(Part One) Conscious Impact with PR Coach, Maria Eilersen

In this conversation, I sat down with award winning PR coach, Maria Eilersen to talk about having a conscious impact with your business. With over a decade of experience working across agency, freelance, and in-house roles in the industry, including heading PR for a multimillion dollar travel company & 350+ hours of yoga teacher training under her belt, Maria’s approach is grounded in both experience and a uniquely conscious view of PR.

Maria’s been featured in places like Business Insider, Yahoo News, pop Sugar, and More, and she was awarded Europe’s 2021 Impactful Founder of the Year by Acquisition International.

She really embodies her value of conscious impact on her instagram which is where we originally connected and I’m excited to share this conversation with you!

Cilia: I’m curious to know if entrepreneurship was foreshadowed in your childhood?

Maria: Oh, this is a really juicy question. The first thing that comes up when you said that is like, I was one of those kids who was called bossy a lot. I fucking knew what I wanted and I was very unapologetic about going after it.

Once I finally realized like the cheesy line, I’m not meant to fit in, but the fact that I’m different is actually what is awesome.

I guess when we become adults we learn that you belong in just being who you are. You don’t have to be anything else. So maybe that’s where it started. I’ve always wanted to do things differently and really hated being told what to do. So yeah, I don’t know, does that answer the question?

Cilia: I think it does because that’s the entrepreneur spirit. I can also very much relate to you and that’s actually why I call it myself, self expressed babe because my journey has been getting back to that place of being myself and realizing like you, I’m accepted for me. And, uh, just like you too. I was also called bossy and I moved a lot, so I turned shy because I was just afraid.

having conscious impact with PR coach, Maria Eilersen
Maria Eilersen, award-winning PR coach and founder of Be Conscious PR

if we can’t completely get rid of capitalism, let’s, at the very least make it conscious

Maria Eilersen

How was your business, Be Conscious PR born?

Maria: How far do you wanna go back? How much time do you have? 😂 I’ve just meandered a lot. And side note, I, when I was younger and I was really wanted to be a writer, I like was obsessed with that word. I thought it sounded so poetic. I’m not, I don’t walk. I meander.

I feel like I’ve had a meandering road too, where I am now I’m almost a 100% certain that it’s gonna continue to meander after this. Like who knows how long I’ll be doing what I’m doing now. But that’s also the exciting part of the path for me.

The first seed was planted…when I went to college. I studied journalism. I started out in fashion and wanted to be like the next Anna Winter. Long story short did not happen.

I kind of quickly got into the fashion world and was attending fashion shows in New York and had a really great boss who taught me how you could sit front row or how you could get a good seat if you just like act like you’re meant to be there…no one’s gonna come up to you and tell you otherwise. Cause it’s very much about perception. 😂

And I was just this 20-nothing sitting, you know? I’m like,”this just feels really shallow.” It didn’t light me up in the way that I expected. I think I’d romanticized the industry.

Then I pivoted into lifestyle, writing about travel and things like that. Even back then I was interested in meaningful stories and a deeper purpose beyond just “oh, this is the news.” Or like, “this is the latest collection from whoever designer.”

And that was when I kind of encountered my first challenge in my career. I graduated from New York University in the US but didn’t have a visa to work and I was so determined to stay in New York, so I managed to like, learn the alphabet all over again, learning all the visas and figuring out which one I qualified for.

I managed to get myself a journalism visa by being a contributor to a Danish English newspaper. Which is super random and being their US correspondent and that bought me some time, but I was all over the place. Just hustling really to do anything: consulting, write, write features wherever I could. It was really hard and I was struggling to make ends meet.

I then received an invitation from a friend of mine who used to live in New York to come to London. I was like, “I’m gonna get myself three months and see what happens.” Within three weeks…. it was like, wow, okay, clearly this is where I’m meant to be.

My first PR role, it was clearly something that was meant to happen. I was brought under the wing of some incredible female boss who just knew exactly how to strike the balance between empowering me to figure things out, but also being there when I needed support.

The women who worked in that business, they were incredible and I just feel so grateful that I found that. And it was one of those roles that I kind of like halfheartedly applied to on LinkedIn. I was like, what am I walking into? And it just turned out to be the most incredible company to work for.

