Based in Indianapolis, Kelsey Sowder of BLASTmedia works in a unique niche in the PR world: business-to-business software as a service, also known by the way-cool acronym B2B SaaS. BLASTmedia “lives and breathes” this area, and Sowder definitely speaks the language fluently. She’s been with the firm for more than seven years, rising up the ranks from account executive to her current vice president post.
As this weeks Qwoted PR rock star, Sowder talks about how she puts the humanity in a decidedly digital beat and how she sees daring to different — sometimes very different — as an asset in getting the message out.
Qwoted: What do you see as the future of PR—technologically, strategically, or in any category you’re passionate about?
Kelsey Sowder: My idea here merges two SaaS PR predictions — one from me and one from my SVP of PR, Grace Williams. The past couple of years have been full of good and rough times for all organizations, requiring more communication from company leadership than ever before. We’ve seen internal company memos get leaked. We’ve heard horror stories about layoffs not being communicated properly. People not only want more transparency: They also want to be treated as individuals. The future of PR merges internal and external communications and elevates communication outside of the marketing discipline, to a cross-functional role that sits near the top of an organization.
Qwoted: What do you do that other PRs could learn from?
Kelsey Sowder: BE A HUMAN! So frequently I think PR people are afraid to send a pitch that doesn’t fit a certain mold. While yes, there are best practices in pitching, variety is the spice of life. I encourage all my team members to try new things. Add a GIF, add a cultural reference, send a one-line pitch, say something self-deprecating. You never know what’s going to work unless you try.
Qwoted: What’s your toughest challenge with reporters?
Kelsey Sowder: It’s absolutely cutting through the noise. I know they’re absolutely flooded with pitches at all times. Breaking through takes personalization and understanding how your story fits into the broader context of the news cycle.
Qwoted: How does PR in 2023 square with the future of journalism?
Kelsey Sowder: First of all, I hate seeing newsrooms get smaller and smaller. That said, it’s interesting because today we’re not only seeing more influencers, but we’re also seeing people create their own personal brands. (Ahem, Dave Gerhardt.) These influencers disseminate their own thought leadership and share news they care about. I think we’ll start seeing these influencers achieve journalist-like stature.
Qwoted: What advice would you give to those seeking to find an effective PR person?
Kelsey Sowder: PR isn’t all about relationships anymore. The ratio of PR people to journalists is just too high. What you should lean into, rather, is a PR person who will understand the landscape of not only journalism, but also how to create a compelling story of how your organization fits into the broader market landscape.
Qwoted: What is your golden rule of PR?
Kelsey Sowder: Under promise and over deliver.
February 14, 2023