Behind the Headlines With Lynda Fernandez
Technologies and platforms come and go, but one thing remains constant: the relationships you make.
Lynda Fernandez, senior vice president of public relations & international at the Miami Association of Realtors, says if you do not establish strong relationships in the PR industry, you will miss out on opportunities to expand your brand’s reach.
In this interview, Lynda discusses how technology has transformed PR, why the press release is not dead and the strategies brands should adopt to improve their campaigns.
How did you get your start in PR?
After graduating from college with a degree in broadcast journalism, a professor recommended me for a part-time position at the local Fox affiliate. Getting the job was a big deal and a big compliment from my professor, but the pay was minimum wage and the job was not what I expected. Also some personal circumstances put me in a position where I needed a full-time job.
I quickly transitioned into PR and ended up working in public information for the Florida Department of Agriculture for five years. In 2005, I was hired by the former Realtor Association of Greater Miami and the Beaches.
In 2010, after a landmark merger with another local association, we became the Miami Association of Realtors, the largest local Realtor group in the nation, and I finally convinced our leadership to contract for Cision and PRWeb.
What are some of the biggest PR challenges brands face today?
Technological advances can make it very difficult to capture your audience’s attention and for your voice/message to be heard. As consumers are bombarded with information on endless media channels, achieving results becomes increasingly difficult.
The Internet and social media have transformed the way people access information. Customers can customize how they access news and information, giving them much more control.
Technological changes are constant, which means you have to constantly up your game to maintain effectiveness. It’s more difficult but also more exciting!
How do you create brand communication on a global scale?
Creating a global brand in some ways is easier thanks to technology. The world has gotten smaller with technology, so reaching far-off markets is much easier today. But the basics remain the same. You need to determine your objectives and identify your audience, for example.
But technology does facilitate communication and branding. We use public relations to build our global brand. We also have partnerships with 136 real estate associations or organizations throughout the world. We continue to participate in international expos and events as well as host inbound trade missions and international events in our market.
We also create marketing and informational materials to promote our brand, including our 42,000 members, our organization and our market. We encourage our members to use the materials and share the information physically, electronically and on social media to achieve greater reach with both domestic and foreign consumers.
How has the PR industry changed over the years? What are brands doing differently today? What has stayed the same?
The objectives and the basics remain the same. Technology changes the process and the place, but we still need to accomplish the same things.
Today we post releases online instead of on “the wire.” But the news release is not dead, as some claim; there is just more competition and more avenues to embrace. Releases are now sent via email and posted online and social media platforms, but they are still an important aspect of what we do.
Depending on the industry, some organizations are relying less on traditional advertising and more on PR and social media to promote their products. Today you have to worry about keywords and SEO to be effective, so it is important to keep up with changing technology and the necessary skills and knowledge to remain current and effective.
The need for relationships and responsiveness in our industry will never change. They drive success and enhance your reputation as a PR professional. Poor responsiveness can result in missed opportunities, lack of media coverage and failed efforts and campaigns. Relationships expand your reach, resources and opportunities.
How do you envision the future of PR?
Our objectives will remain the same, but technology will continue to change the process.
What are some of the ways brands can improve their PR strategies?
- Use technology to expand their reach, including electronic media databases and online news release services like Cision and PRWeb, which helped us tremendously to gain exposure locally, nationally and internationally.
- Position themselves as go-to sources by consistently reporting information and becoming a source of data as well as anecdotal evidence
- Put out information on successes and events, which the media will readily pick up
- Properly determine what is news and what isn’t
- Be extremely responsive to avoid missing opportunities for exposure
- Use partnerships or other initiatives to gain media attention
- Draw attention to anything global; the media loves anything international, different or foreign.
What advice do you have for those looking to begin a career in PR?
Do an internship to see if it’s really what you would like to do and develop relationships with others in the industry. Relationships will be extremely valuable throughout your career for learning, opportunities, referrals, etc.
Then look for an organization or industry you like. It’s easier to promote and dedicate yourself to something you like and care about. Be prepared for long hours and having to work at a moment’s notice. It is hard work, but it’s very fun and rewarding as well.
Public relations is very powerful; it’s exciting to be able to influence public opinion, to create or strengthen brands and to fuel market performance.
Rapid Fire Round
1. I always thought I’d be…an actress or a lawyer.
2. My hobbies outside of work include…rescuing animals and enjoying my own, Shotokan (Japanese) Karate, trying new restaurants and traveling.
3. If I could have lunch with anyone, it would be…Dr. Drew.
4. My favorite social media platform is…Facebook.
5. My biggest pet peeve is…insincerity.
6. The thing that gets me up in the morning is…my pets.
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