Two weeks ago, Utah Chief Technology Officer Dave Fletcher debuted in a series on AriWriter about best practices in social media.
Today’s installment features an email interview with Rachel Kay, president and founder of Rachel Kay Public Relations, a boutique agency in southern California.
In recent months, I’ve grown fond of Rachel’s spin and spunk through Twitter, as she continues to learn and implement social media into her business. She’s eager to engage, quick to reply, and full of passion in her work.
Prior to starting RKPR over a year ago, Rachel managed corporate communications for Brickfish, a social media advertising network, promoting corporate and client-focused ad campaigns for many hot brands, including Frederick’s of Hollywood, Samsung, Kodak, Givenchy, iVillage, and Clinique.
Earlier in her career, Rachel spent five years at the national PR agency, Formula, where she supervised the consumer products and services team on numerous brands, including Kashi, FruitaBu, ConocoPhillips Lubricants, XaviX, and Alizé. In 2006, Formula awarded her with “Most Creative,” “Media Guru,” and the coveted “Media Hit of the Year.”
Rachel recently contributed an exhibition, entitled, “Leveraging New Media to Share Your Message,” to the 10th edition of Cutlip and Center’s Effective Public Relations, which Amazon reviewers call a cornerstone of the PR industry.
It’s my pleasure to share with you a peek into the intersection of social media and public relations, seen through the eyes of one of the industry’s rising stars.
Let’s start with an easy question. How do you define social media?
Social media is the new age of communication, where conversations are generated via the exchange of user-generated content and discussion. This interactive dialogue is quickly trumping traditional, static communication, where we as consumers could only listen.
Is social media the death of PR?
I think a comprehensive marketing strategy includes advertising, PR, and other forms of marketing. Some companies can’t afford it all. Today, ad dollars are being used differently; reports say print media is on the decline as online ad spends increase. I believe that PR is on the rise, for a couple of reasons:
- Today’s economic struggles have tightened budgets for every industry, and PR simply provides a more affordable way to get the word about a product or service.
- People are receptive to third party endorsements that PR provides, which often makes it more authentically received.
- There are now so many tools in the PR toolbox that go beyond simple media coverage. PR agencies offer grassroots marketing strategies, social media outreach, and support in nearly every facet of branding.
How does the internet help you build relationships?
I worked in public relations for over eight years — long enough to see an explosion in the role the internet plays in PR strategies. I use the net to browse headlines so I can react quickly to the news, and to research reporters. But recently, the internet has had a much greater impact on the way I approach relationship building, which is the cornerstone of good PR.
Social networking and media has made the need for urgency and accuracy more critical than ever before. Relationships are now made or destroyed in 140 characters or less.
Speaking of 140 characters, do you use Twitter?
I love Twitter! It has introduced me to a myriad of interesting and intelligent people I may never have engaged with otherwise. Twitter provides me with a vehicle to share my thoughts on the PR and social media landscapes, as well as tout some of the exciting things I’m doing for my clients.
I secure new business leads from some of my followers, or people I am following. But I really rely on it as a jumping-off point for building relationships with potential clients or people who might refer me, for boosting my credibility, and to see what others are saying. I do this by actively participating in conversations, responding to posts, and sharing information with my followers from others.
Care to share some of your favorite Twitter users?
Some of the people I have learned the most from include you, Chris Brogan, Sarah Evans, Jason Kintzler, Danny Brown, Peter Shankman, Sarah Morgan, and so many more. I also assist my clients in their Twitter efforts, so they can use it to build dialogue with their consumers.
Are you using other social networks?
I reach out to new clients via Twitter and Linkedin, but very transparently and only if the person has expressed a need for PR. Just like I don’t appreciate being pitched a service on my networks, I won’t do it either.
I try to show my value by being active and communicating good messages so that RKPR might be top of mind when a need arises. My business does not have its own profiles, only I do. In this sense, I personally build the relationships, and I’ve made some great ones!
Do you blog?
I don’t have a personal blog, although it’s something I’d like to do eventually.
I enjoy reading many blogs, particularly on PR and social media, and commenting with my two cents on occasion. Some of my favorites include Bad Pitch Blog, Adrants, Micro Persuasion by Steve Rubel, and PR Couture.
But I read many more every day! I indulge in some great fashion blogs, too. Stevie Wilson, who writes LA Story, is my social media mentor! I am also a pop culture junkie, and read Dlisted and Perez Hilton religiously. I justify that by saying its part of my job to be in the know!
Who are some of your current clients?
Among many emerging brands and web sites at Rachel Kay Public Relations, I work with Brickfish, Mary’s Gone Crackers, The Honest Kitchen, FiveSprockets, My Fashion Plate, Honest Foods, Coromega, and Cleatskins.
Any final words you’d like to share?
Creating awareness for growing brands provides a satisfying challenge I enjoy, and I love the variety of programs we get to execute for such a diverse group of clients.
I help many of my clients from PR and communication perspectives, depending on their needs, as we implement a number of social media elements into most of our campaigns. I am open to partnering with other agencies if there are synergies.
If you would like to contact Rachel Kay, she can be reached on Twitter @rachelakay, by email at rachel[at]rkpr.net, or on her business website at www.rkpr.net. Her corporate blog is at communikaytrix.com.
If you have any questions for me or Rachel, please post a comment below.
Additionally, if you would like to be interviewed for a future column in this series and/or contribute a guest post on your best practices, please contact me.