Home improvement expert Kathryn Emery has made a name for herself by handpicking the best products for your home and sharing them on your favorite local news channel or national morning show.
She helped guide Home Depot to its rise as the premier retailer in the country, by telling its story and allowing millions to connect with them.
I’m honored to call Kathryn Emery my friend. Her boundless energy and positive attitude always leave me feeling joyful and inspired.
In this episode, we chat about the home improvement industry, and she shares her secrets on content marketing and brand building.
Today’s guest is Katherine Emery. I’m very excited to finally chat with her. I’ve known her for years back in the day when she worked at Home Depot. She’s really responsible for helping guide that brand into the number one retailer that it is today.
She’s been around home improvement for years. She currently has a website called Be The Best Home. You can find her on social media as well. She’s a TV presenter, she hand picks the best products for your home, gets them on Good Morning America, home shopping network. She’s all over your local TV, national TV. She’s really everywhere.
Kathryn Emery is kind of the face of home improvement, home technology, home products. If you’re watching TV, you’re bound to see her so I’m very excited to have her here. Even though we’re not on camera, all of her vivacious energy, just you know, will pop through the microphone. And I’m sure you’ll enjoy this chat as much as I did. She’s also a genius at branding and content marketing. And I always need help with that. So I jumped into that as well.
Kathryn, thank you so much for talking to me here. I’ve just finished up wrapping a national hardware show so fun interview for you and with you. So yeah, this is so fun. And now we can talk about you which I know what trouble for me to talk to other people about themselves. I’m it’s a little tougher for me to to talk about. It’s so funny too, because you know, so much, you know, so much home improvement, like I just want to like crack open your brain and see how many product projects. If I could just put all the writings of Timothy Dahl down on paper? Well, I think maybe I’ve just been around for so long.
But I was just thinking about you your career, and how you really have a unique, you have a unique thing going on with what you’re doing right now. Because I think of I think I’m a little unique just because I had that corporate background working in home improvement working for a media company. And now I’m doing things myself, but you kind of have that. You’ve been on both sides of the fence. Yeah. Yes. Yeah. So, you know, I mean, I can, you know, and why I think is because you read you write this old Oh, sorry.
For years and years, a long time makes me feel so old. But you know, it’s a lot of knowledge. It’s street cred, I call it That’s great.
So yeah, you’ve wrote Home Depot for for quite a while. So you were on that side. We have brands specifically, you know, you know what their intentions are you know, what they’re looking for? Yeah. So and then you switched over to kind of you know, being on your own Uh huh. And you know, working with influencers working with media on that side but also engaging with brands and so you know, kind of everybody’s motivations and like to me I thought who better to serve a brand company than someone like yourself? Because you you know exactly what you’re trying to hit with their their ROI is the things that are important to them whereas somebody like me, I might not necessarily know the inner workings of how of what they need. Sure. So yeah, I just popped my head that is so you know, it’s so well put too because it’s like, you know, like you and I we both in I even before
I worked in house PR for Home Depot, I worked for magazines in fact, I always joke I worked for cat fancy magazine straight out of college. Okay, so I My favorite thing about that job was my outgoing message. Thank you for calling in have a perfect day. That’s great, you know, I didn’t get paid that much. And then I went over to the PR side of things so the public relations side and obviously 17 years of those with Home Depot. But you’re right it is it’s interesting and I always like to tell people like working with brands is really unique because you omo you have to maintain your authenticity right so like you have you know, obviously channel here with tool crave, or mine You know, Katherine me TV, you can find me on social media, usually on those channels. And like, you know, as you said, I go on news stations now with my own business nationwide, so anywhere from Good Morning America, to you know, Los Angeles to DC. So, but it’s like you have to toe that fine line between telling a brand story the way they want it told because obviously there’s corporate messaging, right? You want to, you want to learn about the specs you want to learn about, you know, what, whatever the benefit is to the customer. But then as a storyteller, like you and I are, you have to maintain that authenticity because if I sit there and go on, KTLA Morning News, and I just rattle off a bunch of marketing points. I’m not doing anyone a service because number one, I’m losing my audience because I’m not having fun with it. It’s not authentic. So when it was funny, because right when I left home depot, I struggled with that because I know what brands want. So I tried to talk in marketing copy, and then the minute I did that for about a year and then the minute