Because of those women that I worked under and with, I think it was less than a year, they promoted me to head of PR because my journalism background had helped me pick things up really quickly. Then I was heading up global PR for this multimillion dollar travel company, which was like a pinch me experience.

It was also very work hard, play hard. I was on call 24/7 and sometimes woken up at midnight to deal with media crisis. But even within that role, because I had these very trusting bosses, I was able to create freedom within my role. I really had a lot of autonomy and was kind of in and out of the office, like in the way that I wanted to be.

And no two days were the same, which I feel like it’s very entrepreneurial. I was able to build a relationship with my bosses where they like trusted me and let me do the things that I felt needed to be done.

Fast forward to 2017, there was a big corporate restructure and I was laid off. Which was a real sucker punch at the time because I had such great relationship with the women that I’d worked with there, and I really loved what I was doing, and I felt like I was really good at it and I was being recognized. So it kind of came outta nowhere.

But in a lot of ways it also taught me so much, it shattered the idea that there’s a thing called job stability. That’s a illusion. A complete illusion. Because at any time if someone wants you out, they will get you out. Even though you have contracts in place.

That was a really important lesson because I’d always, deep down, wanted the freedom to not be in a full-time job, but I was under the illusion that I would then have no stability.

Despite it being a shitty situation, they were very supportive and we left on really good terms because it was a high up business decision. Even in a situation like that and you can really be overwhelmed by… like just the beauty of people.

I felt very held throughout the experience and then, I think that’s what maybe gave me the confidence then to not just take the next best thing. Because I had other opportunities lined up and like my scarcity mindset was like, you need another job. Like you need to make money. Like you can’t just have a gap in your cv.

But for whatever reason, I listened to my intuition and I didn’t take any of those roles and I decided to go solo traveling instead and became a yoga teacher. That was like an awakening on a different level of like career doesn’t matter, job stability and illusion status as an illusion. What actually really matters is feeling purpose and feeling fulfilled and leading from the heart and being happy.

I have never felt as much bliss, and I had nothing. Just a couple months savings and I had no idea what I was coming home to. With no direction in my life. On paper, that sounds like a really challenging time…and I was so happy. Because I was just like, at peace. I was like, I just trust that everything’s gonna work out and I’m just gonna let my heart lead me and figure out what’s next.

I came back to London and realized that teaching in London is very competitive. You have to work very long hours, it’s not very yogic. I ended up manifesting a part-time PR role and at the same time also started working for a feminist travel publication.

The contrast of the tech clients at the agency and this feminist travel publication that really lit me up was really informative, I guess, because I was landing the New York Times and Forbes and all these amazing features for this feminist travel publication working not very many hours.

Meanwhile, I was working more for these tech startups, and it just felt like such a drag to be pitching them because I just, I didn’t buy into their mission and I still landed them features, but it just took way more effort and it was like, it really felt like a job.

So after a year of being there, I left and started doing some freelance and eventually realized that I need to formalize this and make this an official business if I want it to be taken seriously. And also really as a commitment to myself.

I really feel like this is what I’m here to be doing because, seeing that transformation and seeing people like realize that they can do this for themselves. And landing press being themselves authentically is just a really cool thing to witness and to be part of.

The problem with capitalism …this incentive of profit just is set up to lead to exploitation. You have to have humanity and serving humanity be part of the incentive.

Maria Eliersen

Cilia: Do you think that that love of seeing people transform comes from being a yoga teacher? Because I completely resonate with that.

Maria: I don’t think I’ve ever like acknowledged that that’s where it comes from, but I think that actually makes so much sense because you’re really taught to hold space and empower. You’re like…it’s very much like I’m a guide. Everything I say is a suggestion.

Cilia: Exactly.

Maria: But I empower you to listen to your inner teacher and listen to what’s right for you. And that’s totally what, at the end of the day, what coaching is. I can give you suggestions and I can guide you, but ultimately it needs to be what feels right for you… Wow. That keeps just blowing my mind. I’m like, yeah, ok. I need to give yoga even more credit than I already do.

