Here’s my elevator speech: “I help the media reach consumers. And I help companies reach the media.” I do the first as a money-saving expert. I do the second as a media relations expert.
I didn’t set out to become a money-saving expert. I didn’t intend to be a media relations expert either. But after 20 years covering the consumer beat on TV, I know money. And having spent those 20 years working for every possible television news outlet (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox), I know the media.
Today, I am still a working TV broadcaster, personal finance author and money columnist. And that’s what makes me an effective speaker, spokesperson and consultant on media and money matters. I thought I would have to choose. Not so!
I’m Elisabeth Leamy and I wear many hats. But, hey, I love hats!
These days, I have a hard time answering the perennial question, “So what do you do?” Because, the truth is, I do all of the above. All at once! But let’s take them one at a time:
I joined Dr. Oz in 2013 as the show’s consumer and investigative correspondent. As an investigative reporter, I examine medical products and procedures that can adversely impact our health. As a consumer expert, I find ways of saving money on healthcare products and services. One of my investigations for the show was about the dangers of epidural steroid injections for back pain, which are not FDA-approved, yet are performed millions of times a year. I took a hidden camera undercover to see whether pain doctors revealed the risks. As one of my saving money tips, I found ways to save thousands on organic foods. I love hearing ideas for DrOz health stories from real people, so please contact me if you have money saving tips or want to suggest a story that requires investigative reporting. I invite you to view my DrOz segments and articles.
Previously, I was the Consumer Correspondent for Good Morning America and all other national ABC News programs. Personal highlights included my series, “Show Me the Money,” in which we found nearly $2 million worth of unclaimed money for viewers. My investigation, “Collecting from the Collectors” about a woman trying to collect a $10 million judgment from a collection agency was the most-read feature on ABC’s website in 2012, with more than 9.5 million page views. In 2010, ABC assigned me to conduct an exclusive interview with President Barack Obama. It’s exciting —and exhausting— to interview any U.S. president. To see more of my ABC News reporting, please visit the Elisabeth Leamy ABC author page.
My work has been recognized with 13 Emmy awards and 4 Edward R. Murrow Awards, as well as many more nominations. Here is a partial list of the awards I’ve been fortunate enough to receive:
My 9th grade self would scoff at the description “money-saving expert!” I freely admit that I used to be math and money-challenged. Bounced checks. Credit card debt. The works. Maybe that’s why people tell me I have a knack for explaining complicated financial concepts to others. I learned about personal finance on the job and on the fly. 20 years ago, an old boss assigned me to the consumer beat. 19 years ago I started dating a Certified Financial Planner. What I didn’t pick up researching personal finance stories for TV, I learned from him at home. That CFP is now my husband, Kris Persinger.
Yes, I can expound on investment strategies, saving for retirement, creating a budget, whether you need life insurance and more. But over the years, my real specialty as a finance expert has been saving money. More specifically, I am passionate about helping consumers save BIG money! In my 20 years as a consumer affairs reporter I have uncovered thousands of tips for saving money. These money-saving tips have ranged from ways to get groceries for less, to how to haggle for a car at the dealership to unusual ways to earn money and where to find unclaimed money. For more of my money expert advice, please visit the Elisabeth Leamy blog.
Speaking of saving money, my most recent book is called “Save BIG: Cut Your Top 5 Costs and Save Thousands.” (Wiley, 2010) There are so many books on finance that suggest the way to become rich is by giving up the little stuff like your daily latte. I argue that the best strategy for saving money fast is to focus on the BIG stuff instead of —or in addition to— the small tips for saving money. I believes that to save big money you have to figure out where you spend the most money. When I did the research for Save BIG, I discovered that our top 5 costs are housing, cars, credit, groceries, and healthcare. So that’s where I went looking for savings and where you should look too.
Every money saving tip in Save BIG can net you at least a thousand dollars! Anything less didn’t make my cut. I take pride in digging up ways of saving money that you’ve never heard of before. For example, contest your property tax assessment: sample savings = $5,000 a year. Hire a medical billing advocate to comb your hospital bill for errors: sample savings = $6,858. Purchase a “dark horse car” that’s equivalent to one of the most popular makes and models, but less well known —think Nissan Altima instead of Toyota Camry: sample Savings = 20 percent! Save BIG contains more than a hundred money-saving tips like this. I conducted “Savings Makeovers” for Good Morning America, in conjunction with the book, that saved families five to six figures each.
Another strategy for saving money is to keep your money in your pocket. That was the goal of “The Savvy Consumer: How To Avoid Scams and Rip-Offs That Cost You Time and Money,” (Capital Books, 2004) This was my first book of personal finance advice as a money expert. The Savvy Consumer tackled the most common scams and rip-offs you will encounter when you buy a car, remodel your home, open a credit card, hunt for a job, go on vacation —and more. It is a valuable resource for young people about to embark on their own financial lives and older people who need a reminder that scammers really are out to get them. For more about my books, please go to the Elisabeth Leamy Books page.