I just let that go. And any brand I work with now, and I work with some amazing brands, you know, like rejuvenate Rubbermaid quickie Sylvania, lightbulbs GE life eggs. I mean, you know, greenworks heart tools, ego, I mean a Diablo, go on and on, I had to tell them, Look, I will get your messaging across, but I’m gonna say it in the way that I’m going to say it. And then that’s what’s going to get people watching. So yeah, that’s important, because it’s still important everybody, as a consumer, you kind of get it when you’re kind of being spoken to from a marketing person. Yeah, somebody who just has copy, and they’re just going to read you regurgitate that, absolutely, you know, someone like you can really craft their story. Because like you because you were in PR, and you understand, you know, what, what connects with people? Absolutely, personally and connecting with somebody saying, Hey, this is you know, this is working for me. Yeah, it’s gonna work for you. But But yeah, but can I breaking through that and because you don’t have to deal with a lot of mistake, which just huge like, so you’re sure you know, you can kind of Yeah, you can just like do your thing. And it’s probably was a relief in some ways, maybe leaving home depot and not having to have all of those people checking things and whatnot. And you can like, Hey, this is what needs to be done. And then just being able to do it. It’s so it’s so funny you say that. So I actually worked from depot’s, we said for 17 years, they the new corporate regime came in and they wanted to and I’m doing air quotes relocate my position to Atlanta. So I love Home Depot, I would, I wouldn’t, I would have gone somewhere, eventually. But I was kind of forced into it. But I’m so thankful for the Corps, I call it corporate training, like I was a corporate soldier, I know how to put together I know how to communicate. And that’s one thing people should really think about is communication is key. Even if you, you know, make sure you’re precise, you know, if it’s a business associate, don’t don’t abbreviate words, like put together a good sentence, you know, don’t over communicate, you know, but but put together a fluid, something that you want to say have something in plan, kind of have an action plan. And that corporate training, really just how to approach someone how to get someone’s attention, how to gain their respect, how to communicate well with them, how to report back what you’ve done, because a lot of a lot of people will get business and say, Okay, I want to post your stuff on social, I want to bring your stuff on TV. And then I’m done. And they walk away, what I do is I put together, I’ll gather the link, I’ll tell them the impressions, I’ll send them back, I’ll send some pictures, you got to close that loop, because they’re going to remember and go when it’s time for them to scramble and put together that corporate report to their boss that probably approved the invoice that they paid to you. They go, Oh, I remember that she got those hits, she got that hit in Los Angeles, or our Phoenix and Yahoo News. And it was awesome. Let’s hire her again for this next product. So that’s how I get people coming back is you know, just being true, being authentic, really believing what I’m talking about, but then kind of packaging it up and reporting it back. Because that communication in and out is almost as important as the job you do for that mistake. Right? Right. You know, one thing I see too is when
the stories that you’re telling about these different products, are these brands. Are they presenting you with? With something to work with? Or is it really just like, this is what we’ve done that here’s a sheet, and then kind of you do your magic? Yeah, that’s a great question. It’s it’s hit and miss. So some brands will come and say, hey, I’ve got a new product like Sylvania came to me, they’ve got this new true wave light bulb that is light that gets as close as you can get to the natural sunlight. So they say, Hey, we’re launching this, how can you tell our story. So a lot of times, if it’s a theme or season, I’ll build a story around it, and I’ll put other products with it. Now all the products you see on TV with me, I don’t get paid for all of them, I always have to tell a good story first. So I earn a lot of the products I actually hunt down, I stock them I love it, that’s a loving term, obviously, I’m not like in their bushes, like looking in the window. But like, you know, like Father’s Day gift ideas. Like I had a clear idea that I wanted like a great tool brand. And you know, so I’ve got heart tools and their their new Walmart line I’ve got, I’ve got Rubbermaid it’s like a garage storage organization system, and my idea was, and then I’ve got these new misting system at Lowe’s, amazing Mr. Lowe’s, but my idea was do a project with dad. So I kind of build the story. And then I look for brands, or if brands come to me with really cool products, I’ll see if there’s a current story I can fit it into. And I’ll kind of alter the story that way because you’ve got to tell the story above and beyond or people aren’t going to Who cares if it’s not cohesive? You know, if I had a shower curtain and a lawn mower and a light bulb all in one segment people What is she talking about? Well, so I always try to have a theme and then I go after that and even if I don’t make money on it, I’m still telling a good story and that’s what gets me invited back to the TV stations right Right. I mean you kind of bringing that influencer side of things into directly with the product. So yeah, way that I think the kind of the rise of the influence or the rise of the DIY youtubers because they were already telling stories. It was natural for them because they were using a product they were having something themselves so
