We at Rasky Partners are proud of our talented public relations and public affairs experts across the firm’s practice areas. In our ongoing Meet the Expert series, we sit down with a different agency leader on Mondays to get their thoughts on several important and timely questions and gain a greater sense of their industry expertise and experiences. This week we sit down with Rasky associate vice president in our financial services, energy and telecommunications practice, Andy Hoglund.
What interests you most about public relations?
The variety. Each day brings new surprises. I think that’s pretty unique for most jobs, frankly. But client service demands grace under pressure, a need to be both thoughtful and empathetic. It affords the chance to learn about a wide range of issues by pursuing expertise in a number of verticals. I think that’s pretty cool. Given the different spaces our firm is involved in, I believe we have a wealth of knowledge that more boutique firms inherently lack.
(I’ll try to avoid any declarative grandstanding from here on out.)
PR is a constantly evolving field. Where do you see it headed and what can professionals do to keep up?
Technology continues to open up “new frontiers” in the ways people communicate, which provides both enormous opportunities and challenges for PR professionals. Adapting to these new modes of communication and how people engage, interact, etc. is critical for established firms trying to meet this ever changing landscape. How we juggle these new tactics, reconcile them to strategy and present them as “value” is central to client service. It opens up a lot more narrative avenues: providing clients with new and imaginative ways for telling their story.
Prior to Rasky Partners, you served as a legislative aide to Massachusetts State Representative Joe Driscoll and as the campaign manager in his race for Norfolk County District Attorney. How have these experiences proved helpful in your associate vice president role here at the firm?
Working at the State House, and on the campaign trail, was the perfect foundation for a life in public relations. It was trial by fire. In a sense, there’s no difference acting as a surrogate for an elected official or candidate than on behalf of a client. Messaging, tone, implementing a strategy, enacting deliverables for third parties – it’s the same skill set. Representative Driscoll was a great boss, and I’m grateful to have cut my teeth learning from him, whether at a committee hearing, town hall or an early morning commuter rail station in Norfolk County, waiting for voters to arrive.
Working with him out of school was a nice marriage of my interests in communication, politics and policy, all while meeting the challenge of reaching people in a very digestible way. There is certainly an extension of that here at Rasky Partners. We recognize that communication is becoming more sophisticated – it’s important to possess a deep understanding of the larger world if you want your story told in a way that the average person can appreciate and relate to.
In addition to your role at Rasky Partners, you’re also a contributor to Huffington Post, Vice and Newsweek, among others. In what ways have these more journalistic roles helped you become a better a PR professional?
It’s been extremely helpful for honing my ability to pitch, write and think outside the box. It goes without saying, the ability to write in a meaningful way is a baseline qualification for working in PR. Thus, freelance writing is helpful in that way. Personally, it helps me understand what readers want to hear and what editors care about. So, it’s a tremendous asset.
The financial services team won a Bell Ringer Award for Best Community/Consumer Affairs Campaign from the Publicity Club of New England last year for your work with Belmont Savings Bank. Can you offer a quick background on the campaign and share what you’re most proud of when looking back at the work you did?
Becca Pizzi was a Belmont resident as well as a customer at Belmont Savings Bank. As an avid runner, she decided to run seven marathons on seven continents in seven days as part of the World Marathon Challenge. Pretty incredible! She was the first American woman to accomplish this. Becca had all sorts of sponsors, with the bank serving as her local sponsor.
We sensed early on that some of her larger patrons didn’t have their finger on the pulse, so to speak, in terms of the real story, so we stealthily reached out to reporters and positioned the bank’s CEO, Bob Mahoney, as the voice from the local perspective. He became the surrogate for the average Belmont resident watching in awe as one of their neighbors made history. In addition to the bank throwing her a parade which garnered substantial TV coverage, there were a series of press opportunities leading up to, during and after the challenge. The coverage we secured speaks for itself. It included local and national hits, covering the whole nine yards.
To me, the campaign speaks to the idea that one should always be looking out for the next opportunity and be ready to take advantage of the news cycle.
You’ve worked at Rasky Partners for six years now. In your mind, what sets the firm apart from the rest when it comes to its approach to public relations?
We’re the best of both worlds. We’re the largest independently owned firm in the country, so we have the flexibility and specialization of a boutique shop but also possess the resources and range of a larger firm to address communications challenges with a commitment to serve our clients. Whether it’s financial services, energy, tech, healthcare, education or nonprofit, we’re deep in that space in terms of both expertise and experience. Anywhere you see new and exciting things happening in Boston/DC, we’ve got a foothold. Our exactness and specialization is equally matched by the capabilities usually afforded by larger firms.
If you could offer clients one piece of advice, what would it be?
Well, clients have a range of expectations, needs and capabilities, so it’s hard to give a general piece of advice. But broadly speaking, it’s all about accessibility, cultivating relationships and identifying the right messaging for the right audiences. Making yourself available to reporters – while keeping your company’s messaging in mind – is the best way to invest in your brand long term.
Also, everyone reading this should follow me on Twitter: @hoglundan
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