Behind the Headlines with Gina Gerber

Gina Gerber has been with Abel Communications, the PR and marketing firm located in Baltimore, MD since 2010. Last year, she was promoted to Senior Vice President, and continues to lead Abel to greater levels of success.  This week, Gina answered our questions, and stressed the importance of making yourself an invaluable asset, understanding people’s motivations, and creating authentic messages.

How did you get your start in PR?

I cut my teeth in PR working for two different nonprofits. I had zero real-life PR experience, zero connections, and zero media databases to utilize. It was a completely grassroots effort that we built from the ground up, but I fell in love immediately.

What are the biggest communication challenges facing brands today? How can they overcome them?

Consumers have so many messages coming at them on multiple channels that some brands can get lost in the shuffle. In order to differentiate themselves, brands must clearly define their audience, understand how they consume their media and focus on creating engaging content on these channels.

You’ve helped secure placements in major outlets, such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Huffington Post. What’s your secret to media relations success?

It’s crucial to understand people’s motivations. Editors, producers, reporters, readers all have different motivations than your clients. As a PR professional, it is our job to find a happy medium between the message that the client wants to push and a story that’s appealing to audiences and outlets.

How can brands improve their relationships with the media?

Brands must understand that relationships are a two-way street — the story can’t be self-serving.

With so much content saturating the marketplace, how can brands ensure their messages stand out?

Brands can stand out by creating content that entertains, inspires, or educates in a way that makes audiences want to authentically engage with the company.

It’s no secret that digital has transformed communication. What opportunities does it present for brands? Is there a downside?

The growing digital space provides brands the opportunity to engage with consumers one-on-one for authentic feedback, real-time engagement, and the ability to track ROI/success of a campaign. The downside being that if a company is not in touch with its audience, it becomes apparent rather quickly and could have a negative effect on the brand.

What the most important lesson you’ve learned throughout your career?

The importance of making yourself an invaluable asset. Anyone can send out a press release but what are you doing to set yourself apart? What new idea are you bringing to the table? How are you driving business goals? What are you doing to push your clients outside of their comfort zone? What are you doing that your client didn’t ask for? Answer these questions correctly and you will never be out of a job.

Rapid Fire Round:

  1. My hobbies outside of work include… running (aka chasing my toddler), yoga, and watching my son play sports.
  2. If I could have lunch with anyone, it would be… Elon Musk.
  3. My biggest pet peeve is… the incorrect usage of your vs. you’re.
  4. The thing that gets me up in the morning is… my two children.
  5. My guilty pleasure is… watching The Bachelor along with the live Twitter feed.
  6. My favorite social media platform is… Snapchat.