Ronn Torossian on PR Today: Everything PR Exclusive

5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian


Everything PR News had the privilege this morning to interview one of the world’s most influential entrepreneurs and PR professionals, 5W Public Relations’ President and CEO, Ronn Torossian. As the news of markets falling, despots being deposed, and celebrities realities reach us on various media, we talked with Ronn about the state of public relations today, and about his take, as one of the world’s great crisis doctors.

The Value of Mercury

By way of a short introduction, for the budding PR or marketer out there, who has been trapped beneath the proverbial rock, Ronn Torossian is a figure in the industry of particular influence, but even more interestingly, a bit of a paradigm disturbance when compared to other lofty communications gurus.  Ronn founded 5WPR back in 2003, and has since steered the company to become one of the top 25 PR agencies in the United States, today in 2015.

This mercuric growth is a direct result of not only Torossian’s skill, but a sometimes overlooked factor the reader may denote in this interview – his crystal clarity on the realities of PR, the dividing line between passion and practicality. The end result looks a great deal like transparency. But, let’s get down to PR today.

Q & A & More

The line of questioning I put to Ronn basically trended toward a schedule of current events, for Ronn’s clarification on PR now – his upcoming book being a part of this “state of PR” conversation too, so we start there.

EPR News – Ronn, your new book, For Immediate Release, is out in October, there’s not doubt readers can glean vast insight into PR concepts within the pages (based on the overview), but it begs the question; “How viable is DIY PR if people take your book in this frame?

Ronn T.  –  My new book, For Immediate Release, will tell many stories and teach vital lessons about the importance of Public Relations & marketing, for any size business – large or small.  PR shapes minds – creates impressions, and doesn’t receive enough value, attention or budget from businesses. I hope my book will help continue the entire PR industry to grow. That said, if one reads a book by a brilliant lawyer, they won’t become the world’s greatest lawyer, nor if they read one of Ogilvy’s books will they be able to build a legendary advertising business – and so, PR is not a DIY industry either.

EPR News –  After the Tiger Woods press conference in February of last year, you called the much maligned golfer “a disgrace” – referring to his believability. For the budding (or experienced) PR, how important would you say such skills as body language training, and presentation, vocal coaching are?

Ronn T.  –   Media training is vital for anyone conducting interviews, especially during crisis PR situations. We have had clients work with psychiatrists, acting coaches, and stylists – and it’s something I expect will grow in coming years as image and believability become even more important. Everything from clothing to manner and tone of speech effects how believability and trustworthy anyone is – and whether it’s Tiger Woods or a political candidate, a CEO or retail store owner, body language training, and presentation, amongst other factors, are vital.

EPR News –  In a recent Business Insider article you discuss the death and legacy of Amy Winehouse, the dynamic of celebrity, alluding to that razor blade we all ride, where basically ethics and truth collide. Where is the line Ronn? In the end, where do you draw the line between PR and family – as you suggest in the article?

Ronn T. –  In reference to that Business Insider article, as a PR Agency owner I was deeply touched during a recent visit to Disney with my young children to see a ride featuring Michael Jackson – Michael Jackson, a man widely considered to be a child molester has a ride at Disney? Sickness. The media creates role models, and I simply believe as a father exactly what NBA legend Charles Barkley said in his famous Nike commercials: “I am not a role model. I am not paid to be a role model. Parents should be role models. Just because I can dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.” As marketers we create brands, and I do so on a daily basis for many celebrities – and will continue to do so – but parents should set values in homes.

EPR NewsIs Gaddafi that line in the sand for Ronn Torossian?

Ronn T. –  Everyone has to have their own red line in terms of who they will or will not represent.  My firm has never shied away from controversial clients and this has served us well, as we have built 1 of the 25 largest PR firms in the US largely on this premise. We were named to the INC 500 list of fastest growing American companies, and have received many other accolades. Would we represent Gadaffi if approached and asked? Of course not… but have we represented people I haven’t agreed with? The answer is a resounding, Yes.  I am a registered Republican – have we worked for Democrats? Yes, of course, and will many more times.  Every company has to have their own ethics and values systems – and while it’s not something I want to share here in this venue, we have our own red lines.

EPR News – From your position as head of one of the world’s most powerful PR firms, how are social media and digital communications affecting other huge firms?

Ronn T. –   Digital media has completely changed the Public Relations industry, and will continue to.  Everyone today with access to Facebook and Twitter is in the PR and media business these days – they can create trends, news and build (or break brands).  It’s fascinating, and terrifying all at the same time. We have many clients spending huge sums of money on digital media and some who are much more hesitant – in the next 3-5 years I believe digital media will continue to see major growth for the PR Agency business.

On this note, a particular area in which my agency has seen tremendous growth is SEO/Online Reputation Management.  By virtue of PR’s ability to create content – both traditional and self-created media – there is a tremendously unique opportunity to shape search engine results.  Everything indicates our growth, the industry’s growth in this area, will continue.

EPR News –   Do you think PR has changed for the better with the advent of online PR? Or, has this opened a can of worms for those NOT in the know?

