PR Pros: Newswire’s Charlie Terenzio On The 5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career As A Public Relations Pro
… Be authentic — Whether it’s identifying clients to work with, stories to tell, or relationships you build, authenticity is a key trait of any quality PR pro. If you’re not authentic, people, especially in media, will sniff it out and you will lose credibility.
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 Charlie Terenzio. Charlie Terenzio has over 15 years of experience in the PR and communications field. Charlie currently oversees Media & Marketing Communications for Newswire where he works alongside clients to plan, strategize, and execute custom integrated media & marketing campaigns using Newswire’s top-ranked PR distribution software and monitoring tools.
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 grew up a massive sports fan and always thought I wanted to work in sports. I was never an exceptional athlete, so I knew my opportunity to be in and around sports professionally would be through media.
To gain experience in college, I volunteered with the athletic department for about a year doing anything and everything they needed me to do. I wrote content, edited bios, learned social media platforms, and organized storage closets. After about a year, they offered me a job that allowed me to get more involved in content, media relations, and working with the teams, coaches, and athletes. Eventually, after graduation, I was offered my first full-time job in college athletics and fell in love with the storytelling aspect of it.
After a few years in sports, I was drawn to other industries and realized that what I really enjoyed was identifying compelling stories, finding unique ways to tell them, and leveraging the media to amplify them. That passion brought me into higher education, technology, and, now, Newswire.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
The better question is when is the last time I had a “normal” day? What I love about my job and my career in media relations and PR is that every day is unique. One thing that comes to mind is a product we have developed here at Newswire. We were working with clients who were looking for media coverage and placements and were willing to pay significant money to generate it. Earned Media is one of the most valuable assets a company can have because you can’t pay for it.
More and more, companies are preferring to generate compelling owned media and want to control their message completely. But, they also want earned media to amplify it. To solve this problem, Newswire developed a product that allowed companies to leverage paid media like sponsored content to get more eyeballs on their owned media content at scale.
This example of problem-solving for clients through product development is one of the coolest parts of being a tech company in the media industry right now. There’s so much opportunity for innovation.
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?
When I first started at Newswire, I had two new client onboarding calls back to back one morning. I had done extensive research on each company prior to the calls and was excited to dive in with them on their strategy. On the first call, I started in with some detailed questions about their goals, their business model, target audience, and potential campaign topics. About 10 minutes in, I was very surprised by the answers and thought to myself, “Wow, this client has a lot in common with my next client!” At that point, I realized I mixed up the appointments on my calendar and was asking the wrong questions to the wrong client.
I was able to get things back on track and ultimately ended up getting more detailed information from them by allowing them to drive the conversation.
From then on, I always schedule time each morning to plan out my day, including my meeting schedule and what I want to accomplish on each call.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
The variety of clients and companies is the best part of working in PR. Right now, I am working with clients who are preparing to IPO in the healthcare industry, technology companies going through investment rounds and potential acquisitions, a company developing high fashion apparel for the Metaverse, and specialty craft liquor and wine brands who are about to become household names.
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?
Empathy. The best managers and leaders who I had an opportunity to work for early in my career always had great empathy. It wasn’t that they were the best at their jobs or the most well-known in their industries but that they could put themselves in other people’s shoes to understand how to get the most out of them. I pride myself on putting people first. That means knowing when to challenge them and trust them to take on more and when to provide support and help reduce stress.
Being truly supportive of your team is the best way to earn trust and maximize their potential.
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?
I feel like PR gets pigeonholed by people outside the industry. There are many different aspects of PR. Media relations, crisis communications, investor relations, content marketing, brand strategy, and corporate communications are all under the PR umbrella but serve different purposes for organizations. It’s not a one size fits all approach.
The one constant is having the ability to take strategic messaging and use channels and platforms to get it in front of a specific audience to inform or sway their perception so they take some sort of action.
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?
As someone who worked in higher education, this might sound surprising but I don’t think the degree is as important as the experience. Whether you study PR, communications, journalism, marketing, sales, or business, I think you will get the knowledge you need to be successful in PR. But, where you can get a head start and accelerate your career is with real, relevant experience. Volunteer, intern, and shadow leaders, ask questions of people who are in roles you admire.
That insight is so much more valuable than some of the coursework you will experience in your education.
You are known as a master networker. Can you share some tips on great networking?
I’ll admit that networking is tough for me. I am naturally an introvert so connecting and maintaining professional relationships takes effort for me. The key to me is surrounding yourself with people who inspire you and align with your values and beliefs. Leverage those people for their experience and knowledge, and try to stay in touch even when you don’t need something from them.
A few quality and fulfilling connections are worth more than thousands of acquaintances.
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?
What makes Newswire different from others in the press release distribution and media technology space is we believe press releases and earned media are untapped marketing channels that can impact sales. By leveraging PR and media content as an “ad format” for commercial audiences, businesses are able to share news, updates, product innovation, and their differentiators in a way that prospects aren’t blind to the message like they are with traditional advertising.
Using this approach, Newswire has generated thousands and thousands of leads as a company and on behalf of our clients which has helped drive massive growth and add a new marketing channel for businesses who have maxed out search and social.
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.)
Be authentic — Whether it’s identifying clients to work with, stories to tell, or relationships you build, authenticity is a key trait of any quality PR pro. If you’re not authentic, people, especially in media, will sniff it out and you will lose credibility.
Create a knack for storytelling — Can you research a business or ask the right questions to help identify the truly compelling stories to share? Or, are you going to the well in areas that are oversaturated? The best example is when clients want to announce their new website. Instead of announcing a new site, which every company typically does every few years, hone your storytelling around the message you’re trying to portray on your new site and find platforms to share that story with your target audience.
Be inquisitive — The best people in PR that I’ve worked with always have more questions. They think like a journalist to get to the meat of the story and bypass the fluff. The trait that guides that is a desire to know more and learn more.
Critical thinker — Being a critical thinker is incredibly valuable as a PR pro. You’re never satisfied with the bare minimum and that drives you to keep problem-solving until you come up with a way to make it work. A better angle, a more compelling story, a better person to pitch to, and a unique way to share it. Critical thinking is one of the most valuable skills for any career nowadays.
Good support system — At work, at home, in my friendships, and with family, having a group of people who support you no matter what but also challenge you, guide you, love you, and inspire you is the best way to celebrate your successes and pick you up when you’re down. I’m fortunate to have an incredible group of people with me.
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 spend a lot of time thinking about misinformation and the growing mistrust in media. I think it stems from the blurred lines between reporting and journalism, and opinions and editorial takes. Moving forward, I think it would be wise for media outlets to establish separate, independent organizations for reporting/journalism vs. editorial/opinion and clearly mark them as such, similar to what they do for advertising vs. editorial.
PR Pros: Charlie Terenzio of Newswire 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.