Marketing, Strategies

Leveraging a Viral Post with Hope Brookins

Episode 109: Show Notes

Today on the podcast, we welcome personal branding and publicity strategist, Hope Brookins. After having her family’s personal story of building a house using YouTube tutorials completely go viral, Hope was able to leverage that opportunity into her own business success. Using this experience, Hope helps small business owners do the same thing. She helps them build their own brand story, take their media and use these opportunities so that they are perfectly positioned, polished, and prepared to present themselves to the world.

Today on the podcast, we welcome personal branding and publicity strategist, Hope Brookins. After having her family’s personal story of building a house using YouTube tutorials completely go viral, Hope was able to leverage that opportunity into her own business success. Using this experience, Hope helps small business owners do the same thing. She helps them build their own brand story, take their media and use these opportunities so that they are perfectly positioned, polished, and prepared to present themselves to the world.  |  The Strategy Hour  |  Think Creative Collective

On today’s episode Hope gives actionable steps to help you craft your own brand story and integrate it into your website and business. She also identifies the key features of a viral post and what you can do to every piece of content to give it the opportunity to go viral, organically. Many people think “going viral” happens overnight but this is not always the case. It took Hope and her family two years of preparation for their story to go viral and Hope is all about having a carefully planned strategy to get you there. If you are looking for some great tips and actionable steps on how you can tweak your brand story to be more viral-worthy, then this episode is definitely for you. We can’t wait for you to hear her story!

How Hope’s “Family Branding” Went Viral

About a decade ago, Hope’s family left a terrible domestic violence situation and built their own house up using YouTube videos. During that time Hope and her family went through a lot, but very privately. They were not sharing their story publicly but over time, people started telling them to share their story and encouraged Hope’s mom to write a book. Her mom did. And a few years ago the book sold at a big New York publishers auction. In the two years leading up to the book release in January 2017, Hope and her mom worked on a branding and publicity campaign to help launch the book and market their family. Within two weeks and before the book even came out, Hope and her family featured in over 100 media outlets in 65 countries. The press continued this for months. From Cosmopolitan, to BuzzFeed, to CNN – Hope even had the Today Show coming to her house. Hope was very intentional about her “family branding” and establishing their overall archetype. She wanted to share her family’s story without presenting them as victims. She wanted to tell a story of taking action, empowerment, and about doing something big. A big lesson from Hope’s story is that everything was strategic. They didn’t just go viral overnight. It took them two years for them to build that foundation to go viral and be prepared for it...

Coping With Your Personal Family Story Going Viral

In Hope’s experience, having a brand gave her clarity. This clarity enabled her and her family to better cope with the attention, comments, and even scrutiny. Having a brand enabled them to filter the way in which they wanted to be seen strategically, present themselves, and how to answer questions. A brand eliminated the stress, confusion, and lack of confidence that comes when you don’t have clarity. This was a huge advantage for their family launch, but preparing Hope’s family for this didn’t come easy. Fortunately, Hope had had a seven-year background in politics and in political campaigns. By the time she was 19, she had already worked for several congressmen, politicians, and even the former President of the United States. By the time of her mom’s book was launched, Hope had significant experience in knowing how to control the media and manage media appearances. She leveraged this experience to help prepare her siblings. Before Hope’s family story went viral, they had not had interaction with a single media coach. Most families have family game nights, but Hope’s family had family interview nights where they would pull out the camera and ask each other questions and, a lot of the time it would end in tears. But Hope believes that her family might not have managed to maintain the level of press attention that they did, had they not been prepared with answers.

The Opportunities The Viral Family Story Opened Up For Hope’s Business

Press takes a lot of time and initially the attention affected Hope’s business negatively. She had to take three months off from her own business to focus on communication with press. People often don’t realize the time and money involved in conducting press interviews, but since then, Hope has been able to radically increase her own business prices. Press coverage gives a significant amount of credibility and this was the best thing Hope could have ever had for her own business. It’s amazing what one viral article, or post, or video can do to bring attention to your brand, or to bring new clients or sponsors on board. It doesn’t have to be thousands of media articles to have an impact on your business, it can just be one, as long as it’s authentic and has reach. After the three months, the hype about Hope’s viral family story began to slow down. Hope didn’t know where to go and it took a few months for her to refocus. With her practical experience, Hope has better advice and has lived out the actionable steps that she prescribes for her clients when building their brand story.

The Seven Different Types Of Stories

99% of stories fit into these seven categories: Rags to riches, Quest, Overcoming the Monster, Re-Birth, Journey and Return, Tragedy, Comedy.... and basically most people have enough elements in their story to fit into any one of those frameworks. What Hope tells people to do is think about the journey or transformation that you want your target audience to go on and tell the story that represents that. You have a million stories in your life and you can use a million stories in your brand. But you need to have an origin story. The origin story is the most important one. How you started doing this and how it relates to your clients.


Everything we did was very strategic. It wasn’t just viral overnight.
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The Six Elements To Being Viral-Worthy

The word “viral-worthy” imply that this is an organic process because of the strategy that you are going to develop. So the first element is: Evoking emotion – Making an emotional connection with people. The second is, Heartwarming – You want an emotion that is going to be warm and happy. Things that are positive usually get shared more. The third is, Timing – You have to consider when you will be sharing your story. This could be a luck thing or a strategic thing. For Hope’s story, it came out at a time when there was a huge amount of political negativity and their story was a hugely positive one, which gained attention because perhaps it was what people needed under the socio-economic climate. Four, Leveraging a trend – This is a great thing to do. In Hope’s case, her family’s story leveraged the trend of using the internet to educate and empower yourself: the DIY trend.

