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Exploring Life & Business with Maureen Famiano of MEFMedia

Today we’d like to introduce you to Maureen Famiano. 

Hi Maureen, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
My story really begins with a television broadcast background. It includes more than 30 years in television broadcasting. I began as a TV news reporter. I really enjoyed working with people and really helping to tell their stories. Some stories were easier than others, there were difficult days and there were also fun feature days as well. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I moved into news producing because I wanted to be more a part of the creative process. I compare it to working with a blank slate every day in a newscast – we worked to create & share information. I moved from NY to Tampa Bay in 1996 to become the 11 PM producer at WFLA Channel 8. It was a new city to me and I loved this great opportunity. I have been here 25 years now and I have not looked back. Tampa Bay IS a great city to live, work, play, and meet amazing community members. I have enjoyed sharing stories throughout. I gravitate to the stories of giving back and making a difference. I hope to inspire with the stories I help share.

After a number of years in news producing here in Tampa Bay, I made a switch to morning show television. I left behind special projects, election coverage, hurricane coverage, and news coverage to concentrate on the more positive and engaging sorts of stories. In a given hour we could inspire, motivate, teach and raise awareness for projects and community members. As the executive producer of two local morning shows on NBC and CBS, I’ve worked with countless guests booking close to 15,000 guests myself. In each guest visit, I’d work to get to the heart of the story. It all came down to what is their story & what makes a guest unique and different. While I’ve worked with big celebrities like Jimmy Fallon, Dr. Oz, Jack Hanna, Paula Dean, David Foster, Dolly Parton, and many others, it was the everyday local people that really sparked my interest. Often, I would change the interview at the last minute because I would ask one more question to get nuggets of loveliness to better engage with the audience at home. They would trust my lead, go with it and the interview would be fantastic. They loved sharing their story and agreed it made sense. Afterwards many guests would come up to me and ask if I could be a consultant for their companies. I could not as I was working 12-hour days on many occasions and had little time for anything else. But that frequent request stayed in the back of my mind.

A few years ago, I made the leap to begin to put my strategy, branding & media expertise to work to help tell people’s stories. I launched MEFMedia where we offer PR/Marketing/Strategy/Branding & Media outreach along with creating videos for companies, businesses, entrepreneurs & individuals. It is not one size fits all. It’s a boutique business where we offer a variety of services streamlined to a customer’s needs.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
As for obstacles or challenges, I will share that 10 years ago I was dealt a big breaking news story of my own. Working at the top of my career, in a busy and deadline-filled industry, I was shockingly diagnosed with Stage 3 Colon Cancer.

I pride myself on being very organized and this was not on my “to do” list. I double-checked & triple-checked and it was not there. I had to deal with the diagnosis, young children & a career – it was a lot.

I faced a daunting decision of how to accept my diagnosis and how to deal with it. I ended up getting three opinions. It began with surgery then it was followed by an aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatment because it was further along in the staging. I fought and fought hard. This journey took a year out of my life’s plans. I had to meet the battle head-on to win the fight of my life.

During this time, I was in and out of the hospital & in and out of my career. I really had to concentrate on living. Many people were very kind to my family and by offering meals and helping with kids etc. I will forever be grateful. On many occasions returning to the TV studio for work, I would greet guests with what would look like a water bottle attached to my hip. In reality, it was a 48-hour chemo drip that I would work with as the infusion of chemotherapy circulated my veins to help me beat the cancer. Some guests & co-workers knew, others did not.

When the cancer treatment protocol ended, I had five good years of good health. And then it reared its head again. I was faced with yet more decisions on what to do. In short, I made the decision to have my colon removed. It was a universal opinion that it was my best and only option I had. That daunting eight-hour surgery was immense and quite invasive. My body was forever changed, my digestion too. I consulted 4 surgeons to determine my best outlook possible. I ask a lot of questions, it’s the journalist in me. I ended up finding the answer and the best hope for as normal a life as I could have while missing a major organ. I’m happy to say three years later, I’m here. I’m contributing to many things in our community and I AM one of the lucky ones. I am blessed. I have been around for major family milestones involving my children. I’ve worked for that very goal. My outlook has always been positive and it remains that way to this day. My doctor’s credit that ‘can do’ attitude with part of my cancer battle’s success story. I was not done contributing to society. I have a lot more to do.

I believe this journey has made me even more empathetic and more compassionate than I was before. I find myself being an advocate for many and offer solutions to others finding themselves in challenging situations. They’ve seen me do it and many reach out for guidance. I believe the reason I am still here is bigger than me. I am here to offer hope and to offer a suggestion based on my journey. In my business, I help uncover people’s stories and help share it for others to be inspired and to be motivated.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about MEFMedia?
My company MEFMedia stands for Magnificent, Enthusiastic, Fantastic Media. We really concentrate on a two-pronged approach – a strategy first, media outreach second. I work to CREATE, COLLABORATE & CONNECT.
It involves a branding strategy outlook where we determine somebody’s unique story. Everyone has one. It’s often not what people talk about until you do a deep dive and ask a lot of questions. I often find people tell me things they haven’t shared with others in a long time or ever. I’m a good listener. That listening lets people open up and share vulnerabilities and amazing stories that should & could be used in their own business, platform or marketing material. Once we focus in on that we determine the best route to take for PR and media outreach. That’s the first step.

