1831 – The Power of Authenticity and Purpose with Kayley Hamilton

In this episode of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks with the Founder of UPLVL Agency, Kayley Hamilton

Hamilton Wide

Kayley Hamilton's journey is as fascinating as it is instructive. She has a background in entertainment news journalism and a keen eye for what makes a story captivating. She brings this expertise to UPLVL Agency, where she helps entrepreneurs and founders craft and share their unique narratives. 

Kayley emphasized that having a unique and compelling angle is crucial for making any story newsworthy. It's not just about what you do but how you communicate your vision and purpose that captures the media's attention.

One of the key insights Kayley shared is the importance of personal transparency and a mission-driven purpose. In today's media landscape, authenticity isn't just a buzzword—it's a necessity. 

Audiences crave real connections and stories they can relate to, and that's where UPLVL Agency shines. They work with founders across various industries, from wellness and self-development to tech and marketing, all united by a strong mission to uplift others.

Kayley also shed light on the value of visibility campaigns. Earned media placements—such as podcasts, articles, and TV segments—are gold for entrepreneurs looking to elevate their brands. She encourages anyone interested in expanding their reach to visit the Uplevel Agency website and consider how a strategic visibility campaign could benefit their business.

Key Points from the Episode:

  • Introduction of Kayley Hamilton, founder, and CEO of UPLVL Agency 
  • Kayley's background in entertainment news journalism and transition to working with entrepreneurs
  • Importance of storytelling in public relations
  • Emphasis on the need for founders to have a unique and compelling angle for newsworthiness
  • Significance of personal transparency and mission-driven purpose in engaging with the media
  • UPLVL Agency work with founders in various industries, including wellness, self-development, tech, and marketing

About Kayley Hamilton:

Kayley Hamilton, the visionary founder of UPLVL Agency, boasts a remarkable career as a 2X Emmy-Award-winning celebrity news reporter, journalist, and producer. Raised in Colorado, Kayley's childhood fascination with Hollywood's spotlight and celebrity influence fueled her dream of connecting with stars on a personal level. 

Overcoming shyness, she pursued her passion, becoming a prominent red carpet reporter and interviewing A-listers like The Rock, Kim Kardashian, and Chris Pratt at prestigious events like The Oscars and The Golden Globes. With 8+ years in celebrity journalism, Kayley transitioned in 2020, seeking guidance through media, podcasts, and virtual talks. 

In 2021, she founded KAYLEY Media, rebranded to UPLVL Agency in 2023, dedicated to helping purpose-driven entrepreneurs amplify their message and visibility through strategic media exposure. Kayley's journey reflects her resilience and commitment to empowering visionary CEOs and founders to reach new heights.

About UPLVL Agency:

Founded in 2021 by Kayley Hamilton, UPLVL Agency emerged from her 7+ years of experience in the entertainment industry as a celebrity news journalist, reporter, producer, and host. Having witnessed the transformative power of media, Kayley recognized the potential for purpose-driven individuals to leverage these platforms with the right tools and stories. 

Departing from celebrity journalism, she established UPLVL Agency (formerly KAYLEY Media) as a comprehensive PR, consulting, and media company. The agency is dedicated to transforming founders into thought leaders by orchestrating impactful media exposure. 

In an era where mindful messages from heart-centered individuals are crucial, UPLVL Agency serves as a catalyst, providing the necessary support for clients to access significant media platforms and share their compelling stories with a wider audience.

Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Want to learn more? Check out UPLVL Agency website at

Check out UPLVL Agency on LinkedIn at

Check out UPLVL Agency on Facebook at

Check out Kayley Hamilton on LinkedIn at

Check out Kayley Hamilton on Twitter at

Check out UPLVL Agency Free Training: 6 Steps To Become The Celebrity Expert Of Your Industry in 2024 — from a Hollywood Reporter at

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Josh (00:00:05) - A thoughtful listener before we get going. Did you know that my company up My has launched more than 200 business podcasts. The host of our shows are amazing leaders and collaborators. Folks I want to connect you with. Maybe you deserve your moment in the spotlight as a guest of one of these amazing shows. Just go to up my, where you can see more than 50 shows that are actively seeking business leader guests like you to celebrate right now in front of their high caliber audiences. Just click on the podcast tab add up my, where you'll see shows like the Optics in Action podcast hosted by the visionary Ryan Weiss, president of EPS. This daily podcast is a treasure trove of insights for anyone in the manufacturing and construction world. Are you a business leader or innovator in these industries? Then Optics in Action is your go to source for stories that inspire and strategies that really work. Ryan and his guests dive deep into the journeys of successful founders, uncovering the secrets to scaling up in today's fast paced business environment.

