Podcast: Zach Dundas: Portland Monthly Magazine

Podcast: Zach Dundas: Portland Monthly Magazine

The Man Behind the Machine that is Portland Monthly

“We don’t expect PR people to read our minds,” Zach Dundas, Editor in Chief of Portland Monthly, assures us during the course of our interview on PR Talk. From his corner office overlooking the city, we covered his role as the head of editorial for Portland’s beloved monthly magazine, how he’s written two books, and his insight for PR people.

As Editor in Chief, Zach is responsible for setting the overarching direction of the magazine and ensuring that the editorial team follows suit. Yet many of the writers on Zach’s team also hold the Editor title, empowering them to make editor-like decisions within their reporting and writing functions. This frees Zach up to ponder how Portland Monthly can morph along with the city’s ever-changing scene and priorities—a task that becomes more challenging as Portland grows. Zach is quick to add that he still likes to get his hands dirty with frequent article writing and reporting.

As we delve into the two books Zach’s written — “The Renegade Sportsman” and “The Great Detective— I uncover that Zach was in the throws of welcoming his second child to the world and had been recently promoted to Editor in Chief during the process of writing his last book. However, deadlines from his publisher and editor helped him see the project through.

“Deadlines are one of the secrets to creativity. Having to get something done is why a lot of things get done in the world,” Zach said. “What we do [at Portland Monthly] is driven by a deadline cycle. An under-rated factor in the creative industry is that there is a machine behind what people are creating.”

 

When to Pitch Portland Monthly

Speaking of deadlines, one of the hardest things to wrap my head around when doing long-lead PR is to think so far in advance. “If you want to see a story in print, it’s not out of the question to pitch something six months out,” Zach said. “But we can turn something around for the website in a day-ish.”

It’s always better to play it safe but new clients and projects don’t have these strict deadlines ingrained into their psyche like we PR people do. So if you can get in front of the team three to four months in advance of when the issue would publish, you’ll be OK.

If you’re really under the gun with a tight deadline you may be able to sneak something in after that time. Let’s take the June issue for example:

  • It confusingly hits the stands in late May (a week or so before the month starts)
  • It goes to the printer early May
  • The details within the stories are conceived and written in April
  • The drop-dead appears to be 6 weeks ahead but I’ve never been known for my computing skills. You do the math.

Keep in mind that the topical ideas for the entire year are mapped out 12 months or more ahead. See this blog post on Editorial Calendars for more insight.

 

How to Pitch Portland Monthly

Zach comforts us that Portland Monthly is always looking for stories. Pitching the right editor is part of the battle and you can’t uncover this by glancing over the masthead. You’ll need to pay attention to the magazine and web content to learn what each editor is covering. “The more closely you can tailor your pitch to each editor’s coverage focus, the better,” he says.

The most successful PR people have a “knack for telling the stories themselves and put thought into what they’re pulling together. The best pitches have elements of story and character,” Zach says.

This comment has me thinking about all the journalists we’ve interviewed on PR Talk who’ve been harping after us to shorten our pitches. “Concision is great but give us a sense of what the story is,” Zach says.

The point that PR people must customize, customize, customize has been driven home again. Not only are we tailoring our outreach efforts for each individual contact and outlet, we must also match our materials to how the medium delivers its news. A TV station that produces quick bites of news isn’t going to be able to digest a long pitch. Whereas a publication embarking on in-depth, long-form coverage might have the stamina for something meatier.

 

What to Pitch Portland Monthly 

You’ll have to pick up a copy of the magazine, peruse the digital content and sign up for a newsletter to discover this for yourself! But if you are reading this in late Spring 2018, when this episode was released, Zach advises that it’s not too early to start talking about next fall and winter.

