The PR Spotlight: Martin Waxman (Thornley Fallis Communications)
Are you connected with other professionals online? And if so, don't you agree that this adds a tremendous value? At Coopr we love to connect with other PR professionals, both nationally and internationally. Why? Because we love to share and learn from others. With ‘The PR Spotlight’ we hope to make a contribution to the active, international PR community. Our goal is to connect you as a reader with some of the best in PR for you. And we believe that we struck gold today! Our special guest is Martin Waxman, principal of Martin Waxman Communications, Senior Counselor at Thornley Fallis Communications, host of the Inside PR podcast and co-founder of three PR agencies. Hope you enjoy!
1. Martin, could you describe your career shortly?
I had a pretty circuitous career path. Believe it or not, I started out as a standup comedy emcee, wrote and produced films, was a TV variety writer, journalist and published novelist. And oh yes, also found some time to do PR and social media. I found my home in this industry. I think the constant in all those endeavors is storytelling (and hopefully having a sense of humor and being able to laugh too).
2. How do you explain what PR is to someone outside of the industry?
That's a great question. I used to say it's not advertising, but I never liked negatives. Now I say it's about telling stories and building relationships with influencers who will help spread the stories to the people you want to reach. Social media, of course, plays a big part in that.
3. What challenges do you see for the PR industry?
I think the biggest challenge the industry faces is being left behind and relegated to becoming the publicists of the online world. Not that there's anything wrong with being a publicist. That's how I started my career in PR. That said, too many people in traditional PR are complacent and scared of change. And because of that they focus on what they know and not what they need to learn and we're losing out to ad agencies on integrated social media programs that combine earned, owned and paid. Advertising seems better at adapting.
4. How important is measurement nowadays?
Measurement is very important. As long as we know what we're measuring and why. But we can't let measurement supplant strategy and creativity. That's where the magic happens.
5. What is the role of a PR professional in this ‘social age’?
Social media comes naturally to PR people (or should) because it's really what we know how to do and are good at. And I think we need to embrace it fully and take back the leadership role.
6. What book do you advise a PR professional to read?
There are so many great books, it's hard to list just three. So here goes: The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell because it explains how stories spread; Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky, the best book I've read to give a cultural and historic context to all the communications changes we're living through; and Content Rules by C.C. Chapman and Ann Handly, to learn about content marketing. I'll stop now, but I want to list so many more.
7. You founded 3 PR agencies. Can you share your top 3 lessons learned?
Yes. When you start a business, you need to know what you can do better than anyone else, you need to be passionate about your work and clients and you should continue learning and adapting to change.
8. Who, in your opinion, is THE thought leader in the PR industry?
That's tough. I don't think there is just one. There are so many smart thinkers out there, some of whom are the so-called A-listers and others who aren't as well known but who are trying new things, looking at how we communicate from a fresh perspective. I wish I could list all of them. But that's not what you asked.
9. What’s hot on your radar right now?
Visual storytelling. Communicators are good at telling stories with words. Now we have to get as comfortable and proficient with images, video and audio.
10. Some last words?
We're fortunate to be living in a very exciting time, a time where we're experiencing incredible change. As communicators, we're right in the center of that and, if we keep our minds open, listen, learn, participate, adapt and keep our minds thinking, I believe the are big opportunities ahead.
Like to stay in touch with Martin? Follow him on Twitter at @MartinWaxman, connect with him on LinkedIn or check out his blog myPALETTE.
Thanks again Martin!
More about 'The PR Spotlight'? Check out our other interviews with Mark Ragan (PR Daily) and Gini Dietrich (Arment Dietrich).