The last two are probably the most important, and they are: Good visuals – You have to have good pictures, good videos, charts. You are not going to go viral without something graphic. Lastly, to be viral-worthy, you have to have a shock value. This doesn’t have to be shock value in a crazy dramatic way but it does have to be something that makes your story different. In Hope’s case, a lot of people think that the shock value for them was that they built a house. It’s not. The fact that they built a house using YouTube, that’s shock value. You can use these elements when you are constructing your origin story, or any type of story, whether that’s in the form of a blog post or a video. If you are accomplishing some of these goals your content will be more shareable. Hope uses this list to help her clients build more viral-worthy brands and when you are using these viral-worthy elements and incorporating them into your story, you are making it more shareable.

How Can You Convert Your Story Into Sales

When you are trying to leverage publicity that you have already received, it’s about sharing it. Put it on your website, share those quotes, share those stories. You want to make sure you are fully exploiting it (for lack of a better word.) You need to advertise your publicity, your articles on your own website and social media platforms, use the big names and logos and pump them! Think about how you are being introduced, your bio. Some people will have had one interview with Forbes and they will title themselves as say, “A Forbes featured Coach.” Instead of using all the press they have received, they will leverage just one. This is also another smart strategy and at the end of the day it is all about how you want to position yourself. If you don’t tell people how great you are, they will never know. It is your responsibility to share this information with your audience. When you’re a business owner, you can’t have shame. You’re doing your clients a favor by letting them know how amazing you are. So tell them!

Keeping A Record Of Your Own Press Coverage

Hope soon realized that with the level of press they were receiving, Google Alerts was just not enough to help stay on top of it. So they invested in a pricy piece of media tracking software, which enabled them to leverage those numbers and stats and archive everything. But if you can’t afford fancy software or don’t think it necessary for you at this point – if you have had a feature or features you can keep track of them by keeping a spreadsheet and using an app on your laptop called Paparazzi. Hope takes a screenshot of every single feature and archives them, because things do not all always exist on the internet forever! If you don’t have evidence, you might kick yourself if you can’t prove that you were there.

Hope also downloads all the videos she has been featured in because things also aren’t on YouTube or news sites forever. It is vital that you download everything and save it on a database. If you are featured on a magazine cover, usually you can get a PDF of the cover from the publication. So just ask for it, and most people won’t say no. If you’re wondering what might be important to track, the essentials would be: the name of the publication, the date, the URL and anything you can put numbers to (for example, the number of views a video of yours might have reached.) People who sponsor love numbers! If you’re wondering where to start, try Google yourself and start making a list of all the articles that you have been featured in. It’s not as time consuming as you might think and will then be easier to maintain moving forward. It is also an easy task for an intern. #justsaying.

Hope’s Three Steps For Viral-Worthy Preparation

Plan, position and package. Number one, Plan, is figuring out what you want to be known for. This is where you start to think of yourself as a public figure. A question that Hope always asks people to help them come to a truthful answer, is: If you going on the Today Show and you could talk about anything you wanted, what is it that you’d actually want to be talking about? It might sound simple, but it’s the hardest thing. Essentially, it is answering “What do you want to be known for?” Number two, Position. “You can’t expect the public to know something unless you tell them.” You have to tell people what it is you do, what you want to be known for. Your position is your title. And you can give yourself your own title. Whether it’s “The Branding Guy” or “The King of Vegas.” The last one is Package, and it’s about sharing your story unapologetically. It’s about becoming your archetype and becoming a brand that is bigger than just you. Have that character that you are becoming and resonates with who you actually are and not who you are trying to be. That’s packaging yourself.


  • Learn more about the two-year foundation that Hope’s family built in order for them to go viral. [0:04:07.1]
  • Coping and the strategies for preparing your personal family story to go viral. [0:07:55.1]
  • The opportunities that opened up from Hope’s family story going viral, and how she capitalized on them. [0:14:05.1]
  • The seven different types of stories and the importance of refining your origin story. [0:21:35.1]
  • Hear Hope’s vital six elements to being viral-worthy. [0:26:54.1]
  • How can you convert your story into sales by punting your own amazingness? [0:33:10.1]
  • Keeping track of your own press coverage by organizing spreadsheets. [0:33:10.1]
  • Hope’s Three Steps For Viral-Worthy Preparation. [0:45:20.1]

#TalkStrategyToMe [0:45:20.6]

  1. Plan.
  2. Position.
  3. Package.



Hope Brookins

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Hope Brookins is a go-to personal branding and publicity strategist who helps high-achieving and highly-talented ambitious entrepreneurs finally get the attention, accolades, and adoration they deserve from the right people, prospects, and press through her signature 90-day program. This program includes guided weekly assignments with accountability calls, two days of in-person training, and ends with the delivery of a customized brand platform.


  • How to go viral.
  • Building your brand story.
  • How to be viral-worthy.
  • Refining your origin story.
  • Converting your story into sales.
  • Keeping track of press.




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