Among the many digital tools available to businesses, podcasting has become a favorite due to its versatility. But, in order to have a successful podcast, it is no brainer that you have to provide value to the listener. In the following Q&A, Group Supervisor Jennifer Lewis and Senior Account Manager Kalli Vetrano, the hosts of our very own imPRessions podcast, explain what makes the show unique. The hosts detail how it can benefit listeners, and why they are excited to bring you insights from the best and brightest minds influencing the world of PR and marketing.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your career background and how you started your career in PR.
Jenn: I graduated college in 2010, the absolute worst time for a budding marketing professional to find a job in New York City. The country was knee-deep in an economic downfall, and even though I was a new college graduate, I found myself working at Starbucks to get by. A few years later, after working at a bank, I quit and went to Europe to figure out how to reconfigure my career towards a creative path. I loved to write and harvest creative concepts; I just needed to find my way. When I returned to New York, I finally caught a break and got a job in the music industry as a marketing coordinator.
For seven years, I would wear many hats under the marketing umbrella: event management, social media management, building campaigns for product launches, artist relations, and finally – PR. I found myself gravitating toward the world of media and public relations. I loved exploring different story angles, writing, and, above all, meeting reporters and working with prominent journalists.
Although I loved working in the music industry, after seven years, I knew it was time for a new chapter. I got a job at a creative agency, and then I found my way to The Pollack Group where I am currently the Group Supervisor.
Kalli: After taking my very first PR class at Hofstra, I knew I’d found my calling. Since graduating, I’ve lived the agency life, helping brands craft and share their stories with their target audiences. There have definitely been a few twists and turns along the way. I started focusing on traditional PR and then dipped my toes into social media at the time when it was just emerging as a tool for brands. I moved on to completely focusing on digital and social media. I then dove back into a media relations focus, which landed me at Pollack, where I’ve found my home and have been given the amazing opportunity to co-host a podcast.
Q: Why did you start a podcast that focuses on PR and communication topics? What makes it unique and why should people listen?
Jenn: We started imPRessions primarily focusing on PR and marketing because that’s where our expertise resides. There is still so much to learn, so we wanted to interview experts to educate ourselves and others who may be new in their careers or interested in learning more about the field. People who want to expand their knowledge of PR and marketing, should tune in -- especially in unfamiliar areas. PR specialists know much about media relations but maybe not as much about SEO. Our show covers all marketing components, so there is something for everyone. Plus, we have fun together!
Kalli: We started a podcast focusing on these topics because it’s our bread and butter. Having a podcast gives us the opportunity to connect with other professionals who do the same but have different journeys than ours. It’s a great experience for not only our agency to learn directly from the success of others, but for us to share this with our peers who get as excited about the ins-and-outs of communications campaigns as we do.
Q: Can you explain to us your process for identifying and qualifying potential guests for imPRessions?
Jenn: We’re lucky to have an extensive Rolodex of marketing professionals in our network. Our President, Stefan Pollack, and our Senior Vice President, Jackie Liu, are USC professors and have introduced us to amazing guests. As for our plans for future guests, as long as the individual has a compelling topic and can carry an interesting conversation, we would love to hear from them!
Kalli: We try to select guests that not only do different things but can share unique insights and experiences with us and our audience. We also wanted to dive into some unknown areas for ourselves and discuss topics that we’ve heard of but not really had the chance to experience firsthand.
Q: Based on your experience and your current understanding, what do you think are the most important aspects/trends of PR in today’s world?
Jenn: I’m sure Kalli and I will have similar answers to this since one of the biggest trends taking over is the exploration of AI. You can’t avoid it. ChatGPT, for instance, can be an excellent tool for PR professionals if used wisely, especially for research or to brainstorm an idea. Social media is still a vital constant in our line of work as it gives us an immediate look into what’s happening in the world.
Kalli: Staying on top of current technology trends, both for PR purposes as well as those shaking up your client’s industries, are extremely important in today’s world. One of the biggest trends PR professionals are utilizing are AI tools such as ChatGPT to improve workflow and even to help with thought starters. It’s truly amazing to see how beneficial using new tech can be and how with tools such as ChatGPT, we maximize our time to outsource smaller tasks and leave ourselves more time to spend on higher level strategy to drive growth for our clients.
Q: What are three things you have learned from speaking to guests on imPRessions so far? Is there anything else you hope to learn from guests you have on the podcast in the future?
Jenn: I learned much about properly utilizing AI in PR and marketing. For example, ChatGPT is so much more than a robot writing copy. It is a fantastic research tool that can help educate you on an unfamiliar topic. Other than that, I can’t really pin anything specific down. I’ve had the honor of meeting people from all backgrounds and walks of life, and that is a profound learning experience in, and of, itself.
Kalli: While we’ve learned from all of our guests, the three things that stand out are:
1. Never underestimate how much time goes into planning marketing activations, both big and small.
2. The importance of relationships not only with journalists but also with vendors, clients and other professionals in our orbit. Without these, this podcast wouldn’t be possible.
3. To embrace new trends and technology because it has the power to open up many new doors both for PR professionals and for clients.
Q: Is there anyone who you would really like to have as a guest on the podcast? Why?
Jenn: I would love to have more guests working in specific industries rather than agencies. I’d love to have a film director to discuss marketing for movies (especially horror movies!) and would love to talk with someone in the music industry.
Kalli: I’m looking forward to expanding the types of guests we have. We have a really solid foundation of people who have worked at or with agencies, so it’ll be exciting for our guests to hear from professionals in more niche spaces to really get a bird’s eye view into their world.
Q: Can you give us a hint as to who might be an exciting yet-to-be-announced guest and why we should be excited about hearing from them?
Jenn: Oh, we have a few! We had an amazing conversation with an agency in Ukraine that talked about how they are navigating through war, a renowned anchor, and a best-selling author. There are SO many incredible episodes in the pipeline, and we can’t wait to share them with the world.
Kalli: We actually have a few really exciting yet-to-be-announced guests lined up! From a TikTok community manager to someone who dives into the inner workings of promoting his city as a top tourist destination, there are lots of exciting topics ahead!