PR Pros: Ann Noder of Pitch Public Relations On The 5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career As A Public Relations Pro
… An appreciation and understanding of how the media works: It’s important to be a consumer of news and develop an understanding of media. There are nuances with mediums (TV news programs vs. print or online) that change the way PR professionals engage with such reporters. Do you know the difference between an editor and a reporter, a business story compared to a lifestyle feature? Understanding how the media works is essential to being on the other side as an effective PR pro who is working to engage the media on behalf of your clients.
Have you seen the show Flack? Ever think of pursuing a real-life career in PR? What does it take to succeed in PR? What are the different forms of Public Relations? Do you have to have a college degree in PR? How can you create a highly lucrative career in PR? In this interview series, called “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career As A Public Relations Pro” we are talking to successful publicists and Public Relations pros, who can share stories and insights from their experiences.
As a part of this series I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Ann Noder, founder and CEO of Pitch Public Relations.
Pitch Public Relations is a leading boutique agency focused on national media. The company works with small startups and leading brands to land significant editorial exposure. Ann is a former TV news anchor and a leading expert on public relations.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I spent 10 years as a TV news reporter and anchor in Oregon and Arizona before making the switch to public relations in 2002. There is a connection between journalism and PR, so it was a natural transition for me to use my media knowledge and skills from news in a new way, helping companies land editorial coverage.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
I think the most interesting thing has been our company’s significant growth! When I started Pitch Public Relations, it was a one-woman shop. We now have a team of 20+ and service companies all over the world. Our reputation is unmatched, and we continue to thrive and expand as a leading agency.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Not sure how funny it is, but certainly a lesson learned is not to pretend to be something you’re not. Pitch Public Relations is known for its hustle-approach. We land significant media coverage for small startups AND leading brands. We are truly in the relentless pursuit of coverage for our clients. But we are not Madison Avenue fancy in our approach. It can be tempting to change your identity to land a client, but that only leads to failure. Instead, we set ourselves up for success by working with companies that want what we can deliver.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
We are always highly focused on finding timely story angles that work for our clients to secure meaningful features in top tier outlets. We’ve also added more thought leadership and content placement to our scope of work as we represent both B2B and B2C companies. What’s exciting is how many of our clients are getting acquired in hefty deals! We love helping startups grow and many of those companies are now within major brands such as American Express, UPS, JP Morgan, etc.
You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Relentless. It’s a trait that’s critical to having success in public relations and it’s a trait I’ve had from the very beginning.
Credible. This was vital in journalism and so important to me as a reporter and that’s carried over into my role in public relations. It’s important our clients and our media contacts know they can trust and rely on us.
Focused. Focused on our work. Focused on our passion for PR. Focused on delivering results for our clients. It drives us every day.
Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. For the benefit of our readers, can you help articulate what the different forms of PR are?
Public Relations is a broad term. By dictionary definition, it’s the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or organization/business to the public to affect their public perception. But how that’s done is where the differences come in. We are highly focused on media relations, which is getting editorial press (magazines, newspapers, online, TV, radio, podcasts, blogs) to feature our clients in stories. That could be through interviews with executives, or content that we provide in terms of articles, data, reports, etc. Some agencies are more focused on messaging and strategy to develop a company’s brand and positioning, or on social media.
Where should a young person considering a career in PR start their education? Should they get a degree in communications? A degree in journalism? Can you explain what you mean?
I’m a firm believer that the type of degree isn’t as important as the skill set. To have a career in PR, you must have strong communication skills, an understanding of media, critical thinking skills, creativity, strong writing abilities, and more. But certainly, there are degrees and programs that better cultivate those sorts of skills such as a degree in journalism, public relations, communication or marketing.
You are known as a master networker. Can you share some tips on great networking?
I have built Pitch Public Relations and our reptation on referrals, not networking. We have always been highly focused on delivering results for our clients. That work ethic and success has led to very strong client retention, and new business. When it comes to networking, I think it must be genuine rather than completely sales driven. Connecting with others in a way that’s mutually beneficial or natural, rather than to simply land a deal.
Lead generation is one of the most important aspects of any business. Can you share some of the strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?
As I mentioned, we are completely referral driven. However, in the beginning, we sought out companies that we knew were inherently interesting and would have media appeal. By proactively reaching out to companies we were confident we could land coverage for, we set ourselves up for success.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career As A Public Relations Pro” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
1). An appreciation and understanding of how the media works: It’s important to be a consumer of news and develop an understanding of media. There are nuances with mediums (TV news programs vs. print or online) that change the way PR professionals engage with such reporters. Do you know the difference between an editor and a reporter, a business story compared to a lifestyle feature? Understanding how the media works is essential to being on the other side as an effective PR pro who is working to engage the media on behalf of your clients.
2). A clear and focused way to communicate: Beware of being too wordy. Being a successful public relations pro means learning to communicate clearly, simply and in edited fashion. Reporters don’t have time to read lengthy emails or two-page press releases. They want to know why they should care and why their readers or viewers should care. That’s it. Can you get your pitch down to a few sentences that answer those questions? Sharp communication skills are necessary.
3). Persistence: I always say, “persistence is in my PR DNA” and it is. It is a critical trait to be successful in public relations. You must be willing to push further and harder to make things happen. We walk a fine line with our media contacts between aggressive and annoying. But the truth is, persistence pays off. You can’t sit around and wait for something to stick. Instead, it’s up to the PR pro to relentlessly pursue success.
4). Flexibility: Got a great PR plan and ready to execute? Wonderful! What happens if it doesn’t work? What happens if breaking news gets in the way? What happens when your client changes their mind? Flexibility is critical to adapting to situations in PR. Instead of being so tied to a specific plan, be ready to shift to a new approach and try something else. That flexibility and ability to adjust is part of daily life in public relations.
5). A higher gear: I’ve already talked about the importance of understanding how media works, being a clear communicator, having persistence and flexibility. But all of that only gets you so far. Can you go to another level? A higher gear? There is a hustle that’s necessary in PR. Just as the media is deadline oriented, to be a successful public relations professional, you need to understand and appreciate urgency.
Because of the role you play, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I don’t have a grandiose idea to change the world. But I do think being kind is underrated. If we all practiced it every day to everyone, that would be a movement indeed!
This was really meaningful! Thank you so much for your time.
PR Pros: Ann Noder of Pitch Public Relations On The 5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.