About the guest: Zach Dundas

Zach Dundas grew up in Montana, published ‘zines, played in bands, and made his start in journalism at the Missoula Independent. After working as an editor and reporter for Portland’s Willamette Week from 1999 to 2005, he wrote for Monocle, Maxim, Good Magazine, and others. His first book, The Renegade Sportsman, was published by Riverhead Books in 2007, followed by The Great Detective in 2015. He is now editor-in-chief of Portland Monthly and a correspondent for Monocle.

Connect and follow Zach 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.

PR Talk is sponsored by monday

In such a fast-paced, multi-faceted work environment, it can be tough to stay on top of everything. monday is the collaboration tool trusted by businesses of all kinds to help cut down the clutter and streamline productivity. Learn more at monday.com and signup for a free trial. You’ll see in no time why so many teams around the world are choosing monday for their project management needs.

PR Talk listeners can use the coupon code BetterExecute for a 15% discount.

Podcast: Dave Thompson: ODOT

Podcast: Dave Thompson: ODOT

Demystifying Crisis PR & the Infamous PIO Role

Learn more at CommCon on May 18th as Dave Thompson gives an inside look at the communications surrounding last summer’s devastating Eagle Creek Fire in the Gorge  

“Public relations for government,” Dave Thompson, APR says of his job as Public Information Officer (PIO) of Oregon’s Department of Transportation (ODOT). But as we dig in, I discover the classic role of the PIO to be so much more. Having been at ODOT for over 16 years, he’s technically the Public Affairs Program Manager, overseeing the multitude of PIO’s throughout the state. But when he first started, he was the spokesperson you’d see on TV responding to an issue — a natural disaster, accident, weather, or more — affecting the roads. Today he trains and manages those people, but the job is still intense.

Next week, attendees of CommCon, the Oregon chapter of PRSA’s conference, will get a glimpse of what it’s like to be a PIO. Dave is moderating a session titled “Coordinating Consistent Communications in the Middle of Chaos.” The panel will delve into what happened during the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire that decimated the Gorge and will include speakers from the US Forest Service, Portland Fire & Rescue, and Multnomah County Communications Center. As one of the first PIO’s on the scene, Dave’s mission was to communicate effectively to the public the status of the crisis.

CommCon takes place May 18th from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the DoubleTree Hotel (1000 NE Multnomah Street), tickets are available here.

Working Together

The fact that the panel features communicators from multiple agencies points to a key aspect of the job that I didn’t think about. As a PIO responding to disasters affecting the public, you’re working arm-in-arm with multiple government agencies and NGO’s—aligning your messaging and deciding which group, and whom from that group, will serve what function in the Mt. Everest sized list of things to do in a crisis. For example, Dave’s team recently won an award from Travel Oregon for their expert communication management of the Eclipse this summer. As Dave recalls that time, he paints the picture of a busy communication headquarters with executives from different groups serving functions like:

  • Managing & assigning duties to the entire team (like an Editor)
  • Aligning messaging from all groups
  • Pulling together press releases & media communications incorporating that messaging
  • Media outreach & response
  • Press conference organization & delivery

If it sounds intense, it is. I envision such a headquarters like the inner-workings of a frantic newsroom, and Dave agreed to the comparison. When I asked how people without experience can get involved, he said “you can’t just walk into a situation like that unprepared.” He points to some training resources people can go to, but it seems that on-the-job training and planning ahead with all involved parties is the way to go.

Planning Ahead

The ODOT public affairs team gets roughly 30-40 calls per week from media that need to be promptly and accurately addressed. All contact seemingly involves a crisis of sorts but the way Dave explains it, with a lot of forward thinking and planning, maybe PR practitioners don’t have to relate to every tragedy as the crisis that it indeed is. Dave says that “absolutely” all crises can be planned for, with his team having contingency plans for everything — earthquakes, volcano eruptions, tsunamis, major traffic accidents and more. Not only do all plans live in his computer, he and his team have print-outs and jump drives of plans, media contacts, press release templates, talking points and more, within arm’s reach — in their cars and at home — should a disaster occur and computers aren’t working or available.

