Melissa Vela-Williamson: is an internationally recognized public relations expert, national columnist and podcast host. She’s also a multicultural marketing expert with unique experience in internal communications and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

In her new book, Smart Talk, Melissa shares how public relations really works. Today on Author Hour, she joins me to talk about how PR is about connection, building relationships, and having deep and authentic conversations. I’m your host, Meghan McCracken.

Melissa, thank you so much for being here with me today.

Melissa Vela-Williamson: Thanks Meghan, I’m excited to talk with you.

Meghan McCracken: I always love to start with authors on what was that moment when they decided that it’s time to write a book?

Melissa Vela-Williamson: I would imagine for most authors, there’s not a strategic plan around it. For me, I was called to write the book. So my book is called, Smart Talk: Public Relations Essentials All Pros Should Know, and I’d like to emphasize, “All” because it’s really to help aspiring pros that come from some adverse background, some diverse backgrounds, really enter the PR profession. 

We lack representation of people of color in the industry, there’s about 24%, so less than a quarter that are involved, and that’s something that I’ve heard about in my career and seen. I have a Hispanic background and identifies as a Latina, so I could understand we were making up some ground there, but I’d never experienced an overt type of discrimination or anything that made me feel like I shouldn’t be involved. 

So that was always a curiosity, I think, as I was growing in my career and during the pandemic, I felt like I was called to write the book because it was in the midst of some of the scariest days that we had, and I would say, it’s probably about that May 2020. So my kids were in elementary school, I had a kindergartener who went on spring break and a fifth grader who went on spring break and never got to go back to their elementary school that year. 

It was a really tough time, it was a tough time to be a PR business owner and leader and the visionary in the family who says, “This is the way we should go.” There was a lot of questioning from myself on, “Am I going in the right direction?” without a clear map and guide book in front of me.

So not having navigated a pandemic and fought something that was invisible that we didn’t know if it was going to get us every minute of the day, it was a scary time. I went to church one Sunday because my kids really wanted to get back in-person and that was, personally, a little too scared to get back into the church kind of adult auditorium area but my kids really, really miss seeing friends and interacting. 

I could tell it would be better for their wellbeing to do so. So I said, “Well, you all wear your mask, go into the kids’ area and I will be out here in the lobby,” and my plan was to live stream the sermon, but we had some time before it. So I started praying and it was kind of a desperate prayer, Meghan, where I was like, “God, what do I do?” Right? How do I handle this, how do I get through this, how do I stay motivated, stay on track? 

This really was challenging everyone’s emotional wellbeing, and I started hearing some words. My background, I got into PR through creative writing. I was a published poet and essayist and knew that that wasn’t stable enough of a career for me, being a first generation college graduate with a nice loan coming after me.

So I started hearing the words and because I was familiar with — there’s times in my life where I’ve had kind of a muse, right? I started, just open up an app on my phone and started writing down the words that were coming to me, and it did feel mystical and magical and all that, but it was calming, and when I looked down, I’m like, “Oh my gosh, this is an outline for a book.” 

It’s an outline for a PR book, and I was shocked and then also frustrated like, “What am I supposed to do with that?” This is obviously, it didn’t feel like the right time to take on a new adventure, a huge challenge, something that I’d probably have to lead out myself, even fund myself because the new stats weren’t really in my favor that you know, big publishing houses were looking for. 

A person of color in PR to write a book at this moment in time, we all had a lot of priorities going on. So that’s how the book came to me, but it bothered me the rest of 2020 and I started noodling over and thinking, “How could I possibly make this happen?” I went to one of the first in-person gatherings I had an opportunity to go to and it was the San Antonio Association of Hispanic Journalist had their banquet, this must have been that fall of 2021 when we finally got to get back in-person. 

There was a Latino author talking about that at the time only about 4% of authors identify as Latino, and all the extra work that we needed to do to gain some ground and get ourselves into that area where we’re publishing content if we want that representation, and that fired me up, Meghan. I was like, “You know what? We’d all been through a lot. It had been almost over a year now since pandemic hit.” And I said, “Why not me?” 

We don’t know, our days aren’t promised, we all, I think that came to hit us all as a reality. Why not me? And this has been put on my heart. I know how to write, I write well. At that point, I was a columnist for the nation around Latino and Hispanic PR market ideas and subjects. So why not me, right? Why couldn’t I do this? 

