Podcast: Mark Knowles: So Much More Than Swivel

Podcast: Mark Knowles: So Much More Than Swivel

Mark Knowles On So Much More Than Swivel

Two secrets to Mark Knowles’ success, both personally and professionally, are to always be curious, and to fail fast and learn from those failures.

I interviewed Mark for Episode 70 of the PR Talk podcast. We had a candid conversation about a range of topics that went beyond the upcoming marketing conference he’s organizing in Bend called Swivel and delved into float planes, intention setting, serial entrepreneurialism and more.

Besides organizing Swivel, Mark is a principal at Smartz (digital marketing) and The Growler Guys (craft beer), and is the CEO of Pixelsilk (an SEO-friendly CMS). At the end of the interview we learned about how his entrepreneurship began with the proverbial lemonade stand.

Swivel is September 16-17 in BendSwivel Conference

Entering its 12th year, Swivel will be held September 16-17 in Bend, Ore. This year’s event includes well-known speakers, including: Wil Reynolds, Cari Twitchell, Blake Denman and even yours truly will have a stint onstage discussing digital PR.

Swivel also includes an Unconference on the second day, as well as two workshops on customer feedback and content marketing.

Mark’s goal for the conference is bringing together all of marketing’s parts—from creative to technical SEO—and learning how they each work independently and cooperatively.

 

Traveling Brings Greater Perspective

One of Mark’s passions is travelling. He recently returned from a trip to a remote river near Bristol Bay in Alaska where the only way to access it was via a float plane. Sharing about 1.5 million acres with only a dozen other people gave him perspective, he said, especially when compared to the times his day is dictated by his inbox.

All of that just goes away when you’re out in the wild and looking at all that nature, he said. A little bit hungover from the trip, he said he’ll eventually respond to those emails that are piling up in his inbox. Or maybe he won’t.

 

The Secrets to Mark’s Success

Listen to the podcast to learn how Mark embraces failure rather than running from it. He also is always curious and learning new things. He said both failing fast (and learning from that failure) and continuing on a learning journey have shaped his professional life.

He also shared his “1-2-3 practice” with us. Each morning he identifies the top three things he can do to make that day a success and sets out to accomplish them as soon as possible.

About the guest: Mark Knowles

Mark Knowles is a serial entrepreneur, including being a principal at Smartz, The Growler Guys and CEO at Pixelsilk. He is an advisory board member for the Search Engine Marketers of Portland (SEMpdx) and organizer of the Swivel conference in Bend. 

Connect and follow Mark on social media:

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

Podcast: Forget Your Story

Podcast: Forget Your Story

We Challenge You to “Forget Your Story”

Wait, what?!? If you’ve come up in the PR world like me, the idea of “the story” has been ingrained into you from before the time you picked up your first AP Style Guide. In fact, it is so pervasive that Mike pointed out our website has “What’s Your Story” written all over it. I must have written that unoriginal website copy in a stint of boredom before launching into a book in which the second chapter is titled “Forget Your Story.”

In this episode of PR Talk, Mike and I talk about what it means to “Forget Your Story.” Mike was a bit flabbergasted by this concept at first, wondering how marketers can do anything without story-telling, which is the foundation of the human language.

I’m not suggesting people completely forget who they are and stop honing their stories. This bold statement is meant to light a fire under people who can get too hung up on the stories before getting any real work done. For me, the classic media relations style of PR is about getting results. I can create the prettiest press kit, have the best connections and manufacture the slickest “story” but if I’m not getting any press coverage (results), then what is the point to all that hustle?

Instead of doing all that busy-work first, I’m offering a new way that literally approaches things  backwards — providing the instant gratification of immediate results. Just forget your story right now while you get your first nuggets of press coverage. Trying to uncover your story’s nuances before getting started can waste a lot of time. While I do love me some time-wasting, I cannot handle missed opportunities.

In this episode, I come to realize that this book is about doing. I am trying to get heads out of clouds and into action. The book — and accompanying PR Talk episodes — will walk you through how to get media coverage first and foremost. Along the way we might stumble upon your story if you can’t wait until the end when we do close with “Figuring Out Your Story.”