Extending the Megaphone

No longer does Dave think of his job as strictly “customer service for the media.” The rise of social media has extended the megaphone — which used to be reserved for media — to the general public, therefore drastically changing the PIO’s function. But Dave’s thinking has also evolved, realizing that the people of Oregon are his customers because they must use the roads safely and efficiently. He treats every inquiry, whether it is FOX news or your grandma, with the same weight.

“The roads are the lifeblood of the economy, greasing the skids so that the economy can flow. Road maintenance is not just for semi-trucks, it’s so you can get to work, get to the store.”

A Varied Past

With a masters in computer science, going on to teach at USC, Dave’s career trajectory — from writing papers and teaching, to eventually working in broadcast for 20 years, to now working at ODOT — seems unlikely.

As a self-professed “nerd” working in computer science at USC, Dave found himself isolated, watching the world move without him. Working late at the office on Friday night he switched on the news. A hostage situation at the airport immediately sparked his adrenaline as he became fascinated with the story execution. The next day, he signed up for a new broadcasting class and the rest is history.

Today Dave is dedicated to teaching others.

“My personal mission in life is to make a difference. Nobody will remember it was me, but some part of life will be better because of something I did.”

Having joined PRSA in 2002, Dave has gone on to teach, learn, and become a chapter board member, expressing that you get out of it what you put into it. Dave has truly left a mark on the Portland community by his commitment to spreading knowledge and helping others.

About the guest: Dave Thompson

Dave is the Public Affairs Program Manager at the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). He leads a team of eight spokespeople spread across the state of Oregon. He is also a lecturer and media trainer for interviews, crisis management and crisis response. Prior to his career as a PIO, Dave was a reporter, producer, anchor and host at various TV and radio stations. He is also a former board member and president of the local Portland chapter of PRSA.

Connect and follow Dave 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.

PR Talk is sponsored by monday

In such a fast-paced, multi-faceted work environment, it can be tough to stay on top of everything. monday is the collaboration tool trusted by businesses of all kinds to help cut down the clutter and streamline productivity. Learn more at monday.com and signup for a free trial. You’ll see in no time why so many teams around the world are choosing monday for their project management needs.

PR Talk listeners can use the coupon code BetterExecute for a 15% discount.

Podcast: Greg Retsinas: KGW Media Group

Podcast: Greg Retsinas: KGW Media Group

6 Ways to Get Coverage on KGW

The Swallowing of Traditional Journalism
Passionately Outlined by KGW’s Greg Retsinas.

Greg Retsinas must have a crystal ball. While spending years in traditional newsroom settings, he was acutely aware of the merger between traditional and digital media before any of us were. Not only was he one of the earliest to jump on the digital bandwagon, it is my estimation that he’s one of the few that is actually changing the game as the head of KGW’s digital operations and newly promoted to Regional Director for parent company TEGNA.

To say that digital media is merging with traditional journalism would be foolish. Not only has it already merged, digital media is swallowing up the traditional aspects of newsrooms across the world. So much so that my understanding of the traditional aspects of some newsrooms are outdated. I have been on this kick to learn about the digital side of newsrooms and it’s funny to see that my knowledge was up to par in that aspect, however the traditional side of news was lacking. Of course Veracity gains coverage on a daily basis from “traditional” realms, but that’s not the point. Fully understanding how newsrooms operate helps us do our jobs even better enabling us to be better media partners.

In this episode, Greg helps me reshape how I am thinking about news. The “traditional” and “digital” sides aren’t split. They’ve morphed into one. However, this may only be true for KGW, which may be more cutting edge, but it is my job to find out by interviewing other TV newsrooms on this podcast.

Leaving his nest at the New York Times, Greg set out to explore the digital sphere of journalism, serving as Interactive Editor for the Press Democrat, eventually launching a digital agency inside the newspaper to help its clients with their digital needs. Fast-forward to today where Greg’s digital influence over traditional newsrooms is quickly reshaping everything.

