Test Drive My Job:: PR 2.0 and Putting the Public Back into Public Relations Author Deirdre Breakenridge
Happy Thursday Media People! I’m super-excited about today’s Test Drive My Job interview with Deirdre Breakenridge, whom I “met” at the Georgetown Barnes and Noble while searching for some PR and Marketing reading. I was in one of those saw-sharpening moods that I go through periodically, so when I saw Deirdre’s book PR 2.0: New Media, New Tools, New Audiences I thought it would be the perfect remedy. And it was.
Seldom do I come across game-changers, but this book was definitely one of them. Without going into too much detail (go pick up the book, you won’t regret it) PR 2.0 gave me a ton of great tips that I am already implementing for my clients. For instance, Deirdre writes about how important online newsrooms are for SEO. I’ve improved two online newsrooms just using her suggestions, and I do believe it’s eventually going to make a difference in our search engine rankings.
In PR 2.0, Deirdre also breaks social media, blogging, social media press releases, etc. all the way down and helps you figure out ways to get measurable, affordable results for either yourself or your clients. It’s a must-read, so check out her blog for info about PR 2.0 and her other titles. Let’s get on with the interview…
President and Director of Communications for PFS Marketwyse for the past 10 years
Author of PR 2.0 New Media, New Tools, New Audiences and co-author of Putting the Public Back into Public Relations
Mopwater: What are your typical work hours? DB: I pretty much work all day and night. A normal day could easily be up to 12 hours. I guess this is typical when you own your own marketing/PR agency. You just never stop. I help my employees with their work during the day and then I do my own work (strategy, writing, new business proposals and reports) at night.
Mopwater: Describe a typical work day. DB: I get into the office around 8:00 a.m. (that’s after commuting for about an hour and a half). I like to get some “think” work done and prepare for the day before the staff arrives. Usually, mornings are filled with internal staff meetings that include team production meetings, communications meetings and creative brainstorming. I also devote morning hours to operational responsibilities, so that I can work with the accounting office on financial matters or with the project management department. I tend to schedule most of my client meetings in the afternoons whether they are by telephone or in person. I leave the office by 5 p.m. to beat the traffic, but will finish the work day/night at home. It’s no surprise that I’ll still be emailing clients or members of my team long after the normal work day ends, especially if those clients are across the country or in another part of the world.
Mopwater: Describe your office. DB: I spend four days a week in the office with the staff. We are about 20 minutes outside of New York City, in Northern New Jersey, which is a fairly busy area. I spend every Friday working from home. It’s my favorite day of the week because I feel I can get so much accomplished without interruption. Being in an office is great so that you can interact and brainstorm with colleagues, but there are times that it’s difficult to concentrate. I have an open door policy, so my office door is literally always open. I do feel that you have to be disciplined working at home because there are distractions there too whether it’s the refrigerator or the fact that laundry always needs to get done. But, if you can get into a good routine then you will find the time out of the office is much more productive, not to mention the fact that you want to go back on Monday to see everyone.
Mopwater: What types of clients does your company work with and what services do you provide? DB: We have a variety of clients in different industries including technology, healthcare, financial, HR, and food manufacturing. Our company is made up of three divisions; Communications/PR, Creative Marketing and Video/Multimedia. Many of the services we provide from PR and advertising to FLASH development and streaming video, help companies to bridge the gap from traditional marketing to new media and Web 2.0. Our clients’ campaigns are customized so that they can interact with the most important influencers, at the right time, to gain maximum exposure and engage in new and innovative ways to build brand loyalty.
I really enjoyed the strategy, planning and launch behind GettingHired.com, a website that helps people with disabilities find jobs. GettingHired is also a social networking platform, so that people with disabilities can interact with peers, service providers and advocacy groups. It’s one of my favorite projects, not only because it’s such a necessary service for the 23 million people who have disabilities, but also because the campaign has traditional elements of advertising, direct mail and PR and bridges over to Web 2.0. We used several successful strategies to interact with new influencers and Web communities (blogging, social networking and social media releases, to name a few).
Mopwater: What are your favorite things about working at PFS? DB: My favorite things about working at PFS are the people/culture as well as the diverse client base. The culture at PFS is very hands on and proactive. PFS employees take tremendous pride in their work and have been complimented by clients for achieving aggressive deadlines and staying under budget. I also love the diverse client base because you never feel that you are “stuck” in one industry. It keeps your mind fresh. Each employee has the opportunity to learn about a variety of companies and their communication challenges in the market.
Mopwater: How do you best collaborate with your team (standard board room meetings, conference calls, BaseCamp or other project management tool, etc.)? DB: We have 15 employees in total and I work with all employees in their separate client teams. We collaborate best when we are together in our creative department which is a big open room with comfy chairs surrounded by our computer technology. The atmosphere gets the creative juices flowing when we’re brainstorming. That’s not to say that we don’t have meetings in the conference room. We have our standard production meetings and client meetings in the boardroom setting, and also do a lot of telephone conference calls/Web Ex meetings there for our clients.
Mopwater: What do you wish was different at your job? DB: I wish I could find the right PR person/Director of Communications to run my communications department and to work with me on strategy/planning for clients. This would allow me to give more focus to my Presidential responsibilities (operations and finance), new business, speaking engagements, interviews, etc.
Mopwater: Do you see yourself in this job in 5 years? If not, where do you see yourself? DB: Yes, because I own PFS Marketwyse, I do see myself there in five years. However, my role will be more strategy and consultation to clients and less operational. I will also continue with my writing career, and, hopefully, in five years, be on my 8th or 9th book. I have my 4th book, “Putting the Public Back in Public Relations” being published in March 2009. And, I’m in the process of pursuing book #5 with my publisher Financial Times Press.
I think as a communications professional you need to be an excellent communicator (both oral and written), have a lot of energy, be a total “people-person” and enjoy working in teams. As a business owner and President of a company, you need a tough skin, be able to handle stressful situations, and learn the art of negotiations.