Josh (00:01:23) - But that's not all. If you are at the helm of a thriving company, Optics in Action is actively seeking guests like you. In those industries, leaders who are shaping the future of manufacturing and construction. Share your story, your challenges, and your triumphs with a senior leadership level audience who are eager to learn from your experience. Don't miss this chance to be a part of a community of visionaries. Visit up my Influence Comm, click on the podcast tab and look for optics in action. Whether you're tuning in as a listener or stepping up as a guest, join us in driving the conversation forward. In the world of manufacturing and construction. Your voice matters and we can't wait to amplify it. With us right now. Kaylee Hamilton. Kaylee, you were the founder of Uplevel Agency. Your website is Uplevel Agency. No, I'm not sure. Trying to say phonetically. So it's basically like uplevel agency with a lot of the vowels taken out. It's uplevel agency. We listen to our friends, listen to our conversation right now, here's what you want to do in your podcast app.

Josh (00:02:37) - You're gonna want to follow along. Uh, you're going to love CLA, but click on the show notes or click around in your podcast app. Find the link that has a link directly to Kaylee's website so that you can join us there. Kayley, thank you so much for joining us.

Kayley (00:02:50) - Josh, thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.

Josh (00:02:53) - Also, you are based in Denver in Colorado, which is a state we love to go visit. That's where my daughter lives. Um, but Kayley, I'm so excited to learn a little bit more about your work with Uplevel Agency, who you work with and what you do.

Kayley (00:03:07) - Yeah, definitely. So my background is actually not in PR public relations, which is what Uplevel Agency is. My background is in entertainment news journalism. So I was a celebrity red carpet reporter for seven plus years. And then Covid happened and red carpet shut down and things changed in my life. And I kind of after, you know, all those years interviewing incredible people and connecting with them.

Kayley (00:03:34) - And I was really very much in the Hollywood bubble. And then during Covid, when things changed, I realized that there were so many incredible founders, entrepreneurs, thought leaders outside of Hollywood who honestly, I felt like showed up for me during a personally darker time when I needed their messages and I needed their expertise and just their views on life and their inspiration. And they showed up for me by making themselves visible on things like podcasts and in articles and on TV. And I was just opened up to this whole other world that was not Hollywood. And that's when I kind of had an epiphany and wanted to switch. And those types of people, those founders and entrepreneurs, became my new celebrities. And so with my background in media, I was like, gosh, I want to work with these people. These people need to reach their audiences. They need to, you know, share their message and their stories of inspiration. So I'm going to use my background in media to help them do that and help them reach the people they need to help, just like me.

Kayley (00:04:31) - So I started my agency. Um, it's been three years now, and we've worked with dozens and dozens of entrepreneurs and founders to help them reach the audiences who need to hear their message through the power of the media.

Josh (00:04:47) - Yeah. Um, Hayley, I just want to throw this little factoid about you. Um, you are a two time Emmy winner. Tell me more about that.

Speaker 3 (00:04:55) - Yes. Oh, my gosh. Thank you.

Kayley (00:04:57) - Yes. Um, I worked at Entertainment Tonight, um, for a handful of years interviewing celebrities, and I worked, um, in multiple different departments, but, yeah, Entertainment tonight, um, when I was working with them, we won Emmys two years in a row, and they continue to win Emmys in the Department of Entertainment news shows. And I actually grew up watching Entertainment Tonight. So it was a total, like, full circle moment and dream come true when I ended up working there.

Josh (00:05:25) - You and me both, by the way, my mom was.