 

Six Ways to Get Coverage on KGW:

Greg rattled off many ways PR pros can garner coverage on KGW’s broadcast, website and social media platforms. Here are a few highlights:

  • Digital Self-Service: There are many options available on KGW.com that PR pros can utilize from a self-service aspect. By submitting to the calendar or adding to the directory, you can ensure you’ve done your part and bypass the stress of getting different forms of coverage if you have to.
  • Sharing is Caring: Submit content such as videos and photos of community happenings. If the media couldn’t attend the “happening,” you can help fill in where they couldn’t be. You can do this through KGW’s YourPic section, or by sharing content through your mobile device on social media platforms and mentioning KGW in a post and direct messaging them.
  • #Hashtag: By using the #KGWnews or #KGWweather hashtag on social media platforms, the KGW team will see it and decide if they want to reshare on their social, website, or maybe even on a show. By far the number one way people let KGW know what is happening is by tagging them in social media content.
  • TV Broadcast: Space for TV is very limited. If you get something on TV, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to make it online (and you want SEO!!). It depends on the subject, but if a reporter shows up to cover your story you have a greater chance of online coverage. Whereas if a camera shows up without a reporter, you get limited content and there’s a chance breaking news may rid your coverage from airing.
  • Content Discovery Area: KGW’s Content Discovery Area, handling both digital and traditional news, is staffed by a team covering subjects and events that are highly visual, engaging, and speak to the general, yet local, audience. You can send pitches to [email protected] or [email protected].
  • The Audience is First: Lastly, KGW news is meant for a wider, yet local, audience demanding compelling and quick stories. If your pitch is centered around a niche subject and audience, they won’t be intrigued.  

As a final note, Greg’s advice is “if you want to connect with us, consume us.” If you’re not doing this, it will be difficult to get into KGW’s ecosystem.

About the guest: Greg Retsinas

Greg Retsinas is Director of Digital Media and Director of Digital Strategy for KGW Media Group. Additionally, he is Regional Director for TEGNA where he is the digital content and strategy lead for the West region, serving digital content operations in Portland, Seattle, Spokane, Boise, Denver, Sacramento, Phoenix and San Diego.

Connect and follow Greg 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.

PR Talk is sponsored by monday

In such a fast-paced, multi-faceted work environment, it can be tough to stay on top of everything. monday is the collaboration tool trusted by businesses of all kinds to help cut down the clutter and streamline productivity. Learn more at monday.com and signup for a free trial. You’ll see in no time why so many teams around the world are choosing monday for their project management needs.

PR Talk listeners can use the coupon code BetterExecute for a 15% discount.

Minicast: Thought Leadership & Positioning Credit Union Brains

Minicast: Thought Leadership & Positioning Credit Union Brains

A 5-Point-Guide to Maximizing the “Brains” at Your Disposal

There are many articles about how to become a thought leader. But if you’re in credit union marketing or PR, you need to know how to position one of the many “brains” within your organization as a thought leader. Sorry folks, not too many people want to hear from marketers, especially not the general public. Current and potential credit union customers want to know about financial and economic matters—things affecting their own bottom lines—subjects that a marketing person couldn’t, wouldn’t nor shouldn’t talk about.

Before we get into how to find and utilize these experts, let’s review the types of experts credit union marketers should be hunting down. They can be discovered among executive leadership teams, staffs and boards.

Types of credit union thought leaders:

  • Small business financing.
  • Mortgage lending.
  • Car loans.
  • Personal finance.
  • Family finance (getting kids to invest).
  • Diversity experts to help include under-represented communities, such as loans for women business owners or mortgages for minorities.
  • Your credit union’s niche area, such as teachers for credit unions focusing on teachers, veterans for credit unions focusing on veterans, or community ambassadors for credit unions focusing on a specific community.
  • How general economics affects all of the above

 

Veracity’s 5-Point-Guide to Maximizing the “Brains” at Your Disposal

 

1. Hone your “Expert-Dar.”

Learn how to sniff out the people you should be positioning as experts. The main way to do this is to listen with an open mind. You never know who your expert might be. With so many topics to talk about, it’s more important than ever to keep your ear to the ground. Get to know people who can feed you the information you need by attending events, interacting with people, asking questions, and again listening with an open mind.

