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Tech PR, Healthcare PR, Financial PR, Sustainability PR, and others require the best public relations

***This post originally appeared on Medium***

In-house marketing and communications professionals all face the decision at some point in their career: to hire an internal public relations professional, or outsource to a PR firm that specializes in your industry. This is especially true in the start up space, especially for companies seeking tech PR, healthcare PR, and sustainability PR solutions. Rapidly evolving industries require nimble media relations strategists to execute the best public relations efforts.

However the size of the company, the stakes can be high and also very expensive. Should you choose in-house, you must be prepared to add a new dynamic to your office, and also extra costs in the form of employee salary, taxes and benefits.

On the other hand, should you choose to retain an agency, you must be prepared for monthly retainer costs. Depending on the scope of services provided, you’ll also likely need someone internally who is capable of managing the firm.

The point is, these are both commitments that need to be outlined upfront and navigated appropriately to succeed.

There are pros and cons for doing each, and as someone who has survived nearly a decade of agency life and also managed communications/marketing teams internally, I feel just qualified enough to show you were to start.

First, determine why you want to hire a PR firm. Is it to support a major news announcement? Build online search using articles and media mentions to bolster SEO? Create sales and marketing literature? Your answer to this question will impact your need for hiring to meet these objectives. Let me explain.

If you’re the one responsible for managing the marketing and communications department and functions, your title is likely Director of Communications, VP of Marketing, Head of Business Development, etc. This means you’re expected to achieve media visibility, put a blogging/content marketing schedule together, write press releases, etc. All fun and good, right?

But what happens when your company attends a trade show? You’re likely the one organizing the booth and giveaways. One of your biz dev or salespeople needs a sales deck by end of day? Guess who’s jumping on that. Website a little stale? They’re looking at you to manage the brand refresh.

VPs of Marketing…I can sense you nodding along, maybe even screaming “that’s me!” at your computer screen showing a web browser with 35 tabs and seven versions of a PowerPoint presentation.

ESPECIALLY in a startup environment, you’re wearing a lot of hats, many of them far outside the traditional marcomm responsibilities so carefully outlined in your job description. When you jump on these items, what happens to the media coverage, SEO boosts and social media presence you set out to build? They can very easily fall by the wayside.

If you have the bandwidth to hire graphic designers, SEO specialists, writers and media specialists…I get it. It’s not a bad idea, and it’s the same route I took in 2011 when I was building out a corporate comms function. Having an internal team to manage media outreach for enabled us to have the best public relations program possible put into place.

But what if you don’t have the budget, time or infrastructure? Hiring a PR firm capable of managing key initiatives you were hired for — media relations, email marketing, social media, SEO and content writing — may be the better solution.

Perspective is also an important aspect of this discussion. Working in-house, especially for a startup or in any fast-moving corporate environment, often means taking orders directly from and consistently interacting with the c-suite. Sometimes it can be very challenging to push back on creative ideas, media/marketing campaigns, and other ideas that company leaders cook up in their downtime. Hiring a PR firm, especially one who knows your respective industry very well, means you’re going to get real-time feedback from a group who’ve been through dozens or hundreds of campaigns, and can push back appropriately to ensure things are done right, not done because it’s the CEO’s vision. This perspective can mean everything, and the difference between the best public relations support or something that is rendered ineffective.

If you’re reading this and convinced I’m advocating to always hire a PR firm (after all, I’m biased), that’s only partially true. I think hiring the right PR firm capable of providing the best public relations support is much more important than hiring one at all. If you can find a group that not only manages the marketing and communications functions you don’t have time for, but more importantly understands how they all work together, you’ll be in a better place.

If you hire a firm that does one or two things well but requires your hand holding to complete ideas or doesn’t understand your big picture objectives, I’d recommend hiring in-house…even if that means a contractor model.

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.

The FischTank team likes its work, but it also likes its summer vacation. As a New York PR and Marketing firm, we’ve got our options. The famed Jersey shore is close, as are Coney Island and the Hamptons. New England is only a couple of hours north while the Poconos are only the same distance west, and OCMD just a bit further to the south. Plenty of options for the team to choose from!

