It's About the Work



Talent 3.0


It’s about the talent.  I always say the success of an agency is dependent upon the talent that walks in the door every morning.  As much as things have changed in our industry, that one has not.  When I started in this business agencies looked for great writers with a keen understanding of media relations.  Many former journalists thrived in the industry because their backgrounds matched up so well with agency needs.

However, the integrated future is here and clients want partners who can deliver channel agnostic solutions. While employees with a traditional PR background are still the backbone of our industry, agencies must evolve business models and engage a new type of talent to keep pace with today’s demands. This is truly an exciting time as agencies are racing to innovate toward what’s next.

In this year’s Holmes World PR Report, talent is cited as the biggest issue in our industry today. Executives flag the need to hire more people who excel with creativity, insight and planning, multi-media content creation and social media community management, naming these as the most relevant skills for the next decade. Inextricably linked, they form the crucible from which the next generation of groundbreaking work will emerge.

I can attest that this is true. We’ve seen a significant shift in the type of work we are being asked to do, and have recently aligned our talent and resources into a unified center of excellence to provide integrated communications for our clients. Last week, we launched All Told, a division that combines the agency’s research, content, creative, digital and measurement expertise into one centralized offering. All Told is a holistic approach to storytelling that leverages both core PR and new expertise talent to help brands encourage audiences to share their experiences, achieve trust through transparency and embrace multi-channel communications.

With content strategists, designers, digital marketing experts, researchers and measurement professionals on staff and working seamlessly across our practices, we are quickly seeing the benefit of taking a broader view of PR talent. Everyone gets an invitation to this party, as the integration of new and existing talent is essential to client success and employee professional growth. It’s also a given that traditional account roles are going to morph in response to this blending of skills.

Our core strategy is to hire smart, creative people who possess solid writing and media skills in addition to social and/or marcom prowess. Savvy with influencers of every stripe, they understand content, where it comes from and how to use it in a storytelling capacity. We also look for strategic marketing professionals who understand how all the pieces fit together.

It’s true that the PR professional of the future is likely to come from outside the industry as it was originally designed. In fact, I bet what that person looks like just changed a little since I started writing this post. While the impact of this evolution is difficult to foresee, en masse it will no doubt cause a seismic shift in the work we do for our clients and will continue to transform agency structure and culture to reflect the innovations to come.

Each month, Sports Sesh examines the association of sports and PR in current events, while highlighting the good, the bad and the ugly. This month: the trials and tribulations of May.

The Good: Humanizing the Hero

Shooting fire from his fingertips, the NBA’s 2015 MVP Stephen Curry fueled his superhuman persona by leading the Golden State Warriors to this year’s NBA finals. During the playoffs, eyes were fixed on his remarkable performance on the court. However, it was his adorable daughter Riley who stole the spotlight at a recent press conference.

Plopped on Curry’s lap, Riley transformed the typically dry interview routine into a spectacle of giggles and entertainment. Her liveliness exposed a relatable side to Curry, humanizing him from basketball super hero to doting father. Some journalists argued the scene was distracting and prevented them from being able to do their job. However, good reporters used the opportunity to dive deeper into Curry’s personal life and tell the story about what motivates him off the court.


The Bad: It’s a Hard Knock Life

As the 2015 NFL season looms, the future of Johnny Manziel’s career in the NFL and with the Cleveland Browns is still uncertain. Manziel seems to be on a better path since returning to camp after a stint in a rehabilitation facility during the offseason, but it’s safe to say that all eyes will be on him as he competes for the starting job this year.

Meanwhile, it’s clear that the Browns are trying to keep Manziel’s personal issues under wraps. The team was a front runner to be featured in the next season of HBO’s Hard Knocks, a reality series that follows one NFL team on and off the field each year through training camp and season preparation. However, they recently pulled out due to concerns that Manziel’s struggle would become the main story line.

This could have been an opportunity for the team to reconstruct Manziel’s public image in a positive light. The former Heisman Trophy winner has been a constant focal point of negative press, not only for his stagnant rookie year with the Browns, but for his wild, alcohol-induced antics off the field. By showcasing the college standout’s journey to sobriety and rise to NFL stardom, the series could have given Manziel the opportunity to talk openly about his struggles and, perhaps, made him more relatable to viewers.

The Ugly: Mayweather vs. Pacquiao

Amid all of the promotions, interviews and press surrounding the “fight of the century” between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, there was one thing missing: discussion about Mayweather’s documented history of domestic violence. Perhaps it was because Mayweather’s camp had two female reporters, Rachel Nicols and Michelle Beadle, blocked from covering the fight, purportedly because of their history of questioning Mayweather about it directly in public interviews.

This is not the first time Mayweather’s history has been swept under the rug. According to CNN, Mayweather is responsible for seven incidents of assault against five different women that have all resulted in either an arrest or police citations, and in many cases, jail time. The lack of accountability by fans and media alike is astonishing, considering public outcry over other incidents of domestic violence by professional athletes. More journalists and reporters need to follow the lead of Nicols and Beadle and speak out against athletes who are involved in domestic violence cases. Mayweather needs to be held accountable by the public, rather than celebrated for being the highest-paid athlete in the world.



