443: The Voice Of Generation Z | Dr. Morissa Schwartz

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DrRissysWriting.com is ranked #1 in PR and top ten in Social Media and SEO for New York and New Jersey. Dr. Morissa Schwartz (aka Dr. Rissy) has been featured on Forbes and MTV. She speaks professionally about inspiring others through words and entrepreneurship, and through her publishing, was named the “Voice of Generation Z” by Community Magazine. 

Dr. Rissy talks with George Leith about 360-degree marketing; SEO, Social Media, Ads, PR, and how these 4 pillars need to work together in your marketing strategy. She discusses trials and tribulations such as lacking confidence in your content creation and the 95% “no” response rate she got when approaching publishers before she became a proprietor with GenZ Publishing. This episode will make you reimagine what it means to think “inside” the box, “outside” the box, or what this box people keep speaking of is? Is there even a box? Dr. Rissy doesn’t think so. All this and more in this episode of the Conquer Local Podcast.

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George: Welcome to this edition of the Conquer Local Podcast. Our guest this week, Dr. Morissa Schwartz, is the founder and CEO at Dr. Rissy’s Writing, and the proprietor at GenZ Publishing. And when we started to do our research on Dr. Rissy, we found that this individual knows how to help local businesses. And her passion around helping local businesses is going to come out in this episode, I guarantee it. So what we want to learn more about is how she became ranked number one in PR, and in the top 10 in social media and SEO for New York and New Jersey on Thumbtack, and keep in mind, that’s one of the biggest markets on the planet. She’s been featured on Forbes, and she’s been named The Voice of Generation Z by Community Magazine. One of our first doctors on the show, Dr. Morissa Schwartz, coming up next on the Conquer Local Podcast. I am going to learn a lot, and I know you’re going to learn a lot in the next few minutes on this episode of the Conquer Local Podcast. Dr. Morissa Schwartz, joining us from New York City, and from here on in it’s Dr. Rissy. Good day, welcome to the show.

Dr. Rissy: Thank you so much, happy to be here.

George: So in the preamble, I gave a little bit of an overview, but Morissa, I’d love to hear your words, your voice, just a little bit of an overview of you and your organization. And then we’re going to talk all about content. I’m really excited to dig into this with you today.

Dr. Rissy: Yeah, absolutely. So I own Dr. Rissy’s Writing and Marketing. We’re a 360-Marketing company, focused on helping businesses and startups that help their communities. I grew up my parents, mom/pop carpet shops, so, you know, helping small businesses and startups, it’s in my blood and I love it, I love the atmosphere. I also own a book publishing company called GenZ Publishing. And yeah, that’s me in a nutshell.

Growing Up In Local Business

George: Well, when I went to your website, and we’re going to put all of the contact information so that our listeners can learn more about you in the show notes, but when I went to your website, I like, what a roster! You have graphic designers and writers, and you know, that organization that you’ve built, pretty impressive to say the least. But I’d to talk about this passion of yours around local business, because I think you and I share the same passion. In that family business and the businesses that you folks support, it really is about helping those local businesses, you know, with the digital marketing they need to do to thrive. I’d love to learn more about that mission that you’re on with your team, and how many people in your organization.

Dr. Rissy: Yeah, so I have a team of about 25, and I mean, small business, so as I mentioned, a girl from my parent’s shop, last night, even, I went down to Main Street where I grew up and my mother reminded me, you were at the store everyday. Like before school, after school, I was at their store and it was nice. I would get to see the community. And, you know, I had a little mini office that was just really, a really great experience. So last night I was at this car show at my parent’s, run in town, and just got to see the community members and the joy that is brought to them by this community event, not to mention the, you know, the money they raise goes to charity. And it just shows how these small businesses, they are the backbone of communities, they do make a difference, and being able to work with them and, you know, kind of put the humanity back in online work, it’s a really great feeling. ‘Cause, you know, a lot of the time you can be working on a computer and forget almost that you’re, you know, there’s another person on the other side of that screen. So I always like to have that kind of small town and community minded thought process when, you know, when I’m working with my clients.

To Think Outside Or Inside The Box? How About We Just Ditch The Box.

George: Yeah, I try to remember back to the, you know, May of last year, when we were driving down the street or maybe walking down the street and there was just nobody. And all of that buzz, you know, we were driving the other night and saw, you know, two kid’s teams playing baseball, and just seeing those local communities back in action again, I know that it’s been impacted in your markets the same way it has been in ours, but seeing all that activity, we definitely missed it when it was gone, that’s for sure. So what, if we were to, in a nutshell, put one line out there that they could take away from this episode and put to use, what would be one piece of advice that you would give?

