An Interview with Barry Reicherter of Finn Partners

We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Barry Reicherter, Digital Insights Partner with Finn Partners. Public relations experts, Finn Partners works with leading brands to craft branding, messaging and media strategies across channels. At Finn, Barry is the mastermind behind their digital campaigns and strategies. We sat down to talk about the evolution of PR and the importance of understanding your audience.

SpotRight:     Finn Partners has such a great pedigree in PR. How do you see PR evolving with changes in consumer behavior, like the rise of social media?

Barry: For PR professionals whose core work might be relationship with media and journalists, social media has changed it from two perspectives. The economic model is changing and that is dictating how you can reach and stay in front of journalists. Social is driving a lot of that so understanding what kind of audience is following a particular topic and who are those particular influencers are in an area is very important.

Chances are there’s a good portion of those influencers who are also journalists because of the stagnation of investments in newsrooms and people. News editorial operations are investing more in technology to keep up rather than hiring more people. In fact, we’re finding more and more that if you look at surveys or other studies, when we focus on journalists the numbers of people being added to the ranks continues to decline.

So, fewer people are having to do more and more work, which creates a time crunch, and  that means that if you’re going to have a relationship with these people you have to go to the most time-effective way they are gathering information. When I’ve talked to journalists or at conferences I hear journalists say that they’ve been pitched already while having their morning coffee, meaning that they’ve already gotten their information. They’ve looked at their feeds. They use it for both collecting information but because they are freelance they have to use it for marketing too.

They are reliant, more than anybody, on social media as a communication channel. So understanding whose those thoughts are, from particular audiences or demographics, is  extremely important in working with a PR firm. But on the other side of things is it’s just the execution of what would traditionally be PR is really being stretched in a lot of different directions – everything from content marketing to helping roll out a branding program. It’s not just your typical promotion of a product or service or issue in the media. It involves everything from PPC to targeting to lead generation to all kinds of things that are now being factored into what is becoming the new PR.

SpotRight: PR seems to be much more integrated with other marketing practices than it was in the past.

Barry: It has to be. A lot of this is being driven by a paradigm shift in marketing. Marketing technology has driven a lot of connections, and now reconciliation about different types of tactics, understanding what works and what doesn’t. PR may be one of the last to be pulled in but it’s important to be accountable to some sort of goals and an objective system to know how they contributed to moving a prospect closer to an organization or to become a customer or to drive sales.

SpotRight: No question. So, what role do you see audience insights playing in this?

Barry: When you have to be so careful about attribution as to what your discipline or your program or your campaign is doing, then you also want to be just as laser-focused with the targeting you’re looking for. A broad media target or something like that is not going to cost-effectively move you towards your client’s objective. You have to be able to segment. The worst thing that you can do is to have too big of a list to market to. You have to segment. For example, we have one client that markets wine to the U.S. from another country and they have 185,000 consumers in an email list. Because we can’t possibly market effectively to 185,000 people as one segment, we split them into personas that we could craft campaigns around and gain insights along the way. We have multiple campaigns going that we monitor and adjust looking at media aperture or content or what have you, to know what’s going to resonate most with those different segments.

SpotRight: In your role as a digital strategist, how do you stay on top of all of these trends, both the consumer behavioral trends but also the technologies you’ve already referenced?

Barry: I look at the websites of those who are providing technology to marketing and then also a variety of influencers from various feeds. My Flipboard is probably one of my main ways of keeping up with things. Apple News has gotten a little bit better if you finetune it towards those topics. LinkedIn is becoming a little bit better of a source for that information. Recently, I started to notice that I’m getting a bit more information from them but, for the most part, I pretty much have crafted my feeds for things like Flipboard.

SpotRight:     So you’ve become an expert in curation also?

Barry: Yeah, I’ve started a few Flipboard magazines myself.

SpotRight:     Love it! If you don’t mind me asking, could you tell us why you chose to partner with SpotRight?

Barry: Well, I remember a day when in order to get information you would have to go to some big data provider and pay exorbitant amounts of money and wait six to eight weeks in order to get back some basic insights about a particular group of people, whether you had just their names or addresses, emails, or what have you. We would have loved to do that when we were working on new business or presentations for conferences and client work as well, but it was very costly, almost cost-prohibitive and time-prohibitive for us to be able to do it.

But SpotRight presented us with access to information that was previously unavailable both at speed and price points. It has replaced a huge part of what was a manual, very costly and time-intensive activity that we can now do at scale that we could not do before.