But it’s not just where you’re going, it’s what you’re listening to on your way there. Music taste is important in all seasons, but with the windows down in a car or open at home, everyone is hearing it.

So without further ado, find the FischTank team’s sounds and sights of summer:

I don’t really have a favorite summer song, but I do have a favorite summer band—Dirty Heads. They have a reggae/hip-hop/rock sound and every song is a feel-good jam. They’re the perfect soundtrack for a beach day, which is always my favorite place to be.

Which leads me to my favorite place to visit in the summer—hands down, it’s the Jersey Shore. Growing up in Central Jersey (yes, it does exist), I went to Long Beach Island a lot on vacation and one of my best friends is from Belmar, so any day trip was spent there. Now, I spend a lot of time in the Asbury Park/Sea Bright area since that’s where my boyfriend grew up. But my favorite thing to do at any beach, is to just post up in a good spot on the sand with a towel, some sunscreen and a good book and stay there until sunset!” – Samantha Breccia

My favorite summer song is anything I can listen to live, outside, with a beer in hand. Warm weather means outdoor concert season, and an opportunity to spend the day outside listening to favorite bands. There are some great outdoor venues in the greater NYC/Northern NJ area, lined with food trucks and craft beer stands – nothing better.

My favorite place is anywhere with a golf course. My ideal relaxation activity is riding down a fairway with headphones in, unplugging from the rest of life and yelling at myself for four hours about the horrible shot I just hit. Courses down south along the coast offer some of the best views, but anywhere with a tee box and flagstick will do. – Matt Bretzius

My favorite summer song is In My Mind by Ivan Gough (Axwell Radio Edit). Any type of house/EDM song reminds me of the summer so much because the vibe of that genre just makes you want to dance and be outside.”

“My favorite place to visit in the summer is any beach. Laying out on a beach until the sun sets truly is relaxing and what better feeling is there in the world? Especially when you are sipping on a tropical drink without any cares listening to music and spending time with your loved ones. – Michael Canova (more to come on this new dude at FischTank)

My favorite song is ‘Walking on Sunshine,’ a classic that has remained a staple on my summer playlist since I was a child. At the start of every family vacation, we would play the summer splash CD and I always remember this being my favorite track to sing and dance along to. It’s a feel-good song for every summer barbecue, beach day and road trip.

I grew up in the Adirondacks and while I’m anchored in NYC now, the Adirondack park continues to hold a special place in my heart. There’s something for everyone, whether it’s relaxing at our cabin or in Lake George with a cocktail or hiking the high peaks in Keene Valley. The Adirondacks are simply breathtaking and incredible place to spend the summer. – Kate Caruso-Sharpe

Due to the copious amount of music I listen to, picking a sole favorite summer song would be like telling me to go to McDonald’s and forcing me to pick only one burger – impossible. For that reason, I choose King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s “Nuclear Fusion” as my 2019 summer song. This band has extensively been present in my recent Spotify rotation and they’ve been dropping banger after banger for their new upcoming album, “Infest the Rats’ Nest.” Plus, “Nuclear Fusion” makes me feel like I can take on the entire world in my sleep.

My favorite place to visit in the summer is also my favorite place to visit in the spring, fall, and winter – Rio de Janeiro. It was where I was born, and ever since I was snatched away to the States at age 7, I’ve returned to Brazil every single summer (aside from a 2018 World Cup Euro escapade). Beautiful weather, beaches, music, and food – plus 95% of my family resides there, so how could it be any other place? – Fabricio Costa

One of my favorite summer songs is Ocean Breathes Salty by Modest Mouse. All of the instruments and sounds come together to make it really relaxing. I was 12 years old when it came out and it reminds me of summer at that age, which was really simple and just about being outside all day and having no responsibility.

I like any chance I get to visit the Monmouth County area of the Jersey Shore. Growing up, I would get to the beach once or twice every summer. After going to school in that area and spending many summer weekends there since, it’s grown on me even more. Now, sitting on the beach is one of my favorite things to do. – Kyle Evans

Choosing my favorite summer music is tough. It needs to be a little more laid back than usual, so immediately discounting most hard rock. I’ve lately gotten into Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real after hearing some of their collaborations and support for Neil Young. Their two most recent albums are tremendous, and Lukas sounds just like his old man.

