It’s been an exciting time to build a public relations firm. There are new rules, new tools and a breathtaking pace that requires nimbleness, entrepreneurial thinking and a willingness to stick your neck out. For me, the prize has been to work with savvy and exuberant people who question everything, demand innovation and bring creativity to work each day. Our clients’ businesses are changing dramatically, too. Some are industries, such as fintech and the sharing economy, that didn’t even exist ten years ago. Here are some changes that hit us all this past decade:
- A decade ago, there was no Snapchat, Instagram or Pinterest. Today, they’re our best friends. We had MySpace and Facebook, but only 10% of American adults had at least one social media profile, compared to over 77% now. What started out as a fun way to connect with friends has spawned business-to-business marketing opportunities and turned traditional advertising upside down. Public relations has become as much of a conduit for targeting your audiences as advertising.
- A growing skepticism in society has meant that third-party endorsements rule buying decisions. Yelp, LinkedIn, online product reviews and Glassdoor have given mid-size and small businesses an opportunity to compete for business, employees and awareness. What’s the first thing you do before purchasing? You check out the customer reviews and recommendations.
- Public relations is expanding content development. The PESO model (paid, earned, shared and owned) refers to the different ways to communicate for successful awareness campaigns. PR firms can no longer snub their nose at the “P”’ aspect of the equation. Social media and the media’s move into social offers opportunities to target select audiences, improve a brand’s SEO and create credibility by providing insights directly to their audience without selling anything.
- Video content is king. In today’s media landscape, the focus is on authenticity and instant, unfiltered action, and video is the perfect channel for mobile consumption. With video now accounting for more than 82% of internet traffic, PR pros and brands must embrace YouTube, Facebook Live, Instagram Stories and whatever pops up next to share their brand messages. These platforms make you the broadcaster and allow for direct and immediate communication with customers, prospects, employees, partners and the media.
- Companies’ reputations, market share and revenue are in mortal peril as never before. Customers, investors, employees and communities respond to negative reputational news within hours today. As a result, reputation management and crisis communications are C-Suite issues.
- Thought leaders are the new superstars and celebrities. That doesn’t mean anybody with an opinion is a thought leader. A thought leader is trustworthy, not salesy. Their goal is to educate and empower others with insider knowledge and new perspectives. They inspire discussion about the industry and how to change it for the better. Their value is that they make change happen.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) is here. With newsrooms across the country running on skeleton staffs, reporters are focusing on in-depth stories and letting technology take the reins on earnings announcements. With AI bots spitting out just numbers, the onus falls on communicators to bring context when we can. It’s crucial for PR and marketers to adapt and embrace the chance to tell client stories in a fresh, immersive and compelling way.
- Creating strong personal relationships is more important than ever. Innovations in technology and social media may have redefined and molded the field of public relations over the past decade, but one truth remains the same: relationships are all that matters. Communicating values is as important as describing what you do. Bonds forged with reporters, employees, clients, prospects and communities are the most valuable assets.
This week Olmstead Williams Communications celebrates ten years of success in business. I intend to make our 11th year our best. We’ve all been in it together—let’s keep it together for the decade to come.
Interest in cannabis-based medicine is on the rise, and Oxnard-based CURE Pharmaceutical is positioning itself to become a key player in the burgeoning industry.
CURE Pharmaceutical, founded in 2011, might be small, but the company is carving a niche for itself in a county that has no shortage of biopharmaceutical businesses.
Read the full article: Oxnard’s CURE Pharmaceutical looks to grow its business through cannabis-based medicine (Ventura County Star)
Private Equity funds managed by Blackstone (NYSE: BX) have entered into a definitive agreement to invest in TaskUs, a leading customer service and business process outsourcing services provider for high-growth technology companies. The investment, before funding, values TaskUs at more than $500 million.
Founded in 2008 by Bryce Maddock and Jaspar Weir, TaskUs is one of the fastest-growing companies in its industry globally. Its business process solutions, which leverage the latest technology, including AI, advanced Learning Management Systems and big data, help companies quickly scale. TaskUs will continue to be led by Maddock, Weir, and the existing management team, who have been instrumental in driving the company’s growth.
