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PR Interview with Jason Mollica

February 5, 2013 Leave a comment

Episode 008 of this Q&A project features Jason Mollica, President, JRM Comm, Inc.

He answers to Jay or Jas, and while he admitted to me during this process that he is a romantic comedy softie, I chose not to reveal that…oops. Seriously, he is a good guy with a good sense of humor, smart and it has been a real pleasure getting to know him a bit over the last couple of years. If you don’t know him, take the next few minutes to see what you are missing. 

Jas, you’ve have taken a very interesting career path, producer, director of comms at a university, PA announcer, agency PR, blogger and now president of your own comms agency. If you were talking to someone looking to get into PR / Comms, would you suggest they try to follow a similar path? Why or why not?

I would suggest they follow their own path. I don’t think anyone’s path to career success is the same. Sure, you can find inspiration from someone’s steps, but not one direction is similar. If you told me when I first started out in television that I’d be in PR and running my own business, I would have raised an eyebrow and kept going. It wasn’t even on my radar. Now, I can’t dream of doing anything else. And that is what students or those that want to make a change need to keep in mind. Your next challenge may not be in your view right now.

The best piece of advice I received was “Do it because you want to, not because you have to.” I want to do what I’m doing now. When I work because I have to, I’m going to find something more challenging. 

What do all of your professional positions have in common?

They all required hard work, focus and passion. I’ve lost the passion for some jobs along the way, but never the hard work and focus. 

JMollicaThe one position that I have to ask more about is the PA gig for the (former New York Mets Triple A affiliate, now Toronto Blue Jays), the Buffalo Bisons. How did you get into this?

I worked as the PA announcer for Niagara University’s men’s hockey team. A colleague heard that the Bisons were looking for a PA announcer, so I applied. I tried out a few weeks before the season began and was lucky to get the gig. I get paid to watch baseball. As a long time fan of the game, it doesn’t get any better than that. 

Can you provide some insight into the behind the scenes part of this job? How much prep goes into this position?

I normally get to the ballpark an hour or so before gametime. I read the lineups, check the pronunciations and see if there is anything to be done pre-game.

What you hear (batter walk-ups, announcements, in-game promotions) is just a small part of the picture. Behind the scenes, it can get a little crazy. The greatest part though is working with an enthusiastic, fun team of people. They all love what they do. 

We had the Triple A All-Star Game last season at Coca-Cola Field. It could get a little stressful because we were in the national spotlight on MLB Network. The Home Run Derby was another story, because I was the on-field host. It ended up being one of the greatest career experiences because of the event. But took a good amount of preparation, not just for me, but all those involved.

What would surprise people about being a PA announcer for a AAA team?

The fans are apt to call you on a screw up. I read a name wrong one time and I heard a fan below me say, “You read it wrong, man.” I actually leaned out the window and said, “Sorry about that!” The fan was surprised that I was that close!

If you could do anything (professionally) outside of PR / Communications, what would you choose and why?

I’d love to be an astronaut. Growing up, I wanted to fly on the Space Shuttle. I’ve always had this affinity for space exploration. So, if NASA is reading this, when you decide to head back to the moon or Mars, I’m in!

How did you get into public relations?

My wife and I decided to move to where she is from (a suburb of Buffalo, N.Y.) about six months after we were married. I wanted a change of lifestyle from the TV/radio hours. So, I started applying for PR jobs. Niagara University was looking for an assistant director of communications and PR and I was lucky to get the job. It took some adjustment, but looking back, it was a good job to get.

If you could change one thing about the PR industry, what would it be?JasMollica

That is honestly a tough question. I think it would be for more of us to adapt much quicker to the changing times. We need to think ahead for clients, why not for our own industry?

How has PR/Comms industry changed in the last 5 years?

Two words: Social Media. Personally, if it wasn’t for social media, I wouldn’t be where I am today (and would not have met Paul Roberts, either!). OFFICIAL EDITOR’S NOTE: haha

What does PR/Comms industry look like in 5 years?

We’re going to see social media evolve. Facebook and Twitter will still be the standard bearers. But there is going to come a day, very shortly, where we will have one platform integrate all the good things of Facebook and Twitter, as well as Skype, for one true social experience. Imagine the snark then! 

Did you pay much attention to the recent attempt by PRSA to redefine public relations? If so, what was your thought about the process, result and industry-wide discussion?

I absolutely paid attention. I even did a blog on it . I appreciated PRSA’s hard work in trying to get an all-encompassing definition. Was the result successful? I don’t know. I certainly haven’t heard a colleague refer to the “definition.” I thought the industry-wide discussion was great. I didn’t appreciate some of the really rough comments towards PRSA. It takes guts to try and take a stand. Or, in this case, define a practice. Discussion or debate is healthy. 