My favorite place for summer vacation (other than San Diego, the correct choice for any destination-related question) is found somewhere on the South Jersey shore (major distinction from North, Central). Growing up in the Philadelphia area, I spent countless summers in Sea Isle City, Ocean Beach, and Wildwood. Some of the fun my high school friends and I had in Wildwood cannot be discussed here. When I think of South Jersey beaches, I think of boardwalk fun, crabbing for hard-shells, and eating Wawa hoagies.” – Eric Fischgrund

When it comes to favorite summer songs the obvious choice is the Grammy-Award Winning 1999 Hit ‘Smooth’ by the legendary Santana featuring Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty. Just try to listen to the opening guitar hook without getting pumped up, I dare you. It’s an infectious jam you can screech along to at the beach, by the pool or while riding around with the windows down.

Lake Placid, NY will always hold a special place in my heart. For 10+ years, it was the site of my family’s annual summer camping trip. I have many fond memories of cooking at the campsite, hiking, swimming and playing cards every night. Downtown Lake Placid also has a great vibe, with lots fun shops and restaurants — you can even check out the Olympic Center, site of famous 1980 “Miracle on Ice” USA hockey victory over the USSR. – Erin Hadden

There is no sweeter summer soundtrack than the laidback tunes of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. While my personal favorite is Learning to Fly, almost any Americana-packed Petty track makes for a great summer listen. The first concert I ever saw happened to be Tom Petty during the summer of seventh grade, but my favorite Mad Dog memory is blasting Damn The Torpedos in my 1984 Volvo with all the windows down during an impromptu midnight trip to the beach with some buddies.

Every summer from before I could remember to when I was 11 or 12 years old, my parents, aunts and uncles would load my sister, cousins and I into a mini van and trek down to Wildwood, NJ. Exploring the beach and boardwalk was the highlight of every summer, but eventually, as we all got older and the world got smaller, we started exploring other destinations like the Outer Banks and Caribbean. All offered amazing experiences, but none lived up to Wildwood’s nostalgia. I had the opportunity to return to Wildwood a few summers ago, with the same aunts, uncles and cousins, and I was pleasantly surprised to see the town hadn’t changed much – if anything, it seemed to have a fresh coat of paint on it! – Rob Kreis

The Team at FischTank Marketing and PR

Anonymous FischTank Accountant

 

My favorite song is ‘I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash because it evokes memories of listening to it on the radio (AM!) in the summer.

My favorite place to visit is very specific – Jones Beach West End Beaches, a favorite hangout spot with friends from high school. – Our anonymous accountant who values brevity 

 

 

 

My favorite summer song is the recent hit, Old Town Road by Billy Ray Cyrus and Lil Nas. It’s very catchy and fun to listen and sing along to.

I love going to Belmar beach in the summer with my family and friends! Besides being a FischTank PR professional, I’m like a mermaid, and I could stay in the ocean for hours. – Jessica Reiner

My favorite summer song is Sherry Darling by Bruce Springsteen. Although the name of my sister (spelled differently), Sherry Darling tells the story of a summer getaway. Gracing every stereo that plays it, The Boss offers yet another lyrical masterpiece giving off good vibes and a catchy tune.

Summers are spent at my grandma’s house, nestled on the Toms River bay where we spend our time out on the boat, fishing, crabbing, or just enjoying the sun. A five-minute drive to the boardwalks, many nights are spent on roller coasters, playing carnival games, or at the bar. However, the night isn’t over until its finished off with a Seaside Tony from Steaks. – Russ Pagano

I don’t have one favorite song, but I do love listening to Bob Marley in the summertime. “Could You Be Loved” is a great song to groove to and listen to while on the beach.

I was born and raised in Monmouth County, NJ and enjoy going back to my roots to visit the good old Jersey shore. I enjoy long walks on the beach with an ice cream cone in hand. – Carly Ross

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.