So I reached out to an author I knew, Lorenzo Gomez, who had published and at this point now he has at least three books, and yeah, I asked him, “How did you do it?” And he told me about Scribe Media and I said, “Okay. Well, I’ll figure it out” and joined the Guided Author program, and learning how to be an official author with your team’s coaching and guidance and consultation has been a huge gift in my life in terms of, you know, the book was something I could control in a time where everything seemed pretty out of control. 

I knew if I put in my work, my goodness, we were going to make this happen, and so I’m excited to even be talking to you and get to this point of the journey. 

The Challenges of Putting a Book Together

Meghan McCracken: I love that. The piece that really strikes me, and you write about this in your introduction, is that not only are you coming to authorship as a very, very small slice of the author population, you write in your introduction that Latino authors make up only 7.2% of the publishing industry, which is I think, that’s a staggering statistic. That’s lower than I would have expected.

And then additionally, you’ve got this other part of the Venn diagram where you’re part of only 10.5% of Latinos who report working in PR in the US. So if we’re thinking of it as a Venn diagram, you’re in this little slice in the middle and coming to it as someone who had done writing before, you’ve done poetry, you’ve done essays, you’re a columnist, was there anything different to the approach that you brought? 

Was there any confidence or was there anything you needed to learn in order to write an entire book?

Melissa Vela-Williamson: Yeah, that’s a great question. Of course, there was a lot I needed to learn to write an entire book. That was like putting together, it felt like I was building my own piece of the world in some ways, right? I was used to these very short pieces. I mean, especially poetry, what I was great at with poetry was getting to someone’s heart right away in a short amount of words and time and little space in the paper. 

So I had to get over a couple of self-imposed hurdles along the way. First, I had to really just figure out how I would write the book, writing it itself was tricky. How is it going to fit that time into an already busy schedule with lots of upside down, things happening in the PR profession and just every day economy, every day world. 

We had social unrest happening, there was a lot going on, and then, of course, my kids were still kind of zooming and then figuring out how to be back in school, and not get sick, so that was a lot. For me, going to the workshop and speaking with the other upcoming authors and some of the book coaches there and figuring out, “How did you make this work? How are you going to make this work, what’s your plan?”

You can kind of put together the best practices of that and tailor it from my scenario, and it turned out that writing the book, the actual drafting of that content, was a lot easier than the second part, which was editing the book. So for me, that understanding, how do you just get that first draft out there, like throw the words on the paper so then, you can shape it, right? 

Get that clay on that spinning, what is that? Dial? So as an artist it was like, “Okay, how do I let this flow?” I had some pieces already I wanted to use that I had put so much love and time and attention towards. So there was columns that I wanted to make sure that I infused in the book and integrated in the messaging. 

There were pieces of podcast that I had written and produced content around and blog articles from my website. So there was all these pieces that I wanted to make sure live there, but how would they work together? So that was one challenge in putting together the copy, but there was so much more that I needed to freely create from scratch and using the talk-to-text tool was so helpful for me. 

I hadn’t realized it that time that Google Docs had up their game a little bit. You all had told us that during the book camp that, “You know, they’re doing a pretty good job with their AI in talk-to-text.” So I gave it a shot and that was really helpful, and so it was the time of year, I think I did my off at book camp in mid-November 2021. 

Yeah, and so was the cooler time of the year here in Texas, and I was able to walk a lot. I’d walk the dog to get out of the house and get some space to write, and I would write verbally while I was walking the dog, and so I would remember, “Okay, what chapter am I on?” and I’d pick up and “Okay, what’s the topic?” 

So having a little segment header in the chapter would be kind of the theme, and I’d say, “Okay, how do I wrap against that theme?” So it was a lot of improv, but then I knew, “Okay, I’ll have time later to clean it up.” But cleaning it up afterwards, that was the biggest challenge because getting that desk time to sit and polish up all the rocks I had gathered for my book garden was tricky.

But I made that work, and I had to be a creative problem solver around that too, and that keep kicking my husband out of the house with the kids on the weekends. That was hard for everybody, so I rented a co-working space where no one really would work on the weekends, but I’d come in and immerse myself in editing and leave hours later.

That’s how I knew I really was enjoying the process as an author because I would look up and I’m like, “I should probably stand up. It’s been a couple of hours.” But I really, really enjoyed that too. 

So there are parts that were hard, but it was all a very good hard, and I think I can even further empathize with clients who get uncomfortable creating their own content or putting themselves out there when it’s time to be the face of or voice of something, because that’s what I’m transitioning into now and I just hope that my little slices of Venn diagram, because it is so little, it will be inspirational to all types of people to say, “You know, if she can do it, I think I should give it a try.”

