In my last post, we featured our passionate, dedicated PR pros under 30. Now, we’re talking to two members of the Stanton Communications team who have very different perspectives based on their experience in the industry.
Managing Director, Lori Russo was chosen for PR Week’s inaugural “40 Under 40” in 2007. Lori has over 15 years of incredible PR skills under her belt. Her accomplishments are many—from securing national television opportunities to international print coverage. Lori is a LinkedIn expert who speaks at multiple conferences and also serves as a go-to for advice on her client teams.
This week, we welcomed Taylor Leaming at our Washington, D.C. office as an account coordinator. Taylor graduated from James Madison University in 2014 with a B.A. in Communications and Public Relations. Since then, she has held various internships to expand her knowledge of the PR world before finding her place here with us.
We spoke to both Taylor—a newbie—and Lori—an accomplished and experienced PR executive—about their forecasts for the future of the industry and asked them to share their own reflections, considering the past and their futures.
Q. How do you see PR changing in the next 10 to 15 years?
Taylor: I see public relations becoming more involved with the advocacy sector, working with grassroots organizations and non-profit groups. People are quickly realizing the impact that social media can have on a social issue, and if crafted well, social campaigns can lead to victories for certain issues. Public relations understands the importance of knowing your audience first, and then creating the message. Advocacy groups are passionate about a cause, but they may not understand the importance of who they are trying to target. The PR industry is going to see more and more clients coming to them for help with social issues.
Lori: The channels we use to communicate will most certainly be different and the technologies agencies use to plan, execute and measure will be more advanced. I do hope that the future holds a prominent place for firms that are nimble enough to keep up with what’s new but also anchored in strategy, thoughtfulness and personal client service. There is already something of a boomerang effect going on where we as an industry became very reliant on automation and speed. Now, clients are back to looking to trusted partners for the sort of judgment and strategy that software can’t provide.
Q. What advice would you give to a current college student looking to get into PR?
Taylor: Secure an internship at an agency. If I knew now what I knew when I was about to graduate, I would have gotten an agency internship right out of college. The experience is invaluable; you learn everything from e-mail basics 101 to how to handle a difficult client – all within the realm of not being severely criticized or penalized because you are just learning.
Lori: Give thought to what kind of environment you want to be in 8 or more hours a day, 5 or more days a week. This seems very basic but I talk to a lot of young people who don’t give the right level of consideration to whether they want to work in an agency, corporate or non-profit setting. Some people prefer to spend all their time digging deeply into a brand or an issue, but others thrive in agencies where things are constantly changing and there is always something new and interesting going on.
Q. What advice would you give to our “30 Under 30” and other young PR pros out there?
Lori: Two things. First, the greatest value you can bring to your colleagues and your clients is to help them think. Whether you are new to the field and your job is primarily execution or you are a seasoned manager who sets strategy and delegates the work, helping people come up with creative solutions to their challenges will make you an invaluable and irreplaceable part of the team. Second, you will encounter people who do not want to see you succeed. My good friend Peter Shankman calls them the “people who don’t clap when you win.” Don’t let them extinguish your enthusiasm, your energy and your positive attitude. They won’t be around forever. Don’t let them drag you down too.
Q. What are you hoping to learn more about as you begin your journey here at Stanton?
Taylor: I’m hoping to learn more about media relations for both marketing communications and public affairs, such as how to create a relationship with different members of the media and how to make a successful pitch. I’m most excited for the Papal visit! Beyond that, I’m excited to see the Madda Fella account come to life (especially since they started almost the same day I did!).
Q. Looking back, What is your proudest moment?
Lori: Helping the firm grow and building a team of extraordinary people. We deal with wins and losses, ups and downs every day. The tough times are easier to handle and the successes are sweeter because we have managed to assemble the right people within these walls. I do like to think my proudest moment is yet to come. Or maybe there isn’t just one big one either behind or in front of me, but smaller ones that happen every day.
As summer kicks off, with internships and new jobs for college students and graduates, the perspectives of both the new PR professionals and those with experience can be valuable. Taken together, their talents lead teams to outstanding wins—both in media placements and marketing opportunities—for a company.