PR & Influence Lunch and Learn 2018

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By Delaney Wehn 


PR has a PR problem.

When most people think about public relations, their minds conjure images of shady backroom dealings, fast talkers and spinners. Thanks to dramatized shows like Scandaland Sex and the City, the PR professional is perceived as an obscurer of the truth.

Michael DiSalvo, a Senior Vice President in Ogilvy’s Health & Wellness discipline, and Gabrielle Califre, a Vice President in Ogilvy’s Health & Wellness discipline, took the time to explain to the 2018 intern class that this stereotype is a pure misconception. 

In fact, PR is usually a vehicle for positive societal change. 

Most classic PR crises are sparked by a client’s bad behavior. Cooking the books. Mistreating employees. Cutting corners on safety protocols. When this bad behavior goes public, a company’s underlying morality issues are revealed. And it is then up to the PR professional to guide the company to own up to their mistake and champion positive change. In other words, PR professionals can use crises to expose the truth—not hide it. 

Traditional PR should not be confused with crisis PR. While crises do arise, day-to-day PR is about telling stories about a brand over time. DiSalvo said that with any PR campaign “We are just trying to engineer emotions.” The best PR is when you don’t realize it is PR—it just makes your audience feel something. 

With both of the speakers being a part of the Health & Wellness discipline, Califre and DiSalvo then mentioned that many young people in communications tend to gravitate toward consumer product accounts. This happens when young people think that these more recognized brands will allow them to carry out more innovative campaigns. 

As a counterexample, the famous Fearless Girl statue was discussed. This exciting, culturally relevant project was done by a financial services client that wanted to make a statement and encourage people to invest in a bank that promoted female entrepreneurship. The team that worked on this project simply paid attention to what is going on in the world and inserted its brand into the conversation.

Clearly with this mindset, any brand can execute exciting, cutting-edge work. We are just starting out our careers, and the key takeaway from this Lunch & Learn was that it is far too early to pigeonhole our dreams by only wanting to work in just one industry. With an open outlook, any brand can execute exciting, cutting-edge work.

And by working here at Ogilvy, you can be a part of that cutting-edge work.