Test Drive My Job::Seattle-Based Boutique PR Agency Founder and Author Colleen Moffitt
Name: Colleen Moffitt
Current City: Seattle
Job Title: Founding Partner & Author
Company Name: Communiqué Public Relations
Book Title: “Strategic Public Relations: 10 Principles to Harness the Power of PR”
Length of Time in this Role: Five years since founding Communiqué
On the Web
Mopwater: Describe your path to PR. How did you wind up in this field? (Be sure to mention your course of study in college).
CM: My path to PR was not direct or necessarily a traditional one. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Puget Sound with a minor in Business Administration. While in college I also earned a certificate of study from Centre Universitaire d’Etudes Francaises (CUEF) of the University of Grenoble III.
After graduation I worked in the public sector for a few years before being hired at Microsoft as a recruiter. There I was responsible for finding and attracting some of the nation’s top technical talent to the company. I developed strategic recruiting plans for Microsoft’s consumer and hardware divisions and helped attract key talent from Moscow as part of an acquisition.
I joined RealNetworks (Progressive Networks at the time) in early 1997 to drive technical recruiting for the company. Ready for a new challenge, I moved into a program manager position in 1999 where I managed product-review programs, key customer relationships and product development. During my seven year tenure at RealNetworks I had an opportunity to work on it server solutions as well as its Windows and Mac based consumer products.
The experience I gained in these roles – influencing, negotiating, interviewing with various audiences including technology editors, product reviewers, customers, partners and executives – led me to public relations, to found Communiqué PR and to author “Strategic Public Relations: 10 Principles to Harness the Power of PR”
Mopwater: What aspects of the industry are you most excited about?
CM: There are a number of things I enjoy about PR. Right now, my enthusiasm is focused on the industry’s seismic shift with the rise of social media.
Traditional media is changing with the rise of new communication mediums such as blogs, microblogs, social networks, podcasts, vodcasts, etc. These tools provide endless opportunities for communicators to learn and grow.
Our industry is not stagnant and I love that I’m always challenged to think creatively and keep up with the latest trends. I believe our role as communicators is becoming more varied and complex than it has at any other time. These changes and the resulting implications are fascinating and exciting. It is a wonderful time to be in this industry.
Mopwater: Describe a typical workday including your work hours. What do you do all day?
CM: My work day typically starts at home before my children are awake. I check e-mail, Twitter and a number of online news sites. I also use this time to review and edit materials including blog posts and client deliverables.
I arrive at the office around 9 a.m. after taking my kids to school. My activities vary as I provide strategic counsel on several key accounts including Big Fish Games, Tideworks Technology, Attachmate and Digonex. In addition to client related activities, I guide account teams, develop and review materials such as pitches, plans, and byline articles, and conduct meetings with our clients, business leaders, media and other PR professionals.
As one of the partners of Communiqué PR, I also manage business development and oversee much of the firm’s operations – from HR to forecasting and planning. Throughout the day I monitor relevant new sites and social media networks.
Recently I have been spending time supporting our newly published book, “Strategic Public Relations: 10 Principles to Harness the Power of PR.”
I typically leave the office around 5 p.m. so I can spend time with my family, however most evenings I am back online once my kids are in bed. I find this is a great time to prepare for the coming day.
Mopwater: Describe your office setting and workplace.
CM: Our office is located in the vibrant Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle, nestled among coffee shops, local businesses and boutiques. Communiqué PR is in a renovated house which provides a layout and environment that reflects our firm’s culture.
Our team of talented PR professionals brings the same level of collaboration, commitment and creativity that Jennifer and I established as the foundation of our firm. Everyone shares in each other’s successes and is focused on helping our clients achieve their most important business and communications objectives.
Mopwater: What are your favorite and least favorite PR tasks and why? Do you love to pitch?
CM: For the most part, I enjoy all aspects of PR. My favorite PR activities are strategic planning, developing compelling pitches and building relationships. I also love analyzing information to determine relevancy and significance as well as identifying the components or elements will bring a story to life. I find it extremely rewarding to create a compelling story, pitch it to media and see it come to life.