Get Ready For PR Budgets to Soar

I was recently speaking with a colleague who pointed out that the business of PR is a lot more complex than it used to be. He’s right. The business is indeed more complicated, and it’s about to get more expensive as well.

We live in an age where technology continually changes the nature and pace of business. In some instances, jobs have become obsolete or reduced in scope or scale. However, in PR, new capabilities such as data analytics, research, content development, production and design work have driven increased investment in new technology and skilled talent to leverage it.

There’s no greater evidence of this shift than when Ad Age recently put Weber Shandwick at no. 4 on its 2015 “Agency A-List.” Just five years ago, this accolade would have been inconceivable. However, mainstay PR elements are now incorporated into more complex and responsive marcom initiatives with PR agencies driving multiple components.

As a result, internal costs for developing integrated campaigns are skyrocketing. In our experience salaries and overhead costs, particularly in major urban markets, have steadily increased since 2012. However, what has not kept pace are client PR budgets, which have been relatively flat since 2009.

This scenario of increasing client needs working against flat budgets is not sustainable. Today’s great agencies will hire engineers, data and research analysts, web coders and designers, in addition to skilled marketing and communications people, to deliver the top-flight campaigns clients demand. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that the increased cost of accessing this talent and technology will necessarily be passed along to clients.

With performance metrics and measurement at the forefront of campaign strategy, both the expected return and the investment needed to ensure success require equal consideration during the initial development stage. The fact that a PR agency may now be driving some of the more expensive elements of a campaign must become part of the client budgeting equation. Talented people with smart strategies using advanced technologies that drive sales and brand exposure cost money and are worth the investment for the majority of clients.

Scott Allison, CEO

Each month, our Nuestra Voz column aims to shine the light on Hispanic marketing and covers topics relevant to the Hispanic community.

In the Latino social media and entertainment space, no other conference is quite like Hispanicize.

This is a one of a kind “irreverent, creative and high-octane gathering” of the nation’s leading Latino bloggers, journalists, musicians, marketers, filmmakers, and more often is described as the Hispanic edition of South by Southwest.

Since its humble beginnings in 2010, Hispanicize  has propelled its notoriety, credibility and attendance, from 264 to nearly 2,000 attendees this year. From top brands such as Procter & Gamble, Toyota and Best Western, to Hispanic bloggers, innovators and trendsetters, each vied for coveted space to learn, listen or be heard during the week-long Miami event packed with workshops, red carpet functions, parties and entertainment.

“What people love most about Hispanicize is that it’s the one event that is truly laser-focused on the aspirations, challenges and opportunities of the U.S. Hispanic,” notes Manny Ruiz, founder and CEO of Hispanicize and Best Western’s Latino family travel expert.

Many talented Latina bloggers present at Hispanicize, from Carolyn Scott-Hamilton of Healthy Voyager, to Cristy Clavijo-Kish of Los Tweens & Teens, to Andrea of Las Travel Blogueras and Jeannette Kaplun of Hispana Global. Each of these well-known bloggers has earned a rightful place among her peers and followers for creating engaging content and commentary.

Without question, Hispanicize 2015 was all about empowering Latinas, which Ruiz said was unintentional. “It’s simply a fact that Latinas are increasingly taking the lead in traditional and social media,” said Ruiz. He added that since the first conference in 2010, Latinas have led the charge at Hispanicize.

This was most apparent in workshops centered on the Hispanic female and hosted by major brands such as Coca-Cola, who recognizes the influence of this demographic.  Coca-Cola’s session included a lively discussion on Latinas who are “changing the fabric of this country” and considered “pillars of our community.”

Hispanicize also drew other major corporations, such as Toyota and 3M, interested in tapping the growing pool of Latino influencers who represent the country’s largest minority population at 17 percent.

Joining those brands at Hispanicize, Best Western demonstrated its commitment to the market and recognized the important role of Latino digital influencers, especially in the tourism and hospitality industry. Throughout the event, Best Western hosted select bloggers for a meet & greet reception and served as a moderator for the conference’s digital travel influencer panel, sharing trends in the travel industry.

Best Western also selected and presented two established Latino bloggers as its newest Latino summer travel bloggers, offering them the opportunity to document their summer travels on In July, husband and wife blogger duo Paula and Cesar of Growing up Bilingual will share their vacation and Best Western experiences with friends and followers via their social channels.

While the digital landscape continues to shift, traditional media have also turned to Hispanicize to explore new and innovative opportunities to refresh the industry. With newsrooms downsizing and digital platforms on the rise, media professionals are rethinking their focus and capabilities. Take for example, former newspaper editor Claudia Solis. After 12 years as a reporter, Solis resigned in order to launch her own Spanish-language blog, Mami en Transición (Mommy in Transition) and content development platform, Mind Twin Media. Solis is no stranger to Hispanicize, which offers endless networking and business opportunities for entrepreneurial journalists like her.

Over the years, it is individuals similar to Solis who have used Hispanicize as a launching pad for creative projects, marketing campaigns and even films, hoping to reach the U.S. Latino market. ”People have made their careers through Hispanicize,” added Ruiz.

As Hispanics continue to strive to break free of confining stereotypes about who they are and what they can be, organizations and events such as Hispanicize serve not to place them on a pedestal, but instead establish equal footing for the Latino community.

This post originally appeared on Best Western International’s blog,

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