Conscious impact through Capitalism

Cilia: How did yoga change how you approach PR?

I like you was also trained as a yoga teacher and before I went to yoga teacher training, I was working in the fashion industry. Going into yoga teacher training completely ruined the fashion industry for me because it’s the number two most polluting industry in the world and I don’t want any part of that. Even though I could have went in to change that. It all depends on how you look at it. But I’m curious to know if your approach to PR changed with your yoga experience.

Maria: I think it just made me even more aware of just how important mission and impact is to me. I really do genuinely believe that, the more conscious businesses succeed, the better our world is gonna be. The problem with capitalism, the way that it’s set up with supply and demand …this incentive of profit just is set up to lead to exploitation. You have to have humanity and serving humanity be part of the incentive.

The incentive structure needs to change. What I also experienced with yoga teacher training is at our core, we are here to serve. I think we talk a lot about service and it sounds like this really humbling thing, but service doesn’t mean you do something and you never get anything back.

I think there’s a reason why when we do an act of kindness, we feel good. Cause I think we are programmed for that to feel good so that we will do it. I think it’s an inner nature. It’s a really cynical view of human nature to be like, oh, greed, prophet da da da.

I think profit or power can really mess with you and maybe get you very into the ego, but if you’re aware of the ego, which yoga makes you aware of the ego, then you can really come back to the true nature and the oneness of: the more we can help each other and serve the more abundance we’ll all experience.

That’s what yoga made me see about PR, there’s a lot of performative bullshit. The way that I explain performative versus conscious is performative is saying the right thing because it looks good. Whereas conscious is where the gap between perception and reality is…there is no gap. And people don’t want you to know the reality and they want you to just focus on the perception.

We need to bring it into alignment that perception is reality. It’s just that the perception element is like drawing out your gifts that maybe aren’t obvious so that you can be a bigger service and you can make a bigger impact as opposed to “let’s put a spin on some of these things so that people won’t see the real you.”

service doesn’t mean you do something and you never get anything back.

Maria Eilersen

That’s what feels so disingenuous for me and that’s the shift that’s happening both in the PR space because like now people are actually holding brands (and businesses) accountable. I think we are shifting into an era of conscious capitalism.

Cilia: Yeah, thank God.

Maria: Yeah. It’s about time. And if we, if we can’t completely get rid of capitalism, let’s, at the very least make it conscious. Because we really do as consumers at the end of the day, we have the power. As long as enough of us are choosing to be conscious with where we spend our money.

Cilia: Yeah, you mentioned supply and demand earlier… if the demand isn’t there for things that harm us, then that supply is gonna have to dwindle.

Maria: Yeah, people don’t realize like how much power they have by looking at their buying power. And it’s the same with consumption, right? Like the media you choose to consume also has an impact on supply. That’s why like the more conscious people run businesses, the more conscious people are contributing to the media.

The more we’re going to move things in, what I feel… obviously I have my bias and there may be people who disagree with me, but why I feel will move it in the right direction. To kind of save us from some of the, the issues that we see and some of the unconscious business practices and lack of social justice and I could like go on and on.

The challenge for a lot of conscious or people who identify as conscious beings or conscious entrepreneurs especially, is it’s almost like because you are so conscious, you’re reluctant to own any expertise. It’s like you’re so conscious that you then overthink and you end up self sabotaging. And I’m like, “this is exactly why I wanna give you a microphone because I know you are not going to bullshit us. You’re not gonna say anything that is not truly in alignment.”

There are so many people who just go in and like, say whatever. Yeah. And they’re like,” I just said that because I knew that that was just what people wanted to hear.” And I think that happens because of lack of connection with yourself.

Cilia: The issue with like, just saying things people want to hear… like that whole journey of you not knowing what is going to happen with yoga, you came home to yourself and you’re anchored within your own body, within your own breath, within your place in this vast universe. And THAT’s really it.

It can be a little scary because you recognize that. You don’t have any control over anything , but at the same time that same truth, when you really realize it, is very liberating. Because why would you hold back if you have no control? If your time in the current human body you’re in now is temporary, why would you hold back? Why wouldn’t you do what you love? Why wouldn’t you speak your heart?