Josh (00:05:28) - That's her go to. So I'm sure she has seen your work. Um, yeah. So, Kaley, I want to get to this. Um. And that is. I'm so eager to get your perspective on what is working well in PR today and what maybe may have worked in the past, but you're maybe not as big a fan of in PR, but yet may still be practiced.

Kayley (00:05:53) - Right? I mean, with my background in journalism, I was just always on the receiving end of endless PR pitches, and I just always saw all of the flaws in that. And a lot of the flaws were just these PR pros really focusing on what they were promoting, whatever the product was, what was the ultimate promotion as opposed to who the person was either behind the company or who the celebrity brand partner was. And I understand both sides working on both sides. It's like the journalists. They need the juicy story, they need the headline, they need the clicks and the audience and their intrigue. Meanwhile, the PR pros, I understand that side as well because they need that promotion.

Kayley (00:06:38) - That's why they're hired. That's what their job is, is to get that promotion for that company, for that brand or product service, whatever it is. But I feel like that's what gives us our edge, is just having that personal background, being the journalist and reporter and knowing exactly what the media is interested in. So just really honing in on stories and angles that will intrigue the media first and foremost, but also doing it through the lens of making sure that we are promoting exactly what needs to be out there. Whatever our founders are, um, our clients mission is, um, when it comes to getting PR, so there's a delicate balance between the two, but ultimately, what wins? Definitely what I've seen with PR and getting those powerful placements is that storytelling.

Josh (00:07:28) - You know, that's really interesting because I think some people when I asked that question, they may have expected you to talk a little bit more about outreach tactics. And that's interesting from an outsider's perspective, because having worked and folks on this podcast may know, that's kind of PR is my background.

Josh (00:07:44) - I don't do that work anymore, but I'm very passionate about it. You answered that question talking about the importance of story. And so for someone like, no, no, it's just tactics, right? It's it's blasting out press releases and, and you know, you got to have that in, you know, that insider database of journalist contacts. And that's how you win in PR. But you went for this story. Tell me more about that I know.

Kayley (00:08:08) - Thank you for pointing that out. I know I feel like the press releases and having the contacts, obviously relationships are always good and helpful and powerful, but it really that really is second to what the story is, what the powerful angle is. If it's tied to a news story that's making headlines, if you're a multifaceted founder and you have a really interesting backstory to you personally that ties back to your business or mission, just something really interesting and intriguing that's different. Or maybe you have something in your industry that is happening behind the scenes but isn't being talked about yet in the media, and you're like, why isn't this being talked about? You can be the one to own that story and to own that topic.

Kayley (00:08:56) - Or maybe you have a differing opinion about something that's happening in your industry. Just anything that makes you unique makes you stand out, whether it's who you are, what your background is, what you've overcome, or what your expertise is, what your opinions are, and really making it interesting. Because at the end of the day, as PR pros, I mean, our job is to definitely curate the most impactful media lists and media contacts to reach out to. Um, that's just PR 101, to not reach out to podcast hosts or journalists who don't cover or write about your clients topics. And so that's just kind of a given. But also, even if you have relationships, it's like just because, you know, if when I was a journalist at Entertainment Tonight or Us Weekly, just because my friend who was in PR just because we were friends didn't mean that I could always feature their client. It had to be aligned with the media outlet, and it had to be something intriguing and unique, and it had to have that juicy story.

Kayley (00:09:59) - So that's why I always comes back to the storytelling of it all.

Josh (00:10:03) - Yeah, yeah. Listen, your lips to God's ears and I truly mean that. And I hope that someone that is looking for more publicity really thinks about, like, it's about right fit, like, and, you know, back in the day, it was, you know, we used um, what's his name is term news jacking, right? Where you're just like you want to pay attention to what are people already talking about? How can you insert yourself into the conversation but maintain relevancy to what's important for audiences today? Far too often, I think a lot of us might get ideas, especially those who are business founders, that, you know, what we do is newsworthy. It maybe, but probably not right. But somehow you got to make it so right.

Kayley (00:10:43) - You have to make it newsworthy. And there are some tips I use and share with my clients and a few of those steps. The first is something I like to call the name drop.