Dr. Rissy: To realize that you don’t just have to think outside the box, realize that there is no box. You know, a lot of people think, oh, because it’s been done this way before, this is how it always has to be. And tradition’s important, but there also comes a time for innovation and realizing that you can do things differently. So I always like to, you know, realize that there was no box. And I think my business is a testament to that. I started it, because when I was in high school, I went to a biomedical science academy, and I caught myself rushing through my biomedical science work to do freelance writing and editing work for clients and to write my own books. And I thought, hmm, I think I have a passion for this instead. And everybody said to me, oh, you know, you can’t do it. You got to get an internship. You have to get a job at the mall, well, all the friends that I had that had jobs at the mall, well, they hated it. So I wanted to do something different. So, you know, I started freelancing online and I realized, hey, I might be on something when a teacher of mine said, can you hook me up with a freelance gig online? That’s great. And I’m thinking, wow, that’s my teacher. Like I was in high school. My teacher was asking me to hook him up for a job. So that was my first time I realized that you really can not only think outside the box, create your own box, right? Like one box would have been, get a job at the mall, but one would have been, you know, intern somewhere, but no, you can make your own path. And I have enjoyed following that through every project that we do. Just, you know, make your own path. You don’t have to do something just ’cause everybody else does.

George: You know, when the team told me we’d landed the opportunity to have you on the show, I was saying, this is our first doctor that we’ve had on the show. And that doctorate in literature and your master’s in communication, how important has that been as you’ve built out this organization?

Dr. Rissy: I think it shows people that I’m a lifelong learner. I’m somebody who, you know, even after getting my doctorate, I got certified in this, We Thrive program, which is for female entrepreneurs, and it shows them everything from, you know, bookkeeping skills to how to keep your website safe. So I’m always learning more. So I think that’s the biggest thing. It shows prospective clients that myself, my team, ’cause a lot of my team members also have advanced degrees. Actually I think 95% of them have advanced degrees. It shows that, you know, we are always educating. You need to do that to be competitive online, you know, because SEO, ads, social media, it changes so quickly, you need to adapt and learn. So I will say, I think it helps with that, but I don’t think everybody needs to do that to have a successful business. I’ve learned more outside of the classroom than I have inside the classroom. I think the classroom gives you skills that you need to know to continue learning things on your own. But you know, it’s definitely not prerequisite to have advanced degrees like that to be successful online.

360 Degree Marketing: Social Media, SEO, PR, Ads

George: In your writings and content, I see you talk a lot about 360 degree marketing. What does that mean to you if we were to come up with a description?

Dr. Rissy: Yeah, I divide it into four pillars. So you have social media, SEO, PR, and ads. And the four of those things go hand in hand. So some companies, they’ll just do SEO or some will just do PR. The reason why we do all of them is because they feed into each other. So if you have good social media presence, it’s going to bleed into your SEO, it’s going to improve your SEO. Case in point, Dwayne Johnson is the number one celebrity on the planet. When you search his name, the first result that comes up is his Twitter profile. Twitter is great for SEO. Then you have PR when you, let’s say you’re on a podcast, you won’t just go on the podcast and that’s it. You put it on your social media so it’s giving you great social media content. It also helps your SEO because the podcaster is going to put a backlink to your website, they’re going to put your name on there. It’s helping your SEO. And then of course, ads drives people to your social media, and to your website, which, you know, SEO and your Google ads go hand in hand, because if you have your keywords figured out, it’s going to decrease your ad rates or your ad costs. So they really all go hand in hand. That’s why we do all of those areas.

George: You know, I’m glad that you’re bringing that to light, that they do go hand to hand, because when I’m talking to a business owner and we’re analyzing, what’s working and what’s not working, usually it’s because they don’t understand that all this works together, and it’s not necessarily one tactic. You know, thanks for bringing up the Twitter one. That’s a really good example. It’s like, what the hell does social media have to do with SEO? But you just nailed it right there. It’s a really important component, but it has to all work together. So those learnings, again, we’re going to have links to your website and to your material where people can learn more about that. When your team is working with a business owner and trying to tell that story around, you know, the content and the message, and it all has to tie together, where do you feel that business owners should pay attention? If there was one area, I know it’s all important, but if there’s one area where it just keeps coming up, time and time again, that they’re not getting, is there that area that needs to be addressed?