Ronn T. –  The PR industry is always fun, exciting and challenging.  Many firms have grown because of the new Online PR world – but I have also seen a great many in the US, and worldwide, suffer tremendously because of their lack of ability to keep up.  This is an industry which requires constant energy, constant movement, and constant strength to succeed and win.  It’s not easy, and without consistently learning and evolving, Public Relations professionals cannot succeed.  5WPR continues to experience growth, and we expect the next few years to be tremendous for our business. We are always hiring, and seeking new opportunities.

Real Clear, Real Tough Communication

I sought Ronn Torossian out for our first industry leader interview on the all new EPR, for a couple of reasons. First, having followed Torossian for a couple of years now via his Facebook and other SM postings, he clearly represents what I would call “a new breed” of communicators. Well, the stereotype is not all together new, but our position as digital evangelists, clearly identifies Torossian as “edgy” – or let’s just say a clear pied piper for 21st Century branding. Torossian is the personification of what the New York Times called; “the consummate scrappy publicist,” – the quintessential New York stereotype of Edward Bernays himself. The bottom line here? There’s just something super credible about Torossian.

Secondly, and finally, my own theories and dogma about communication (nay all of it, politics to pencils) is, there’s no time to waste getting down to brass tacks. The world has shrunk to the point now where BS and even bullets scarcely work any more. As human beings, we have to communicate better, or else. To be blunt, Torossian seems like the kind of guy who can pull this off – and with successful results. I am not talking about some BS artist lobbying another BS artist in Washington, to BS us.

For those who believe the Great Recession of 2008 is actually the Greatest Depression in history – the world needs straight talkers. When ushering in 2015, its important to remember these times and grow from them. This is not to say things cannot get real “delicate” – but you get my meaning, I hope – we are in a crisis, and Torossian is the Charles Barkley of crisis management.

We would like to thank Ronn for taking time from his busy schedule to speak to our readership. Over the next couple of weeks, EPR will speak with many of the world’s most influential communicators. In this way, we can do our little part to bring the conversation along. Thank you too, for taking your time to read the new Everything PR News.

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Comments

  1. Jonathan Glickstein says

    Ronn Torossian is genuinely the most visible forward thinking PR agency CEO. Really he’s built a major business and has detractors but to think the guy is under 40 and has learned all of that already. Cant wait to read his book which comes out soon.

  2. chrisek says

    I think the reputation of PR overall has sunk to the point no one believes anything
    any more, let alone professed spin doctors. Just because people act or react, this
    does not really mean “believing” in something. It seems like this fellow may be a
    square up player. At least he does not take the easy way out.

  3. Rigas Pantos says

    After reading the article, I was left wondering whether PR needs its own code of ethics, because it seems like this tool which is gaining power in our lives could be used to hide all manners of unethical or immoral behavior.

    BP is a great example of how PR can (to some extent of course) help calm a crisis and divert attention, in some cases even peddle misinformation.

    It seems like Ronn uses his own ethics and morals as a guide, will others?

  4. chrisek says

    I read Ronn’s articles on Business Insider pretty frequently, and I can say this; that although I do not always agree with his somewhat aggressive tone, the man does know what he is talking about.

  5. Billy Bruns says

    PR pros like Ronn Torossian and his PR agency shape minds and thoughts and I’d bet that this man will go very far in the Public Relations arena. Truth and honesty will win out.

  6. Anita says

    Great article, Phil…fantastic questions. I was greatly impressed with this guy’s sense of character. He doesn’t fit the stereotypical PR image of a “slick suit” but rather a flesh and blood person…with boundaries. I like that, and were I in the position to hire this guy, your interview sold me!

    • Phil Butler says

      Thanks for your take Anita, I must say, I like Ronn from the start – no two people agree on everything, but his take seems like the solid line most of the time.

      Always,
      Phil

  7. Kristen Nicole says

    Great interview. I learned a lot in this one – I deal with the PR industry from a different perspective so gaining insight on the flip side is important for my own career growth.

    • Phil Butler says

      Thanks for your take Kristen, Ronn is exceptionally sharp, I won’t elaborate, but you know me, I have talk to many of these movers.

      Always,
      Phil

  8. Jonathan Glicks says

    Thanks for the informative interview with Ronn Torossian. I have too admired him from afar for his honesty and vision and respect him immensely.

  9. says

    Phil, thanks for the informative article. With the advent of social media, everyone needs to think in terms of their PR, whether they are marketing a new business or just posting info about their life. In one way or another, it’s all PR, whether you realize it or not. This article is great food for thought.

  10. Matthew Kraft says

    His answers on the media creating celebrity and his place in that machine is something I’m going to have to think over for a while. I’m not sure he answered the question to my satisfaction, but I’ve re-read it now four times, and I’m still thinking. Intriguing article!

    • Phil Butler says

      Thanks for your take Matt, as a pro in the business yourself, I know your goal is to ferret out the best methods and truth too. We have known each other a long time now, haven’t we? Thanks for the input.

      Always,
      Phil

  11. al says

    Transparency is important in todays times, people have lived long enough with lies from the top down

  12. says

    This PR Agency has made good these last 10 years, and PR is very helpful for small and big businesses to grow. My position is – choose a reliable agency, which can bring results.

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