Tony DiZinno, Public Relations Senior Account Executive at Nelson Schmidt Inc., speaks on the evolving intersection of PR and creativity: thinking creatively beyond the core trades, engaging with customers on modern platforms, and relationship-building in every form.
How would you describe the functionality of the partnership between an agency and its PR counterpart?
As part of a fully integrated marketing communications agency, a PR counterpart is an integral team member within the environment. The best functionality comes when PR works together with the account planning and management, media and creative teams, and fortunately within my role I’m able to do that daily.
The functionality comes from regular check-ins and relationship-building both inside and outside the office. The more you can connect with your agency counterparts, the better the work is because of the established dynamic. While it’s important for PR to focus on and lead the outbound relationships with media and influencers, taking input from the agency teams to best explore new opportunities can be very beneficial.
Back in the day, PR was about protecting a brand and its reputation largely through earned or free media: Press releases, statements, stories and crisis management. What has led to the PR function becoming more creatively oriented?
PR needs to strike a balance between ticking the “traditional” boxes of brand management through those four things and thinking creatively to expand the brand’s horizons and visibility. Simply put, the advances and creation of new platforms has led to a need to think about a PR strategy that covers the new horizons beyond just the core trades. When selling products or services that require a deeper buyer journey, the story of how and why the brand can deliver a tangible, memorable and valuable promise to the customer to impact their life and business in a positive way matters. It requires a collaborative agency thought process and plan.
How are you leveraging modern tech and/or social media in client work, and what value does it add to the creative process?
Nelson Schmidt’s focus on serving products and services that are considered purchases rather than impulse buys makes us unique from other firms, in that the goal of PR isn’t solely brand awareness, but also to help drive business objectives and improve sales. As such, creative PR needs to include modern tech tools and the opening of one-to-one dialogue on social media platforms to drive effective results.
For example, we worked with a lesser-known client in the construction equipment space to build the brand through a variety of storytelling aspects that included digital components, product videos and key client stakeholder input and commentary to help evolve and position them higher in the space. PR isn’t solely responsible for their growth in the last two years, but creative efforts established by our agency as part of an “extended relationship” with this client has helped them improve their standing and ranking in the crowded marketplace.
What kind of projects does your agency call on a PR counterpart (in-house or external) to get involved in? In what ways have brand communications evolved in light of having a more integrated partnership?
Our agency calls on its in-house PR team for brand development and planning, product stories and launches, and event organization and coordination, among other things. Brand communications have evolved to create and establish new messaging highlighting the people, product and/or business growth and development that has taken place over time.