Bryce Maddock, TaskUs co-founder and CEO, commented, “We chose to partner with Blackstone because they have a track record of building category-defining businesses. Our goal is to build TaskUs into the world’s number one provider of tech-enabled business services.”
Read full coverage:
Blackstone to invest in Santa Monica outsourcing firm (Los Angeles Times)
Blackstone Invests in Outsourcing Services Provider TaskUs (The Wall Street Journal)
Blackstone Buys $250 Million Stake in Outsourcing Startup TaskUs (Bloomberg)
AI training and social network content moderation services bring TaskUs a $250 million windfall (TechCrunch)
In today’s world, the perception of a personal brand can change at the speed of a tweet. Just ask your favorite TV personality, provocative politician or ranting lawyer after they’ve gone viral. According to ProVisors CEO Matt Toledo, it is not only important to create a personal brand but also to maintain and protect it throughout your life. Your brand is the sum total of who you are, the value you offer and how you are seen. It embodies your business and also your values.
Read the full article: The Four Steps To Making Your Brand Personal (Forbes)
A company that writes loans to small and mid-size businesses is talking to investors about a potential securitization.
If it moves forward with the effort, Austin-based CrowdOut Capital would start by privately placing deals with single buyers in 2019. The offerings eventually could take the form of asset-backed securities or collateralized loan obligations.
CrowdOut, which formed in 2015, so far has been employing a marketplace-lending strategy in which it sells its accounts mostly to family offices and asset managers. But some investors recently have told the firm that they would prefer to take exposures to its accounts through securitizations, chief executive Alexander Schoenbaum said.
See full article: Business Lender Engaging Investors (Asset-Backed Alert)
Alexander Schoenbaum, CEO of CrowdOut Capital.
In today’s always-on world, the value of knowledge has increased and the way we get it has changed, says Linius Technologies CEO Chris Richardson.
eLearning — the direct access of information by technology — is one of the most vibrant and promising new businesses on the global market, one poised to reach approximately $331 billion by 2025. A new era is dawning for eLearning with the power of video virtualization and artificial intelligence (AI) technology, enabling it to be the most compelling new way to improve our minds, lives and society.
Read the full article: The Next Revolution In Global eLearning (Forbes)
Times have changed, writes Variety’s Gene Maddaus. In the wake of the Weinstein scandal, dozens of men have been ousted for allegations of sexual misconduct. It was a long time coming, but when it came, it was sudden. Now the same urgency and zero-tolerance mentality are being applied to offensive statements as well as deeds.
“The studios haven’t behaved well. They have been bad actors,” said Tracy Williams, CEO of Olmstead Williams Communications. “Suddenly there’s a spotlight put on them, and they realize they need to button up. Every company is moving quickly. Heads are flying; look at all the people getting fired.”
Read the full article: Is Hollywood’s New Zero-Tolerance Policy a Reaction to the Trump Era? (Variety)
Nadine Watt is president of Watt Cos., a 70-year-old real estate firm in Santa Monica that was founded by her grandfather, Ray Watt. The 106-employee operation has developed homes for more than 100,000 families, built more than 8 million square feet of office space and developed more than 50 shopping centers. It’s also developed three hotels and six master-planned communities.
When she became president in 2011, Watt led a reorganization that expanded the company’s range of business to acquisitions, real estate development and entrepreneurial joint ventures to lessen its exposure to the volatile retail market. Her company won Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award for the Los Angeles area.
“[My grandfather] always taught me to treat everyone with respect. He always looked everyone in the eye and said hello, and he asked them questions. He knew a little bit about everyone from his janitors to presidents. The last thing he ever said to me was, ‘Do your homework.’”
Read the full article: Nadine Watt tried to avoid the family business. Now she helps run it. (Los Angeles Times)
Business leaders like to “pick the brain” of powerhouse players for insight and to learn from their mistakes. What’s the best way to engage leaders like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Arianna Huffington? Read what they’re reading. As Bill Gates has famously revealed, getting to know 50 new books a year has helped make him who he is. Here are our staff picks:
“Radical Candor” by Kim Scott
Recommended by Tracy as a study in candor with clients, reporters and your team.
