From her home base in St Petersburg, Fla., Cassaundra Kalba of Society 22 PR focuses on workplace issues that include the next generation of work, the labor force, integration of technology and human relations.
With that kind of working-world scope, you might think Kalba has the wisdom of a former bartender, in which case you’d be right: She spent close to two years pouring drinks before taking on her current post. [Note: TBN’s editor and publisher proudly cites his own bartending experience.]
A Qwoted 100 superstar in PR, Kalba here discusses how she deals with shorter attention spans and the ways PRs and clients can connect to form an especially strong bond.
Qwoted: What do you see as the future of PR?
Cassaundra Kalba: PR is becoming more current and up to speed everyday. The general listicles, or topics that have already been discussed 100 times this month aren’t cutting it anymore. I truly believe the future of PR will be geared more and more towards the daily news cycle, social media trends, and even trend starting rather than trend jacking.
Qwoted: What do you do that other PRs could learn from?
Kalba: It may be a bit much for some, but I really really emphasize staying on top of the news cycle even outside of your “work hours.” One of the last things I do before bed is check for any last-minute queries I may have missed in the afternoon, and I always have my watch notify me of any huge news stories. It’s your job to know what is going on in the world, so it’s always good to at least know what’s happening, even if you aren’t responding until you’re “working” the next day. Another quick essential for me is to establish a texting relationship with my clients when possible — it truly makes things happen much quicker.
Qwoted: What’s your toughest challenge with reporters?
Kalba: My toughest challenge with reporters is, honestly, getting them to take a quick phone call with clients. The people I represent have such amazing stories, personalities and missions that really shine through when you speak to them and physically hear what they have to say. I totally understand from a writer’s perspective how much easier it can be to have a comment written and ready to go. But I really do stand behind that if they found ten minutes for a quick phone call, there would be a much more interesting answer!
Qwoted: How do you approach breaking through the noise floor to get effective coverage?
Kalba: Plain and simple: Tailor the pitch or response to exactly what the reporter is looking for. Answer the specific questions they have, don’t try too hard to modify one of your clients responses to “fit” … just be clear and concise. If you can successfully do this without being promotional, you’ll see awesome results.
Qwoted: How does PR in 2023 square with the future of journalism?
Kalba: I am very convinced our attention spans are getting shorter. Really, who reads a newspaper or magazine front to back anymore? It’s certainly fewer people than 20 years ago. I think this is going to have a huge effect on both PR and journalism. Articles may get shorter, or have more visuals or assets within them, which is going to change PR for sure. If your clients have a social media team, a media team, whatever it may be, connect with them. Gather all the visuals, graphics, team photos, any surveys or studies they have conducted, and make sure you have them organized and saved somewhere. Having these assets ready for journalists can really put you one step ahead of other leads they may have.
Qwoted: What advice would you give to those seeking to find an effective PR person?
Kalba: Find someone you really connect with and enjoy working with. It really makes a world of difference. Look for a publicist who’s as excited about sharing your story as you are, and someone whom you want to [talk to] when you see their name on the phone. As a client, the more contact and commentary we have from you, the more successful we can be. So just make sure you’re excited about the partnership and that you’re ready to provide everything your PR team will need from you as well.
Qwoted: What is your golden rule of PR?
Kalba: I touched on this a bit, but PR is a partnership, wether between client and publicist, publicist and the media, etc. It takes work from everyone involved. In order to have a successful campaign, everyone needs to do their work in the partnership — and of course be timely. Hopefully that one’s a no brainer, but never hurts to give an extra reminder (insert my laughing emoji here).
February 14, 2023