 

2. Build a rapport.

Once you’ve selected your experts make them your best friends. At the very least get comfortable talking with them so you can call them in a pinch. Try the following things to turn your “brain” into an approachable bestie:

  • Talk to them at events and meetings.
  • Take them to coffee, lunch or happy hour.
  • Listen to them speak in seminars, classes and meetings. Talk to them about what they’ve said. Everyone needs a friendly face in the front row.
  • Sign up to volunteer in their group if your credit union partakes in volunteering efforts.
  • Simply ask to “pick their brain” as frequently as comfortable.

When you’re doing any of the above items, don’t talk at them, let them do most of the talking and listen intently. Imagine the kinds of stories you could pitch or articles you could place with the information they’re bestowing upon you.

 

3. Write it down!

Once you get them going, write down everything they say! Oftentimes when experts are rambling, they’re “giving” us the press release, article, media pitch, whatever! For this reason, I love it when my clients talk at me. We type down everything they say and use it later for a piece.

Be prepared to write things down constantly. For example, if you just need some quick info from your CEO but she’s in a chatty mood, let the conversation flow and write it all down because you can use the extraneous information for something else later.

Why talk at all if experts could just type out answers to your questions? Remember that you have the marketer’s insight and your expert does not. Important points that your expert quickly glosses over can be honed in on during conversation. I understand that time is limited so you’ll have to use your best judgment on whether or not to talk about each opportunity. After doing this for awhile, hopefully you will have a lot of copy you can re-use. Even more important, hopefully you’ll be getting opportunity after opportunity and you’ll all be so busy you just can’t talk about everything!

 

4. Convert your notes.

I understand if the idea of having to ghostwrite an article on behalf of your Board President sounds intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be if you’ve done the third step and are coming to the computer with a page full of notes. Don’t you see that you already have the piece? You just need to restructure it.

Time permitting, clean up the notes immediately while the conversation is fresh. Keep notes in paragraph format and organize by topic. As I run through my notes I’m thinking: “this is a good quote for a press release, this is some good fluff for a community-oriented blog post, and I’ll leave these economic stats in bullet point format because that will work better for an article or pitch.”  Also, do you see how a five sentence pitch is actually an article introduction? Copy is copy! USE IT ALL!

 

5. Place your brain.

Honestly now we are at PR 101. If you are fully accessing the “brains” at your disposal, this part shouldn’t be hard at all. However, newbies may not know where to begin. That’s okay! We all start somewhere. For the most part, thought leaders should be placed in the following ways:

  • Bylined articles in newspapers, financial journals or industry publications/websites. The topic should be of interest to your audience—they are not advertisements for your credit union or products. The only “plug” you’re getting is their name, company and title being listed as the author of that piece. Ideally, a headshot would run alongside the article. If you aren’t sure where to begin, tie into the seasons, national days/holidays, and editorial calendars.
  • Quoted as a source in articles. Most likely the first few quotes stem from proactive pitches you’ve sent and then ideally a relationship is formed and you’re also being called to have your “brain” participate in articles. If you aren’t sure where to begin, tie into the seasons, national days/holidays, and editorial calendars.
  • Speaking engagements at industry, financial or community events. The more often you’re placing bylined articles and quotes from your “brain,” the more clout your expert has, thus the easier this should be. Send pitches and proposals on behalf of your expert to event organizers.

I know I have glossed over #5 here but there is a wealth of information on our blog and podcast, PR Talk. Arm yourself with knowledge before embarking on your first thought-leadership campaign!

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.