That that’s some people you know, connected with that compared to some of the corporate messages. Yeah. So again thinking about you thinking about thinking about the stories again that you’re telling you’re kind of you can do that for these days you understand the influencers, you know, you understand that process of telling that story. Yes. And I love that they brands listened to me which is nice because inside Home Depot for the whole time I was there, I managed what they call the honor homers. So it was the apron associates that would go on. So you know, if you flip on ABC and Boise, you flip on NBC and Tampa. And you see, like, you know, Debbie Hernandez or, you know, Sue Monday on they’re talking about the products I was the person that would write help write the stories for them, train them, get them on air. So it’s kind of it is a whole process though, because you know, you’ve got to get the good story, then you’ve got to get the producer at the TV station interested, then you’ve got to get on there. And, you know, sometimes you’ll have something in there and your story and they’ll say, Okay, I you know, I like the light of toilet paper roll holder from Delta. And I like the brondell toilet seat. But you know, oh, I don’t like this product. So much. So put in a new product. So you just have to be nimble. And I think more than anything, it’s like, you can’t always look at like, money. You know what I mean? It can’t always be about that. It needs to be about just being passionate about what you do, and really liking what you do. Like I really love. Who knew I’d be a home improvement geek, right? I’m like, Why wasn’t my like a sommelier? Like it could be a wine geek. What was my travel? Like, I could be in Italy right now. Right? But it’s like, I got into Home Depot in 2001, a head vendor found the job for me. And I thought to myself, what the heck am I going to promote at Home Depot. And here there I was 17 years later, but I mean, I love it. Everyone has a home. Everyone’s always looking to improve their home, whether it’s an apartment, whether it’s a room, whether it’s a mansion, there’s always something you can do to it. It’s just a common thread, through through everywhere. I mean, through United States through the whole country, right. So it’s just it’s been really it’s been a really fun industry to be in. And hey, that’s how we met. Yeah, which is great. I started stalking you earlier. The Charles and Hudson days, hey, include our product, please. In your website, we get that time to you are one of the only people doing that. I feel like a lot of people weren’t the home. That segment just wasn’t what it is today. No, there wasn’t a big, you know, big budgets. I don’t think behind that, either. But, um, we got no that was a, you know, I was gonna say one of the things that’s interesting to me too, is that you’re mean you’re on TV so much, you know, but you also have to be the best home yeah, be the best home kind of, you know, you don’t have people don’t have to be connected with just, you know, these different TV spots, you know, sharing it through Instagram. Yeah, through your website and to your own other media platform that you’re doing at youtube. 100% Yeah, that’s the ideal. And now like you were just here as a guest on you know, the National hardware show have a host I’m a host on there so I would that’s what I would would love my next iteration is to be some sort of a home improvement lifestyle host on some show, I would love like a, you know, a woman on the street roving around talking to people I really just love. That’s one thing that’s really propelled me in my career and kept me is, is the relationships is just helping someone out and talking to them and taking just a minute to listen to their story and seeing like, Hey, could we potentially, like enhance each other or work together or like and when I was at Home Depot, you know, I would go to these golf events and I was the one PR person with a sea of 1000s of vendors and they all want my ear and it’s like I would take the time yet Tell me what’s your product? Oh, great. And listen to him in tenfold it has come back to me because they’ll remember Oh, I remember you that event. You made me a smaller and listened to me talk about my new generator and it was awesome. Like the guys now like Alright, let’s do business and it’s just it’s funny full circle. So it just it goes to show to no matter what business you’re in just take a minute make that connection with somebody you know in respond to that email even if it’s a no or you know, respond that text I nobody calls anymore. But