Heidi has left a footprint in the marketing world that won’t be forgotten anytime soon. After achieving initial success at ABC News 20/20, Heidi launched Krupp Kommunications (K2) out of her studio apartment in Hoboken, New Jersey. Among her dozens of successful campaigns, Heidi has placed over 65 books on the New York Times bestseller lists including The South Beach Diet and Your Best Life Now. Both by establishing herself as a female leader in the landscape of media and marketing and through her involvement with several women-centered industry associations, Heidi is a trailblazer in her industry.
Q: Please share with us the story of how your professional journey began and has brought you to where you are today.
A: I will never forget the first time I got through to “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” It was 1997, and the show was already a hit. I, on the other hand, had sold my used car to launch K2 the year before. I started in my tiny studio apartment in Hoboken, NJ and then moved to a tinier studio apartment in Manhattan. My “office” was a roll-top hutch in the corner. Not even a desk! Every day I “opened” by rolling the cover up in the morning and saying, “K2 is open for business!” Then I rolled it shut when we closed. And I had a client who wanted one thing: “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” So, I picked up the phone and called a producer. And she picked up. And I pitched my heart out. Not too much — just enough to get her interest. I started a conversation, hooking and connecting with her. I made sure she knew I knew the show and thought our pitch would make a great segment. I gave her a sense of packaging. I tried to sound like a producer – a partner – not just a publicist. Then I asked if we could get together in Chicago with my client and talk further and see what happens. And they said yes! (And we got the segment.) “The Oprah Winfrey Show” helped me launch K2. From that first Konnection, I developed relationships with the people there that I maintain to this day. And I will maintain those Konnections long after the show is off the air. I feel like the show’s mission and vision and K2’s have been the same. The show has done more good, raised more money, helped more people, and changed the world and the way we think. We share a desire to help people and make the world a better place. Sixteen years later, K2 is an award winning public relations, marketing and branding agency. K2 is an industry leader with a proven track record of creating and executing innovative branding and marketing initiatives that build our clients’ businesses. Over the years, K2 has launched over 65 New York Times bestsellers in addition to working with major brands such as Donna Karan/Urban Zen, Weight Watchers, Everyday Health, Gaiam; leading personalities such as David Bach, Jillian Michaels, Tony Robbins and magazines such as People, Glamour, and Taste of Home, amongst others. It starts with that first call: Make it!
Q: Innovation requires creative thinking. How do you tap into the creative thinking resources within your business?
A: Our business is all about storytelling so it is natural for us to tap into the stories of the day – top news stories and or key human-interest stories to find the leading trends. We are looking to be inspired by unique circumstances and take what our clients need and want to say and help make it relevant. People can remember a good story – but they don’t always remember a product by name –Our job is to create the emotional connection for what we are promoting –We are creative in our approach to find, create and capture the stories that will shape the message.
Q: What’s your best advice for an entrepreneur in an early/bootstrapping phase? Or in a growth/need to ‘now scale’ phase?
A: DON’T GIVE UP – I started the agency 8k in debt without anyone to be able to ask for money. Find a Mentor –Mentors are the best and I am fortunate to have several. Fake it till you make it was something that was offered to me. I am not telling you to fake it or deceive but what I would recommend is that you see yourself as the success you want to be. Once you really own that you can and will succeed, it is incredible how many doors open up and things happen. It isn’t about the money you have in the beginning or how little you have – it is about the connections and relationships your form. Those relationships can grow your biz. Relationships matter.
Q: What are your top 3 tips for networking?
A: Save every contact you make—make notes on them so that you can remember where they came from and connect back to them.
Make it personal – when you connect, find a personal connection, something or someone in common and do your homework so that the person you connect with knows you have done the research on them.
Treat all Konnections equally – you never know if the receptionist will be a CEO someday—look at me—I would always recommend to treat everyone as equal.
Q: Can you share a personal story of successful negotiation that leaped you forward?
A: I was working on a project with the Harpo team with a client that had an existing brand and was eager to get into the Harpo family. We had come up with a creative idea and concept that the Oprah Winfrey Show liked a lot but was not certain our client could carry the show themselves. We were able to negotiate to have them try the idea with other experts and the outcome was that our client was the breakout talent that Harpo had chosen to develop. The challenge was that the client’s existing platform is what made the client well known in the first place and where I come from – you stay loyal no matter what. Negotiations were heated and I stuck with the philosophy and what I believed to be right for the client regardless of their possible fear of losing the potential bigger deal presented – we had to make both work. I expressed that this client would act in the same fashion with the new prospect, for loyalty is key in any relationship. It worked out that the client was able to have and do both and then I left it up to them to sustain both relationships. In the course of what we do – we can lead a horse to water, but we cannot make it drink. We are the catalysts for helping make dreams come true. We cannot control the rest.
