Q: You started your career in broadcast – how did that experience influence your decision to open a successful PR and social media agency?
A: My first interning opportunity in broadcast solidified my entrepreneurial drive and my determination to succeed. I was offered a 4am internship at CTV after my first year of a two year journalism program. I realized that I had to grab every opportunity that was presented and when a reporter I was shadowing mentioned an internship at a production company I went for it. I was producing in less than a month and was on air soon after. I realized that to succeed in business I had to pave my own path and I chose to continue working rather than go back to school.
When Livia and I started On Q it was all about taking chances, and by this time I was used to grabbing these chances. My time in broadcast also developed my passion for storytelling, which is essentially what PR is. I wanted to continue telling these stories but I wanted to do it from the other side of the table. Working in the field of journalism gave me insider information on what “sells” in a newsroom and allowed me to see first hand how both sides work together.
Q: What’s the biggest shift in social media that you’ve noticed over the past 11 years?
A: Brands are focused not just on selling themselves but on telling their stories. People care how a company has evolved and they care about the face behind it. Customers feel good when they are supporting a brand that is honest and relatable. This is also why we’re also seeing more brands with a stronger focus on CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility).
On a smaller scale, and in the past few years, I have seen an increase in the use of influencers to spread corporate messaging. The fact that people today are being bombarded with so much information gives rise to the favouring of 3rd party endorsement as a marketing tactic. This ties in with the concept of telling a story; people like to hear about brands through someone that has experienced what they have to offer, rather than through traditional advertising. We recently ran a successful influencer campaign while working on the North American MBA Tour. Potential MBA candidates found it natural to take advice from people who are also considering their MBA or those that have already completed it.
Q: Public relations is often about finding and telling a client’s story. How has storytelling changed since you started On Q?
A: The industry has become much more digital and visual. There is a huge focus on social media and the digital world is very visually demanding. Infographics are a great example of this. They help break down lots of information into a format that is quickly and easily digestible, as well as visually stimulating. This is key in an online world where users are used to scrolling through feeds at a fast pace. Something really has to grab their attention right away to make them stop.
Video leads the social media trends in 2016. Brands are using videos more often to tell their stories. Once again, it is visually appealing and is more likely to get someone to stop scrolling than a large chunk of text would. This is an effective marketing tool because platforms like Facebook allow you to target specific consumers. Platforms such as Snapchat, Vine and Periscope are growing on a daily basis because they focus on video content.
Q: What do you think sets On Q apart from other PR agencies in Toronto?
A: The fact that we are a boutique PR agency sets us aside from other companies. Our team members take part in every aspect of each project which makes them well rounded and gives everyone an understanding of the project as a whole, rather than just a small slice of it.
Day in and day out, we as owners, work directly with the clients, and directly with our team members. All of us are passionate about what we do and it shows in the level of customization in work we produce. We are very proud to have a 2% higher client retention rate than the average agency. This shows our dedication to our clients and high quality of work.
Q: If you had one piece of advice to give to emerging PR professionals who might want to follow in your footsteps, what would it be?
A: Don’t lose sight of what PR is. It’s about building relationships and it’s storytelling. How you execute projects has changed over the years but the core of the industry is still the same. Ultimately you are trying to attract attention and gain awareness for brands in the most effective and efficient way possible and that is something that will be everlasting in this industry.
Need help with your PR strategy? Whether it’s assessing your current initiatives, or strategizing new ones, we know how to make your brand stand out. Contact us today and let On Q share your brand’s story with the world.