What social media platform do you use (most) professionally?

Twitter is my go-to platform. It’s how I build my reputation and how I continue to build and get business. And is it different from what you use for personal? I blend by Facebook and Twitter use for personal and social. However, lately, I’ve ramped back on my use of Twitter for personal use.

Do you make any attempt to differentiate you personal from your professional social media persona? If so, how?

When I first launched my business, I used my personal Facebook and Twitter pages. Now, I have FB and Twitter for JRM Comm. Why? Because I wanted an outlet where clients, friends, and potential clients could go for information. It’s actually worked out well. 

The best PR / Communications people you’ve ever worked with share what quality?

Honesty and sincerity. I’ve been lucky to work with and meet so many great people. They all are honest and sincere. People like Deirdre Breakenridge, Justin Goldsborough, and Valerie Simon. Each have the qualities I’d like future pros to emulate. 

What advice would you give young professionals just starting out in this industry?

Never, ever let someone tell you that you can’t. But, never let someone sell you a job that isn’t right for you. Believe in YOU and your skills. And be honest with yourself. 

Immediate reaction to the follow (in one or two words preferably):

Twitter: Game changer
Facebook: Standard bearer
Google+: Misunderstood
Klout: Overrated
Corporate blogs: Stiff
LinkedIn: Severely underrated
Social media: No longer a “fad.”
Public relations: adapting

Still need more of Jason? Check out:
Twitter: @JasMollica 
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jasonmollica
Blog: http://oneguysjourney.wordpress.com/
Pinterest:  http://pinterest.com/jasmollica/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JRMComms

If you like this interview, please also check out recent interviews with Jeff Beauregard,  Jules ZunichFrank StrongKrista Giuffi, Jeff Domansky and Lisa Zone.

PR Interview with Jules Zunich

November 8, 2012 5 comments

One of the selfish reasons for launching this Q&A project was to use this site to better get to know some of the good folks that I’ve met via social media – especially those that live too far away to meet for coffee. One such example is today’s feature – episode 002 or Jules to her friends.

Jules Zunich, PR Consultant, President of Z Group PR, blogger, parent, and all around cool person.

Jules, you’ve been running your own PR / Comms consultancy for over a decade, could you talk about your normal day to day looks like?

Part of the reason I work for myself is because I have four children. I fully expected to work my way up the corporate ladder at some huge firm in Los Angeles or New York, but being a mom changed my priorities. I like being able to flex through my day between my corporate self and my mommy self. I miss agency life, but kids don’t stay little forever. So my typical day is totally spastic. I am cooking and checking email, writing and doing laundry, driving and having conference calls. Even with a dedicated office that is totally kid free, I feel comfortable stopping in the middle of the day to print cut-outs for the kindergarten class. I have worked in traditional 9 to 5 office roles, but with those, I had amazing flexibility and support. I have never been chained to a desk. My personality is more suited to corporate life, but my lifestyle is more suited for consulting. I would take a great job offer, because managing a business is hard and I miss my matching 401k, but I always come back to consulting because I get to pick awesome clients and projects and not miss my kids.

You have your own blog, which you know I’ve long been a big fan of, what have you learned about blogging over the last couple of years?

Yes, you have been my biggest fan and I thank you deeply for that. It really means so much to me. I was terrified when I started my blog, but I am over it now. What I have learned is that everything I tell my clients about blogging is true: It is a pain, a labor of love, and requires a commitment to writing that most non-marketing managers lack. It can be deeply rewarding, but rarely in financial terms. As a writer and communications professional, I find the burden of managing a blog to be almost too much for me. As you have noticed, I have taken long breaks.I often think of stopping and taking it down because I know that I am not doing it right. I am exceptionally critical and I knew it should and could be so much more. I am glad that I forced myself to manage a blog so that I can really be authentic when guiding clients. Right now the advice that I am sharing is this: If you do not have an hour a day to blog, then you will not get the results that you want. If an executive sniffs at that, then I know blogging is not for them. And I do not recommend hiring it out. Yes, have a great web person who can help you with the technical stuff (yes, I have stayed up all night trying to get a widget to work) but the blogs that are great are steeped in authenticity. And anyone who lets the interns run the blog should be tarred and feathered.

What tips do you have for individuals or companies starting a blog?

