I had the unique opportunity yesterday to turn the tables on PR Week Editor Julia Hood and interview her. The occasion was the PRSA Counselors Academy annual Spring Conference in Savannah.
Julia was gracious enough to agree to sit alongside me and share her views in a "Town Hall" format with 185 top agency leaders from all parts of the world. We touched on everything from Doug Dowie and digital technologies to the role of PR and its rising importance within the marketing mix.
The session’s only real contentious moment came when Rick French, who runs a very successful North Carolina firm, challenged Julia on her publication’s coverage of the Dowie trial, saying she’d been too easy on the management of Fleishman-Hillard, Dowie’s firm. Julia disagreed, saying she thought PR Week’s coverage had been very balanced throughout the trial. We also talked about why advertising still receives mainstream business press coverage (I.e. Crispin Porter’s Businessweek cover story) while we, in PR, don’t.
She sees the latter scenario starting to change and cited Edelman’s recent coverage in the Journal as an example.
As is my wont, I took the opportunity yesterday to again bring up my perception that PR Week affords more coverage to the larger PR firms. While Julia didn’t disagree, she did suggest that small and midsized firms need to do a better job of understanding who writes what at PR Week and come to her and her team with advice and insight on potential story topics rather than new business or personnel announcements.
Last, but not least, I asked Julia if she were just starting her own PR firm (I called it Hood & Hood and based it in her home town of Bethel, CT for argument’s sake), how she would go about "getting on PR Week’s radar screen." She said she’d make it her business to scan the editorial calendars, line up one or two clients who would speak on her behalf and, as she stated earlier, become a source of tips and trends to one or more reporters. She said that, as we do at Peppercom, she’d treat Hood & Hood as one of her most important clients, and devote time and energy to branding her firm.
Julia plans to podcast our entire 40-minute discussion on the PR Week website shortly (we’ll link to it when it becomes available). Oh, and by the way, in addition to being a great editor and interview subject, Julia also happens to share my passion for the Mets. We had a great time watching the Metropolitans knock off the hated Bronx Bombers on Sunday night.