The frustrating thing about writing personal finance books is that as soon as you send in your manuscript, you discover some new money saving tips that you want to share! That’s why I continue to write my featured money column for ABCNews.com. I have also written a money blog on my own site for many years. As a money-saving expert, I love how the internet gives us the ability to get information out there —fast and furious— the moment we have it. I offer up fresh ways of saving money, sidestepping scams and keeping your family safe most every week. For example, recent popular blogs have included: The new dashboard symbol you need to know so you don’t experience a tire blowout. The idea of opening multiple savings accounts as a way of sticking to a budget. 5 steps for getting your grocery budget under control. And how to get half a million more social security money from the government. I have organized my money blogs, by consumer category to make them easy for your to use.
Journalists are supposed to be unbiased, but I happily confess that I do have a bias: I’m a consumer advocate. Also known as a Consumer watchdog. Consumer reporter. Consumer affairs reporter. Consumer correspondent. All of the above. Think about it. If I were truly unbiased, I would equally support consumers and scammers, con artists and the conned, big business and the little guy. It’s not that I’m anti-business. Not at all. I’m just anti bad business. I believe in corporate transparency, fairness, ethics and honor. I’m for consumer rights and consumer protection. But —make no mistake— I also preach consumer accountability and self-responsibility. Savvy consumers do their homework before they spend their hard-earned money. My job is to help them do that. I hope you enjoy the articles I’ve written as your consumer advocate.
I occasionally partner with worthy companies that are doing good things for consumers. If I am genuinely enthusiastic about their products or services, I help them get the word out. How do I choose spokesperson assignments? Some companies have made an admirable commitment to consumer education. Some have developed products that help consumers solve tricky problems. Others have opened up a dialogue about thorny issues consumers care about. I’m picky. Before I work with a company as its brand ambassador, I check it out to make sure it’s truly consumer-friendly. I’m transparent. While I’m working with a company, I clearly disclose my ties. And I’m ethical. After working with a company, I recuse myself from doing stories about that company if I could be perceived to have a bias. If a company passes all of my tests, I have served as both a video spokesperson and corporate host. I’ve engaged in satellite media tours, webinars and town hall meetings. For more information about my corporate spokesperson services, please go the Elisabeth Leamy spokesperson page.
After speaking into a camera for years, it was natural to apply my communications skills to a new role: motivational and informational speaker. As a keynoter, I give a motivational speech about how to achieve career success, productivity, creativity and joy. I draw upon my own experiences climbing the ladder of the challenging broadcast business. I tell behind-the-scenes stories from my years at the Good Morning America show and the DrOz show and illustrate them with key video clips, then draw lessons from them that workers in any profession can appreciate. Audiences at my speaking engagements describe this motivational talk as self-deprecating, funny and relatable. I take the role of keynoter very seriously because I know the success of a conference depends on vibrant, original motivational speeches and informative speeches. As a keynote speaker, I am usually called upon to deliver more general, motivational speeches, but an informative speech can also fit the bill, especially if presented to a specialty audience.
I offer a popular informative speech about how to get your product or service featured on the news. (A great keynote speech for a public relations audience or breakout session for a general audience.) As a working journalist myself, I am a media relations expert because I know what we in the media respond to. This is one of my most informative speeches, because I slip into the role of media relations coach and describe exactly what, how and to whom you should make your pitch when you’re trying to get media attention. Consider this informative speech as an alternative to hiring a marketing speaker.
I am also one of the country’s financial speakers and offer an informative speech about how to save BIG money instead of giving up life’s little pleasures, based on my book, Save BIG. Another informative speech I deliver is my talk about how to create vibrant video, drawn from my 20 years in the ratings-driven television news business. It has also been my honor to serve as master of ceremonies —emcee— for clients holding an awards ceremony or similar event. For more details about my motivational speeches and each informative speech -including video samples— please visit the Elisabeth Leamy Speaker page.
When an organization needs more in-depth help than I can provide in a single informative speech about media relations, I offer media relations consulting services. In this role, no matter what you call it —media coach, media consultant, media trainer— I work hand-in-hand with clients on a longer term basis to offer PR consulting and PR strategy. I help them hone their media pitch and media outreach. I give media training to the company’s executives. I also advise on crisis communications, when needed. Occasionally I write media pitches on a company’s behalf until I can train the media relations staff to take over. I have been known to develop tag lines for business branding and conduct website reviews to better focus a company’s self-description. As in my corporate spokesperson work, I am choosy about which companies I work with and whether it will be a good fit. To inquire about media consulting, please visit the Elisabeth Leamy Consulting page.
Lots of individuals and companies provide media consulting, but few are true media relations experts who work in the news business and know how journalists think. Many have never been working journalists, let alone investigative reporters who have been on the opposite side, skewering companies. To me, that behind-the-scenes knowledge is what makes a true media expert who can demystify why news organizations do a glowing story one day and a devastating one the next. So when you go looking for a media relations consultant —whoever it is— make sure you hire someone who is a media relations expert because they’ve worked in the media, not because they’ve studied the media. To inquire about media consulting with a working broadcaster and columnist and true veteran of the media, please visit the Elisabeth Leamy consulting page.