After blocking access to the interns, ask yourself and your team why you want to start one and have a really, really good reason. If you do not have people clamoring for your thoughts – emailing you, calling your or finding you via social media on a daily basis – then maybe you do not need a blog and your marketing efforts could be better applied in other areas. I think people over simplify their marketing these days and are completely lost in the noise and have no idea why. The splatter effect is good for art, not business. A blog that basically says, “Me Too,” is not really going to market your products and services very well. I have had a lot of success on my blog, but would not say that it has been successful at marketing my services. Readers and paying clients are two different things.

If you could do anything outside of PR / Communications, what would you choose and why?

I have always loved to dance and I taught fitness classes when I was younger. When I see anyone dancing or even hear music, my heart stirs and I long to be in a dance studio again. If I could do it all over again, I would have been less practical and danced my heart out before I looked for a real job. Also, I am really good at giving advice. I come from a family of therapists and medical professionals, plus I am a little bossy. I would be a great therapist or life coach.

How did you get into public relations?

I was in school in California and an instructor recommended me for a paid internship at Jane Ayer Public Relations. Until that point, I had wanted to work in advertising, but after about two seconds in Jane’s office, I knew that PR was for me. I am thankful for her every day. I was actually working at a small community newspaper at the time too, so I marched into the Publishers office and laid out a new position for myself. He supported me and I started working in community relations. I like to learn by watching others, but I can make things happen for myself when needed. I had really great work experience early on.

If you could change one thing about the PR industry, what would it be?

I would make it harder to enter the field. Truck drivers have to be licensed, why shouldn’t we? Of course, the old people like me would be grandfathered in – I hate taking tests. I think that PR people had it easy in the previous decade and now we have to prove ourselves again. Dot com PR was so easy. We need to be more focused on business outcomes. Trust is a huge issue and I have seen some craziness in the profession that makes me want to run screaming. I take all of that with a grain of salt though, because I know that the vast majority of practitioners are champions of the profession. The one thing I would campaign for is strict limitations in how interns are utilized and there is some political PR and campaigning stuff that is just wrong.

How has PR/Comms industry changed in the last 5 years?

The Wizard of Oz approach is gone. You can no longer do your magic behind the curtain and then voila! news coverage. The past 5 years has brought transparency at all levels, which is good. I think the past 5 years has changed professionals, creating a chasm between the tech savvy and the not tech savvy. And by tech savvy I mean digital and social media savvy. I am seeing very senior, experienced people flailing and rookies rockin’ it. It’s an uncomfortable shift in the force, but a necessary one.

What does PR/Comms industry look like in 5 years?

Less shiny. The days of huge agency contracts will be over. I see more in-house PR as companies realize that PR is still as much a science as an art. Companies will want to harness that power. I see the superstars shining a little less brightly and everyone just getting back to business.

Did you pay much attention to the recent attempt by PRSA to redefine public relations?

Yes and no. I like structure and I like the association in general. I followed the news, but kept my mouth shut. Which is not easy. But honestly, how bad is that our PR association had to redefine our role in business. If we can’t brand ourselves…

I agree with the definitions, but the whole process highlighted the profession in a less than flattering light, I feel. I am not big on airing dirty linens. I would have liked to have seen a little less of the process publicized.

What social media platform do you use (most) professionally? And is it different from what you use for personal?

Funny. I just told someone that following me on Twitter and Facebook is like following twins with distinct personalities. For me Twitter is 99% professional and Facebook is 99% personal. My Twitter feed is full of PR professionals and my Facebook friends are people I went to high school with. There is rarely overlap. I have a Facebook page, which lingers somewhere in the middle due to the people who Like it, but the content is professional. LinkedIn gets the least of my attention and is totally professional.

Do you make any attempt to differentiate you personal from your professional social media persona? If so, how?

Yes, but I rarely need to. I am always me and I tend to be rather formal so everything is professional to me. I never post about my relationship status or anything like that. I will do cute kid stuff on Facebook, but mostly I’m all work all the time. Or my style of work all the time, I should say.

The best PR / Communications people you’ve ever worked with share what quality?

Clarity.

What is the the last PR / Comms book you’ve read and would you recommend it?

I just read Dial M for Murdoch and yes, it seems like essential reading for communications professionals.

What are your top three industry related blogs / resources?

I am like an old dog…not interested in many new tricks. I pretty much read business news like NYT Media and Advertising and Forbes Media and Entertainment. My all-time favorite blog is PR Squared, although I tend to avoid gurus. I get all of the industry standards and just pick through them when I have time. And I read what my followers tweet.

What advice would you give young professionals just starting out in this industry?

Don’t be so creative.

What is the best professional advice you ever received?

Don’t take things so personally.

People that know you you would describe you as?  

