Laura Kane has a diverse background that has led her to the most influential group of PR - the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). After starting her career at ABC as production secretary for One Life to Live, she’s worked in executive roles with Marsh and Aflac before heading up the PRSA team. We sat down with Kane to get her thoughts on the industry, departmental workflows and her best advice for new PR pros.
On how she got her start in the industry after thirteen years at ABC and three years in advertising...
Laura Kane: I looked for a career that would utilize my storytelling skills. In television, I saw the ratings every day - I knew how a story was engaging my audience and when it needed to be adjusted.
One of the frustrations I had in my early years in communications was not knowing how [my content] was doing. I would earn media, but I never really knew its impact. If you don’t determine the ROI of placements, then your value as a comms person tends to be very subjective and can be based on how quickly you respond to things, whether people like what they read, and that's not a fun place to be. I'm hugely committed to having the ability to track stuff because then I know how to fix it and I am judged for my performance and not by gut feelings.
How do you see the interdepartmental relationships evolving between PR and the rest of an organization?
LK: There needs to be a close relationship between executive management, IT, Marketing, Sales and Communications, because it's that combination that delivers. My greatest successes came from collaborating across divisions and having executive management that was willing to try new things.
At PRSA, we analyze what stories are most read by our members which gives an idea of what they want and we work closely with professional development and membership to get feedback on events and webinars. Our marketing and IT teams have helped us track the impact of our owned and shared content.
TrendKite helped us by putting together a dashboard of all the PR stories that are trending. This dashboard helps us to come up with new angles for content we create, identify topics for professional development and member webinars. As the lines continue to blur between IT, Marketing, Communications and sales, the dashboard has provide information for the various areas, to help us innovate educational offerings and deliver better content to the PRSA community.
What advice do you have for new PR professionals?
LK: It is all about storytelling. You trust the story, sometimes it resonates and when it doesn't...you need to find a new angle. If it’s not resonating, how can you make it more interesting?
How do you make your story stand out from your competitors? In order to figure that out, you have to see what people are saying about you, your products and your competition.
How do you gauge the success of a campaign?
LK: PR pros wear many hats - big picture I look at reputation and revenue. But, to improve those numbers, I need to understand social sharing, click through and open rates, SEO scores and Share of Voice. I love Share of Voice [in TrendKite] because it tells you how well your story is doing. I think we have all worked for executives who were convinced that competing organizations were getting much more coverage, and sometimes it is just a perception. But, when it is true, having the information you need in one place makes it easier to see how to tweak your narrative.
What trends do you see emerging?
LK: Creating and optimizing content offers communications professionals the best path forward. I believe that we’re on the verge of another industrial revolution - which will make researching things easier, but figuring out what is true will become harder. Cyber criminals continue to become smarter and there are new risks on the horizon daily. As communicators we need to constantly scan our environment to see shifts. It’s all about being engaged in a larger world and learning new skills, because good judgment’s never going out of style.
Stay tuned for our next featured communications professional in this series!