The old days for a PR firm consisted of the daily grind to achieve media coverage in any form, not really understanding how or why it would move the needle for their client. Sometimes this directive came from the client itself, everyone scrambling for exposure without knowing why.

Public relations meant press release writing, drafting a vanilla statement when things went bad, and distributing boilerplate pitches to reporters that more or less reiterated what your website says. “We are innovative,” “we are groundbreaking,” “we are first-of-our-kind,” and “we anticipate tremendous growth” and last but not least, “we are making a difference for the future!”

PR firms were mostly “media relations” outreach factories, and many of them still are.

Now? Companies need to look for a heckuva lot more in a public relations firm. There are simple questions like “who is your audience?” and “what is your wish-list for media coverage?” but those are just that – simple and unlikely to evolve into any real strategy with tangible results. More important questions your PR firm should be asking include:

  • “Why do you feel media coverage is important?”
  • “How has your target audience traditionally found you?”
  • “How important are online search results for your brand?”
  • “What is your SEO strategy? Are backlinks important to you?”
  • “What’s your content marketing strategy?”
  • “Where does your site traffic come from? May we have access to your Google Analytics?”
  • “How do you plan on using media coverage?
  • “Do you have an e-mail marketing program?”
  • “What keywords and searches do you want to rank for?”
  • “What is your business development strategy?”
  • “Why did Kawhi Leonard’s shot fall against the Sixers in Game 7?!”

That last bullet is still on my mind. I’m writing this following two days of business in Toronto, site of where my beloved Sixers had their hearts ripped out, and where I’ve been subject to passing by at least two dozen “We the North” signs reminding me of last Sunday.

Sorry, I just blacked out. Back to business.

People at PR firms who sell its services, people like me, are in the business of meeting a potential client or customer and immediately telling them what they can provide. “We can definitely get you top-tier press.” “We will post to your social channels every day!” “We have an expert team of writers who can draft all your press releases.”

This is wrong, for so many reasons. It’s 2019. People, whether investors, potential customers, clients and partners, etc. digest information much differently than they did 15 years ago, or ten years ago, or five years ago…or last year.

The one size fits all approach has long-since given PR firms a bad name and led to numerous journalist shamings on Twitter and LinkedIn. I’ve probably earned one or two myself over the years.

If your PR firm isn’t asking you about SEO, sales and business development, web traffic, or why you want to hire a firm – they’re not doing their job. There is the old way, “messaging documents” that take three months for some firm to rehash everything you already know about yourself, and there is the new way – understanding how an integrated approach should serve as an extension of your company’s public relations and marketing approach.

Take your pick!

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.

NYC PR Firm

The holiday season has returned, and so too have the festive parties, good tidings, snowy sidewalks, NYC congestion, positive and informative conversations on social media, and of course — holiday music.

Like any other small business, FischTank likes to constantly argue music, and we are pretty confident that each of our opinions are the correct one. With that in mind, the FischTank Marketing and PR team presents their favorite songs of the season. Happy holidays all!

Fabricio Costa — Account Executive: Julian Casablancas – “I Wish It Was Christmas Today”

“I hold The Strokes very dear and they’ve always oddly but gratifyingly dropped new music around important dates in my life. This rendition of the SNL classic was in The Strokes’ vocalist Julian Casablancas’ debut album Phrases for the Young as a bonus track in 09 when I was a Junior in high school. Aside from featuring one of my all-time favorite vocalists, this cover did so well they actually did a live version of it on Jimmy Fallon’s late night show and Acura picked it up for a commercial that made that little synth jingle stuck in our heads throughout the entire holiday season.

Besides, who doesn’t wish it was Christmas today?”

Erin Hadden — Account Executive: Glenn Miller Orchestra: “Sleigh Ride

“I had to dig deep for my pick, but I finally landed on Glenn Miller Orchestra’s rendition of Sleigh Ride. Every year for as long as I can remember, my dad puts together his time-tested, critically-acclaimed mix of CDs to play during our extended Christmas festivities. This song is always the first track from the first CD he queues up. For this reason, it’s become the song that most strongly represents my family’s holiday traditions through the years.”