Q: What do you feel separates your brand from your competitors?
A: Our brand is more of branding agency versus a standard PR agency, although many agencies are trying to be that now. I would say three words best make us stand out—passion, energy and tenacity. We start every campaign asking ourselves if we are passionate about the project – what positive energy it can do for the world and how enthusiastic and committed we are to the outcomes. If we cannot answer all three with going back to our core values – we need to pass.
We have launched some of the leading experts that have become household names and brands. We don’t look at the product or person as one thing – we work with them on the bigger message and mission to help create, grow and increase the brand awareness. Since we are of the media, my background at ABC News 20/20 has given us the edge to be able to know what the media wants. We package the stories to the media in a manner that makes it easier for the media and gives our clients a story that the consumer will remember and connect with.
Q: Who has been your greatest mentor(s)?
A: Jan Miller is one of the top literary agents of our time. She launched Tony Robbins, Steven Covey, Dr. Phil, Joel Olsteen, Bishop TD Jakes and Captain Sullenberger’s literary careers to name a few. I was fortunate enough to meet Jan at Catherine Crier’s wedding. I had no idea who her list of clients were and didn’t read that many books at the time. She believed in my energy and passion and saw a talent in me that I didn’t. I am and will forever be grateful to her for helping me see the future and for being a guiding force in all that I do.
ON Letting go
Q: Can you share an example of how letting go enabled you to reach something new?
A: Owning a business and having a baby can really test you. I gave birth to my first baby, Krupp Kommunications, almost 16 years ago. Now here I was about to make my own personal dream come true – I wanted to have a baby and build our family. I was excited and petrified at the same time. How would the business with my name on the door sustain itself without me there?? I had no choice but to let go and see what the business and team could do to drive results and build. And they did. Was it perfect? No. However, letting go allowed me to come back knowing that I can let go, when to let go and when not to. I learned that I need to let go in order for myself and others to grow. A wonderful life lesson that will allow me to become a better parent, manager and leader for my team.
ON Giving Back
Q: Can you share with us an experience of giving that was extremely rewarding or transformational?
A: When 9/11 happened, the world stopped. Being in New York that day I, like many of us, didn’t know what to do but knew I needed and wanted to do something to help. I helped launch WORLD TRAID Event for the children who may have lost both or one parent in the towers. I worked tirelessly with my friend Josselyn Herman to find a key sponsor in TOYS R US who underwrote the event and, much to my surprise, matched all the money raised that evening to support the cause. We did all of the event press pro bono and it felt great to be able to take our connections and skills and support those that really needed it. Watching the families’ faces that night was a powerful transformation for me to remember that life is precious. I became committed to the mission of our agency to work on projects that make a difference in the world.
Q: Oprah has that great section in her magazine “What I know for sure.” What do you know for sure?
A: I know for sure that nothing is perfect. That life is full of amazing moments and moments that test you. In those moments that test you, your strength and character is shown. As my friend and mentor Tony Robbins has shared with millions, “the quality of your life is equal to the amount of uncertainty you can handle.” I know for sure that I crave certainty. That is what drives me in my work and helps make an outstanding publicist, but I now know for sure it does not give me or anyone the quality of fulfillment that life has to offer. Uncertainty is a good thing – I know for sure to embrace it for it allows life to flow. We cannot control our lives but we can control how we look at it.
Q: In the world, what are your three favorite destinations?
A: Fiji, Home, Maui
Q: In the world, what are your three favorite places to get lost?
A: Paris, Hong Kong, Maui
Q: In the world, what are your three favorite places to shop?
A: ANYWHERE, ANYWHERE, ANYWHERE
Q: In the world, what are your three favorite restaurants?
A: Mama’s Fish House—Maui, Mon Vie Ami—Paris, Blue Hill—NYC
Q: What do you believe is the secret to finding the right person and maintaining a long term, good relationship?
A: My husband and I were friends first – we shared everything with each other and it built the foundation for our love and relationship. You can never lose a friend if the foundation is solid. We are each other’s best friends, soul mates and life partners. We are each other’s rocks and for that I am eternally grateful.
Q: If you were to write a book, what would it be about?
A: I would write a book about getting pregnant later in life and do a how-to book to help women prepare to feed mom so mom can feed baby –
Q: What are the beauty items you could not live without?
A: EPICUREN Kiwi Coconut Lotion
Moroccan oil and shampoo and conditioner
Maybelline Black Lash Mascara
Lip Balm from Khiels