Meghan McCracken: Well yeah, which is the number one thing with authorship that I talk to authors about, especially authors who are nervous about putting their name out there. They’ve got imposter syndrome. They’re saying, “Well, who am I to write a book?” and I say, “Hey, it’s less about who are you, and often, it’s more about who are you giving permission to, to also share their story, tell, give their knowledge, believe that they can be an author?” 

I think that inspirational piece is, it goes under the radar a little bit. I think you’re absolutely right, it’s – your little slice is going to expand as a result. I want to talk about the way you approach the editing because the way that you did the writing with talk-to-text. First of all, I really applaud you on that. We do coach authors a lot, especially people who are coming to this without a writing background, which you do have.

But it’s like less high stakes to just talk it out and then edit later, but then the editing does tend to be a bit tougher because you’re sitting down, and most of us don’t really realize that when we talk, [that] there’s fragmented sentences and there is places where you trail off and there’s ideas that aren’t connected very well, and that doesn’t come across in conversation because we’re just used to that with spoken word. 

But then when you sit down to edit spoken out text, it can be a little difficult. What was the most surprising thing for you when you sat and you looked at that first draft of all of your talk-to-text that you needed to edit?

Melissa Vela-Williamson: When I would actually walk and talk — there were times I definitely recommend anyone while they’re doing that — you still need to look at your phone or whatever your device is and spot check because there are times where I realized, “Well, I must have had some kind of accent” or where I mumble because the AI did not know what I was talking about, and the word was so far from what I meant.

If I came back a month later, I wouldn’t have known what I was talking about. So I would say, if you spot check while you’re doing that, that’s probably a good idea, unless you’re just a super clean eloquent talker and your AI is fantastically perfect, which is not, I think, where reality is just yet. So I would say that that was helpful.

Meghan McCracken: There is a little meme concept that we have called “AI fails” and we often, because authors often do talk-to-text, and we really prescribed that almost because, for first time authors, like I said, it’s so much lower stakes. It’s just, get it out on the page and – but we do, we trade back and forth like, “Wow, the AI really did not understand what we were saying here,” and sometimes it will come up with some hilarious fails for the sentences.

Melissa Vela-Williamson: I mean, it happens in our texts all the time, right? But when you have a body of copy where you’re like, “Oh, that was so poignant,” and then you go back and you’re like, “What the heck is all that?” You know, that’s really tough. So I did, I tried — I use Otter a lot for work and transcribing there, and so I thought, “Well, let me try Otter,” but then I realized I don’t remember what I was talking about last time. 

So it was easier with Google Docs to have the natural titles and which meant, if I had some free time here or there, I could clean up on the Google doc and clean it up in real time. So I did a lot of writing and then sometimes editing, waiting in line for this or that and when my kids are at the park or whatnot. 

So it was great because I could do that on the phone or on my computer and just, I knew I was at least touching the draft and moving that ball forward in some small way each day. So I think my pace of actually turning in a draft was faster because I felt like there was traction because I had that tool usage. 

But when I was editing it, I think that what was hard for me, Meghan, is and to this day this is something I’m working on is, I couldn’t remember what was actually in the book once it came out of me. So it’s like, “Oh, okay.” So sometimes it was delightful surprises like, “That was really smart Melissa, that’s cool.” And there was another one like, I have a hard time grasping the whole manuscript, what’s all in there, right? 

So I think that was the difference of my brain of being used to smaller pieces of content, and so as a whole body of work, it was like, “Wow, it’s all in there.” So even now, when I would read through the drafts and start cleaning up and whatnot, considering how it might all flow together within a chapter than within the big picture, that was a new journey for me, and that was surprising of that’s a growth area for me and my brain because that was something I’ve never done before.

Meghan McCracken: Yeah, I call it the fluency of books. Some people who work in books and some people just come to it naturally, there’s a fluency that comes with just understanding how the book should be put together, and it is really hard to teach. It’s a big part of what we coach, but that is often, I think, a really a surprising moment for authors, when they look at all of this great content and they say, “Well, I mean, it’s all here, how do I put it together?” And that’s often I think the biggest piece of editing for authors.

Melissa Vela-Williamson: Right, and then when you’re integrating pieces you’ve already written, for example, making sure that that flows naturally and it doesn’t feel like a forced piece of the puzzle into that manuscript, was tricky as well. Segues has always been a little harder for me as a writer, I just want to move on. 

So figuring out, “Okay, what does that segue?” Right? What’s that couple of sentences that’s going to help it come together? That was something that I had to really work on and focus on too between areas. 