if it’s important, pick up the phone and call go in person. Make those relationships because that really is what and then someone you know, someone sees a perfect product. Oh my god, you know, Katherine Emery has to promote that product, you got to call her or you know, like toolcraft has to cover that item. It’s an amazing Pro, you know, it’s like, that’s, it’s just that channel and that network. And if you if you really like it, it’s effortless. And if you don’t like it, then it’s not maybe the right business to be in, you know what I mean? Because it really is just such a relationship built business. Right? So somebody who’s been in this world for a long time. If I was a small medium sized company, maybe you didn’t think I had had the budget or maybe I didn’t How would you convince me to kind of use my budget to engage with someone like yourself and you make it How would I know it’s worth my while that’s that’s Oh, that that wasn’t worth your while is huge, the ROI because a lot of people have been burned a lot and sure get scammed and they never want to do it again and they’re scared and you know, they just need to
Have you connected with the right person? Absolutely. to the next level? Oh, absolutely. Well, I mean, I guess, you know, return on investment is huge. So in public relations, it which is which I’ve been in forever, it’s hard because, you know, social media is, you put the you put the product up, you click through, you can measure it pretty accurately. So you know, if you’re, if you’re in that business, obviously, having reporting to show people like your results is always good are always good. But public relations is influencing people. So it’s more like brand name. So someone might see a product that I talked about, but they might not go buy it right away. So it’s just, I would tell brands, you know, it’s a little bit of both, you know, you want you want to obviously, just just be out there first, first, formulate your message, like what is your message? What do you What are you trying to communicate, you know, whether it’s like an enhancement, lifestyle enhancement, or just our product, get your product messaging down, so that I would spend that before I spend any money on social media marketing and advertising. Because if you don’t have a message, and a clear path to how people are going to purchase your product, then you’re wasting your money. If you go out there and have a bad, it’s someone that sees content, that’s not accurate, they’re not going to eat, whether it’s social media, whether it’s on TV, whether it’s you know, wherever marketing, advertising, SEO, they’re not gonna, they’re not going to get it back. So first, really invest in developing that and partnering with, you know, people, like people like us that are content creators, like true content creators, but don’t just get any content creator, get a content creator in your space, don’t go get a content creator, that does beauty and lifestyle. If you’re trying to sell a hammer, you know, go to those go to those hardware, people really go. Because it’s funny I have I have brands that will have other public relations agencies, and they’ll say, oh, they’re trying to get us all this publicity. And it’s like, but do they even know what your product does? And how it works? If they don’t know that? How are they going to talk to you? How am I going to convince you because when you’re in, like, when you’re trying to convince whether it’s social media, where you’re trying to convince your reader or your viewer, or it’s in public relations, or you’re trying to convince an editor to write about it, you got to know about what you’re talking about. And you have to have a clear, concise message, and you have to be passionate about it. So if you don’t have that, so I would say initially, oh, wait, get in, get on the ground level, invest in a good content creator and really get like a good kind of press kit and messaging down? And then decide do I want to spend on social do I want to spend on SEO? Do I want to spend on pr do I want to spend on broadcast, and you mean, I like sprinkling a little bit throughout all of it, you know, there’s some people are like, Oh, it needs to be all social media, there needs to be all this, you got to try it all, because you’re gonna get all this different. You know, like, the Gen Xers probably watch TV a little more. The Gen wires, and Millennials are on social media a little more. So who’s your Who’s your audience too? So there’s, but like a content good content creator could could do that breath and kind of have it like, all encompassing for you, right? And that’s really great advice. Because you don’t want to leave the agency to come up with your messaging. Now. You don’t you know your business better than anyone and like you said, Get that solid. Yeah. And bring it to them. And they can something they can they can work with? Yes. And even just give them an idea. Or if it’s a good agency, give them your products, they try it out for a month or try it out for two weeks. Here’s everything it does. Here’s the spec sheet, you tell me what you tell me what our messaging should be. But make sure it’s not just, you know, five people in a room that have never picked up a hammer before doing a full tool line category review. It’s right, you don’t