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  • Tag Archive: PR pros

    1. The Differences Between In-house and Agency PR Roles

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      PR pro Ryan Greives

      After reading his interview in Bulldog Reporter, I quickly became “Twitter friends” with PR pro Ryan Greives. As Senior PR Specialist for subscription billing provider cleverbridge, he leads the company’s global PR and social media strategies. But before that, he worked at an agency, filling the shoes of Vice President of BLASTmedia’s B2B Practice Group.

      Talking with him got me thinking about the differences between PR roles working on an in-house team as opposed to agency life, including the challenges and perks of both. I’ve also worked on both sides of the aisle and have my own opinions on what these differences are, but let’s see what Greives has to say about it.

      Here, he explains the unique business challenges and benefits of both experiences to help other PR and communications professionals find their best-fit career paths.

      Rebekah Iliff: You spent six years at an agency and three and a half in house after that. Let’s talk differences.

      Ryan Greives: When I worked at an agency, it was extremely fast-paced. I had a varied portfolio of clients, was constantly learning about new industries, and was surrounded by a bunch of people all doing similar things.

      Working in-house, I’m able to focus on one brand, getting a much deeper understanding of the business, its clients and competitors; and I’ve taken on additional responsibilities such as social media and content marketing. I hear throughout the PR industry that there’s a fear of becoming bored when working with only one brand in-house, but it’s never been the case for me.

      RI: Should newbie PR people start their careers in-house or at an agency?

      RG: I think it’s completely up to your individual career goals. If you already have a passion for a specific vertical and believe it’s where you want to be long term, dive in, learn as much as you can about the space, and cultivate media and influencer relationships whether the role is in-house or with an agency.

      However, experience isn’t always the best teacher when you’re first starting out – sometimes the right mentorship can be the deciding factor. Coming out of college, I needed to gain experience in the trenches and learn from senior people who knew more about PR that I did. An agency was the perfect first step because I was able to learn quite a few vertical markets and gain experience in the fundamentals – client management, media relations, and PR best practices. I also gleaned a great deal of wisdom from more seasoned PR pros, and that’s not always available when you’re working in-house.

      RI: So, what do you miss the most about agency life?

      RG: The thrill of winning a new client — having the kickoff meeting, developing a PR strategy and plan, and delivering on the client’s goals will always be missed. While it can be a lot of pressure, I loved the challenge.

      However, working in-house has delivered many similar opportunities. When I first started my current position, we went through a corporate rebranding and began targeting new industry verticals. That was exciting. I also get my “new-client fix” by freelancing for a cool wireless power company based in Chicago.

      RI: What are some of the benefits of working in-house?

      RG: I’d say there are two major advantages to working on an in-house team. The first is getting greater access to the executive, senior management, and sales teams. At an agency, we were confined to our client contact and depending on the client, maybe a couple other thought leaders within the organization.

      The second advantage is getting to be a part of a truly integrated marketing team. Many agencies do their best to be integrated with their clients’ marketing efforts, but you’re still at the mercy of how well the client facilitates between the agency and the various parts of their operation.

      When you’re meeting regularly with your marketing director, product marketer, bloggers, copywriters, event planner, and marketing automation specialist, it’s much easier to collaborate and ensure that communications strategies are consistent across all channels.

      RI: How did your PR measurement practices change when you made the jump from an agency to an in-house team?

      RG: When I started working in-house, I gained a deeper understanding of Google Analytics so I could track how PR efforts affected site traffic, organic search, leads, and content downloads. This varied from my experience in B2B PR earlier in my career when it was the norm to only track higher-level, “semi-vanity” metrics including number of media hits, print circulation, and so forth.

      The second change was the shift to content marketing, which completely changed the marketing game and the role of the PR professional. Now, instead of spending 80-90 percent of my time on traditional media relations efforts, I’ve taken on much more original content creation.

      While I still track the typical PR metrics, success today is more about leads, blog subscriptions, content downloads/signups, and interactions with our prospecting campaign content which we track via our marketing automation platform.

      RI: What’s your best piece of advice for PR pros working in-house?

