Interview With Craig Greiwe, Chief Strategy Officer at R&C PMK

Tell us about your role as the Chief Strategy Officer at R&C PMK. The two firms recently merged and now you’re a leader at one of the top shops in the field.

The CSO role is new for both firms, and it’s really an opportunity to expand on the fact that, at their heart, every PR professional is really a brand strategist.  The days of being only a pitch-and-place publicist are long gone; now, you have to be a marketer in every way–and it’s an incredible opportunity to ensure we’re bringing a dedicated, consumer-first strategic POV to every engagement.

How is R&C PMK different than the two firms were separately?

R&C and PMK were legacy, blue-chip PR firms. Both had expanded their offerings in recent years, but now as a combined team, we are not just a PR shop.  R&C PMK is a full-service, end-to-end creative marketing and communications agency with everything from business strategy to marketing and digital to creative and yes, even PR, under one roof.  This is the agency of the future: comprehensive, nimble, and expert in every area.

What is your philosophy when it comes to helping your clients /brands make the big decisions about their strategy and marketing budgets?

A lot of clients get caught up in the day-to-day.  Yes, we need to deliver on the block and tackle, but I’m a big fan of helping our staff and clients pull out of the weeds to see the larger questions.  We need to address how you relate to your consumer on a big-picture basis, which impacts every decision downstream. And then we can come up with big decisions that move the needle in more effective ways, with smarter spends.

What are some of the projects you are most proud of? 

Our strategy-based, consumer-first approach has really allowed us to deliver a host of projects with “first-ever” and “never before” in front of their name.  Bringing the first immersive, AR experience to the UN General Assembly was one (and also the first time for brand recognition in that space.)  A series of social good initiatives for Verizon is another, including their innovative Feeding the Frontlines and Women in Business programs during COVID-19.  The first brand-funded film in the Cannes Film Festival with 5B. Of course, the most innovative is probably CircleAround.  There, we created a wholly-owned for-profit subsidiary of Girl Scouts of the USA–redefining the media landscape for women with a content destination driven by purpose, while also creating an entirely new revenue stream that can fuel decades of growth for the Girl Scouts.

How has or should COVID-19 change the way we market to consumers? 

I’ve spoken a lot about how I think brands need to put their consumer needs first, and I truly think that’s not changing.  It’s not about starting with your product and figuring out the right messaging.  It’s starting with your consumers, and their whole selves they bring to the equation, and figuring out what they need and want.  Only then can you really think about what your product is and does for them, and what messaging is both authentic and effective.

What do you look for when taking on a new client or project? Has that changed in the current climate of the pandemic, societal issues, and the upcoming election?  

I am a big believer that life is not just about doing good work, it’s about being good people.  If anything, the stress of the current climate has reinforced that: no one has any emotional bandwidth for unnecessary negativity or meanness.  If a client is not coming from a place of trust and support in our expertise, or is not really willing to invest in the journey, or is not trying to make the world a better place, it’s probably not worth it. 

What advice do you have for PR professionals starting their careers today?

Oh gosh, there are so many things I’d like to say to GenZ, but a lot of them are unprintable.  This generation is so incredibly talented, and has so much opportunity–even in the face of these crises–but many of its members can’t seem to get out of their own way.  Come to the job with humility, guard against an ego, watch your executive presence, and know that it’s not just what the job can do for you, it’s what you can do for your company, your team and your clients.  Working hard, trying to learn, and having an open mind are just as important now as they were in 1960. 

What’s next for Craig Greiwe?

While COVID-19 has been incredibly painful for everyone, it has also bred progress and change in our industry.  I’m excited to be a part of that, and to bring the type of creativity people have come to expect from R&C PMK.  We’re just about a year into the merger, and there’s so much opportunity to bring our consumer-first, business-based consultancy to the industry in innovative ways. I’m really looking forward to expanding our footprint as people look beyond the agency’s legacy reputation in PR, and to their and our future together–driving business-based, operational results at the complete intersection of brand, talent, marketing, strategy, and communications. This fall I’ll also be launching a new podcast around everyday issues we all have on our minds. 

You can stay tuned for details on the podcast here:

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