Behind the Headlines With Mark Olson

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Mark OlsonPR cannot exist in a silo. In order to be effective, your PR team needs to coordinate with digital, marketing and other areas of your organization.

Mark Olson, vice president and head of PR, San Francisco at LEWIS, says by working together, PR and digital teams can maximize their effectiveness and learn from each other.

In this interview, Mark discusses why brands need to focus on delivering a consistent message, how to best approach the media and the role social media plays for PR.

How did you get your start in PR?

After business school, I moved to Miami and was looking for a position in brand management. I came across an opening at a small up-and-coming firm, but wasn’t really sure what PR was. I quickly realized I loved the work and was continuously presented with opportunities to partner with interesting brands and great people.

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

As brands grow both in complexity and across geographies, message consistency becomes an issue. I believe this problem is best solved by appointing and empowering a lead agency or team member to own internal and/or international coordination.

What is one thing most brands aren’t doing but should?

There isn’t enough collaboration between PR and digital teams. Both practice areas should be supporting each other to maximize campaign impact and fully leverage the creativity of both teams.

I’ve worked with digital folks that have come up with brilliant pitch angles and PR team members who brainstormed creative digital campaign themes on multiple occasions.

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How has PR evolved over the years? What has changed and what has stayed the same?

The biggest change for me has been the shift from pitching my clients’ brands, products and services to creating and placing content.

However, whether you’re pitching an executive for an interview or a video shot by a drone you represent, your success is based on the ability to build relationships with the media. I have always tried to treat my counterparts in the media like I would a client. That approach has built long-lasting friendships and delivered big wins for my clients.

How important is social media for PR? What role does it play?

Incredibly. Social should play a dual role, sometimes supporting/amplifying traditional media, others leading communications programs. Some of the biggest PR wins I have been a part of were the result of incredible digital campaigns.

You too can be a headline maker. 

The key is breaking down silos and working together with other teams in your organization. Find out how Cision can help by requesting a demo.


About Maria Materise

Maria Materise is a content marketing specialist for Cision. Formerly a copywriter, she enjoys creating content that excites and inspires audiences. She is an avid reader, movie trivia geek, Harry Potter fanatic and makeup junkie..

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