Maria: I love all of that,I wholeheartedly agree. It’s almost like, the same way that death teaches us so much about living. If we have a finite time and if there’s nothing that’s in our control, why not choose to follow your heart? Choose purpose over, mind numbingly, like, whatever, you know, like surface level satisfaction? And why not commit?

And also to understand that in order to stay connected to that place, it’s a practice and there’s a commitment there as well, that you will be triggered and challenged. That doesn’t mean that’s not your nature. It just means that you need to commit to it. And stay in that place of trust and become aware of when you are not, when you’re not in trust. That trust can create so much abundance.

Like that experience I had of no amount of money or material, clothes, house, whatever, can make you feel… at the end of the day, everything material that we’re looking for is trying to give us a feeling.

If you don’t work on the mind, achieving those material goals is not going to give you the feeling that you want. It’s gonna feel empty. Which is why you hear about lottery winners getting depressed. Because money is just gonna amplify. Money is great, but money is just gonna amplify what you are already experiencing. Money can solve material problems. It can’t solve emotional problems because however you’re feeling inside, that’s what you’re going to attract on the material realm of things.

Cilia: Yeah, if you’re not connected with yourself, and you’re going after a goal, the goal you’re going after probably is not aligned with your authentic self. You know what I mean? Kind of like how both of us worked in the fashion industry. I don’t know if I told you that, but I also worked in the fashion industry and like you, I also noticed,” wow, this feels really shallow and I don’t feel fulfilled.”

And that’s actually why I started going to yoga, I was just stressed at my job. I was like, “I don’t feel like I can be myself. I don’t feel good. And I’ve heard that yoga is good for stress.” So I started going, anyways..

Material goods aren’t going make you feel better and it’s not necessarily gonna be what your aligned desire really wants, because ultimately it’s coming from a place of ego to even want material goods, most times, because of how advertising conditions us. It’s coming from a place of like void or wanting put a material bandaid on like an emotional wound. Which is just never gonna work.

Maria: And that doesn’t mean we can’t have nice things. I’m all for living your best life and making money doing what you love. And I really believe that, and this is why I talk so much about empowering conscious entrepreneurs to succeed because I do not think that doing good and being successful is mutually exclusive.

Having a positive impact on the world also makes you a lot of money. I like that, it’s perfect and a more sustainable way to make money because you’re going to be energized at the end of your day instead of feeling burned out because everything you did is not aligned with your values.

Also if you’re a heart-centered person, then any work you do is gonna have so much of your emotion, you’re gonna give so much because you care. Much more than someone who just is like punching and punching out. And so you really deserve to be compensated for that. Because of that what we value needs to change because that investment of energy is worth so much.

Changing the Incentive

It’s like why, I mean, why I don’t teach yoga full-time…because, I feel yoga teachers are underpaid. That energetic investment is so much, and people underestimate. They’re like, oh, it’s just an hour. I’m like, yeah, but you are fully present for a whole hour. Name me one other job, like maybe other than teaching where you have to be that present constantly. You can’t just be like, I’m just gonna go make myself a chai in the middle of class. You know?

Cilia: I used to be a yoga teacher, I used to teach full-time, it’s not just the hour that you’re in the class too. You have to be practicing in your real life. Whatever you’re teaching in the class are postures that you have to have done because then you’ll know the cues to guide your students through.

But also at the same time, I do think that statement of “yoga teachers are underpaid”, I think that’s a limiting belief that a lot of yoga teachers buy into because there are examples out there of people who have like built an empire for themselves with yoga. Just they’re not focusing on group classes.

Maria: I don’t know what country you taught yoga, but for me, the group classes, I was getting paid $30 an hour.

Cilia: Mm-hmm, yeah.

Maira: And when I was in London, it was like 30 pounds an hour.

Cilia: Yeah, so it’s the same. When I was teaching full-time, I was teaching 12 classes a week. It was a lot. And it was crazy because I was driving from here to there. For my $30 here, $30 there, and then you’re paid as an independent contractor, so you owe taxes at the end of the year. And it’s just, yeah. I think that whole system does need to change.