      RG: I have a quote from the late Steve Jobs: “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” In an agency, you’re surrounded by people much further along in the PR world that can inspire you to be better as well as peers that push you to be competitive. When working in-house, you might be the only PR professional there is, so it’s even more important to never be satisfied and always push yourself. Don’t get too comfortable…

    2. 4-Part Guide for Interview Preparation in a Pinch

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      You’ve reviewed the 7 Signs You’re Ready for PR and landed an interview with star business reporter after chatting them up at a networking event. Giggles dispersed, you now come to terms with the part that makes you panic: They want to interview you tomorrow!

      You choose to

      1. Feign illness (complete with faux coughing) while making the call to cancel.

      2. Politely ask if the reporter would mind rescheduling (Until you’ve had enough time to build key messaging, prepare talking points, and buy the perfect interview outfit)

      3. Accept with enthusiasm, kick it into overdrive, and nail down some strategic talking points stat. You’ll dedicate some extra time to building messaging after the interview so you’re more prepared the next time you hook one.

      If you chose A or B, shame on you! When opportunity knocks, it’s in your best interest to answer the door. It’s fine to agree upon a different date and time than the one a reporter first proposes, but this should be due to scheduling conflicts, not your want for a generous amount of prep time.

      If you chose C, great job! You have enough time to pull together talking points, and transform into the star spokesperson we know you can be.

      The following 4-part guide is packed with ideas and tips for interview preparation when your time is limited. You’ll just need a trusted colleague who understands your messaging objectives and business goals and a few free hours to hash out a plan. Reserve a conference room and have at it!


    3. Spin May Suck, But Gini Dietrich Rocks

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      Have you ever had a moment in time where you’re thinking “wow, I’m on top of the world, I really know my $h!t” only to have your ego (rightly) deflated after a serendipitous brush with someone who, in actuality, is much more on top of it than you?

      If that had ever happened to me, it would have likely happened when I came Twitter-face to Twitter-face with one Gini Dietrich.

      Gini is the Angelina Jolie of the PR world IMHO.

      She makes us all look like slackers. Just when you think she can’t possibly do ONE MORE THING a conversation like this happens:

      Me: Hey Gini, whatcha doing?

      Gini: Hi! So great to hear from you! I’m getting ready to speak on a panel in about 5 minutes on the future of PR.

      Me: Oh geeez, should I call you back?

      Gini: No, no, it’s totally fine. Right after that I have to jump on a plane and go to my book signing in New York.

      Me: Oh wow, ok, well thanks for taking the time to speak with me.

      Gini: No problem! It’s absolutely my pleasure. Can you hold for one second please…my husband is on the other line and he’s calling because my son is having this thing, and I need to conduct an emergency tracheotomy via satellite before I jump on stage. BRB.

      Me: (Inner dialogue: I’m a loser) Sure, oh my God, no problem.

      All (slight joking) aside, I caught up with Gini fresh on the heels of her Spin Sucks book launch…a book I highly recommend to anyone looking to get up to speed on this crazy PR evolution we’re experiencing.

      Soak up Gini’s wise words, she’s a class PR act….

      Rebekah Iliff: Let’s start with an simple one: What makes you so passionate about PR?

      Gini Dietrich: I suppose it’s just from being in the industry as long as I have. I mean, what? I’ve only been out of college for five years. 🙂 Truly it’s because I don’t think we do a great job of doing our own PR. There are so many misconceptions about what we do (and don’t do) that it makes me a little nuts. I come from the line of thinking that if you don’t like something, you should do something about it.


    4. How PR is like sailing

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      Early this morning I sat on a dock in the Sausalito bay near my house and watched – not the clouds roll in, but rather – three elderly gentlemen go about their morning boat routines.

      One was probably 80ish years old, the other two likely in their 70s. As they curiously carried large rocks on board, water washed the bows, and slowly sipped coffee while slinging tired legs over the side (all, respectively of course as they weren’t doing these things in lockstep or tandem) I found myself wondering about their stories.

      Was he a widower?

      Perhaps he was a retired exec who finally said “Ca-pooey” with the grind?

