” I always thought I had to go to therapy because of this persistent fear in my head, but now, I use it to my advantage and as my motivation to succeed each day.
What would you say is the most critical role of a leader during challenging times?
For me the most critical role of a leader, during challenging times, is learning when to ‘pivot’ and then, actually executing whatever that “pivot” might be. For example, when actors stopped working during 2020 because Hollywood’s film and TV world completely shut down, my team started looking for client who are TikTok-ers, influencers, foodies, bakers, makeup/ haircare artists, relationship experts, authors etc. So we took all of our publicity skills we use to make a ‘Hollywood Star’ and apply them to these ‘experts with influence,’ giving them all the branding, visibility and media exposure they so deserve.
I also think that it’s so important to show up every day! They say showing up is 80% of life. There were many days where I wanted to not show up to the office or cancel a staff Zoom meeting… but I never did.
When the future seems so uncertain, what is the best way to boost morale? What can a leader do to inspire, motivate and engage their team?
A leader should always show up, communicate, and fight for their team. It’s a snowball effect — Teams look to their leader as an example and standard of great work ethic.
What is the best way to communicate difficult news to one’s team and customers?
The best way to communicate is just to be honest and straightforward, while listening and being sensitive of the other person’s point of view. I’m a big believer in honesty, being upfront, and treating co-workers and clients the same way I would want to be treated.
How can a leader make plans when the future is so unpredictable?
I’ve never known the future to be anything but unpredictable, but that never stops me from making plans. However, it’s always very important to have a “Plan B,” no matter who you are or what you do.
Is there a “number one principle” that can help guide a company through the ups and downs of turbulent times?
Work together as a team! Everyone brings a unique perspective and authentic viewpoint to the table that drives our creativity and tenacity every single day.
Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
I think it’s really important to rely on your team and get their ideas, input, thoughts and suggestions, no matter what the topic is during turbulent times and happy times. I always say work smarter, not harder!
Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a business leader should do to lead effectively during uncertain and turbulent times? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Always show up and be happy, positive, and smiling.
- Consistency- Be there all the time, no matter what the situation is.
- Persistence-Squeaky wheel gets the oil!
- Being open minded to different types of business clients, in all its shapes and forms.
- Great communication amongst the entire team-whether it be group texts, phone calls, Zooms, emails, WhatsApp…homing pigeons, smoke signals, Morse Code. You name it, we did it all during COVID, and we will continue that moving forward.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Always put it in writing!”