In order to get started, we challenge listeners to write down what is new in their organization. This is the beginning of your list of press release ideas. This is very different than a list of random ideas. I will say it again. Just list out what is new/happening in your organization. This will be converted into your press release list and possibly it’s the beginning of a PR timeline.

Just because I mention a press release list, you must not skip ahead to the section where I list the press release topics (this is a list I am working on of topics the press will actually cover because there’s no point to a press release if the press doesn’t pick it up).

If you are trying to be an A student (I see you. I know you. I am you.) and only want to include good things that the press might cover in your list, the best way to know what types of things the news might cover is to actually consume the news. My challenge for the A students is to set a time to consume news every day and……do it!!!…..For the rest of this working week….and then on Monday you can create the list of new things that are happening in your organization.

Until next time.

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

Podcast: Dan Lee: Agency vs. In-House

Podcast: Dan Lee: Agency vs. In-House

The PR Agency Grind versus the In-House Comms Department Cake-Walk?


Not so fast, says Dan Lee with PR Talent.

This week’s PR Talk episode features my best friend Dan Lee with PR Talent. We’ve only met once so I don’t know if he knows that we are best friends yet. Basically, I was wondering if he could just sit in my office with me all day, every day and just be my PR cheerleader and hold my hand as I trudge down the road of painful PR.

This week we’re airing the 2nd half of the conversation that I had with Dan a while back. He works on placing PR unicorns in either agency or in-house settings. Since his company only focuses on recruiting for PR roles, his knowledge about the field is extremely dense, plus Dan worked at agencies and as sports-broadcaster in a past life.

Also, to remind you, if you are in PR or looking to get into PR, you do not pay Dan to work with you. The company where you are placed pays PR Talent, which you might view as a positive if you are evaluating companies because you probably want to work for the type of company that has the resources to invest in finding perfect you. It shows how much they value what you will bring to the table and how your role fill will affect the organization.

After delving into some of the pitfalls and stresses of working at an agency, we, of course, talked about the many upsides like the variety in work and the comradery. Dan mentioned that many new PR pros with three-four years of experience end up wanting to go in-house, with in-house communications departments aggressively trying to hire agency talent.

What makes the in-house gig so attractive? Dan thinks the work-life balance may be appealing but he warns us that nothing is perfect and you’ll have to get really savvy maneuvering your way through the murky waters of in-house politics, bringing stress at all hours. And while you historically make a little bit more money in-house, the competition is fierce for the small amount of in-house jobs available.

We then moved on to talk about the random but fun topics of:

  • The newly popular phenomenon of ghosting in the job-seeking market.
  • How stress in PR is based upon a game we play against ourselves in the way of constantly needing to improve.
  • The importance of celebrating small successes. Dan’s example of firing an agency client may sound counter-intuitive but it was meaningful for his team at the time.

Tune-in in two weeks if you’re a media member looking to make the leap into PR. Dan has some tips and surprising news for you on this front. And if you liked what Dan had to stay, check out his past PR Talk episode here.

About the guest: Dan Lee

Dan Lee is a Managing Director at PR Talent and leads the firm’s recruiting efforts in the Northwest region. His career experience includes sports broadcasting, sports marketing, and 16 years with Weber Shandwick, where he was a vice president.

Connect and follow Dan on social media:

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

Podcast: How PR is Different

Podcast: How PR is Different

How PR is Different

But First, What is PR anyway?

PR stands for: Public Relations. So, in a general sense, it’s about relating to the public. There are many ways to do this, depending on the communication tools you have at your disposal and how your audience consumes information.

I used being a nun at a nunnery or working at an IT startup in Silicon Valley in my explanations of different types of PR such as internal relations, investor relations and media relations (see more about specific PR Roles).