Mopwater: Dread writing releases? Adore blogging for your brands?
CM: I don’t dread writing press releases. I do believe people tend to overuse the press release and should consider other tools when considering how to share information. While press releases can be an effective tool, we recommend taking a step back to focus on the company’s business objectives, the target audiences and the specific messages it wants those audiences to hear. Then we are well positioned to recommend the right strategies and tactics, which may or may not include the development and distribution of a press release.
I love blogging – not only for our clients but also on behalf of Communiqué PR regarding current events, trends and PR issues. We use our regular blog posts as a way to share relevant news and information with our clients and peers. Since creating the blog in January 2008, we have seen our Web site traffic increase more than 300 percent.
Mopwater: Who are some of your (or your organization’s) clients, and what kind of projects do you take on for these clients? If you work in government or a corporate communications office, describe the work you do in your role.
CM: Communiqué PR is a boutique PR firm. We provide full-service and project PR support of a variety of clients from nimble startups to industry giants such as Attachmate, Clearwire, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Big Fish Games and Alaska Airlines.
We develop strategic public relations plans, offer counsel and execute on the tactics supporting those strategies. These activities include message development, developing marketing materials and press releases, media relations (including bloggers and non-traditional media) and analyst relations, the integration of social media activities, managing awards, providing media relations training to executives and managing speaking bureaus as well as crisis management.
Mopwater: Describe a recent project where you produced results of which you’re really proud.
CM: In April 2009 our firm began working with Veratect Corporation, a biosurveillance company that tracks disease outbreaks and civil unrest around the world. We partnered with Veratect to announce that it was the first to alert the CDC and WHO to the swine flu outbreak in Mexico, and that it was sharing its data about the disease with the public via Twitter.
Veratect received significant media attention and interest in response to the announcement and the spreading disease. During this fast-moving international story, we worked closely with Veratect executives to share background about the company and its perspective, while managing the onslaught of media inquiries.
Since the announcement, Veratect has been included in more than 80 original articles, and countless reprints, in publications ranging from the Associated Press and Washington Post to USA Today and the BBC. Veratect was featured or mentioned in broadcast interviews with The Today Show, MSNBC and CBC Canada.
This coverage garnered significant awareness of and demand for Veratect’s technology with organizations and governments around the world helping the company increase subscribers and raise visibility with potential investors – both key objectives of the company.
I am also extremely proud of our firm’s proven track record of helping companies raise awareness to secure funding or become acquired. In just the past two years, Communiqué PR has played a role in helping the following companies secure acquisition or funding:
• Nuance Buys SNAPin for $180 Million in Stock (Aug. 08)
• Big Fish Games Secures $83.3 Million in Funding (Aug. 08)
• Qualcomm buys Open Interface North America (Dec. 07)
• AOL spins off Tegic to Nuance for $265 Million in Cash (June 07)
Mopwater: What is your favorite thing about this job?
CM: What I enjoy most about my role is building a respected world-class PR firm. It is extremely gratifying to see how our activity helps our clients achieve their business objectives.
I have also really enjoyed developing our book, “Strategic Public Relations: 10 Principles to Harness the Power of PR,” which I co-authored with Jennifer. In the process of writing the book we were able to connect with a number of amazing individuals to gather their perspectives, experiences and insights. Their contributions help bring the book to life.
Mopwater: If you could work on any PR or marketing project of your choosing, what would it be?
CM: I have really enjoyed working with organizations like Seattle Children’s Hospital and the Seattle Children’s PlayGarden, because my work directly helps kids and their parents. I would love to do more work for organizations such as these because it allows me to do what I love while also giving back to my community.
Mopwater: Do you think you’ll be in this position in 5 years?
CM: While I believe my contribution to the firm and our clients will evolve and change over the coming years as the industry shifts and our firm grows, I plan to be a part of Communiqué PR for many years to come. I love my role, the team and our clients. I really have a dream job.