Dr. Rissy: I think the biggest issue that I see with clients is just them not having enough confidence or fearing what people are going to judge. So I, for example, I had this amazing, I have this amazing artist, he’s a musician, and he takes these beautiful photos and he would post them. And they just, he literally has the most aesthetically-pleasing Instagram I’ve ever seen, but he was so afraid of people’s negative comments that he turned off commenting on his posts. And I said, you know, you’re missing out on so much engagement. You could be growing so much more, but you’re shutting people out of the conversation. Then on the other end of the spectrum, I have a client who is a great speaker, but he’s too afraid to film himself. He says, oh, I don’t know how to film myself on video. I feel uncomfortable with that, I’m not going to do it. So he puts out, you know, these blogs, which are great, but I know people will want to hear him talk, people like to see a face. So I think a lot of the time, people are their own worst enemies with things like that. It’s just a matter of not being afraid of that judgment. And just put yourself out there, go on that, you know, go on that ledge and you’ll see, you’re not going to be thrown to the sharks. Like, it’s it’s okay, and you’re doing yourself a disservice if you’re not fully engaging with your audience.

The Voice Of Generation Z: GenZ Publishing

George: One of the passions that I know you have, and it’s probably tied into this Community Magazine naming you The Voice of Generation Z, is your GenZ publishing, and helping those debut it, the writers that are debuting and emerging, or even underrepresented, where did that all come about? Because I know it’s a very important component of your business.

Dr. Rissy: Yeah, so I have always loved writing. Always had passion for writing, and I, in college, well, actually in high school, I had self published my first book and realized, oh shoot, you know, you need to market these things. In high school, I thought, oh, I’m a high school kid writing a book. They just sell themselves. They didn’t. You know, nobody knew about it so they didn’t sell themselves. So that was when I realized, okay, you need some more behind this. So in college I wrote another book and actually went to traditional publishing companies. I pitched my book to about a hundred publishers, and about 95 of them never even responded. It was a, it was like, did they not get the submission? Like, what is this? Four rejected, most of them saying, oh, you know, we, you know, we usually publish more established authors, a.k.a. older authors. One of them actually said we really don’t want to publish people under the age of 40, because they don’t have enough experience and things to say. It’s like, wow, that’s blunt. And then there was one publishing company that did publish it. So, I learned a lot from having a book published. I learned some things that, you know, are working well, and some things that really could be improved in the industry as a whole or, as a publisher, I want to try to improve some of those things, the best that I could. So the first thing that I instituted was, hey, we respond to everybody who submits a book. Like, that getting ignored by 95 of them, not a great feeling. I want authors to at least know that we received the work, but not only do we let them know that we received, that we let them know we read each work. So kind of, when you submit a query to us, you know you’re going to get some kind of constructive criticism or not even criticism, constructive feedback back. So, you know, usually if we get, let’s say we get a query where it’s good, but they have some grammatical errors. We’ll say something like, hey, your story is great. If you maybe hire an editor or use some editing software and, you know, resubmit, we might consider publishing it, that kind of thing. So that was something that I learned from my own experience of feeling how yucky it felt, not hearing back from people. And then from the folks who had the attitude of, oh, you’re, you’re 20 years old, you can’t publish a book unless you’re, you know, an A-list celebrity, we opened it up to any age, anybody who has a writing talent, let’s do it. So that’s why we call the GenZ Publishing. ‘Cause it’s showing we work with people who have innovative things to say. So, yeah, it’s been great. We’ve published 115 books, mostly young adult, but we have memoirs as well. We’ve published poetry books, and it’s been really fun. We have our first book being turned into a film right now.

George: That’s amazing. And it’s amazing that that business was born out of a lousy customer experience.

Dr. Rissy: Exactly. And most businesses seem to be right. It’s a founder sees a problem and wants to fix it.

George: No, and that’s where some of the best ideas come from. That’s great. And thanks for getting those authors a place to get their, you know, their works known, because I learned a lot from lots of authors under 40. So you dispelled the fake news that that publisher told you.

Dr. Rissy: Right?!

George: And you know, the 360-Marketing concept, I want to come back to that before we wrap things up. I, you know, these, when I go through the website and I see all of these great team members that you have, and I see the different things that you’re tying together, I think that that lesson for businesses there, I think a lot of people are looking for this silver bullet and it’s not. There is no silver bullet. It’s a series of components that come together. And then how do I put it into a box? Well, no, you gotta really be outside the box because that box thing’s a myth. And even if you get the one box figured out, there’s going to be a different play tomorrow because the world is changing. So, you know, those components around 360, really, really important. If I wanted to get more Dr. Rissy, what’s the best way to do that?