even know how to hold it. What are you doing? I think they should, you know, you think people should, you know, try to engage directly with an influencer themselves or seek out these agencies and how do they How do they find someone who’s in their space? Yeah, I mean, do you mean in terms of the brand? Yeah. The brand? Yeah, yeah. I mean, I mean, it? It depends. I mean, it’s funny, because I, you know, I can ask the same question you because you get a lot of these pitches. I think I think sometimes it’s nice hearing from like the owner, but a lot of times are like the owner or inventor. But a lot of times, I mean, these owners and inventors, how do they know even how to get in touch with you? Or how do they know even how to look for people. So just like anything, I think you should utilize the category expert. So if you want press, you should go to public relations person. If you want social media, you should go to a social media person, because they know how they know the best practices are. It’s tried and true, right? Like you got to pay for them. But they know what’s going to work. They know like you we were talking earlier on the national hardware show five spot which people have to tune into that too, about how like you would get these pitches that are like 10 paragraphs long, and they haven’t even gotten to the punch line. Yeah, it’s like a trained professional would never do that. Has subject it’s in the subject headline for bullets link picture. Can I send you a sample? What’s your address, boom, like that. But that’s for me doing it for 20 years knowing how to do second nature for you. But totally Yeah, a lot of people like you said they never pitch also they’ve never it’s different when you’re pitching an influencer versus
mainstream media. Absolutely. Yeah. So I understand how that some I would say to for the influencers, be prepared to spend some money right
Cuz like a lot of people think people want to do things for free. But, I mean, I think people like product trades. I mean, you could speak to that too, because you probably get a lot of pitches, but like, just like anything an influencer, they’re they’re running a business like that’s, that’s a channel that you’ve got to be willing to invest in. So I don’t think brands, I think brands shouldn’t expect to get things for free, or they should expect to want to invest in a little bit. Right.
Yeah. And I think if, instead of, I think, also kind of engaging, released, following the influencer, following the media outlets, and letting them know, and seeing what their style is, yeah, let me know, if they’re very obviously, you probably want somebody who’s very open with, hey, this is a relationship here I was, they provided this product. This is what I think and, you know, if they have your style, that you really jive with television, you know, they’re on track with you sometimes. Maybe somebody you know, has a big audience. But if that doesn’t quite fit with you, then you shouldn’t you don’t need because the audience isn’t right fit, then it’s not the right.
Yeah. If it’s a if it’s a beauty expert, and she has, you know, 500,000 followers don’t don’t don’t picture the don’t picture the screwdriver, although maybe but you know, don’t picture the don’t picture the mower know what I mean? Like, it’s just, that’s the thing to you. And And to your point, do you really want is her? Are her followers or his followers gonna care? So you got to think even if it’s a smaller following, like, is that’s an authentic following. So if it’s, if it’s 500,000 people, but 499,000 don’t care about your widget, where if it’s 10,000 followers, and 9000 of them are only there for the widget, be smarter. And you know, that’s the whole micro influencer, we’ve heard that term a lot this year. But I really think there’s some authenticity to that, where it’s, you know, making sure and finding fresh voices to you know, there’s obviously a lot of trade and choose, especially in our industry, there’s Titans out there. But I mean, and you being one of them, the founder, you know, of Charles and Hudson and tool crave. And I mean, you’ve been out there like we we walk the show floors with all of our friends, right? But But I mean, there’s also other voices out there. So like, if it is a nice, like I did a hand sanitizer campaign, just because, you know, Tis the season to talk about hand sanitizer, and we needed influencers. And it was a really interesting demographic, because I know all the tools and hardware folks, but like an ish, I mean, I guess, you know, you want it after the job, but you know, you just have to pivot. So I need to make, you know, you need to be relevant to your audience, basically,
was it that kind of ties in another question I had for you, because, so I look at you as a mentor in this space. I mean, the experience you have, and, you know, I just, I, it’s easy for me to look up to what you’ve accomplished in what you do. So thank you. So for someone like me, who’s Yeah, I, it’s part of my work that I do, but, you know, thinking of a non endemic brand to work with, yeah, how does? Is it? Um, is that natural for me to pitch the heck in a pitch the same story, the same sort of thing? But, but the brand is, maybe it’s not really the home improvement? Yeah. How would I get into those? open those doors?
