Pushkin PR is coming up on a big anniversary–20 years. Looking back, what would you say is your proudest accomplishment?
JP: The thing I am most proud of is the long-term relationships we’ve been able to sustain with many of our clients. Many of our clients have been with us for five years or more, and Kilpatrick Townsend has been a client for 17 of our 20 years. I’m not sure how many other Denver PR firms can say the same, but those long-term relationships say a lot about the quality of work that we do and the integrity of the clients we’ve been luck enough to work with.
There are a lot of great Denver public relations firms, but I think that Pushkin PR’s handshake attitude and straightforward approach to communication makes us a little different. We’ve never been an agency that relies on a lot of bells and whistles. We don’t sell the sizzle. We just deliver the steak.
How is the PR industry different than it was when you started?
JP: Well, when I started we still had fax machines, and we didn’t have cell phones. Some of the Colorado public relations firms that were most successful then are not around anymore. And most of us spent most of our time pitching stories for our clients to traditional news media. So in many ways the PR industry looks entirely different now than when I started.
Another big change has been to trend toward virtual agencies like ours. When I started most Colorado PR firms were traditional agencies with a brick and mortar office filled with cubicles. Now many of the best Denver PR pros are independent practitioners or use the virtual model.
What do you think has changed the PR industry the most and how?
JP: There is no question that technology and the rise of social media as a communications channel has had a dramatic impact on the public relations profession. It’s not only changed how we do our jobs but also how we think of ourselves. Are we PR pros, content managers, digital marketers or communicators? But I think the biggest impact has been the shrinking of traditional media. There are fewer media outlets and experienced journalists, which means we have a lot fewer places to tell our clients’ stories.
What do you think will be the next big change to the PR industry?
JP: PR is evolving at a fast pace. We’ve already seen the trend toward brand journalism and content management. Will we all be creating our own stories and sharing them online rather than building relationships with journalists? Will we be doing more PR workshops and training for clients?
I’m not sure exactly how PR will look in 10 years, but I am certain that at heart we will still be storytellers. How and where we tell those stories may change, but the essence of what we do will still be about building relationships between our clients and their stakeholders.
Do you have a favorite project or campaign that you could tell us about?
JP: A few years ago we got to help the Colorado Community Health Network create a new campaign to recruit primary care professions to work in Colorado’s Community Health Centers, which provide primary, dental and behavioral care to Colorado’s underserved populations. All of our research told us that the main motivating factor that led people to work in a CHC was the mission. So we created the Mission Driven Healthcare campaign including a new brand, key messaging, a website, video, earned media and social media. It’s really fun to be able to create an integrated campaign like that from scratch, then see it launched with a lot of great results. And the best part was that is was important effort for a great client serving a critical need in our community.
How will Pushkin PR celebrate 20 years?
JP: We’re going to Disneyland, naturally! Actually, I’m looking forward to discussing that with my team and seeing if we can find the perfect way to honor this important milestone.