Dr. Rissy: I’m on social media everywhere as Morissa Schwartz and Dr. Rissy, so literally wherever your favorite channel is, whether it’s TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, just type in “Morissa” with an O. Morissa Schwartz or Dr. Rissy and you’ll find me. And my website is drrissy.com.

Dr. Rissy x MTV: Constantly Jump On Opportunity

George: Well, we really appreciate your time today. And thanks for educating us on a 360-Marketing, and where businesses are falling down and where they might be able to find some opportunity. And I’m sure that our listeners will appreciate getting more- Oh, one more thing! There is one thing I wanted to ask you. You were on MTV. I found it when I was doing some research. Tell us about that.

Dr. Rissy: Oh, so, you know, I grew up idolizing American Idol. Like that was the epitome of “you knew you made it” when you were on American idol, as a kid, right? So growing up, I knew I needed to be on one of those singing competition shows, and I kept auditioning and auditioning as soon as I was of age. So as soon as I was 16, which was like the age to be on one of those shows, I started auditioning. And at 19, I did a video audition for this new MTV show, which was supposed to be their version of The Voice or American Idol, it was going to be a big thing. And I submitted a tape and they liked it. So they invited me to do another audition, another audition. And this was just something that I found online on MTV’s site. Like I didn’t have an agent or anything like that. I knew I was a studious person. It was just kind of a lifelong dream. So I wound up making it, and they said the words that I dreamed of hearing my whole life, which was “you’re going to Hollywood!” They gave me a golden ticket, they flew me out to Hollywood. It was hosted by Jonathan Bennett, who played Aaron Samuels in Mean Girls, which talk about another lifelong dream, meeting a Mean Girls cast member was the coolest thing ever. So I got to perform on the show, and you know, I love rock music. I love classic kind of music, but it’s MTV. So they made me sing a very modern pop, like Ellie Goulding, who I had never heard of before the show, but I learned it and pretended to be her super fan. And yeah, I made it, I was in the top five, and I was actually beaten by a guy who went on to be a finalist on American Idol, because our show, this MTV show, it was on for one season. And it was by no means a successful show like American Idol, but it was very fun. And it was just another thing crossed off the bucket list. You know, it was a dream since childhood to sing on a show like that.

George: It’s an amazing story. So one of our first doctors on the show as a guest, and the only person who’s been on MTV as a guest here on the podcast. So you have those two accolades, and we’re looking forward to learning more about you and sharing this information with our audience. So, Dr. Rissy, thanks for joining us all the way from New Jersey today. And we’ll put all of the contact information in the show notes, and we appreciate having you here for our Conquer audience.

Dr. Rissy: Awesome. Thank you so much.


George: I was expecting that we would talk a lot about writing and we would talk a lot about content, and the show went in a different path than what I was expecting, because what Morissa has learned, or Dr. Rissy, is that you need to have it all working together. One of the biggest takeaways is around her four pillars. You got SEO, you got social media, you’ve got ads, you’ve got PR, and are those swim lanes? No, they all work together. And businesses need to understand how they all work together, and how one component might impact the other. And what we find, and you notice that in what she was talking about from her experience on the street, and I love when we have guests that take it right down to the street level, is that businesses may be doing a great job in one tactic, but don’t understand how it’s impacting other components. And then they’re looking to see the outcome, and having a hard time sometimes backing that out. And the biggest issue is around the confidence. The fact that things are changing all the time, and it comes back to this constant theme that we’ve heard over and over and over again from the day the Conquer Local Podcast was founded. Businesses are looking for either the “learn it on their own,” and start to understand it, or “someone who can help teach them,” and show them what good looks like. And when you talk about those 25 people in her organization, those folks are helping with the graphic design, and the writing, and bringing it to that local business group to help them have that confidence and eventually understand what’s working and what’s not. So that idea of this all coming together, we hear this more and more as we continue to bring subject matter experts like Dr. Rissy onto the show. And I appreciate that she really highlighted that maybe something you’re doing over here in social media could be impacting those other components. So the four pillars, again, SEO, social media, ads, and PR just all are part of what a business needs to be understanding and working together to get the outcome that they’re looking for. And, plus, just a very engaging speaker. When you dig deeper into her work, and we encourage you to do that, because we shared all of the contact information inside the show notes, you’ll find that she’s very passionate about helping local businesses, and, hey, that’s right in our title. That’s what we’re all about here at the Conquer Local Podcast. So thanks to Dr. Rissy for joining us this week. My name is George Leith. We’ll be back next week with another episode of the Conquer Local Podcast. I’ll see you when I see you.

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