      Or maybe he had suffered some great tragedy and felt it was a safer life-bet to disconnect from the world and peacefully spend his days attending to said boat duties?

      When you get into the latter part of your life, if you have spent any time whatsoever pursuing worthy endeavors, building something, attending to a family, the probability that you have at least some interesting stories to tell is high.

      I have often said to entrepreneurs or those wishing to understand how PR works: “PR is like sailing across the ocean. It’s a long game with short periods of chaos and activity to reach the ultimate goal.”

      Let’s remove the conversation about “measuring your PR success” for a moment and look at the big picture. This idea that PR is a core component throughout the life cycle of a company is an important one. The further you “sail” toward your goal of profitability, acquisition, IPO, fill in the blank with whatever that is – the more interesting your story should become.

      If approached thoughtfully and somewhat strategically, that same curiosity you have about the 76 year old man who chooses to spend his days tending to a boat is the same type of curiosity people will have about how and why your company has gotten to where it is.

      Thus, in retrospect, PR becomes a byproduct of the story itself that is unfolding and less about a specific action you are doing. Your story reveals itself and the narrative clips along at a natural pace because you have made good decisions, enlisted the right people, been passionate about your endeavor…and ultimately sailed through the storms and sunny spots with resolve.

      Lend yourself to being the object of curiosity. Build something with substance. Understand where you fit and how your skills and products and solutions solve problems and take away pain.

      This is the soul of PR. This is where we go wrong with PR – because we fail to understand it’s not something we do.

      It’s something we are.

    5. PR Hack: March Replay

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      In case you were too busy last month doing one of the following…

      #1 – tending to client antics

      #2 – chasing journalists around

      #3 – attempting to disconnect only to find that (ironically) a phone call or email you’ve been waiting for only comes through once you’ve decided to walk away from technology for two hours

      #4 – getting your nails done

      Don’t feel bad, release those feelings of FOMO, because we’ve got you covered.

      In a world where very few things actually matter, yet we believe that we are required to read, filter, and digest every RSS feed, annoying Facebook post, and breaking news story, we bring you:

      News you can use.” Or you can just read it and disregard it, but in the very least it will give you insights into high level trends and prime exemplars of PR at its best – and worst.

      Happy information consumption…


      Data Driven Marketing Landscape

      • Great insights from Cision’s SVP of Digital Content, Heidi Sullivan, during The Hub Convene on March 31, 2014:

      “We need to shift the thinking from PR as a cost center to PR as a profit center. In the cost center model we are using AVEs, social media followers and a variety of ‘vanity metrics’ with no real data. In the profit center model, we correlate PR efforts with sales, revenue, and metrics that measure awareness and action.”

      Well Heidi, we just couldn’t agree more. Soft sell, check out our Analyst product.

      3 Winning PR Moves

      • Virgin America literally ups their coolness ante by offering exclusive Humphrey Slocombe ice cream flavors in first class cabins. Additionally, any traveler can score a free scoop by flashing their boarding pass at either HS location in San Francisco through June 30th. NOM.


    6. When in doubt, say it with a GIF

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      They say a picture is worth a 1,000 words. I say:

      hell yeah

      In a world where lengthy emails reign supreme, it behooves us all to recognize just how much a single image can convey. If storytelling is at the core of PR, than the ability to tell an entire bite-sized story in a few seconds is pure potency.

      My favored type of visual content bridges the best of photo and video: it’s the GIF. Here are a few reasons why I’m gaga for GIFs and why we could all benefit from integrating them into our communication strategies:

      • Visual content is easier and faster to process
      • There are endless options to express yo’self
      • Does a better job of communicating a point than any acronym (LOL)
      • Keeps emails short, succinct and entertaining

      Let’s shake up the monotony of text-only responses and inject some always-appreciated humor into our business relationships.

      Below are the Top 10 GIFs for your clients and colleagues when there just.are.no.words.

      NOTE: Not all of these are meant for public circulation. Some are merely an affirmation that you’re NOT losing your mind. 😉

      1. When your super smart, hilarious client or colleague one ups you during an email exchange:

      bear clap gif


    7. How integrating data fuels Optimizely’s potent PR

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      This week, The Holmes Report cited us in a post entitled: Are PR engineers the next big ‘thing’?

