PR Interview Series with Dunn PR's Partner

Rachel Thexton is a Partner at Dunn PR, a Vancouver-based PR agency. Here are her experiences and thoughts on the PR industry: 

 

  1. In your experience, what are the top success/failure factors for a PR campaign?

    Clearly identifying goals and measures of success before you start executing your campaign is key. You need to know where you want to be before you start executing your communications. Another key factor that contributes to a strong campaign is open and consistent communication between a PR team and client. Keep your agency close and looped in to get the best possible results. Your PR team is enthusiastic and creative and we need to know about all of the potential stories, rich content and updates we can use to help you communicate and showcase the amazing work you do.
  2. What do you consider essential skills for a PR team these days?

    Relationships with media and bloggers are vital as are writing skills and having a good grasp on news and what makes a story. That said, good PR also relies on great visuals, a strong online dialogue through social media and finding new and creative ways to reach your target markets in a cluttered media and online space. PR teams must have a good understanding of social media communities and how to find interactive ways to communicate. Video, photo and design skills are also important. Also, depending on your market, language skills are a must! In Canada, we live diverse cities and being able to tailor communications to various markets in languages such as Mandarin, Cantonese and Punjabi is a must.
  3. What do you feel are the most underrated skills in a PR team these days?

    A good attitude and willingness to learn and constantly adapt! The typical day for a PR professional is fast paced, changing by the minute, and can be challenging and stressful at times. Keeping a calm and positive outlook and working to creatively overcome whatever comes your way is key. Ask questions and contribute your blue sky ideas during brainstorms. PR requires hard work but seeing the results of a great PR campaign is incredibly rewarding. 
  4. What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in PR teams in recent years compared to ten years ago?

    A PR team now needs professionals with a variety of skills. From a good knowledge of social media and online design skills to photography and videography, the focus on rich content creation means that visual presentation is important. Also, writers have to think beyond the standard media materials and tailor their pitches and ideas for media like never before. Content creation is increasingly important and this means writers and creative teams creating content that people will actually want to read and share!  Drafting content with your marketing messages won't cut it. From storytelling to guest writers, focus on quality content.
  5. What do you see as the biggest challenges for PR professionals over the next year?

    Shrinking newsrooms and fewer media covering a variety of news beats. As PR professionals, we have worked for years to develop great relationships with media and understand what they need to make a story while finding ways to make clients a part of these stories when appropriate. While there used to be a writer to cover each news beat, it’s now often challenging to pitch a reporter who covers business one hour and lifestyle or sports the next. PR pros are not only losing valuable media contacts through newsroom layoffs but we are also losing valued colleagues we enjoy working with.
  6. What excites you the most about digital PR?

    I love the potential to communicate visually online and show what your brand, product and story is all about. Visuals can be fun to produce and using photography, infographics and video can be a powerful way to illustrate your story. I also love the two way communication that social media allows companies to have with their customers and networks. We can listen and engage in meaningful dialogue instead of the old model of simply broadcasting messages. This two way dialogue is so valuable in helping a company to really understand what their customers want and need and can therefore help us to communicate more effectively.

 

 

Rachel is strategic, results-driven communications professional with nine years of experience in the public relations industry. Detail oriented, creative and consistent, Rachel focuses on relationships with media and bloggers.