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Interviews

The Onion President Talks Content Strategy

Mike-McAvoy-articleThe Onion: you know it and you probably like it. You may also know that the publication’s Onion Labs group creates sponsored content for a variety of clients. (You probably don’t know that the Labs’ home page includes a quote from the blog you’re reading, but we’ll remind you now because we love shameless self-promotion.)

So what sort of strategy underlies the creation of all that content? And why do so many companies want in on it?

Mediabistro’s wickedly talented Valerie Berrios recently talked to Mike McAvoy, president of the organization, to learn more.

On company culture:

“…what’s great about The Onion is everyone here cares about the content; they care about the products, so you have this united front in that everyone wants to see The Onion flourish…Everyone’s really smart, and they have to be in order to get the joke.

There [are] no bylines for the content that we create…it’s very team-oriented.”

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Making Diversity in PR a Reality: Ellen Walthour, Executive Director of the BrandLab

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We’ve posted a few times on diversity in PR in recent weeks, and so far the most interesting conversation we had on the topic was with Ellen Walthour, executive director of Twin Cities-based project the BrandLab.

Could you give us a little history of the BrandLab?

We’re pretty young; we started in 2007 and launched as a 501(c) in 2008, so we’re a standard nonprofit. In 2009 we really began tracking students. We have kids graduating from college this spring who went through the program, and while those numbers are small, they’re going to grow.

Each year we’ve grown in terms of both participants and partners. PR firms are also involved, particularly PadillaCRT and Weber Shandwick.

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MWW CEO Kempner on Independent Agencies vs. Holding Companies

1007kempner-obamaWe’ve shared a good bit of news about New Jersey’s MWW recently, and we couldn’t pass this one up. A site called The Native Society, which publishes interviews with CEOs and other business world bigwigs, published an interview with the firm’s founder, president and CEO Michael Kempner yesterday in which he touches on what it takes to succeed in PR and, more compellingly, what differentiates independent agencies from those that belong to holding companies.

We’ve picked some choice quotes, because that’s what we do.

On qualities needed for the job:

“Emotional intelligence and unwavering curiosity are key traits for a PR professional. Every project is a learning experience and time spent with clients and influencers is always time well spent.

It is also important to understand that public relations is a lifestyle not just job. It’s about living in an always-on world, and having great confidence and a desire to be great every day.”

On why independent agencies are better than holding companies:

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Please Don’t Call GolinHarris’ New Social Director a ‘Ninja’

shutterstock_114112063For a sign of the digital times, look no further than Neil Kleiner, the new head of social media for GolinHarris. He’s something of an archetype: started as a music journalist (just like us!) who got into digital because it was the only way he could publish. And he wants to bring social back to earth.

His “Newsmaker” interview with PR Week UK is this morning’s must read. Some key quotes:

“The first wave of social gurus in 2011 royally f*cked it up for everyone. They over-promised, under-delivered and sold bullshit to clients that didn’t work – you’re still seeing some clients massively distrustful of social now because of that.”

Blunt! We like!

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Weber Shandwick, CPRF Vets Discuss Diversity in PR

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Earlier this month, PR veteran Mike Paul earned a bit of attention when he announced his plans to stage a hunger strike to protest a lack of diversity in the public relations world.

Since that story ran, we reached out to several contacts within the industry to get their takes on how we arrived at this point in the conversation—and where we should go from here.

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Lizzie Grubman Discusses Ambition and Working with Big-Name Clients

Here’s an interview worth watching: in this clip from Allen & Gerritsen, Lizzie Grubman touches on quite a few important points including breaking into the industry, working with clients whose work you believe in and the differences between a publicist and a manager.

Why We Need to Learn More About Social Measurement and ‘Predictive Marketing’

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We’ve all heard quite a bit about measurement lately, haven’t we? The stories about next-big-thing trends in targeted marketing, real-time marketing and now “predictive marketing” tie into the thread insisting that PR needs to better prove its value with data.

That’s tough, of course—just this week we learned that shares may not be worth much of anything at all, because many of the people who “share” a given piece of content never actually “read” it.

Eileen Bernardo, marketing/communications manager at social analytics firm ViralHeat, recently told us why PR should pay attention to all these digital marketing stories.

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Howard Bragman on the PR Value of the New LinkedIn ‘Influencers’

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One of this week’s more intriguing stories is LinkedIn’s decision to allow more writers and thinkers to self-publish long-form pieces and follow others who aren’t in their networks. As part of this update, the network will also expand the ranks of its “Influencers.”

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Time to Leave Your Agency? PR Vets Discuss the Challenges and Rewards of Going Solo

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We hope you didn’t miss our piece on breaking into fashion PR last week, but we have to confess that we left some of the most interesting parts out.

Beyond the great stories about graduating from crazy internships to working for designers and brands, we saw a trend emerging: two of the three industry veterans we spoke to went from jobs at major firms to running the show as independent consultants—and the third started her own agency.

Laura Hall’s resume reads like a PR “who’s who”: she’s worked for Burson-Marsteller, MSL Group, FleishmannHillard, Hill+Knowlton Strategies and Weber Shandwick.

Impressed yet? So are we.

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Burson-Marsteller Founder Says PR Needs to Regain Its ‘Moral Purpose’

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You may have already noticed the headline of this PR Week interview with Harold Burson, the Burson-Marsteller founder universally known as one of the industry’s “godfathers.”

Of course you should read the whole thing, but we’ll throw out a couple of teasers.

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