I mean, I would say, that’s a good question. You use it, I would say if you want to, so like, you know, you’re in the tool space. I would, there’s almost like, think of it like a spiderweb. Like your, your core of your core base is tool, right? So but, but there’s so many things related to tool, right? There’s, there’s cleaning, there’s, you know, convenience, there’s so many other webs in there. So I think you I think you start getting outside of the web a little bit like, you know, you just kind of start going out and out a little bit more, kind of into more lifestyle stuff. Because it’s then then your audience starts to get used to it. Whereas if it’s just a hard tool one day and the next day, you’re talking about like, you know, the latest sunscreen and might just be like, Wait, where did he go with that? Where if you go to tool to maybe a lawnmower outside Okay, now that we’re outside, let’s use the sunscreen. You know, if it’s like a natural flow, you’ve got to like, as long as it’s like, what is it six degrees? Not six degrees of separation Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. But like kind of that because that’s what I find like I’m home improvement. Yeah, but like, I want to talk about other lifestyle stuff. Like I love music. I love you know, I love travel. I like you know, booze, I like food. I like all that stuff. So and I consume it on my own. So technically I’m a consumer right and if you technically talk about but the way I would personally get into that is hey, let’s create an outdoor living space at home and make sure you have you know, Don Julio tequila drinks to serve your guests and make sure you have music poping from the Bose speakers, like see it’s like a web kinda so that that would be my advice is like don’t just completely like jump off the pier. Like make sure those kind of slats like like you’re taking steps to get there, basically.
Yeah, I came up I had a drug company come to me. It was kind of interesting time they had a story already, but it was like, you know, after all, All right, Dave, of working on your yard doing gardening. You know, you back might start hurting, you need these, you know, things. So there’s something that you know, I was not so sure that you said you talked about the abruptness of it and drop it in there. Was it so sure. Like, is it something I should like? Kind of? Well, I think we’re good too, though,
I don’t you think your audience will and your, your, your, your audience will know, like if you don’t get a lot of likes or comments, or like what the heck, but I think it kind of keeps you fresh too. Because like, Do you notice, like, we have colleagues that like have these channels, and it’s like the same thing over and over and over and over again. And it’s phenomenal, because I know if I need like a woodworking project, I know where I’m gonna go for inspiration. But I like the very like, there’s the channels that throw out. That’s what I try to do. Like I try to vary it as well. As you see, I’ve got a lot of different brands on there. From like a birthday to a lightbulb to a broom to you I go luxury and to like DIY to some Pro. But it’s like I like it because people are coming back and they don’t like like, I think of microfiber cloth is like the sexiest thing you can buy because it’s just the best. It’s like amazing people like you’re such a dork. You love microfiber. I’m like, it is like the magnet. It’s like a super magnet for liquid. But then the next day I’m talking about you know, something else that it’s like, I think I hope that people tune in, because they’re like what you can talk about next, you know, so I think very variation is good. Otherwise, you’re you’re one trick pony.
You know what I mean? Okay, good luck. I switch it out like that. Okay, like the attitude, right? Um, I know you’ve had a really big day today, I think so much for we’re sitting here, right? So you’ll be amazing. It’s part of why you live in California.
I know, right? Whenever there’s rain, I want like money back on my property taxes. I pay the most. Yeah, we just did. I just did a 20 interview satellite media tour. And then did a six interviews for national hardware, show the list and honored that we were kicking. We’re like firing up. I stopped you again. I say stuck in a loving manner. I’m like, What am I going to be on your podcast?
I appreciate you making me urging me to kind of maybe start this up again. But yeah, no, this is this had to happen. And I’m grateful that you took the time today.
Oh, nice. Yeah. Always My pleasure. You know, I just think you’re just one of the best. So great talking to you. Okay, we’ll
see you at the National national hardware show and world of concrete!
Yes, yes. It’s for shows to open. So excited as it is. That’s awesome. You’re the best. Thank you.
Thanks for listening to Tool Crave. If you like the show, please rate and review us on Apple podcasts or wherever you’re listening. Follow along with us for guest updates on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook at Tool Crave. And feel free to email us at podcast at Toolcrave.com for guest suggestion or just to say hi. Thanks again and see you soon.