Maria: That’s what I mean, that that model does not value the energetic exchange. You know, it’s not that we need to stop teaching yoga, the world definitely needs yoga. It’s the model needs to change and that’s why it’s really great to see that there are business coaches that are showing yoga teachers a way for them to sustain themselves and allows them to show up in this embodied, energetic place as opposed to coming from a place that’s like burnt out and drained, you know?

Cilia: Mm-hmm.I think a lot of what we said, from the yoga and also from your job that you had before with your two bosses that you said were very empowering. I think it all comes back to intention, and I think that’s the reason why I wanted to bring it up is. A lot of the listeners here are new or aspiring entrepreneurs and it sounds like at your past jobs you’ve had and then the experience you had afterwards, there was an issue of: they had different intentions because they had different missions, they had different values.

What would you give as advice to someone who right now is a solo entrepreneur, but they want to set those intentions, they wanna set that foundation so that when they bring in their first assistant or whoever it is that they hire, when they finally start building their team, what would you say to them?

Maria Eilersen, award winning PR coach and founder of Be Conscious PR
Maria Eilersen, award-winning PR coach and founder of Be Conscious PR

Maria: I immediately think brand mission. This is a question that I ask all of my clients first when we work on messaging, because it informs everything you do. Ask yourself:

  • What is your brand mission?
  • What are you?
  • What is the bigger picture behind what you’re doing? Beyond just like offering whatever service or selling a product.
  • What do you wanna be known for?

This is what I really ask from a PR point of view but I think it would also serve in thinking about working as a team. I don’t have a team, I’ve like worked with people like ad hoc when I need the support, but that’s something that I would consider as part of my foundation. So many, even like startups and whatever they talk about, it’s very like trendy to talk about values and whatever. And I’ve worked for a startup that had all these amazing values, but like they were bullshit.

So it’s like really being honest with yourself about:

  • What actually, like what do you stand for?
  • What do you wanna be known for? Not only in the way that people talk about you when they look at your brand, but also in you as a person, what is in alignment?

You don’t need to make this up. Because if you’re here, I know that you are a heart-centered person so your heart is gonna lead you and there’s gonna be no need for you to make some flashy value up because you think it’s what’s gonna resonate. It needs to be real.

The conscious element is really important to me. Like holding space for intuition, not hustling. I’m all for making things easy. I don’t think we need to be married to work. It’s just thinking what it is for you and, and like planting that as the seed and then if you just keep staying committed to that and staying connected then inevitably, when you hire people, you’re gonna find people who are like in alignment with that.

And they’re gonna pick up on that. It’s almost more of you can say it, but it’s something that really is true, you will embody it. You may not even need to explain it.

Cilia: You mentioned about that your heart is going to lead you. I think sometimes when someone is an aspiring entrepreneur and they haven’t taken that leap yet, this is at least the space I was in, I wanted to start a business since 2013.

Conscious Impact by leading with your Heart

There’s a lot of fear about following your heart. Like, you know what you need to do. But then all these insecurities come up of “I don’t have experience, I don’t have a following”, whatever it is that basically boils down to I’m not worthy. What tools would you suggest to anyone that’s in that space?

Maria: I think this is such an important question, it’s come up a lot for me and it also comes up for my clients. The way that I’ve managed to reframe it is: what if the exact reason that I think I’m not worthy or the reason why my client thinks they’re not worthy is the exact reason why we are the perfect people to do what we’re doing?

As an example for me, I had a lot of limiting beliefs and imposter syndrome about the fact that I didn’t start out as a junior in a PR agency and just work my way up. I came at it from journalism and then I was in marketing and then I like side stepped into this PR role and then became the head, like I didn’t climb the linear ladder.

And I felt really like there’s something that I missed. I was like, “am I gonna be called out for this?” ,”Have I been enough in the industry?” I didn’t tick the boxes but I’ve just been guided back to this idea that that’s the exact reason why I’m the right person to do what I’m doing. Because I’ve also seen the industry from the outside and I haven’t just been given blinders and this is the path.

I’ve like seen it from the outside and have this more of a 360 view and can also see the problems with it. And like that’s why I’m taking what works and leaving what doesn’t and empowering people to do the same. That’s exactly what allows me to be the conscious PR coach that I am.

