Hilary JM Topper is the Chief Curator of HJMT Media and recent author of “From Couch Potato to Endurance Athlete.” Hilary has been a public relations practitioner for more than 40 years. She grew the firm from a home office to one of the largest on Long Island. She’s represented major national clients and local businesses and placed them in publications including the Wall Street Journal, NY Times, Good Day NY, and many more.
In 2007, her firm took a bit of a shift and included social media marketing as one of their offerings. That same year, Hilary started her lifestyle blog, HilaryTopper.com. A couple of years later she started ATriathletesDiary.com and her podcast, Hilary Topper on Air.
When she isn’t teaching as an adjunct professor at Hofstra University, Hilary focuses much of her time on her blogs and podcast. She has hundreds of thousands of followers and has recently become a social media influencer.
“From Couch Potato to Endurance Athlete” is a memoir and self-help book that encourages people to get out of their comfort zone and try something totally different. Listen in for some great takeaways about Hilary’s journey as an entrepreneur, author, influencer, and endurance athlete.
You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in…
- From couch potato to endurance athlete [4:04]
- Why Hilary decided to turn her blog into a book [9:49]
- What Hilary learned from writing 3 books [12:12]
- Hilary’s advice for aspiring authors [14:10]
- How to step outside of your comfort zone [15:09]
- How Hilary collected the quotes she used for her book [18:32]
- Hilary’s favorite section in her book [20:42]
- What Hilary finds most rewarding about teaching [24:25]
- Why the New York City Triathlon is her favorite [26:37]
- What Hilary did today that put her in the right mindset for success [29:17]
Hilary’s journey from couch potato to endurance athlete
After decades spent focusing on growing her PR firm, Hilary admitted that she had gained weight. To combat the weight gain, she joined a gym. Her trainer got her walking on a treadmill and eventually running. During this time, Hilary met a woman in a group she had joined who asked her to run together.
The two of them started to run together. She encouraged Hilary to sign up for a half marathon, which Hilary thought was crazy. They eventually ran a 5k and 10k together. A few years later, they decided to do a triathlon. Hilary had to learn how to swim at 53 years old. Last year, she did the Maggie Fischer Cross Bay Swim, spanning 5.5 miles from Fire Island to Bay Shore.
Why Hilary decided to turn her blog into a book
Hilary’s first two books focused on social media management. The first book—published in 2009—covered the new social media sites back in the day (many of which no longer exist). She wrote her second book, “Branding in a Digital World” specifically for the class she teaches. She wanted to create a workbook that they—and small businesses—could use to grow their business.
When Hilary first started running, she documented her journey on a blog, “A Runner’s Diary.” She documented her races, how she was feeling, injuries, nutrition, product reviews, etc. During Covid, her SEO guy recommended that she gather stories from her blog. Before she knew it, she had curated a 350-page book.
Hilary approached a publisher she’d built a relationship with. She’d reviewed this publisher’s books and had their authors on her shows. So when she approached them with “From Couch Potato to Endurance Athlete, they were on board.” Listen to hear Hilary’s advice for aspiring authors!
Hilary’s favorite section in her book
Hilary finds inspiration in the chapter she wrote about the New York City Marathon. Her mother had passed away a year earlier. She spent her training runs coming to terms with things that she’d never resolved with her mother. So during the actual race, she dedicated each mile to another person. Some of the last miles she dedicated to people who say “I can’t.” She never thought she’d run a marathon or triathlon. But she did. And she believes that if she can, anyone can.
And Hilary continues to overcome the voice that says “I can’t.” The New York City Triathlon scared Hilary. It wasn’t going to be an easy race. She was close to calling it quits and not participating. She went to lunch with a client and told her about the event. Her client said, “I don’t understand why you’re nervous; you’ve jumped in dirty water before.” Hillary realized she was right. She participated in the marathon and had the best experience.
Resources & People Mentioned
- From Couch Potato to Endurance Athlete
- Branding in a Digital World
- Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Social Media But Were Afraid to Ask
- Hilary Topper on Air
Connect with Hilary Topper
Hilary JM Topper, MPA has been a public relations practitioner for more than 40 years. She started working in 1982 for a music publicity firm. After that, she worked at Ogilvy & Mather PR, Clairol in the PR department. She also worked at Hill, Holliday/PR and Ruder Finn/PR. In addition to her agency work, she was the PR director for two large non-profit organizations in New York City.
She started HJMT Public Relations, Inc. in 1992. She grew the firm from a home office to 25-person office in Westbury and then Melville. Her firm was one of the largest on Long Island and had more than $1.5 million in revenue.
She has represented major national clients as well as many local Long Island businesses and have placed them in publications including but not limited to the Wall Street Journal, NY Times, Good Day NY, Wine Spectator, First for Women, and hundreds more publications/broadcast outlets.
In 2007, her firm took a bit of a shift and included social media marketing as one of their offerings. Hilary wrote one of the earliest books on social media marketing called, Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Social Media but were afraid to ask. The book was self-published in 2009.
In addition to being an early adopter, Hilary started her lifestyle blog, http://www.HilaryTopper.com that same year. A couple of years later, in 2011, she startedhttp://www.ATriathletesDiary.com blog and also her podcast, Hilary Topper on Air.
In 2011, she also became an original Google Glass Explorer and her and her team developed “Glasslandia,” which was the only Google Glass Reality Show on YouTube. They did a season of episodes and Google even asked when “season 2 is coming out.” More than 40,000 people watched the series.
Right before the pandemic, Hilary published her second book,Branding in a Digital World. The book is a textbook for small business owners. She also uses it in her digital marketing class at Hofstra University, where she is an Adjunct Professor. She’s been teaching there for more than eight years on various PR subject matter.
Today, Hilary Topper shifted her focus to her blogs – HilaryTopper.com, NY Lifestyle Blog, ATriathletesDiary.com blog, which is all about swim, bike, and run, and her podcast, Hilary Topper on Air. She has hundreds of thousands of followers on her blogs and podcasts and has recently become a social media influencer where she represents brands and talks about them on Instagram Reels and TikTok.
Hilary Topper also frequently writes for PR News, PR Week, and PRSA Tactics.
Although she still has her PR firm, she also became a certified USA Triathlon coach and a certified running coach.
Hilary recently authored her third book, From Couch Potato to Endurance Athlete, which is a memoir, self-help book that encourages people to get out of their comfort zone and try something totally different. She’s been on tour around the country promoting health and wellness in various markets including Sarasota/Tampa, Boca Raton/Ft. Lauderdale, NYC, Long Island, Nashville, Denver/Boulder, among other markets.
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