PR Agency Spotlight: ‘Pick up the Phone!’

By Matthew Schwartz

PR Agency Spotlight: 
Kris Ruby, CEO, Ruby Media Group

Pick up The Phone! Why Savvy Millennial Firm Owners 
Need to Adopt Soft Business Skills to Stay Competitive 

(In this new column, we focus on C-level millennials/ firm owners and how they’re starting to impact the creative services field.) 

Millennials are quickly climbing the management ranks throughout the PR industry. There’s also a proliferating number of millennials who own PR firms and other creative services shops.

When it comes to driving social media campaigns and how to, say, reach consumers via Snapchat versus Instagram, millennials have become indispensable both on the agency and client sides.

Let’s face it: With each passing day, social platforms creep ever closer toward the core of marketing communications. But, for Kris Ruby, CEO of Ruby Media Group, social media is just one piece of the PR puzzle.

“You can’t have a robust social media campaign without a comprehensive PR strategy,” says Ruby, who launched her firm in 2009 soon after graduating from Boston University’s College of Communications. “You need to incorporate an even mix of content marketing, traditional PR consulting and media relations.”

Ruby, who has appeared on CNBC, FOX Business and “Good Morning America,” among other major media outlets, grew up with social media and now makes it a significant part of her business. Clients have included Equinox, IHG Crowne Plaza Hotel and Benjamin Steakhouse, among others.

At the same time, Ruby admits that, as her PR firm develops, she views adopting Emotional IQ and other “soft” business skills as the key to growth.

For instance, while it may be considered heresy among many millennial communicators—who prefer to communicate online— Ruby says it’s crucial that millennials speak with clients via the telephone.

“Pick up the phone!” she says. “It’s a bit of a problem with millennials. We have social media down pat, but it’s also important that we learn other traditional business skills that are needed to cultivate relationships with generations that haven’t necessarily grown up being glued to their email and texting.”

In addition to speaking to clients more frequently via the telephone, Ruby also makes a point to visit with clients in person as frequently as possible.

“We get so lost in emails,” she says. “Relationships get roboticized if all you do is email.”

“Clients say, ‘It’s good to see you!’ and they appreciate it,” Ruby says, referring to meeting clients at their office, rather than relying predominately on emails, teleconferences or texting.

As competition for professional media services heats up, Ruby has three key recommendations for millennial communicators eager to spread their wings:

  • Carve out time to sit down in person with clients in order to understand their pain points and how you can help achieve their business goals and objectives.
  • Don’t get overly wrapped up in social media so that you veer away from the client’s overall communications strategy.
  • Dig deeper into clients’ markets in order to gain a better understanding of the competitive landscape; be an expert in their field and consume the same news they consume.

Ruby also stresses that millennial communicators approach clients with the mindset of a management consultant—as opposed to a traditional “PR” executive—and take a holistic approach toward creating and executing marketing campaigns.

“If a client says, ‘Promote this,’ don’t just say, ‘Yes,’ ask: ‘Why this message? Why now? Why does this matter? How does this tie into your overall business strategy?’” Ruby says.

She also stresses that its incumbent upon millennial communicators to drive the discussion on behalf of clients beyond generating media coverage and “getting ink.”

“It’s simply not enough, and doesn’t provide enough long-term sustainable value for clients who want answers to their business challenges,” Ruby says. “[Clients] may not even know they want answers, but it is up to you to ask the right questions.”

 

Register here for our free Webinar: How Millennial Creative Service Firm Owners  Boost Profitability, Spike Valuation and Position Themselves as Thought Leaders. The webinar will take place Tuesday,  September 19,  from 1:30-2:30 ET.

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