Behind the Headlines With Bob Gold
In this interview, Bob Gold, founder, president and CEO of Los Angeles-based PR agency Bob Gold & Associates, shares his strategy for delivering the right message to clients and their customers at the right time. He discusses the importance of focusing on the big picture, the attributes of a good storyteller and the shift from traditional media to multiplatform and digital media.
You founded Bob Gold & Associates in 1997. What do you think has contributed to your agency’s success over the years?
We are sticklers for measuring all outcomes. We believe every business should be accountable to mutually agreed upon Key Performance Indicators. To that end, we have created our own S.M.A.R.T. Report (Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Realistic. Timely.)
We find that when you combine measured results with demonstrated, unwavering commitment to understanding the industry ecosystem of each of our clients, we earn their respect and appreciation, and our clients see what their investment yields.
I understand Bob Gold & Associates was recently chosen to lead publicity efforts for the Southern California affiliate of non-profit Alliance for Women in Media. What do you have planned for them?
The Alliance for Women in Media is a vibrant and exciting organization that connects, recognizes and inspires women across every facet of the media industry. Their diversity is best captured in an awards program to celebrate and showcase success. In addition to their important mentoring programs, our PR efforts will drive interest in this year’s Genii awards.
What do you think was the key factor in the agency winning that account?
All business is the business of relationships. Our agency has been focused in the media space for 19 years. I think we developed a few relationships over this time, and have over and again demonstrated real value, connections and innovative accomplishments.
Can I humbly say that our brand is a recognized asset for clients looking to further their success and reputations? I guess I just did.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about PR throughout your career?
In the beginning, I felt that any tiny mistake could cost us a client. But the truth is a typo or delay in getting a news release out will not end a relationship if we truly strive to be a partner, not a vendor.
When we have failed, it is when we saw a clear communications strategy and were unable to have our clients espouse the same perspective. Additionally, failure generally means we’ve only focused on doing the tactical stuff.
At the end of the day, strategy trumps tactics for building long term value. Each year I like to ask, what have we done well? What could we have done better?
What are some of the key components of a successful communication strategy?
Communication strategy begins with a critical personal attribute. Ultimately we are striving to tell a great story. But to become a storyteller, content creator and audience engagement specialist, we have to be endlessly curious, consume stories voraciously and have a strong desire to ask, “How can I participate in the conversation? What could my client possibly have to say that will be of interest to others?”
Today I see so many companies and agencies rely on “celebrities” to tell the story – but this is a bit of an expensive cop out, because it really means there is no one at the company who’s willing to tell their first person story.
We believe that connecting to audiences requires a deep understanding of how targeted audiences engage, become informed and ultimately make a decision that will result in a new behavior – like buying a product or service.
Every story has a beginning, middle and end. It has a hero, victim, villain, pathos and humor. Today these stories are being told on countless digital, mobile, video, print and broadcasting platforms – and we must strategically address every platform as a medium to be reckoned with.
How do you envision the future of PR?
There has been an unbridled explosion in the sheer number of outlets which can tell our stories – from new digital news sites to traditional media multiplatform plays, to the blogger and association outlet that is all about building highly separate and diverse communities.
Today the growing source of news is not traditional media – but social networks – so we have to go where the audience is going to get their news and ideas. A fast growing subset of our work in social media is what I call “Dark Media.”
“Dark Media” is when agencies are managing, writing and posting on an individual’s personal page or profile on social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. “Dark Media” isn’t about broadcasting a message but responding to individuals, or in very small forums.
It’s critical is really know the VOICE of your client. In today’s busy, noisy world, you can probably bet that many celebrity posts are made by their PR teams and not by themselves.
What advice do you have for those looking to begin a career in PR?
Read, engage and most importantly learn to be an active maker of videos – the written word will not die in my lifetime – but I’m so old. Today, consuming engaging videos for all information is paramount, and if you can’t speak that video language in Snapchat, Vine or YouTube, you will be irrelevant.
Rapid Fire Round
1. I always thought I’d be…a Broadway producer.
2. My daily newspaper of choice is…the New York Times – but I also love my local paper The Daily Breeze.
3. The thing that gets me up in the morning is…the alarm on my cell phone next to my bed. Then, I immediately check my emails and text messages (Thank goodness I’m not turning to Facebook before coffee and I haven’t mastered WhatsApp).
4. If I won the lottery, I’d…buy a boat and travel to remote islands and cultures – I’d also give heavily to even more charities than I am currently involved in.
5. My dream vacation would be…No email (I love taking dream vacations – I try to go every year on a “mancation” with my three sons – whether scuba diving in remote locales or cruising in a private yacht along the Dalmatian Coast in the Adriatic Sea with my wife of 30 years!)
6. My biggest pet peeve is…folks who call others bad names like racist, as if calling someone else a name isn’t racist in its own right.
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