Portraits in PR: Marketing Magazine Features Carol Levine

Originally published in Marketing Magazine.


This week, Marketing Magazine issued their second installment of their Portraits in PR feature. Which asks agency leaders to share what’s changed in PR over the last year, what inspires them, tools of the trade and what the future holds. This installment included energi PR co-founder, Carol Levine.



What is the biggest challenge the industry faces in 2015?
Differentiation and integration pose a tremendous challenge. We know what sets us apart from other marketing disciplines, but many clients don’t. In a connected world, brands and organizations need to speak with one voice across multiple platforms. We need to address the question of ‘Why PR?’

What is the biggest challenge your agency faces in 2015?
Recruiting top talent will be significant, but it’s not surprising, as it is also one of the biggest issues for the industry. Part of this problem resides with the fact that many experienced practitioners choose to work independently or on the corporate side. But there is also increased competition for great people from other disciplines as our services become more integrated. The pressures that PR agencies face today, including doing more with less, the 24/7 client, as well as unpredictable growth or client loss demands a skill set beyond the traditional abilities of writing and media relations. We are looking for people with maturity, old-fashioned communications skills, resilience and business instincts.

Your favourite work-related book?
I really enjoyed reading Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook. For many years, including when I started, the image of the PR industry was one where women dominated everywhere except at the highest level. Sandberg examines the sacrifices women often make in terms of career advancement, but also offers insights on how women can take better charge of their careers. Needless to say, I encouraged many of the young women I know to read the book.

Where/how do you find job-related inspiration?
There is nothing more interesting to me than being around accomplished people. I have had the privilege of building extraordinary business relationships and friendships with PR colleagues in Canada and around the world. My associates in the Public Relations Global Network are brilliant, and hearing about what they do is extremely valuable. I also read, listen and seek out advice.

What advice would you offer a graduate looking for a job in PR in 2015?
Be prepared for some tough love. They need to acknowledge that PR, like all businesses, reacts to the economic climate and manages by the numbers. Not every client will be a dream account and you may be asked to roll up your sleeves and do something outside your written job description. I would say that a huge advantage would be to convey how they see adding value to the employer and not the other way around — pretty much the approach we’d take with a client.

Other than your wireless device, what’s the one tool of the trade you can’t live without?
It would be my handwritten lists. My lists are almost therapeutic. I take pleasure in crossing tasks off my list in an array of coloured highlighters.

What’s your top prediction for PR in 2015?
Risk management. PR will own responsiveness, accountability, integrity. This past year told a sad story of deliberate deceit at “Late Night” laughable extremes (data breach, politics, transportation disasters). In every case, basic public relations counsel was either ignored or discounted. PR will need to be ahead of the game in listening, measuring and reacting.


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