Though she was already a success by any measure, a guest appearance on “The Dr. Phil Show” just over a decade ago changed everything for St. Louis native Areva Martin. She had risen from public housing in Carr Square Village to a Harvard Law School alum with who built one of the largest female-owned African American law firms in Los Angeles and was representing the families of a group of children with autism who said their children were being abused by a teacher. The case garnered national attention and a call came from the show’s producers for her to appear on an episode along with her clients. The visit set Martin on a course to become a regular contributing commentator on a host of political, social justice and legal issues.
“I didn’t know exactly what was going to come of it, but I knew sitting there that something magical was happening,” Martin said of her first visit on “The Dr. Phil Show.” “And I knew having a voice in the media would allow me to reach more people, touch more people and connect with more people.”
She was invited back again, and again. She soon became a regular on his show and others including “Anderson Cooper 360,” “The Doctors,” “Good Morning America,” “World News Tonight” and on networks such as CNN and MSNBC.
She authored a book entitled “The Everyday Advocate,” an acclaimed memoir about the journey of raising a child living with autism.
On Monday, May 7, Martin will be back in St. Louis sharing the tips and tools she’s learned while developing a platform initiated by her 2007 appearance on “The Dr. Phil Show” when she discusses her new book “Make It Rain: How to Use the Media to Revolutionize Your Business and Your Brand.”
The foreword for her new book is written by Dr. Phil himself.
“A lot of people have important messages in their communities and they can be change agents,” Martin said. “We see that with the students of Parkland, Florida who took on the mantel of the NRA. What I hope the book does is help people find their voice. That’s the most important part.”
When conversations in the news were framed around the shooting deaths of unarmed people of color by police and unrest in Ferguson in response to the death of Michael Brown, Martin was often a sought-after guest.
“It was invited on these shows not only because of my legal background and my civil rights background, but because I was from St. Louis,” Martin said. “I found myself trying to provide some balanced commentary, particularly during the unrest as some of the images that were coming out of St. Louis was less than positive. I found myself trying to push back on that narrative that protests were bad, they led to violence and they were counter-productive.”
People began flooding her email and social media with messages seeking advice based on seeing the perspective and the poise she offered during her appearances.
“It was through those inquiries that I realized that a lot of people have a voice and didn’t know how to deploy their voices or connect with people,” Martin said.
She noticed that with the rise of social media, developing a message that is a positive reflection of one’s personal brand was critical. So through “Make It Rain,” she sought to provide tools based on her experience in front of the camera and her understanding of the broadness of present-day media and how one can capitalize from it.
“Ten years ago, the people with platforms were elected officials and big celebrities. That’s changed,” Martin said. “Today, you can go to Instagram and find somebody with 5 million followers and you or I may have never heard of that person. They’ve identified an audience and tapped into that audience. That makes them powerful. That makes them influential. It gives them a voice.”
Martin’s personal experience led to a passion for helping people embrace that they have a perspective that can be used to benefit their personal brand, life’s work and purpose – and that getting people to tune in via the media (traditional, digital and social) is possible. She says that it can be a bit overwhelming, as people of the non-digital native generation get onboard.
“I remember a person telling me that they hated Twitter because people post about everything,” Martin said. “What somebody ate for breakfast might be important for who they are and what their message is.”
Martin is excited about sharing the nuggets from her new book before a hometown crowd. She’s also worked in private talks with the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis for their Save Our Sons and Save Our Sisters program.
“It’s critically important to connect with some group that would allow me to connect with students and people who look like me and come from similar backgrounds,” Martin said. “I want them to have the opportunity to see that it’s not where you start, it’s about the work that you put in that will determine where you finish.
Whenever I give talks I always tell people, ‘Never doubt your ability to achieve whatever you put your mind to and never allow anyone to outwork you.’ Those have been the guiding principles for me.”
Maryville Women & Leadership will host author Areva Martin in collaboration with Left Bank Books on Monday, May 7 at The Maryville University Auditorium. 650 Maryville University Dr., 63141. For more information, visit www.left-bank.com.