I guess go back to actually looking at what these insecurities are and reframing and asking yourself, how can this be seen as a strength? How can this be seen as something that actually will help people?

For example, if you worked with people on like loving their bodies, the very fact that you’ve had a difficult relationship with your body and that you’re still working on it is what is gonna make you a really good person to empower others to do the same. The fact that you’re still practicing what you preach is gonna make you the exact right person.

Cilia: We all have insecurities. If someone’s too perfect, something doesn’t feel right. Like how you mentioned earlier about when PR is conscious or it’s performative. You’re being performative when you’re showing up and you’re not showing your real self. And, when you’re doing that, I think you’re repelling people that you could connect with.

Maria: Yeah. It’s like the highlight reel of social media as well. We all get so triggered if someone seems like they have the perfect life and they never share anything else. You disconnect. You’re like, oh, well I must have nothing in common with this person.

Cilia: Mm-hmm. Also your answer to that question is I think a perfect embodiment to when I joined your email list, the very first email that you sent, the very first line of the very first email was, I am here to help you step into your fucking power.

Maria: That sounds about right.

Cilia: So I love that reframe of, how can this be the way that I uniquely stand out? And I love the example you brought about the body. If you’re helping someone with their body and you’re still working on your own relationship, it’s perfect because that’s how you relate.

If someone is a new entrepreneur, when are they ready for pr?

Maria: For a lot of people, it’s sooner than you think. It’s less a measure of time. It tends to be after the first year, mainly because in the first year you’re kind of figuring things out, but that is by no means like a hard and fast rule.

What matters is that you have an established business and service or product. You know what your mission is, you know what you’re offering, you know who your target audience is so that you can actually begin to craft a message and become known for that product or service.

If you’re still figuring things out it becomes really confusing and it’s hard to then land press and become known for your unique area of expertise. But inevitably as part of the PR process, you also are invited to lean more in to what you don’t even realize are areas of expertise.

And the way that I take that term off the pedestal is reminding everyone that like expertise just means that you have experience. You’re an expert on your experience. What PR really does is it takes what you are and what you have to offer and just shines a light on it.

It’s like stepping into the spotlight and just amplifying you out beyond your existing community. And that doesn’t mean that your products and services can’t evolve, but there is gonna be like an umbrella that’s gonna naturally relate to all of the things that you would eventually introduce, but it’s just having that clarity first.

What’s done with a PR client

Maria: The first step in putting together a PR strategy is to get clear on what your objectives are. Sometimes you need to raise awareness of an issue in order to actually sell. The product.

That’s kind of where the PR objective comes in is to look at your messaging & to look at what are the key messages? It’s developing the language of what you stand for, what your area of expertise is, so that when you are talking to a journalist you can position yourself as that expert and deliver those key messages. So what I help with is actually developing that language.

My clients will answer all these questions and then we’ll finesse and tweak it and help them stand more in their power. A lot of times we downplay our strengths.

We also look at our story and be intentional with how we tell it and own that narrative as opposed to having someone else come and tell you. That’s the element that I help with.

And inevitably there’ll be some clarity that comes, but I won’t if you’re just like, I wanna be an entrepreneur and I wanna help people, but I don’t know how it’s like, well, that, that’s too early. You need to have a product or a service and a general idea of what you want to do so that we can then figure out the right language to then amplify you beyond your existing community.

Now let’s chat growing YOUR conscious impact:

Maria Eilersen, founder of Be Conscious PR
Maria Eilersen, award-winning PR coach and founder of Be Conscious PR

Check out part two of this conversation where we dive deeper into conscious impact and the specifics of PR here.

If you’re desiring Maria’s expertise in growing your conscious impact, find her on instagram here and find her website here. She has a group program called Conscious Impact and also works with clients 1:1.

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Hey! I'm Cilia

Sex, Love, and Relationship coach for women who want to experience more pleasure and connection in self love & relationships

divine feminine selfie

I help women ground, feel, & express freely through mindfulness, compassion, and sacred ritual so that they can feel confident, fulfilled, and HAWT!

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