Kyle Evans — Account Manager: Bruce Springsteen: “Santa Claus is Coming to Town

“One of my favorite holiday songs is Bruce Springsteen’s performance of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” which might sound typical for a New Jersey native, but it’s mainly from being raised by two Springsteen fanatics.”

Katelyn Barone — Account Manager: “Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth” duet with Bing Crosby and David Bowie

“This is one of my favorite holiday songs because this was such an unlikely pairing that turned out to create a great Christmas duet. While I’m more familiar with David Bowie and have always been a fan, Bing Crosby is a classic especially around the holidays.”

Hilary Donnell — Account Director: “Fairytale of New York” by The Pogues

“Fairytale of New York is one of my favorite Christmas songs because it’s more authentic than many of the songs we hear around the holidays, and reminds me of my dad, a major influence in my passion for music. Plus, the song would’ve never existed without Elvis Costello betting Shane MacGowan that couldn’t write a duet with bass player Cait O’Riordan. MacGowan did, then Elvis married her!”

Kate Caruso-Sharpe — Account Director: “Winter Wonderland / Here Comes Santa Claus” from the Pitch Perfect 2 Soundtrack

“While you’ll always find the classics like Mariah Carey and NSYNC on my holiday playlist, my favorite song as of late is “Winter Wonderland / Here Comes Santa Claus” from the Pitch Perfect 2 soundtrack. The Pitch Perfect series is a classic (at least in our house) and the mash-up between Anna Kendrick and Snoop Dogg is simply acca-awesome.”

Matt Bretzius — President: The Christmas Shoes” by New Song

“A young boy wants to buy a Christmas gift for his cancer-stricken mother. But once he reached the store, he did not have enough money for the ruby red Christmas shoes he had his heart set on. Thankfully a good samaritan (played by a young Rob Lowe, no less) steps up and purchases the shoes for the boy, who rushes home to place them on his mother’s feet just before she dies. It’s the consummate Christmas story. I’m not crying, you’re crying.”

Eric Fischgrund — Founder: “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” by James Taylor

“Yes, I chose the same song as Kyle Evans, but it’s for the right reason. Sorry New Jersey, but my artist is better:  JT > Bruce. This is my favorite holiday song because it was one of my favorite Christmas tunes as a kid, and James Taylor music always makes me think of my parents, who are big fans of his. JT was the first concert I ever attended, at age ten, with my parents and life long buddy Kyle Johnson.”

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.

Zack joins FischTank to support client media relations

Please join FischTank Marketing and PR in welcome Zachary Pollack  to its summer internship program! In Part Two of this thrilling two part series, FischTank founder Eric Fischgrund sits down with Zachary for an exclusive Q&A.

Zach, we are thrilled to have you at FischTank! Tell us a little about yourself, where do you go to school?

I’m currently a junior at the University of Tampa

Good stuff! What is your area of study?

I’m majoring in marketing, with a minor in sports management.

Ambitious! What do you like most about communications and marketing?

I enjoy being able to communicate as opposed to being sectioned off in a cubicle. I like to move around and see other people as well as talk on the phone and share thoughts and ideas. I love marketing because of its creative side. Being able to figure out demographics and target segments of consumers is very interesting, and I enjoy the challenge of working through how everyone can be so different yet share many common interests.

Very nice, marketing to various audiences sure is complex. I wish there was a simple answer. What industries interest you?

The sports industry is where I would like to be, specifically as a sports marketing executive hopefully one day working for an arena such as MSG (NY) or Amelie Arena (FL).

I’m a Philadelphia sports fan myself, but I’ll let that comment about MSG slide today. What are your favorite sports and teams?

I’m a big baseball fan and dedicate my love for the sport to the New York Yankees since 1996. Basketball is my second favorite sport and sadly have to say the New York Knicks. I also enjoy the PGA.

Baseball had a significant impact on my childhood as well. What about music? Who are your favorite bands/musicians?

I enjoy R&B hip hop but band-wise, I would have to go with Cage the Elephant.

Very nice. Last question for you Zack — share some hobbies with us.

I enjoy exploring Florida’s vast aquatic lands, my passion for music and instrumentals, and eating food from different cultures.

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.