Who or what influenced you to start in public relations?
“I’ve always wanted to find a job where I could dress up in a suit and get paid to talk to people. My first foray into public relations was in college. We put together a concert with the band Train and got the local radio station to cover it. That was my first taste into the media and public relations and how getting a message out can bring people together. I was a political science major so Washington, D.C. felt like a natural place for me. I had my first internship around here and I loved it. I wanted to work on Capitol Hill, so I spent five years working there in different communications roles. Then, I wanted to work in the private sector but still stay involved with politics and the government, so this has been a good fit.”
Can you share your favorite success story?
“My favorite success story was when I worked on Capitol Hill in the House of Republican Leadership. The office I was in started one of the first blogger outreach programs and I spearheaded it in 2006-2007. We even started a YouTube page for my boss and his floor speeches. We had a reporter write a story saying, ‘Why would anyone want to watch a member of Congress on YouTube?’ So the office was sort of like, ‘What are we doing?’ and ‘Why are we doing this?’ We kind of had a vision. We said, ‘This is a new way for us to get our message out.’ And it worked. One time my boss gave a speech on the floor and we captured it, we put it on YouTube and tweeted it out. A reporter called us and asked what Twitter was. That led to a media outlet picking it up and then it took off. It was a successful event because we used new, cutting edge communication tools to get our message out. That was when I said I want to do this the rest of my life.”
What personality characteristics are most important to be successful in PR?
“I would say it really helps to be a people person. It plays very well to be Type A personality, to like talking to people and be outgoing. These characteristics really help in Washington, too. So much of this city and this industry run on relationships and information. If you’ve got really good relationships and you work hard and you’re really outgoing, you can be successful here. I also think you have to be a strong writer. The tactics are adapting with new technologies, but the strategies are the same. You want to have uniformity in your message across all platforms.”
Who’s a person you admire the most in the industry?
“There are a lot of people I admire in the industry, but one to take note would be Gary Sheffer over at General Electric. I heard him speak in a conference once and the way he talks he just gets it. I think they launched the ‘ideas lab’. GE was sort of the first ones to capture the strategy of storytelling. They knew that every company, every person, every association and coalition has the ability to be their own media outlet to create content and share. I think they nailed and they were brave enough to be one of the first ones for such a huge company. I really admire him because it’s one thing to have the idea, but to be able to sell it and strategically implement it is something all of us could learn from. I think the ‘ideas lab’ is still cutting edge in our industry.”
Where do you think the industry is headed?
“You’ll always have to have your traditional media relations. But, I think every organization, cause and issue can be its own media company. You used to have earned and paid media. Now you have earned, paid and owned media. Each organization is messaging and communicating with the public on a consistent basis. You have your own platform and your own story to tell. How do you use that and who are you communicating with? The industry is always going to need the earned and paid media. The owned media that each organization has is where we’re headed.”
Note: Amos Snead is the Founding Partner of Bryant Row, LLC, a Washington, D.C. based public affairs firm and is the co-founder of FamousDC.com, a media company that convenes disruptive networking events throughout D.C.