We at Rasky Baerlein are proud of our talented public relations and public affairs experts across the firm’s practice areas. In our new 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 RBSC associate vice president in our public affairs practice, Kristen Cullen.
What interests you most about public affairs?
Public affairs is all about thinking strategically. Our work spans many different industries and organizations, but how we approach an assignment stays pretty consistent. Our clients come to us with a wide range of objectives, and we work closely with them on a strategy. I like the ability to pull from my background in media, campaigns and government to develop a strategic and creative approach for our clients depending on what they want to accomplish.
With public affairs being such a constantly evolving field, where do you see it headed and what can professionals do to keep up?
Like so many fields, public affairs is evolving as new technology, social media and the 24-7 news cycle continues to change the way the public digests information. While new technology has made government and media more accessible than ever, it has also made it increasingly difficult to target your message to break through the noise.
We look at the big picture and take into consideration a number of factors in this evolving industry as we think strategically on how to get to the best results. This can include using a number of tactics and tools at our disposal as public affairs professionals. The great part about working at Rasky Baerlein is that we work alongside many professionals with a range of communications and industry experience that we can utilize depending on the assignment.
From a public affairs perspective, what has fascinated you most about the 2016 presidential race thus far?
It’s been interesting to watch Donald Trump win the Republican nomination with a limited field and paid media plan. To date, he has not spent any money on paid media, relying successfully on earned and social media to carry his message and lock in the nomination. Recent reports show he’s now working to ramp up his fundraising game, but it’s still tough to tell if he’ll be prepared to go on TV or organize a significant field operation post-Labor Day. As his negatives start to rise, paid media specifically will be an important tool he will need to use to control a message that has been unfocused at best.
In what ways has your State House and campaign experience helped you in your role here at Rasky Baerlein?
Working at the State House was an incredibly valuable experience. While I often covered state legislatures as a reporter, it was very interesting to work on the other side to craft and pass legislation. This experience gave me a deep understanding of the process and the long and complicated steps it takes for a bill become a law. As we advise our lobbying clients, it’s very helpful to pull from this experience as we work to determine the best strategy for success.
Earlier in your career, you spent several years as a broadcast reporter that included coverage of the Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire Primary in 2008. What insights did you gain as a journalist that have proven valuable now working in public affairs?
My experience as a reporter which included covering campaigns, state legislatures and the legislative process was particularly valuable in that it broadened my ability to see different perspectives of any particular issue. One of the tenants of journalism is objectivity. As a reporter you have a responsibility to craft your stories in an unbiased way and that captures different perspectives.
This has translated easily into the work we do in public affairs where it’s important to understand your opposition in order to be successful. The press is many times a significant piece of the puzzle for our clients when we develop our strategy. Understanding how the media will approach a particular story can influence how we approach our work.
Rasky Baerlein has a tremendous record when it comes to ballot measure campaigns and other lobbying and policy efforts. What in your mind sets the firm apart from the rest when it comes to its approach to public affairs?
It’s all about client services. That’s our top priority and what I think consistently sets us apart from our competitors. Firm-wide we bring a significant amount of experience and expertise to the table. When it comes to ballot questions, we know what it takes to win and we work closely with our clients to get those results.
For more on Rasky Baerlein’s industry expertise, please click here.