Neff Associates (Philadelphia)
Length of PR career (so far): I’ve been in the PR business for 30 years and I can say that it rings true about this industry—for the past three decades, no two days have ever been the same.
Your most memorable campaign: Successfully rebranding the iconic Chink’s Steaks to Joe’s Steaks + Soda Shop, which won a PRSA Award for ‘Best of Show’
Most memorable press hit: When we secured a press opportunity for BELFOR Property Restoration’s CEO, Sheldon Yellen, to be featured in CBS’s Undercover Boss. The client, based in Birmingham, Michigan came to visit my PR Team to extend his thanks personally at my offices in Philadelphia. He excused himself from the conference room, went to our Café and reappeared dressed as Rocky head-to-toe; the ski cap, grey sweats and black Chucks. It was so thoughtful and entertaining!
Best thing about working at your agency: A typical workday at Neff Associates never truly feels like ‘work’ because we all thrive off our ability to empower clients to get their message out to their consumers. We’re very good at creating operational duress for clients through what we do and as my team likes to say, we will ‘blow your brand and your image UP!’ I also love the energy and collaboration between my employees, which is one of the benefits of having an open office layout with a vibrant company culture—It’s the first thing you notice when you come through the doors of our Old City Philadelphia office.
Most misunderstood thing about PR: It’s crucial for an agency to set realistic expectations with a client, especially when you’re excited about working with a new brand or project which can shift a team’s creativity into overdrive. But hey, marketers tend to lead with the right side of the brain so sometimes we can’t help it right off the bat! Coming back down to Earth a bit can definitely be a challenge but when you can come up with a well-planned creative strategy, it’s possible to sustain a highly successful PR plan.
What got you interested in a PR career? My PR career happened by ‘accident.’ I was the Director of Marketing for the first reseller of AT&T. I noticed a feature story about long distance calling within the State of PA, which was our loss leader. In the story, AT&T, MCI and Sprint rates were published. The company I worked with was 25% less than the lowest competitive rates featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer story. I instinctively picked up the phone and introduced myself to the writer and told him how much I enjoyed his story. We met for coffee, and from that point forward, the writer included rates from my employer, TMC on all his stories on long distance along with the BIG 3. In addition, he quoted my boss in virtually every story after that point. I quickly learned what PR was and how powerful it could be. Most importantly, I also learned about developing relationships.
Most interesting thing about your job: I love the rush of scoring a big placement. Nothing compares to securing a full-page piece or TV interview for one of my clients.
Your nightmare client in 3 words: Nonresponsive, Self-absorbed, Disrespectful. These three qualities are the recipe for any publicist-client relationships to go sour. I’ve found that the most satisfied and successful clients are the ones who communicate frequently and are willing to listen to gain an understanding of what PR actually IS.
What is your best advice to a PR student: Pursue your passion and don’t make any decisions based on salary. When you love what you do, everything will eventually take care of itself.
What do you read daily? I’m always reading something but I primarily get my news from the Philadelphia Inquirer, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, AdWeek, Fast Company, City & State, Curbed National.
How many meetings did you have last week? 27
What has been the worst PR crisis in the news this year so far? The worst PR crisis this year by far has been the Academy’s #OscarsSoWhite controversy. There was clearly no crisis communication strategy set in place.
Favorite non-work hobby: I love to unwind and spend time with my family in Margate, NJ, where we have a summer home.
What was your first “real” job? I was brought on as an assistant to a traffic a manager at a small/medium sized agency based in Philadelphia, Alten, Cohen & Naish
What was your childhood “dream job?” I always thought I would end up playing ice hockey for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Three people you’d love to invite to dinner: Frank Sinatra, John F. Kennedy and Bill Bernbach of Doyle, Dane & Bernbach.
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