Five from H5

Five from H5

Our work is only as good as our team. Fortunately Agency H5 is packed with passionate people who each possess their own one of a KIND spark. Welcome to the 5 From H5 series, where an agency expert shares tips for upping your work game.

We’ve said it once, we’ve said it a million times – the world of public relations is always changing.  At Agency H5, we pride ourselves on homegrown talent who hustle to not only keep up with constant change but embrace it to bring our clients to new heights.

Many members of the H5 team have risen through the ranks over the years, growing and evolving right along with the industry and agency itself. One of the best examples of H5’s dedication to recruiting (and keeping) the best young talent is Victoria Whiting, who has evolved from intern to Senior Account Director in her eight plus years with the agency. 

With this wealth of experience under her belt, Victoria was kind enough to share five ways public relations has changed in the past five years, as well as her insight on how to navigate the everchanging waters of PR, marketing and communications. Take it from her – it’s an exciting time as ever to work in this industry.

1. What is the biggest thing that has changed since you began your career in PR?

“It’s increasingly difficult, but not impossible, to get earned coverage for a brand, product or event,” says Victoria. “With shrinking newsrooms, a 24/7 news cycle and constant stream of information coming from every which way, your story really needs to stand out to make an impact on journalists. A lot of coverage opportunities are now paid, so getting earned coverage without sponsored content or affiliate links is becoming more and more rare, and it’s important to supplement your earned strategy with paid, owned and social channels.”

In short, Victoria recommends setting client expectations accordingly. Keep them in the loop with ongoing changes in the industry so you can frame your strategy around these trends while they’re still hot.

2. How have improvements in social media changed the way you approach client work?

According to Victoria, social media is no longer just an afterthought addition to a brand’s marketing strategy. It’s a vehicle through which PR pros can monitor and capitalize on genuine conversations. For many clients, it informs their overall media strategy and garners the best results in terms of consumer conversions.

“Everything needs to be shareable, as reporters want their stories shared on brand channels as much as brands want coverage.” says Victoria. “This helps spark conversation and direct consumer feedback, to gain valuable insight into what they think and feel about your client. In some cases, a micro-influencer sharing their positive review of a brand, product or event is just as valuable as a big piece in a major media outlet and drives just as much action – if not more.”

For example:  

With their ear to the ground on social media, the Pampered Chef team noticed the social buzz surrounding boozy popsicles for summer. They jumped in on the conversation by pitching the Quicksicle Maker, earning coverage in Better Homes and Gardens.

3. How has the traditional media landscape changed, and what is the value in the shift toward digital?

While it’s true that it’s difficult to garner true earned coverage in the traditional sense, today’s PR landscape also opens new opportunities to move the needle for clients and present wins in new ways.

“I’ve seen a big shift toward desire for digital coverage, as it’s much easier to track consumer action such as a click or a sale,” says Victoria. “As it becomes more difficult to show value for PR efforts, tangible results like clicks, views and shares give us more to report back to clients – although, they still love seeing their brand in a glossy mag or feeling it in print!”

4. What do you hope changes or improves in the next five years in PR, marketing and beyond?

For Victoria, it’s all about quality of the story over the quantity of content.

“I think people are so obsessed with ‘content’ right now,” says Victoria. “I’ve always liked storytelling more than creating a quick, one-off piece of content. It’s been an evolution over the past several years where PR, marketing, advertising and social often all intersect, but I hope we can strike the right balance between great storytelling and content that quickly communicates news or information.”

5. With all this change, what is one cornerstone of PR that has remained the same throughout your career?

Even when the industry feels like it’s changing faster than you can press send on your latest pitch, there are some things that never change.

“As always, relationships are the key to coverage,” says Victoria. “Understand what the reporter’s beat is and deliver the attention-grabbing information that will make it easier to for them to tell the best stories their audience.”

 

PR pros: what’s the biggest industry change you’ve noticed in the last five years?

 

About Victoria Whiting

A suburban Chicago native, Victoria launched her career from the agency’s conference table as a recent college grad. After 7+ years navigating the media scene for CPG brands, commodity boards and community awareness campaigns, she currently serves as a Senior Account Director at H5 overseeing influencer relations, media strategy, consumer marketing and social content for several brands in the food, beverage and retail industries. While Victoria’s true calling is creative storytelling and meticulous proofreading, she harbors a secret passion for complex spreadsheets and measurement analytics.

Victoria currently calls Lincoln Square home, where she lives with her husband and substantial collection of hair products, because yes, her hair is naturally that curly. She knows more dogs in her neighborhood than people and is currently on a quest to tour every brewery in Chicagoland.