The way each person communicates, what they communicate, and to whom might be starkly different for each. But the two examples are quite similar. PR serves as a conduit between where you are (inside the walls of your organization) to where you want to be (in front of the public without necessarily leaving). You’re getting a message, or multiple messages, from inside your organization to specific audiences (internal &/or external). At times the role can be fluid — alternating from communicating to the outside to speaking directly to those inside your organization.

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

Podcast: Martin Waxman: Spin Sucks

Podcast: Martin Waxman: Spin Sucks

Not Sure if You’re in a Relationship with Your Phone? Just Ask Google!

Martin Waxman, CMO of Spin Sucks, Discusses the
Human/AI agent relationship and why PR should care

Apparently we are on a Spin Sucks “jag!” This week we are rounding out the theme by talking with Martin Waxman, CMO of Spin Sucks. Our last interview was with Spin Sucks founder Gini Dietrich. However, Martin and I didn’t necessarily talk about Spin Sucks. Since it is a professional development hub for PR and marketing professionals, you can imagine that the CMO of the organization would have something to say about the industry.

Of course we discussed how PR is evolving and Martin had some interesting insight into how PR people need to bring visuals into their pitches and try to get a little bit more savvy with photos, video and design.

We then spent a lot of time talking about the fascinating intersection between PR and AI (artificial intelligence). Not to toot my own horn, but this was really one of the first times an interviewee brought a topic to the table that I honestly hadn’t thought of before. Martin is currently completing a Master in Communications Management from McMaster/Syracuse and researching AI, relationships and communications. His thesis was on the relationships humans have (or will have) with machines, which he calls the human/AI agent relationship.

If you don’t think you’re in a relationship with your phone, Martin gives this example — who do you believe when you are lost in your car? Google maps or your passenger? If you answered that you’d kick your mother-in-law to the curb before you’d believe her over your phone, congratulations, you are in a relationship with your phone!

Since PR is about relationships, Martin argues that PR people should take an active role if their clients are considering implementing the technology. “Not that we need to learn how to code, but we need to understand the language and mechanics of AI.” How people interact with your brand through their devices, whether using their voice or their fingertips, has everything to do with PR.

Martin goes deeper into this topic in an article he penned for Spin Sucks called “How to Put AI in PR and Demonstrate the Value of Communicators.”

To learn more about this and many other more interesting techy-type-topics, follow Martin on LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com), where he is an author and offers online courses. He is also a professor of social media, PR and journalism at Seneca College and the University of Toronto, serves as President of Martin Waxman Communications and co-hosts the podcast, Inside PR.

About the guest: Martin Waxman

Martin is President of Martin Waxman Communications, CMO at Spin Sucks, a professor of social media, PR and journalism at Seneca College and the University of Toronto. He’s also an author on LinkedIn Learning and  Lynda.com, plus co-host the Inside PR podcast, a past-chair of PRSA Counselors Academy, and past-president of CPRS Toronto.

Martin is also a published novelist/story writer (The Promised Land, Everything in Winnipeg Begins in a Car); founder of three agencies, an ex-journalist/standup comedy MC/ad copywriter.

Connect and follow Martin on social media:

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

Podcast: PR Roles and Mindset

Podcast: PR Roles and Mindset

What kind of PR person are you?

PR roles and how they relate to the PR mindset.

Mike and Amy talk about the different types of roles played in the PR game. Entire jobs could encompass just one of the roles, but more often than not PR people dabble within all of these roles.

Before digging into the types of PR roles, Amy focused on the mindset successful PR people need to have. No matter where you take your career, the PR mindset can guide you towards excellence in any field, beyond this industry. This mindset incorporates three central elements: never giving up, maximizing all campaigns, and serving as the best “secretary” for clients and media.

The different types of PR roles that were explained include:

  • The publicist
  • The B2B’er
  • The numbers-pusher
  • The do-gooder
  • The inside-agent
  • The fire-stopper
  • The strategist

Listen for an in-depth discussion as Mike & Amy unpack each category. In fact, there are so many exciting roles PR people can play, Mike pointed out that we were missing some, such as public affairs specialist, the digital maximizer and the PIO.

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.