Today, an interview with Anna Crowe, who is founder and CEO of Crowe PR, a bi-coastal public relations and influencer marketing agency. Anna has spent nearly 20 years working for iconic brands in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego, pivoting from an auditor position at a Big 4 accounting firm, to leading and scaling her businesses. A published and best-selling author, Anna also teaches marketing classes at University of San Diego’s School of Business, serves as city co-manager for Changemaker Chats and sits on the board of the San Diego Chapter of the Entrepreneurs Organization.
What are your core values, and how do those shape your business?
Our core values of authenticity, continuous improvement, relationships, results and positivity are engrained in our culture, celebrated daily and emphasized in our leadership training and strategic sessions. Our core values guide our actions and define who we are as a brand. For instance, our core value of authenticity means that we embrace who we are as individuals and understand and develop our unique strengths. That not only translates to our relationships within the organization but with our clients, journalists, influencers and partners. Another one of our values is results-focused, which couples our commitment to excellence with measurable client KPIs. If we are servicing our customers with the utmost professionalism and they’re growing and accomplishing their business goals as a result of our efforts, then we’re fulfilling that core value.
What advice would you give to new PR leaders?
I would tell any new PR leader to manage authentically and bring their strengths and unique vantage point to the table. Authenticity is one of the most important leadership skills in business and is often underestimated. Employees today are motivated by much more than financial gain – they want to be heard, enjoy their professional environment, partake in something bigger and be recognized for their superpowers. And, at the core of everything, they need to trust their leadership team and their environment and know their manager has their back no matter what. As we know, trust improves employees’ and companies’ performance and I believe authenticity is the best way to garner your team’s trust and be that engaging leader. That means being human, genuine, consistent, vulnerable and admitting when you don’t have all the answers. This is crucial because leaders, especially younger managers, sometimes believe they have to put on a front to be taken seriously. Yet, the opposite is true. By putting on a façade, a leader masks the strengths that make them a powerful and authentic leader, including empathy, transparency and vulnerability.
How have your work priorities changed since the onset of the pandemic, and how has this impacted your clients?
This year has certainly been dynamic for us and most of our clients. Given our work spans various industries, including consumer goods, technology, hospitality and professional services, our clients were impacted in different ways. Some industries temporarily shut down, while others flourished due to high product and service demands. Fortunately, we’ve been able to help many businesses navigate the changing landscape through not only our public relations and influencer marketing services, but also heavily with social media and crisis communications. In addition to external communications, we spent many hours this year solidifying and refining internal messaging for clients, so they could best communicate with their employees, vendors and other stakeholders. Several of our campaigns have evolved and elevated since March and we’re continuing to refine these in alignment with governmental regulations and restrictions and the media landscape, where applicable. For instance, while retailers are struggling and temporarily closing doors, we’ve adjusted our strategies to promote our consumer brands’ e-commerce platforms and engage with their customers through compelling multi-media content, storytelling and social networks. As the healthcare industry continues to take shape and telemedicine becomes more prominent, several of our clients in the tech and services vertical are finding new opportunities to share their stories and value proposition with strategic public relations and social media campaigns. On the flip side, hospitality and travel suffered greatly this year. It’s been rewarding to assist hotels to reopen their doors and promote various restaurants’ delivery options while in-room dining has been on pause or changing by the week.
How would you recommend brands prepare for future crises, especially on social media?
This year’s pandemic and subsequent social issues serve as a prime example of the importance of a crisis social media plan and a sense of urgency when dealing with any form of crisis. For instance, many brands weren’t equipped to mobilize their social media teams at the beginning of the pandemic and customers took notice. This proved the importance of prioritizing strategic, mindful social media content that represents brand values. Consumers are aware of how companies behave on social media and expect those actions to match the brand’s values. Any negatively perceived deviation from those values could create a crisis that may damage the brand’s reputation, making it critical that brands have their teams ready to mobilize with integrated efforts to address it. Social media content creation and engagement needs to be strategic and purposeful, with a time investment behind it, rather than just an afterthought. Implementing a crisis communications plan for your social media team, with prepared messaging and spokespeople, brings reputation management into the online space. Without it, brands run the risk of falling behind other social media-savvy competitors. And you must monitor the changing landscape, social algorithms and other industry nuances to remain present and relevant.
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