Kayley (00:10:54) - And so it's something kind of. And it's hard when you're so zoomed into your business, your life, you really have to zoom out and think, okay, first of all, what's that name drop that's attached to me and my story? Maybe it's something that you, you know, tell people, new acquaintances when you're speaking to them and you happen to list off a few impressive things. And the name drop is the thing that makes people kind of do a double take and lean in, and maybe you even feel a little cringey when you say it. It's kind of like a humble brag, but I always say like, you have to own your humble brag. So think about what your name drop is like. For example, mine is, um, interviewing celebrities. Or maybe it's the being having, um, won two Emmy Awards, you know, something that's unique and a name dropping type thing. So think about what yours is. That can be helpful. Um, your successes and achievements. Definitely.

Kayley (00:11:45) - Anything it can be in your professional expertise. It can be personal. Those can be really powerful to add to your story, challenges and anything that you've overcome. And honestly, be as transparent as you feel comfortable being. Um, the more transparent, the more powerful, I think. And then the last thing is just getting really clear on your mission and how it's unique and what that unique kind of selling proposition is like. What makes you and what you do really stand out from your competitors, from others in your industry. It does have to be really unique and different. And it is hard, um, because, you know, founders will think, oh, I have a new product launched or we just. Celebrated one year, something that's a little bit more vanilla and it needs to definitely like you have to be able to picture it in a headline.

Josh (00:12:38) - Yeah. Yeah. Right. Right. Yeah. It's interesting. Like by the way, press releases, we joke about that, right? It's um, especially like if you're relying on like a press release distribution system.

Speaker 3 (00:12:49) - Yeah.

Josh (00:12:50) - Not very valuable in our experience. I mean, unless you really, really, really have a great, you know, well thought out story that truly is. But yeah, most of the press releases I see, it's celebrating our third year anniversary now. Sorry, that's not you know, that's generally not valid enough. Hey, Kaylee, I want to ask you about like, um, you know, again, examples of, like who? Well, let me ask it this way. Who should be reaching out to you? And what does that engagement typically look like when you're working with a client?

Kayley (00:13:19) - Oh great question. So we work with um, founders in the more wellness self-development business space, tech as well, marketing, it kind of runs the gamut because I really hone in on those multifaceted founders. So ones that maybe are entrepreneurs have a couple of different businesses or the ones that maybe host a podcast, or they are credentialed in a couple of different things, or they have a social media following.

Kayley (00:13:49) - Nothing too giant and crazy, but there's something consistent online on their socials that's really helpful, and definitely someone who has a unique and powerful story of kind of what led what got them to where they are today. That's either inspirational or something that people can connect with on a deeper human level, that they're open to telling um, on a deep level, say in a podcast interview, just people who are and also who have a mission to help others. Like I always say, I work with purpose driven, heart centered founders because it's just so much fun. Like someone who has a really strong mission and wants to uplift people. It's really fun being a part of helping them do that and having that, um, purpose. So that's kind of, yeah, the type of founders that we work with.

Josh (00:14:45) - And so when somebody goes to your website and your website, again, it's LinkedIn or podcast, uh, show notes here, uplevel When they go there, what would you recommend they do. So right now maybe they're just they're just getting to know you.

Josh (00:14:59) - Maybe they've seen something about you. Now they've spent some time with us here. Where do they go from here. What would you recommend they do next.

Speaker 3 (00:15:06) - Yeah. Thank you so much.

Kayley (00:15:07) - They can definitely check out the website. And if you do feel inclined, I call them visibility campaigns instead of PR campaigns because it's complete visibility on earned media platform. So podcasts, articles, TV and you can go to our contact page and fill out a quick little form and week, and then I'll start reaching out to you from there to see if we are a good fit. Beyond that, you can visit our Instagram at Uplevel Agency, underscore, uplevel, know ease, and uplevel. Um, and there you can see some of our recent client wins and get kind of a taste of what type of articles and podcasts and TV segments that we're getting our clients on.

Josh (00:15:47) - Yeah. Kaylee Hamilton again, founder and CEO, Uplevel Agency. Uplevel Kayley, thank you so much for joining us.

Speaker 3 (00:15:57) - Thank you so much.

Kayley (00:15:58) - Josh was such a pleasure.

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