What Is Smart Talk?

Meghan McCracken: Oh yeah, absolutely. I find it so interesting and apt that the way that you wrote the book started out with you doing talk-to-text because your book, Smart Talk, it’s about essentially this concept of honest and authentic conversations within PR, and in your introduction you write:

“Life is much too noisy, and work is much too fast paced to not get to the point. Professionally, I want to have deep conversations that uncover helpful truths, clarify confusing concepts, and allow me to connect with others. I call this Smart Talk, real, honest, helpful conversations with an intelligent exchange of information and stories.” 

I think it’s so interesting and so apt that the way that you talked the book out, it kind of evidences the premise of your book. How did you land on this concept of smart talk? Why was this the nugget that you structured a book around for PR professionals? 

Melissa Vela-Williamson: I think I structured what’s inside the book around this concept more than I had a great title, and I went for it as a theme, right? So “smart talk”, that phrase, I had coined that phrase when I started my podcast series a couple of years ago during the pandemic, and we call it The Smart Talk Series, and it is an industry podcast where we focus on different parts of the public relations marketing and communication fields. 

I wanted to create a series so that we could go in and out nimbly with the seasons, and if we had to stop for whatever reason, we had something complete to offer the community. So “smart talk” is a play of this concept of real talk or maybe even awkward conversations that we need to have, yes, as people but then also professionally too because so much goes unsaid. Now, we don’t really have time for that. 

There is a lot of work we need to do in terms of respecting and including people in the diversity, equity, and inclusion space. People want to belong as one of the top values in the whole world, and there is a lot of us that feel like we don’t belong in certain areas, rooms, even professions, and so as I thought about that, I said, “You know, I really want to pull back the curtain and say this is how it really works in PR.” 

Yes, you may have studied it in school, you probably didn’t study in school based on the stats, there’s not a whole lot of college majors with the public relations track out there, and I feel like that is one of my theories around why there weren’t more people of color going into the field, but then there’s also like for the people of color in the field. So even Latinos in the field at 10.5%, right? 

About 10%, then it’s even half of those are at any kind of leadership levels, so like what is that bar that we’re not getting over or what is that self-imposed barrier? And a lot of it is just not asking for help and saying, you know, we wait professionally sometimes to be tapped. Like they say in corporations, you’ll get tapped, right? They’ll notice that you’re a great leader, they’ll notice your great work. 

Well, everyone is pretty busy noticing themselves is what I have experienced, and so really, we have to be able to raise our hand and say, “I want that. I think I have the credentials for that. I think I have the experience for that,” or I just have that mission to learn about that, and that’s a very good example of smart talk. That’s a really interesting concept for some people, and I still see professionally all the times, especially in women, is, “Oh wow, I didn’t know that.” 

Sometimes, you just have to self-apply for awards to get it. I didn’t know that you have to really put yourself out there to get that promotion and it’s like, yeah, there is a lot of unsaid things in different professions that will hold us back if we don’t know about them. So that’s really what I wanted to do in this book is say, “Look, this is how PR works today, this is where I think it’s going in the future.” 

There is a new theory I put out there called the invitation theory, which is people who have never done something before often need to be personally invited to try, and so that extra encouragement that a lot of professionals of color or students of color may need because they may be the first generation to go to college, to graduate college, to work in this kind of setting is a reality, and we need to know about it and embrace it, right? 

Then the other concept is like, this is where the profession needs to go so that we are socially responsible professionals and we are taking care of our people and our planet, for where things are actually leading. So there is a lot of great learning in it, and I just wanted to set that standard and framework at the beginning and saying, “This is going to be honest, this is going to be candid, you’re going to learn.” 

Those cringe worthy moments in there, their PR is not a super linear or predictable career, but it is super purposeful and I want people to, if you know about the challenges I think you’re less likely to be overwhelmed by them, so I just wanted to be really honest about it and Scribe’s book coach, when I met with her, she in our talking, I had a whole different title, and she said, “Well, you know that’s a nice title.” 

I think it was the public relation’s primer, she said, “But I feel like when I Googled you, I ran into your podcast, and I love this idea. Tell me about it.” I said, “Oh, smart talk is really important because…” yada-yada-yada and she said, “Well, why don’t you use that? That sounds like what you’re talking about here.” And I’m like, “Well, genius, yes let’s do that.” It would not have been possible making it without that intelligent conversation between us two, where I was open to that feedback and what people might think is criticism, right? 

