What’s Pokémon Go Got to Do with PR?
We recently had the pleasure of hosting Vineeta Manglani, a senior consultant and unit director at Sympra GmbH, our German Public Relations Network (PRN) partner. As part of Sympra’s create5 program, Vineeta traveled to Seattle from Stuttgart and spent the last two weeks as an honorary CPR team member.
I thought it would be fun to sit down with Vineeta and learn more about international agency life, her PR journey and her thoughts on where the industry is headed. (Spoiler alert: Pokémon Go is a sign of what’s to come.)
How did you get started in public relations?
After I graduated from university in England, I moved to Germany where I worked in advertising for eight years. At the time, I was doing a lot of copywriting and copyediting and I wanted to do more journalistic writing, as I’ve always enjoyed this style. What attracted me to PR is that it’s content driven and there are more opportunities to develop quality pieces for press.
What’s your role at Sympra?
I’m the unit director for our science and research division so I work with clients like the Siemens foundation and Delta Q to develop strategic communications plans. I also manage and coordinate international business for the agency.
What industry trends are you tracking in your market?
The transition from print to online has been huge and it’s happened a lot faster in the U.S. than in Germany. Everyone is still adjusting to the shift and we at Sympra are developing new and creative ways to devise online publications. We don’t want to just mirror what is done in print in an online medium, we want to make it different.
Our team is also monitoring trends such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) for opportunities to adapt it to our business. For example, we specialize in corporate publishing and frequently develop electronic newsletters for clients. We want to see how we can use these technologies to make online experiences for our customers’ publications.
We have also noticed that an increasing number of our global clients have also become more interested in international PR. Companies realize that a uniform approach across the globe doesn’t work. They want a bespoke, individual PR approach in each market and they trust the agency at the frontline in that market to effectively adapt their messaging.
What are the “hottest” markets your clients have expressed interest in reaching?
China and India are the top two currently, but Japan is also on the rise.
What are three PR lessons you’ve learned in your career?
Listen. It sounds obvious, but listening is really important. When you attend the first kickoff meeting with a client, you need to fully understand their business and communication objectives. I tend to listen in the first few meetings rather than anything else because it is only once I understand the whole scenario can I start thinking about target groups and messaging.
Never be afraid to ask. When you sit in the boardroom, you don’t want to look inept, but you have to ask. If you don’t truly understand something, just ask again because how else can you communicate the right messages to media or stakeholders?
Be creative. Don’t automatically assume what works for one client will work for the next. Explore other options and this is what we work very hard on at the agency – finding new ways to drive PR for individual clients. It is only when we have a creative approach will a customers’ message be heard out there.
What will PR look like in the next 5-10 years?
When I look at this Pokémon Go craze, I think it will be incredibly interactive. Companies are going to start asking for PR experiences where people really interact and engage with brands. I predict even more one-to-one engagement, which may not translate into media hits but instead bypasses the press and goes directly to the consumers. There’s so much going on out there that we have to adapt this to PR and communication!
Are you concerned that the distinction between PR and marketing is becoming blurrier?
There’s a fine line between marketing and PR but we’re storytellers and the storytelling component will transfer to other services. For example, one of our clients asked us to brainstorm new ways to educate consumers on his complex healthcare product. As the product needs a significant amount of explanation, we decided that a short, fun explanatory film would make it easy for the average consumer to understand. With films, vlogs and other new tools, there will still be a need to develop a storyline to ensure your client’s message is being heard.
What activities do you enjoy outside of work?
Going out with friends, watching my son’s football games, swimming and hiking.
If you weren’t in PR, what would you be doing instead?
Writing in another capacity. I love writing fictional crime stories.
Who are your favorite authors?
Stieg Larsson and Philippa Gregory.
What’s your favorite thing about Seattle?
The positivism. I find the people here so open. I’ve been to San Francisco and New York City, and the people here are so friendly, in comparison. I certainly think being so close to nature encourages a positive mindset – you have such an amazing setting here – very enviable!
Thank you for joining us, Vineeta! We’ve loved having you in the office and hope you’ll come back and visit soon!