PR Execs Are the New Stewards of Strategy

Take it from Andy Polansky


Who Andy Polansky

Age 51

New gig CEO, Weber Shandwick

Old gig President, Weber Shandwick (since 2004)

How has your agency seating at the media and marketing table changed in the last year?

Clearly, public relations practitioners are held in high regard these days. We’re in the consideration set along with our marketing services colleagues to come forward with big ideas, and certainly digital and social media has fueled that as we’ve scaled those capabilities dramatically over the past three years. That’s the biggest growth engine for our business.

How has the profile of your client assignments changed?

We are increasingly taking on assignments where we are the steward of the strategy. Companies are focused on reputation and issues that affect their marketing, and we’re often in a place where we can provide strategic counsel from a holistic view.

If you were on the client side and you were looking for a new PR agency, what would you look for?

I would look for an agency that was savvy in terms of multiplatform campaigns and has the digital and social mind-set, but at the same time thinks about all the challenges, constituencies, channels and all the ways to engage across multiple media and marketing platforms.

There has been a lot made of PR execs being the true social media experts. Agree?

Social media is at the core of everything we’re doing and the [client] campaigns we’re driving, and I think that through our ability to engage and create compelling content, public relations people are making a big impact in the face of how quickly the world is now shifting toward a social and connected life.

Do you personally use social media?

I’m a big Facebook, Twitter guy, both to keep up with friends and family and colleagues around the world, but also news. And I always enjoy following different points of view expressed on Twitter.

What does your agency have to do in the next six months to stay competitive for the next three years?

We’re seeing a lot of our business becoming more global as multinationals realign their budgets relative to where they see growth opportunities. So we’re going to continue to deepen our expertise around the world. And from a digital and social perspective, continue to create a dynamic team with different types of experiences. Whoever retains the most creative thinkers will win market share.

You got your start as a reporter and sportswriter. How does that experience inform what you do now?

As a reporter you are trained to think fast, write fast, act fast, and in the world of public relations and communications, there couldn’t be a better skill set to draw from, particularly in today’s world where everything moves so fast.

If you could represent a professional sports franchise, which would it be and why?

I’d love to represent the Yankees because of their rich tradition and the representational challenges you’ll always have in dealing with a sports team in New York.

What’s the most misunderstood part of your profession?

The focus on spin. The best in our business always focus on authenticity and how to communicate stories in compelling but also honest and straightforward ways.

How many cities have you been in the last two weeks?

Five in 12 days: Delhi; Bangkok; Beijing; Austin, Texas; and Bromley, Vt.