Scott uses engaging and hilarious personal stories from her experiences at Apple and Google to illustrate her approach to effective management – radical candor. She theorizes that effective leaders must “care personally” and also “challenge directly.” More than just a management book, radical candor informs how we communicate with one another while remaining compassionate and empathetic.
“The Prince” by Niccolo Machiavelli
Recommended by Trish, an avid reader and firm believer that “one must be a fox.”
“There is no other way to guard yourself against flattery than by making men understand that telling you the truth will not offend you.” A classic and one of the most impactful books on power. Ruthless? Yes. Yet this book contains tremendous insight on the importance of controlling the narrative. Machiavelli’s debate on which is more valuable to a leader, being feared or being loved, fits right in with today’s “Game of Thrones.”
“How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie
Recommended by Ashley, who uses every party she attends as practice for Carnegie’s tactics.
Every high school student should read this before graduation, and so should we all. After 80 years, this book still has a cult following. Warren Buffett said “it changed my life.” It’s one of the best public relations reads because when you are genuinely interested in what others say, you create a bond. Carnegie also presents useful insights on the psychology behind social interactions and great tips on how to approach people.
“Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” by Simon Sinek
Recommended by Wes, who says its take on establishing core values can serve as the guideline for every decision.
Born from his 2009 TED Talk on his book Start with Why, the third most popular TED video of all time, Sinek speaks to a movement to help people become more inspired at work, and in turn inspire their colleagues and customers. His theme is that leaders who’ve had the greatest influence all think, act and communicate in the same way, which is the opposite of everyone else: they start with why, not just how, their company is different.
“Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences” by Nancy Duarte
Recommended by Paulo, OWC’s content creation guru, who says the book is visual and informative, making it a great mix of concept with how-to instruction.
Creating a presentation can be a daunting task: How many words are too many for one slide? Does this image make sense here? Am I boring them to death? Duarte’s answers can help wake the sleepers and lead to better and more entertaining communication.
Our staff commutes from Simi Valley and Pasadena to Silver Lake and Santa Monica, so podcasts are the medium of choice for getting our daily dose of news, insights and learning:
Recommended by Trish, who listens to at least five podcasts every day to maintain sanity while driving “the highway of the damned” (aka the 405) during her 3-hour daily commute. See Trish in The Wall Street Journal.
Communication requires an effective storyteller and what better way to learn than to follow the examples of the most skilled. The Moth podcast is a collection of people telling true stories in front of live audiences. Topics and lengths vary, but the level of excellence is consistent.
“The Intelligence Squared Podcast”
Recommended by Ashley, who says it sharpens argument skills and helps us incorporate witty, well-reasoned positions into conversation.
If you love a good debate, this is the podcast for you. It’s like eavesdropping on the brightest visionaries and most intelligent leaders from around the globe as they deliberate hot topics.
The New York Times’ “The Daily”
Recommended by Paulo, who recommends it as the ideal podcast for a quick news fix during the morning commute.
Hosted by Michael Barbaro, each 20-minute episode is a deep dive into the latest news, all told by the Times’ award-winning staff. It summarizes the day’s hot-button headlines with original reporting from those covering the stories from the front lines and commentary from policymakers and interviews with persons involved.
We’d like your book and podcast recommendations. Please share them with us on Twitter @owcpr or via email, and we’ll include them in our next newsletter.
According to Lido Advisors’ Greg Kushner, we are all worried about managing risk in our portfolios, and it’s not just a baseless concern.
“This year we have seen more volatility than we have since the financial crisis,” he says. “Just look at the soaring CBOE Volatility Index (VIX, aka the fear index). Even more concerning is that this volatility may continue, making potential investors queasy about their participation in the equity markets.”
Lido Advisors thinks investment advice should go beyond just wealth management and into a bit of life coaching. “The first thing I do is sit down with a client and drill down into their current situation.”
Read the full article: Keep Your Composure (And Clients): A Field Guide For Managing Fear In A Volatile Market (Forbes)