PR Talk is sponsored by monday

In such a fast-paced, multi-faceted work environment, it can be tough to stay on top of everything. monday is the collaboration tool trusted by businesses of all kinds to help cut down the clutter and streamline productivity. Learn more at monday.com and signup for a free trial. You’ll see in no time why so many teams around the world are choosing monday for their project management needs.

PR Talk listeners can use the coupon code BetterExecute for a 15% discount.

Podcast: Steve Strauss: USA Today

Podcast: Steve Strauss: USA Today

Two of My Favorite Things with Steve Strauss, USA TODAY & Inc.

Mr.AllBiz Delves into the Intersection of Small Business and PR

Luckily Steve Strauss had just gotten fired from his cushy job as a lawyer twenty years ago when USA TODAY came calling looking for a small business columnist. Apparently, the budding entrepreneur wasn’t the best employee and lacked writing ability. He’s gone on to write an impressive 17 books, including the best-selling Small Business Bible. But it’s the brand he’s built through penning a weekly small business Ask an Expert column for USA TODAY that he credits for his success.

After getting the corporate boot, Steve started his own law practice, eventually carving out an interesting niche between three disciplines: law, small business and writing. He has since left the law behind to focus on regular columns for USA TODAY, Huff Po. and Inc. — check out this recent piece for Inc.: “Why Most PR Pitches Stand Out (and How to Make Yours Stand Out).”

You’re wrong if you think Steve couldn’t get any busier. More can be found about how he serves as the small business spokesperson for companies like Bank of America and Verizon on Mr.AllBiz. His team creates written and visual content focusing on the small business community underneath The Strauss Group. And to top it off, Steve’s Web portal, The SelfEmployed, pays special attention not just to entrepreneurs seeking world domination, but also to freelancers and the gig economy, aka the “side hustle.”

Steve’s work could serve as a resource for employed marketers looking to dip their toes into the small business pool through freelancing or side hustling. Most interestingly, we both shared personal stories of how we journeyed into the abyss of the self-employed. Steve’s firing could have been viewed as a failure but instead it led to a much broader, but different, type of success than he ever expected. And although I didn’t know it at the time, saying yes to volunteer work was the beginning of Veracity.

 

This episode of PR Talk covers:

  • How to get in Steve’s USA TODAY column, or the other three notable columns he writes on a monthly basis, and other general PR tips and pet peeves.
  • How and why small businesses should embrace PR.
  • How marketers can start their own companies through freelancing and picking up “side hustles” first.
  • The differences between small marketing shops and large firms.

About the guest: Steve Strauss

Steve Strauss is often called “the country’s leading small business expert.” A best-selling author, and USA TODAY small business columnist, Steve is a global speaker, corporate spokesperson, entrepreneur, and author of 17 books including the best-selling Small Business Bible.

Connect and follow Steve 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.

PR Talk is sponsored by monday

In such a fast-paced, multi-faceted work environment, it can be tough to stay on top of everything. monday is the collaboration tool trusted by businesses of all kinds to help cut down the clutter and streamline productivity. Learn more at monday.com and signup for a free trial. You’ll see in no time why so many teams around the world are choosing monday for their project management needs.

PR Talk listeners can use the coupon code BetterExecute for a 15% discount.

Podcast: Kent Lewis: Anvil Media

Podcast: Kent Lewis: Anvil Media

Banished to the Digital Basement:
Kent Lewis Recounts His Exile from PR

Since I seem to be on a digital PR “jag” after presenting on “PR Your Way to the Top of Google” at Engage with my firm also handling the PR for the digital marketing conference in Portland, I thought I’d interview Kent Lewis, President & Founder of Anvil Media, Inc., a measurable search and social marketing agency. You’ll see Kent quoted in publications, speaking at conferences, teaching at Portland State University and hosting webinars as the founder of career enhancement group, pdxMindShare.