But I was open to that vantage point, and without that kind of conversation, I don’t think we can really achieve the things that we have the potential for. 

Changing the PR Landscape

Meghan McCracken: Absolutely. Yeah, I like how in the book too you talk about there’s a whole page and a half dedicated to how PR is really rooted in writing, and you need to have strong writing skills, strong messaging skills. I think a big theme that I kept pulling as I was reading is, just this concept that PR is about communicating and connecting. It is about relationships at the end of the day, that’s what you write. 

That connection through communication is about, “Okay, how am I messaging this to meet the other person where they need to be met?” To either invite them or meet them where they are, and I feel like that came across so clearly. The other thing that was really interesting to me in reading your book is that the way you talk about PR, like the very way you talk about the industry and the work, it feels very fresh. 

It feels very rooted in our present times whereas, I work in books, so I am around PR people all the time, and I see a lot in the world of PR, and I feel like there’s some elements of traditional PR work or traditional thinking that you’re evolving beyond with what you’re talking about in this book. What are some of the elements of more traditional PR thinking that you think it’s time we evolve past or you think it’s time we leave in the past? 

Melissa Vela-Williamson: Yeah, well some of the points that I make in the book is about like the traditional ways versus where we are now and where we need to go, like for example wire releases, right? I think a lot of pros — there’s ways in using and the wire release is a tool, right? So sending something over the wire and if you want to get a lot of search engine optimization and just to name somewhere in the results of search, cool, you can do that. 

But are you really going to get great media coverage, a news worthy, in-depth story feature from a news wire release? No, that’s kind of the fast food of PR, like just throw it out there, in terms of media relations, and I feel like that was pretty antiquated, so I talk about, have an area where I discuss like what are the tools in a PR toolkit. Sure, you can use it but don’t rely on that, and so I want clients to know that they shouldn’t, the pros that they work with and hire should do more than just a wire release. 

It is about that tailored individual conversation and relationship that you build with journalists that will help you actually get great stories or the potential for something down the road, and something else that can be kind of antiquated too is thinking that all we do is media relations and PR. I say that it’s yes, it’s a super sexy part of our work, and you will tend to see it in Hollywood and on TV and whatnot, but we definitely don’t. 

The best PR practitioners and professionals do not behave like they’re on Scandal or on Flack and do things that are wrong, right? And without integrity. The best PR pros, I have a whole little section where I talk about Jiminy Cricket from Disney’s Pinocchio and how I identify with Jiminy Cricket, and I ran around like the little guidance and conscience of clients and organizations and that’s been the best part of me, and for some supervisors who didn’t appreciate that kind of guidance, you know, they probably didn’t enjoy that. 

But that’s what makes me a good pro, and I call to arms on that as well, is that we need to be the guides, we need to be the conscious of our organizations, and it’s not okay to just make noise or make buzz. That’s not what our purpose is, and so this book is very — there’s that feeling of, you’re like, “Is this a memoir?” This is an interesting personal stories about Melissa and her journey, but in some ways, there is very much a how-to. 

Then in some ways, it is very aspirational. It is very much, you know, let’s think like a real public relations professional. Let’s behave and act in our personal and professional lives in such a manner that we can be trustworthy. So it’s a pretty good mix, and I found that fresh because I found myself saying these things a lot and pointing to case studies where these things didn’t happen. 

I thought, “If I really want this to be a scalable way to mentor incoming pros from all kinds of backgrounds, like I just need to write that down.” And so that’s what I hope people find fresh about this. 

Meghan McCracken: Yeah, the line that stood out to me actually the most, and I’ll be honest, I actually use it this morning in a meeting where we were talking about messaging and creating content, and it’s such a simple line but you write you’re telling a story of your past, you know, coming up in PR and you write this line that says, “Anytime I spoke for my personal experience, listeners were much more interested in what I had to say.”

That is just so simple, and it encapsulates so much of what I think people in PR, people in marketing, anyone who is trying to promote anything, they are missing the mark on, “Hey, this is about relationships and about connection and about authenticity, and if you can speak from your personal experience, people aren’t interested in what you have to say because they can see themselves on that.” It is connecting with a human. 

Melissa Vela-Williamson: Absolutely, and I think that also can help you get over any imposter syndrome you may have because your lived experience is absolutely your lived experience, like no one can take that from you, and I heard this the other day, your lived experience is your expertise and what I would say is it should be your expertise, right? Let’s make it your expertise. So I always could literally see an audience eyes when I just start talking about the tools and da-da-da-da and the way it should be. 

