Each month we have been reaching out to notable communications professionals to ask them a few questions about their experiences and interests, with the goal of providing some insights to others in the industry. For our latest edition of ‘Questions for the PR Industry’ we spoke with Erin Bury, the Managing Director of boutique digital marketing and design agency 88 Creative.
Why do you work in PR?
My mom and dad are both journalism grads, and my dad spent his career as a reporter, while my mom went into marketing and PR. I also pursued a journalism degree, but decided to go the marketing route because I loved the idea of building brands and telling stories. I work in PR now because my passion is helping startups tell their story. There’s nothing better than helping an entrepreneur get their origin story out to the world!
What PR/communications initiative have you done that you are most proud of?
I started my career at a mid-sized agency, then went to a startup called Sprouter to lead all their PR/marketing efforts, then spent a few years running a startup publication, and now I’m back in the digital marketing/PR world at 88 Creative. I would say I’m most proud of the brand we built around Sprouter. Sprouter was a social network for entrepreneurs, and I joined on the day the site went live in beta in 2008. I was tasked with getting us on the map and building the brand, and a large part of that was telling our story through the media. Coming from an agency where I spent a lot of my day building media lists and sending out blanket email pitches, I really wanted to take a personal approach to PR, so I focused on meeting journalists at events, positioning our founder Sarah as a thought leader in the entrepreneurship space, and finding ways to get relevant coverage. Over the years we were featured in publications like The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, CNN, The Globe & Mail, Toronto Star, National Post, and many more. While PR wasn’t the only thing that contributed to our brand, it gave us legitimacy and helped us seem larger than we really were (we were a team of four).
What advice would you offer someone just starting out in PR?
My advice would be to do your research and build real relationships. PR isn’t just emailing media outlets to get coverage, it’s finding a way to relevantly build your network and become a resource to journalists. It’s true what they say, PR is all about relationships, and you don’t build those relationships by spamming an email list – you build them by taking the time to research their beat, find the appropriate contact at an outlet, and reach out in a genuine way with relevant news. My other advice would be to focus on building your personal network. If you work at an agency sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day, but the best thing I ever did was go out to networking events, write for industry publications, have coffee meetings with people in the industry, and generally build my network.
What do you see as the future direction of the industry?
Since I started my career in 2007 the PR industry has changed drastically thanks to the rise of social media and digital marketing. The future of the industry is an even more integrated approach to digital/PR – at 88 Creative we offer digital marketing, PR, and design, and it’s rare that a client doesn’t need at least two out of three of those services. For a PR campaign to be effective it’s not just about getting coverage in the major dailies; it’s about finding relevant social influencers, tapping into podcasts, and figuring out how to get traction on forums like ProductHunt and reddit.
Have a story you would like to share? Let us know on Twitter at @PRTheAgency or in the comment section below!