Exclusive: Another journalist jumped to a PR agency today as Keith O’Brien leaves his editor-in-chief post at PRWeek to join Attention!PR. O’Brien will focus on the tech and media practices at the roughly 25-person firm when he starts the job on April 29th. The firm handles work for The Daily Beast, Consumer Reports, Bluefly.com, SocialMedia.com, and Mashable among other brands.
I took the opportunity to interview O’Brien to find out what prompted the move, and what he hopes to do and learn in his new life as a consultant. Incidentally, my co-editor Joe Ciarallo interviewed both O’Brien and Attention!’s founder Curtis Hougland in recent months. You can find those here and here.
PRNewser: How do you know Curtis and Attention? What attracted you to them?
O’Brien: I know Curtis through PRWeek. I have high respect for him, think the firm does great work, and has an impressive client list for a relatively new agency. I decided that I wanted to put into practice the things I learned while covering the industry. Attention was the perfect fit.
More after the jump:
PRNewser: Attention offers media relations, social media, measurement, and strategy. What toys in the store are you looking forward to playing with, so to speak?
O’Brien: Oh, just about everything. But, considering the appeals we at PRWeek have made to the industry for smarter measurement, I am excited to get deep into measurement tools and to crunch data to help inform strategy and approach.
PRNewser: What will be the biggest challenge for you switching to a consultant role?
O’Brien: I’m sure there will be many challenges, but nothing seems overly daunting. I look forward to helping create memorable campaigns, getting into some client work, and pitching for new business.
PRNewser: Curtis told PRNewser he likes people who “live out loud”. You have alot of cred among PR firms, and music cred as a Merry Swankster (blogger). Nary the two shall and can meet in some fashion now that you’re not a journalist?
O’Brien: I will try to answer this (and thanks for the MerrySwankster.com shout-out!). Obviously my role and visibility within the industry shifts with this new position, but, as much as Curtis and others like Steve Rubel and John Bell etc. are considered thought-leaders to peers, I hope to continue promoting thought leadership while at Attention. I hope my “cred” holds steady. I expect that the creativity I demonstrate in my other endeavors will be an asset to the firm and its clients.
PRNewser: Twitter has clearly gone from Social Media novelty to a marketing explosion. Does it look like a nail for all the marketers who only own a hammer? Do you have a philosophy or prediction about the 140-character universe?
O’Brien: I would have to say I agree with my new boss that we suffer from “channelism”–if Twitter works for a company/campaign, great. If not, let’s see what does. Let’s step away from all the tools and first figure out the organization’s business goal or challenge, and then decide what tactics to deploy to solve it.
PRNewser: Is there anything more meta than a PR blogger from a journalist community interviewing a journalist from the top PR trade about his move to a PR firm?
O’Brien: Hmmm…I think that’s the meta-summit. We live in strange times, indeed.