As soon as I started telling the story, the eyes would light up and they were with me, and so I try to infuse as many stories as I can within the book, and I try to infuse as many examples and stories when I just speak with people because it helps us see ourselves like, “Me too” and everybody wants to belong, and so when you feel like you connect with someone, then you can really go on that journey with them. 

Meghan McCracken: Absolutely. So coming to this as a PR professional, you’re launching a book, you must have a map of what you’re going to be doing to promote the book. How are you approaching this as someone who is in that industry?

Melissa Vela-Williamson: Yeah, I think it’s funny because we are working really hard to make sure that we don’t have that moment. There is an old saying that cobbler’s children don’t have any shoes, and that’s about, you know, those cobbler who is to make shoes for all the clients but then didn’t have time or the energy for their family. So we’re trying to keep that as our theme for the book here at MVW Communications and that is super awkward, y’all. 

It’s super awkward, it feels like I am throwing my own baby shower or something, but we’re doing it. So we’re taking Scribe’s advice, and I went through the book marketing course as well, as my project manager has supported me by taking that too and saying, “Okay, there’s the best ideas from Scribe and the authors they work with. Now, let’s integrate that with what we know about supporting,” because I have done publicity and marketing promotions support for an author before. 

So what ideas from that are best practices, and then what do we think works specifically for this book and this audience, and for me as this book’s person and author on this. So we have a strategic communication plan, we have elements of earn media, pitching out there, so really talking to our public relation’s trade, print outlets, online outlets, going out to podcasts, but it is all in the spirit of how can we let more people, aspiring pros, which yes, includes students and it includes newer pros, but it also includes journalists. 

Quite a few journalists every year transition into public relations, and many of them may think that all they’ll have to do is media relations, and when they come over and see, “Oh my gosh, I have to tackle marketing? What do you mean I have to manage social media?” Or get a content and the page strategy in content and execution and “Wait a minute, you want me to event plan? Wait a minute, you want me to handle crises here?” 

They don’t realize how big of a scope it is, and I’ve seen some of them pull back out and go back to the newsroom not because they wanted to, which is fine on its own, but because they felt like they were a real imposter and they were failing every day, and so kind of in my conclusion in the book with the story like that and it’s really like this is a gift. 

I just want people to know about it because I wish, as someone who graduated with one class in PR in my undergrad experience and had a masters in communication but that did not focus in PR, where I had to learn most of this in the job, like here is all the hands on advice and teaching I can give and I hope that that’s really a blessing as I think it was attended to be, what it was put on my heart to do. 

So that’s where I am coming from with that, and yes, we’ll be robust with it, but I’ll just be honest and say, “Hey, it’s super awkward to do that for yourself, but we’re going to do it anyway.” So that’s what I challenge everyone to do, is do the awkward and scary thing anyway. 

Meghan McCracken: Yes, absolutely, and promoting yourself is promoting your book. It’s promoting your message. It’s helping your book find readers, so it’s so necessary. It is odd definitely for most authors to transition into, “Oh, I have to talk about myself now?” I’m not just talking about the content in my book. It is so essential, and I think you are just going to have such a great launch. 

The book is so wonderful, and I want to thank you so much for being here with me today and talking about your author journey. 

Melissa Vela-Williamson: Thank you, Meghan, and big shout out to Sophie, my publishing manager. She has made the experience just really, really pleasant and fun and she’s really don’t her best to make me shine. So I appreciate her and the team at Scribe for all you do for authors like me. 

Meghan McCracken: Oh, thank you so much. So other than the book coming out, which you can find on Amazon and other digital retailers, where else should people look for you? 

Melissa Vela-Williamson: Yeah, absolutely. Well, I like to keep it profess[ional], so LinkedIn is my favorite social media tool. So you’ll find me, Melissa Vela-Williamson, on LinkedIn as well as MVW Communications, and we’ll have a launch on when the book launches on October 25th. We’ll do a streaming live interview with someone I really admire, Gini Dietrich, who is in the book as a Pass The Mic professional, and we’ll have something in person in my market to release and celebrate the book in November. 

So hopefully you’ll see us making a splash and well, I want to dig into pieces of the book in my Smart Talk Series Podcast for season five. So as we wrap up season four, give us a little time, and then you will see season five come in and we’ll dig into some of the best nuggets of this book. 

Meghan McCracken: Amazing. Well, best of luck on your upcoming launch, Melissa. Thanks for being with me. 

Melissa Vela-Williamson: Awesome, Meghan. Thank you all so much.