Silly. Competitive. Kind. So many people confess later that they were initially intimidated by me, which I find shocking.

What is your Immediate reaction to the following?:

Twitter: Love
Facebook: Evil nuisance
Google+: Who cares
Klout: Napoleon Complexes
Corporate blogs: Paychecks
LinkedIn: Necessary
Social media: Life
Public relations: Everything

With, it depends or a combination of both not being allowed, the most effective PR program is driven by internal communications leaders or outside agency / consultant?

A strong internal team is the way to go, but it can be a negativity/doldrums graveyard if not tended properly.

In what ways do you think  social media has changed public relations?

Increased transparency is my favorite change, just ahead of increased pressure on professionals to bring it.

And is this good for PR agency /consultants?

Yep, great for both.

Need more of Jules? Check her out on Twitter: @JulesZunichPR, LinkedIn, the ZGroup site or read a guest post she contributed to this very site.

Stop Trying to Define Public Relations

March 31, 2011 14 comments

Fine, maybe I can’t define public relations. So what?

Why does everyone suddenly seem determined to find a clear definition? What is public relations is a question that inspires lots of opinions, yet we never seem to get a final answer. Most of us that have been in ‘the industry’ for a long time feel like we know what public relations is, so here is my answer…

Wait a second. Why, do we need to do this again? Okay, sure, it is strange that the profession has been around a long time and yet, we still don’t seem to agree on the definition, but, do we need one?

Do we have a universally agree upon definition of Love? Marriage? Do we agree on what Fun means? These things are (sorry to say) more important to me than public relations.

Okay, philosophical issues out of the way. An industry probably does require a definition. So let’s take a look at some of the recent work that has been done in this area. While there is no shortage of attempts to define public relations, there are a few recent ones that inspired this post, so let’s start there. Read more…

PR33 – Top PR / Communications Blogs 2011

January 2, 2011 32 comments

A list of top PR blogs – how original!? Yeah, I know this has been done before and other lists have been compiled much more scientifically, but this blog is about sharing opinions, so here (in my opinion with input from many of you) are the 2011 PR33 – the top PR / Communications bloggers.

Notes and disclaimers: These are not ‘just’ PR people on this list. public relations needs to continue to expand its reach to include social media and core marketing disciplines, so you’ll see that reflected in this list.

While I was willing to accept cash for placement on this list, no one was willing to ‘donate’ so; I can honestly say that I received no monetary gain from including anyone on this list. Truth be told, I know some of these people and have some level of professional / personal relationships with some of them. If you have any questions regarding my motivation feel free to ask, but I’ve made note where I thought is was necessary.

In no particular order here are the 2011 PR33. Read more…

PR33 – Nominations Wanted for Best PR Bloggers

December 5, 2010 3 comments

Because we (PR industry) don’t already have enough lists and because I’m arrogant enough to think my opinion matters – I’ve decided to create the first annual PR33 – list of the top 33 PR / Communications bloggers.

Please (come on, I’ve never asked you for anything before) take a moment and tell me who is your favorite PR / Communications blogger.

Nomination process:

  • Send me a link and briefly explain why you like it. That’s it. Nice and simple.
  • Nominations can be sent via Twitter (paulrobertspar), via comments section of this blog or directly via email (paulrobertspar@gmail.com)
  • Self-nomination is cool
  • Not just for PR – any blog about communications / marketing is eligible. I would have named it the Comms33, but my initial are not COMMS, so it wasn’t as cool. Read more…

This Blog = Epic fail

November 15, 2009 1 comment

It has been too long since my last blog. And that is my fault. What can I say; I’ve been busy, work has been nuts, I’ve had a few personal issues, I was sick for a few days, I had writer’s block, the locus…

The excuses are limitless and inaction is easy. Blogging is very similar to practicing public relations. There are three rules that you need to follow.
– Stay active. If you don’t have a continuous program you loose momentum and quickly loose your voice in the market.
– Stay active. Sometimes you need to issue news – even if you don’t really have anything new to say.
And finally, Stay active. When you don’t have news take the opportunity to share your ‘industry leading’ thoughts regarding the news of others.
Starting today I’m going to treat this blog like a job – a job that I love, but a job none the less. Starting immediately I’m going to make my opinions known. Mostly I want to set the record straight regarding the hype around social media and the prematurely reported death of PR.
For those that have enjoyed this blog – sorry for the inactivity, I’ll try not to let it happen again. For those that think I’m a blow hard – sorry, but deal with it or ignore me if you must, but I’m not going away again. I’ve even redesigned the blog to make it look new. I know, that is just one step short of rebranding myself of relaunching my blog, but it made me feel better.