Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ketchum Public Relations: John Paluszek and Sarah Yeaney

For public relations firms like Ketchum Public Relations, the digital revolution presents many challenges.

Students met with senior counsel John Paluszek and senior account executive Sarah Yeaney to discuss the way the Internet has changed their business.

Public relations today has a variety of audiences and techniques and is now a global profession, Paluszek said. Digital communications, particularly through the internet, are influencing all business. Twenty-five percent of Ketchum’s services are now in digital, he said.

Public relations work has become more integrated in strategies across communications platforms and in interactions with other communications services like advertising agencies and media consultants, Yeaney said.

The challenge in interactions with other communications services is who will claim the biggest piece of the “digital space,” as companies compete over whether features like Twitter should come from the public relations or the advertising side, Paluszek said.

With the immediacy of the Web, Yeaney feels it necessary to read constantly – before work, during work and after work. That way when a story emerges, she can work with her clients to “tag” it and become associated with the story as it develops.

Immediacy also poses a challenge as public relations firms must work with clients to determine what can be maintained and where they can best focus their energy, Paluszek said.

Ketchum has found the digital revolution has aided in their interactions with clients. While most still value weekly check-ins over the phone, features like e-mail and IM have allowed Ketchum to interact with its clients more often, Yeaney said.

For those interested in going into the field of public relations, Yeaney advocates practice more than anything else. Employers want to see students apply their interest and have experience outside the classroom, she said.

-Derek Casanovas and Jasmine Linabary

Check out the video below to hear more from Yeaney.

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