The second is creating a pitch and moving it into the media arena for coverage. We work to help showcase the unique story and share it in an inspirational, motivational & teachable way. I find I gravitate to people doing good, kind, inspirational & unusual things in our community. There are many great people who go under the radar. I find many people bury their own lead. I help bring it to the forefront and shine a spotlight on it. It’s always their story, I just uncover it.

I pride myself on relationships. I work to build them and keep them. That’s how I grow my business with referrals. I also have success with media outreach as the media members trust my story ideas and know I deliver on key component needs for storytelling. I used to be on the news side of the stories, now I’m on the PR side. I know a good story when I see it. I’m often told I do things differently from other publicists and PR Firms and they like it. Those things benefit my clients who get better results with me. I do many extras that clients may not even understand, but they are key components that make the media members get all aspects and story elements covered with MEFMedia. I go to them with as many of their needs covered because I understand timing and deadlines, interview options, coaching, and visuals. I was in their shoes so I think like them. In the end, if I deliver and make the interview process easy and organized, my client gets the exposure they deserve. It is what they hired me to do.

It gives me great pride to strategize, organize, develop & execute a plan, get the media interested in an angle, and then have a terrific interview take place. Once the interview airs or is published, it’s really terrific to have my clients share how friends and colleagues have seen the interview and share with them that they appreciate their efforts, event, background and more. There is nothing better than that win for my clients.

What does success mean to you?
I define success as being able to elevate a business, a person, or a group to the next level. I love when a strategy session leads to discovery. I love when that discovery leads to ideas. I love when those ideas lead to amazing pitches that result in media interest. Getting these people in front of the media means more people in our community learn about them. Time and time again those interviews have led companies to get more clients, more donations & other very unique and unusual opportunities. Many times, it’s the story that people just need to hear to feel better about the world. I love sharing good news and people want to hear it. I pride myself with helping to take people to those new levels. Without the publicity and media attention quite honestly, those big wins would not have happened. That to me is success. It gives me great pride to help showcase them.

My sort of media business superpower might be that I do find elements of positivity and kindness in the businesses and companies that I work with. They all have that element in them and people seem to gravitate to me for that exposure. I have a motto, it’s #TogetherWeWin. The media members I work with like the stories I share. Sometimes they reach out to me to see if I have anything cookin’. I love that and I always have something to share.

I really gravitate to stories about businesses or people making a difference, doing good things, or giving back in the community. Many have that element in them. I like to showcase that. These are businesses I believe the community needs to know about. So, I work to get them the spotlight they deserve. I pride myself on being successful in doing so. It’s a gut instinct knowing what stories need to be shared and how to do it. If it has those elements or I find them hidden, I know when I get crackin’ – onlookers will get the feels and goosebumps from a business doing unique things, a non – profit giving back or an average person making a big decision that can impact others. It’s pretty cool to be a part of that journey and put the spotlight on kindness, uniqueness and positivity.

I have a few examples of local stories that got national attention. One includes highlighting a local principal’s work creating a food bank in her school to help her students during the Covid-19 crisis in 2020. We did a few local tv media interviews and then pushed it out further. Ellen DeGeneres TV Show Producers were interested in her story and I coached her through that interview process. In the end, she was recognized on the show and sent a financial contribution for her work.

Another example involves a nonprofit working with the homeless called Blanket Tampa Bay. We did a bunch of stories that made it onto the national feeds. It’s exciting to share that Lady Gaga’s team reached out to ask that she be included in their #BeKind21′ campaign for September 2021. It’s all about kindness and showcasing the good that does exist. Without the media exposure, I was able to secure for her, the nonprofit owner readily admits that wouldn’t have happened. Who knows where this will go?

As I love what I do, my children know they too must find a job and career they are passionate about. I found mine decades ago and they will too. I remind them of the journey and how finding the ‘right’ job for them is so important and rewarding. I am proud of where they are, one in college and the other in their first job now. They are on the right path and I can’t wait to see where they end up. I hope my life and growth can be a good example for them too.

These career wins make me happy. It does bring me joy when people meet me at events or when I’m out and about and people recall one story or another that I’ve helped publicize. It may be people that I know and often it’s people I don’t know, but those who seem to know my work. They take a moment to reflect on the positive stories and share their favorite part of the story. That leaves me beaming because all the behind-the-scenes hard work is paying off and the person’s story is being seen and remembered. That gives me great pride. That to me is success. Again, I say #TogetherWeWin. I believe it!

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Maureen Famiano

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