But that’s not why I wanted to interview him. Kent is that rarified PR guy turned into something else. Starting his PR career before media databases were online, he spins a story about his first years out of college when he printed media “books” — back before Cision and HARO were saving our asses.

After a short time playing nice with traditional PR people, his attitude got him moved “downstairs” to the stepsister company focusing on interactive. His boss literally opened Kent’s first-ever professional review by asking “what’s your problem?” He was banished to the basement of websites before the internet was recognized as a real entity. Working to maximize online coverage for clients, PR people didn’t respect this as “real PR” and even the interactive people had “no use” for Kent because he wasn’t a developer or programmer.

Left to his own devices, Kent launched into unchartered territories as only a true entrepreneur would. Grabbing the attention of forward-thinking colleagues, Kent was asked to take part in launching new firms — Wave Rock Communications and Young & Roehr Group — where he ran the digital side of things.

But that’s old history. Kent has served at the helm of Anvil for almost 18 years. Today the firm steers clear of PR, only working in “pixels” that can bring “measurable” results to clients. While this may cause many of us to scratch our heads, thinking we might want to ditch PR’s ambiguity for this results-oriented approach, Kent’s daily actions point to how much he respects our industry.

5 Ways a Marketing Firm Owner Uses PR to Grow

Today he utilizes his PR skills to grow Anvil. Here’s how:

1. HARO (Help A Reporter) — Kent is always looking to serve as an expert resource on marketing topics for press. He does this by mining and responding to HARO, a free resource delivering press requests to in-boxes three times per day.

He doesn’t really care if the coverage ends up on an obscure website, he’s after links back to his website. “The single best way to get good quality links to your website is PR coverage,” he reiterates. He also views PR results as a reason to reach out to prospects and essentially “markets the crap out of it.”

2. Speaking — Sharing his knowledge at industry and business conferences about 30 times a year has been Anvil’s best lead generator.

3. Awards — Submitting for relevant industry and local business awards has helped Anvil. They do not pay for award recognition, but are truly gaining authentic pats-on-the-back from awards that aren’t fee-based.

4. Syndicated articles — Kent often writes for 3rd party publications like iMedia and Online Marketing Institute. He’s disciplined about creating efficiency out of each article by maximizing them multiple ways (he calls this SWING).

5. Press releases — Kent’s quarterly press releases aren’t about getting media pick up. Instead, he views them as sales tools and a nonaggressive way of saying “here’s our latest news.” Kent reminds us that many decision makers still don’t understand the difference between a press release that’s posted on the wire versus one that’s picked up by media.

The difference between Kent and a true PR professional, besides the fact that he’s run a successful search and social company for nearly two decades, is that he’s not proactively pitching reporters nor playing the media relations game. He did that once when a midlife business brought him to what he calls his Jerry Maguire moment in 2013. Faced with surmounting business challenges, Kent manically wrote a 40-page company manifesto, resulting in the removal of half his team. What was toned down into a 10-point credo was picked up by the Portland Business Journal from Kent’s media pitching efforts. The article still pulls powerful search rank today. Let this be an inspiration to all PR people to find their own Jerry Maguire moments—on behalf of our clients, our employers, or the companies we own and are trying to elevate.

About the guest: Kent Lewis

President and Founder of Anvil Media, Inc., Founder of pdxMindShare, Adjunct Professor at Portland State University, Co-Founder, Past President and Advisory Board Member of SEMpdx, Board Member and Membership Chair of Entrepreneurial Organization (EO) and Executive Committee, Board Member and Marketing Chair for SMART. Kent does a lot!

Connect and follow Kent 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.

PR Talk is sponsored by monday

In such a fast-paced, multi-faceted work environment, it can be tough to stay on top of everything. monday is the collaboration tool trusted by businesses of all kinds to help cut down the clutter and streamline productivity. Learn more at monday.com and signup for a free trial. You’ll see in no time why so many teams around the world are choosing monday for their project management needs.

PR Talk listeners can use the coupon code BetterExecute for a 15% discount.