Ed James, president/PR at Anthemic Agency, stresses the importance of understanding a brand’s needs to create a successful PR strategy.
In this interview, he discusses what the agency has planned for its newest client Haufe, how he measures success and why employees are key to improving a brand’s communication.
What do you like most about working in the PR industry? What do you like least?
I love working collaboratively with a team of motivated people all with the same goal in mind—success. Also, creating the strategy and implementation that truly helps the client meet their goals.
In terms of least, there are occasions when egos come into play, both with other agencies and collaborators, and too much time is spent trying to get credit or undermine work versus pulling together for a successful campaign.
What has been the biggest challenge of your career?
Learning how to best communicate with clients – with the understanding that one size definitely doesn’t fit all. I now begin each engagement with a meeting designed to ensure that I fully understand the clients’ needs as well as what they need in order to see value.
I understand Anthemic was recently named agency of record for Haufe. What can you tell me about what you have planned for them?
Haufe is an incredibly unique HR and talent management company out of Germany. When I say unique, by way of example they elect their senior officials every year!
Our plan is to tap into different areas and generate a platform that establishes the importance of positive corporate culture and why Haufe is the leader in the space. This includes thought leadership opportunities including op-eds and speaking gigs, as well as some left-of-center ideas like an event during SXSW and live music events with key clients such as Vice and NeueHouse.
What do you think was the key factor in Anthemic winning that account?
We were able to bring the entire package—knowledge of the business, the ability to establish the CEO as a thought leader and the lifestyle and music positioning to separate them from the pack.
What constitutes a successful brand communication strategy?
At the outset of any campaign, I establish KPIs with the client—hitting them is key—but true success comes when we exceed expectation. While cliché, it’s always true.
What advice do you have for brands looking to improve their communication?
Start from the inside-out—everyone at the company needs to understand and be a proponent of the core mission. The employees are your biggest advocates (or your worst detractors).
In addition, understand where you need to be and how to get there—impressions are meaningless if you’re not hitting the right people with the right messaging.
How has PR changed over the years? What are communication professionals doing differently now that they didn’t do before?
The obvious answer is technology—I remember mailing out press releases! But the key thing is erasing the lines between marketing and PR, including social media and digital.
For me, any touch point with the public is essentially public relations. Consistency across ALL platforms is key.
Rapid Fire Round
1. I always thought I’d be…a rock star—had the hair, not the talent.
2. My biggest pet peeve is…people in PR who aren’t well read. You need to read about everything and not just what pertains to your industry or, even worse, just what appeals to you.
3. If I won the lottery, I’d…finally buy that guitar I’ve been eyeing.
4. I laugh the most at…my kid being silly.
5. The thing that gets me up in the morning is…family first—diving into my workday second.
6. My favorite social media platform is…I’m still a Facebook fan—but for clients, I’m also big on Snapchat.
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