      Growth hackers and data scientists step aside puuhleeease.

      As fortuitous but somewhat strategic luck would have it, the journalist also cited Helen Phung of Optimizely in the article – who just so happens (let’s be clear though, nothing “just so happens” – #PRblackbox) to be our interview of the week.

      Truth #1 – When Sharam introduced us a few months ago I was immediately intrigued by her “PR Prowess” and fundamental understanding of the nuances and nuisances of PR’s evolutionary future.

      Truth #2 – We like totally stole her Twitter bio (PR Engineer) title and are now championing it like it ain’t nobody’s bidness.

      Read on to find out why she’s the A/Bees knees and why Optimizely is making major PR waves.


    8. Why we should say “thank you” to PR pros

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      Publicists, like politicians, are an easy target for haterade gulpers and scorned skeptics; and frankly, I totally get it.

      Both suffer from “death by association.” Meaning, the bad ones seem to magically rise to the top and ruin it for everyone else.

      Lately, PR itself (not wanting to be outdone by their political counterparts) has been getting some…noteworthy press attention that is. For an industry whose job is defined by servicing the media with valuable, relevant, noteworthy information, this is an interesting turn of events.

      [And it’s almost as ludicrous as a modern-day politician actually getting something done]

      Case and point:

      The New York Times ran this article on November 23rd entitled “Swatting at a swarm of public relations spam.” In it the author (David Segal aka The Haggler) airs his frustrations with public relations professionals and divulges the secret formula for journalists wanting to be removed from media databases like Vocus and Cision.

      Ouch. But again, I totally get where The Haggler is coming from.

      Those of us who believe we sit on the “problem solving” side of the PR equation – where we are doing everything in our technological power to minimize the unfortunate PR reputation for being a “black box” which consists of a bunch of blonde haired nincompoops who frequent parties and blast out spam emails to journalists – we also face our own issues with PR “innovators.” Some of these folks don’t quite understand the systemic issues well enough to comprehend the implications of “one-size-fits-all” or “quick fix” PR promises.

      Read this article by our good friend Chuck Tanowtiz covering this topic.

      This kind of stuff can really bring companies to new, lower levels of “PR modus operandi.”

      BUT. Before you think I’m tumbling down the abyss of negative-nancy-dom during this week of giving thanks (and now, in an odd twist of calendar serendipity, Menorah lighting), fear not.

      I am here to tell you that, despite all the recent “negative PR press” (I still find this ironic), at its core there are so many things for which to be grateful. In other words, if you are reading this, and you employ a PR pro or contract a PR firm that you like (dare I say “love”), here are a few things they do for you. For these things you should say “thank you” and be eternally grateful.


      Happy Thanksgiving#1 – Journalists are a colossal pain in the ass.

      There, I said it. And they know they are. Even for great PR people, with whom they have relationships, journalists are a tough bunch. They don’t mean to be – but by the very nature of their job they end up being this way. Breaking news, trending topics, bigger better stories that will captivate their dwindling readership numbers: all of these things are paramount to publications. So, even if you are the next best thing since sliced bread or you have circuitously reinvented the wheel, it doesn’t mean you’re getting a story.

      Be grateful to the PR folks who put up with this B.S. on a daily basis, and who have spent years and even decades building these relationships. It’s a hard job. I repeat: IT IS A HARD JOB.

      #2 – Building a narrative takes Pulitzer Prize worthy skill.

      Oh, that’s right. A journalist from Forbes or FastCompany or The Wall Street Journal should naturally care about your new location-based mapping software for tracking migrating birds which you (the CEO, who graduated top of class at an Ivy League school) built a prototype for while on a “finding myself” trip to Costa Rica.

      Incorrect. No one cares.

      PR experts make people care. They make the press care, who then make your customers care. They take all those disjointed pieces of information that – on their own make you look like a privileged you know what – into a storyline that makes you look, feel, and exude rock stardom.

      #3 – Taking bullets takes tremendous resolve.

      There is a reason this saying exists: don’t shoot the messenger. (more…)