This article was first published by Joanne Hogue and Dina Petrosky, Smart Connections PR.
Smart Connections PR was founded in late 2012, a boutique PR firm born out of a boutique tech-oriented PR agency. We love the term “boutique.” It sounds so classy and elite when in reality it is a term used both by agencies that are small and don’t want to say they are and agencies that are of a mindset that silos of knowledge hamper engagement and results. Smart Connections likes to think of itself as the latter.
When we take a look at our history and our experience, our education in PR was all about being in the trenches. Our very beginnings in PR include similar experiences of being called into the manager’s office, being assigned a client and an almost insurmountable task for that client. One particular memory includes being assigned to a client, being told to get up to speed on what was important to the client yesterday and provide five interview opportunities within the next two weeks. It was almost laid before us like a challenge. One that was accepted and met, by the way. The next challenge, albeit a few months down the road, was a television slot for this particular company’s CEO. That one took a bit but was also achieved. So, you see, when we take a moment and think of our “PR upbringing” it was all about personal responsibility and accountability to the client. An assignment assigned was expected to be successfully accomplished.
Given this, Smart Connections PR’s approach to PR, even as partners and owners of agency, is underscored by a matter of fact baseline to all that we do. Our approach has always been and continues to be “What’s the need?” “How do we solve it?” and “Here’s what we are going to do.”
Here are a few tips we’d like to share as a boutique agency that we feel are important elements to possess on the path to creating great campaigns and happy clients.
We are experienced and can draw on that experience to get things done well and on a tight timetable: We know the publications that cover the beats where our clients’ stories should publish. We persevere when we need to get a story told or a meeting scheduled. We are geographically situated near several major US cities (Baltimore/Washington D.C., Philadelphia, NYC, Boston) and can get to these cities to facilitate client meetings on short notice.
We have enduring relationships with journalists, cultivated over years and we know how to sell them a story: The journalists with which we regularly communicate know us and have spoken to us for years. We know what a story looks like and we know how to pitch these journalists with news stories, thought leadership, utilizing customers and finding unique story ideas that will work for our client and are ultimately not a waste of the journalist’s time. We continue to expand our relationships as our client roster evolves and grows. If you are new to the public relations game, delivering what you promise to journalists is the name of this game and does not require years to establish rapport.
Along with experience and enduring relationships, we are open to the new: For instance, as weblogs became known as blogs and MySpace gave way to LinkedIn and Twitter, we understood the monumental shift that was taking place in the PR. Social media took hold and forever changed how we communicate. We know our audiences are no longer looking to the mailbox for their client’s article in a publication, but instead are looking down to their phone for the same. At Smart Connections PR, we continue to be eager to adapt and adopt and pride ourselves on constantly being on the lookout for the newest trends and innovations. It’s easy to say that, it’s another thing to regularly roam into that uncomfortable zone of what’s new and try and understand the trend. We do.
One of us is always here to oversee; Our partnership is the key to the success of our agency: We always know we have a principal with knowledge on duty when the other is out of the office. We count on one another to advise of any PR emergencies that may arise while the other is absent. Our clients know they can receive counsel 24X7.
So, Smart Connections PR is made up of established PR people that managed to understand the sea change that unfolded before them and held on tight to the media relationships that were established along the way? That’s it? Well, yes and no. We certainly did do that, took care with those with whom we interacted and made sure we learned the lessons in every experience that happened to us. Moreover, we’re still here and successful because we love the work we do. We love the thrill of the chase, of securing the ungettable get and having a story publish for a client that nobody knows in a media outlet that everybody knows. Maybe that, the absolute belief in and love of the PR game is truly what success in this business looks like for agencies that are boutique-sized or otherwise.