Brian Fuller's blog on the media, marketing and content creation

Interesting times; new role

Posted on | February 17, 2009 | No Comments

After 18 months at Blanc & Otus, I’m moving into a consulting role for the PR firm. I will continue to create great content for B&O clients, which includes thought-leadership pieces, white papers and blogging services. I also will run messaging and positioning sessions for clients and conduct media training. And I’m on the hunt for new full-time opportunities or to expand my consulting business. My contact information is, 415.302.5733, or, failing that, this blog or my Twitter feed.

I came to the agency in the summer of 2007 after 24 years in journalism to bring that background and expertise in digital publishing to the staff and the client base. We were successful with the former; still working on the latter. My philosophy going in was that a small agency needs to have its digital smarts infused throughout the organization. It doesn’t work to have a digital expert that everyone needs to rely on. Digital is becoming (and must become) just another tool in the PR practitioner’s belt. It’s vital that when a client asks a staff member about recommendations about which editors to reach, they also need to have confidence that the PR pro can tell them what social media tools and tactics to exploit to expand the reach of their message. The staff caught on quickly and many of them are now experts in blog analysis and monitoring and Twitter.

The client side of the equation is evolving more slowly (at least for my liking). PR agencies are still viewed, for the most part, as the smile-and-dial outfits that find the editors. They’re not thought of as places where social media strategy gets formed, Web sites built and alternative media (video, audio, animation) is used to deliver the right message in the right way to the right people. Then again, PR agencies don’t see themselves that way either. Yet agencies must evolve their offerings from media plans and outreach, and they can. The so-called “interactive agencies” are updating their skill sets from new-media strategies and tactics to more traditional PR skill sets. Somewhere in the middle of those two types of agencies is where a new beast begins to walk upright. This recession will force it.

At the same time, there will be specialization (video, audio, animation, graphics) because the new-media services that agencies need to be more adept at offering aren’t going to be built in-house. Agencies just aren’t financially structured for it.

So, I’m looking forward to continued evolution, both personally and throughout the industry. My near-term goal is to drive a more holistic approach to communications strategies and tactics, born of my experience in the publishing industry. Writing and other forms of content creation are one piece of the puzzle. You no longer can just publish and hope for the best. Without monitoring social media and analyzing your corporate Web site traffic, you’re only driving with one eye open. Successful programs rely on creation, monitoring, analysis and then appropriate revisions. And this virtuous cycle spans all channels, from digital media, to email newsletters and, in some cases, good old-fashioned print. But unless you have insight into how those messages are being received in each channel, you can’t properly turn the knobs on your messages. I’ve begun to do some of this analysis with clients already but am always pushing for more insight to make the next piece of content better, more targeted.

You don’t build a company’s messaging without knowing the market around you and what influencers are saying right? The same is true on a day-to-day level with content publishing.

That’s where I will evolve in the coming months. Is this role as a consultant? In an agency? In-house at a company? Time will tell.

You’ve heard the old Chinese saying: “May you live in interesting times.” What could be more interesting than now?

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No Responses to “Interesting times; new role”

  1. Lou Covey
    February 17th, 2009 @ 1:42 pm

    This gives me even more to believe that the best communicators are going to be hired guns and not salary men. Sorry that B&O doesn't see the value in keeping you on staff, but this trend os good for all of us who see where it's all going.

  2. Kerri
    February 17th, 2009 @ 2:08 pm

    It’s interesting, I never hear anyone say “PR” without following it by “and marketing” these days. They’re becoming one, at least in some folks’ eyes. Or, even more nouveau, they’re turning to “branding agencies”, rather than PR/marketing firms, because if you brand your content well enough, the PR/marketing will almost take care of itself, right?

    I do recall asking a CEO a couple of years ago, “Why do you still bother sending out corporate press releases?” I remember when we were on the receiving end of them, they usually got stuffed in the back of the book — a real, good story rarely came from a press release. But now, editors go to your ‘press’ web page to see if there’s anything interesting going on. They open the thick envelopes, or boxes — the ones with stuff in them. They like shiny things. That’s what the marketers do.

    Traditional PR doesn’t do much in the way of shiny things. It seems to be all about the personal relationships, the scoops, and the swag. Or maybe I’m just jaded. But we haven’t yet had a PR person tell us to do our own podcast — even though that’s one of the best things we could do. We’ve had PR people tell us to avoid taking risks, when it’s one of the only ways to stand out.

    Sigh. I hate this. For you, and everyone else.

  3. Dean
    February 17th, 2009 @ 8:18 pm

    Kerri — Your company should do its own podcasts and take a few risks with it’s communications program.

    Sincerely, a PR person.

    Brian — I hope you never find a new job. Instead I hope you create one for yourself and prosper like you’ve never prospered before. I know that you can and I have every confidence that you will.

    There is nothing like being the Captian of your own pirate ship.

  4. Loring Wirbel
    February 17th, 2009 @ 8:26 pm

    Huzzah! Join me in the community-drinking dead pool, kemosabe. I’m having a ball.

  5. Sam
    February 17th, 2009 @ 11:25 pm

    Brian… so sorry about the career disruption, but you know, Dean is right. Let’s have a brewski one of these days. — Sam

  6. SMrus
    February 23rd, 2009 @ 2:38 pm


    In this deepening recession and changing climate, the resources we have at hand are critical. With strategic thought, irreverence and a willingness to think outside the long-established “box,” you’ll do really well.

    The consulting gig can be a good one. Let’s hope that there’s real opportunity in the near future for folks like us.

    Good luck!

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