During his more than 30 years in public relations and marketing, Bob Gold has helped launch a dozen companies, re-branded many others, and created successful campaigns for numerous start-ups and Fortune 500 companies. He has also helped raise millions of dollars for charities, taught hundreds of students and helped further strategic business plans for numerous businesses and associations. A sought-after moderator and speaker at critical industry events, he has provided key notes, panels or MC’d diverse industry luminaries at Digital Hollywood, Media Innovations Summit, Digital Media Summit, Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM) and more.
Gold founded and manages Bob Gold & Associates, one of the country’s premiere independent integrated communications PR agencies. The agency earned widespread recognition for its successes in the cable TV industry representing such diverse clients as ESPN, Comcast Spotlight, Charter (where among other achievements, Gold produced a one-hour music special starring Dan Aykroyd and Jim Belushi, Have Love Will Travel) EchoStar, Sprint, Hitachi Consulting and Viamedia, among many others. His agency is the sole North American affiliate in the Whiteoaks International Network, an international public relations agency organization that includes 17 tech-focused PR companies across four continents, in 25 countries, thereby increasing client visibility in the global marketplace.
How did you get into the industry?
In 1980, I was working at Universal Studios in the property department. An assistant to the Unit Publicist on The Blues Brothers was in an accident, and I replaced her – and quickly discovered that publicity and PR were in my blood. From there I went on to work for a PR agency (today called Finn Partners, but it was Harshe Rotman & Druck before being sold to Ruder & Finn) where I led the Academy Awards campaign for two years. Finally I got the big break opening the west coast office for a startup cable network that today is called Lifetime, and then HBO before going on to what would become Fox Sports as their head of marketing and PR. In 1997 I opened my own agency and have never looked back.
Any emerging industry trends?
The nature of PR is always changing and digital PR is almost everything right now. As consummate content creators, social media should be owned by PR professionals. Our relationship management approach with reporters and editors extends to bloggers and influencers. In general the importance of blending content marketing into owned, earned and paid media is top of mind as we strive to deliver a strong return for our clients.
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
There has been a huge explosion in the number of outlets which can tell our stories – from new digital news sites to traditional media multiplatform plays, to the blogger and associated web sites that are all about building highly separate and diverse communities.
Today the growing source of news is not traditional media but social networks. It’s imperative that we go where the audience is going to get their news and ideas. A fast growing subset of our work is what I call “Dark Media.” Dark Media is when agencies are managing, writing and posting on an individual’s personal page or profile on social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. It’s isn’t about broadcasting a message but helping to manage an individual’s online reputation and their participation in one to one or very intimate forums.
In this case, it’s critical that you really know the voice of your client. In today’s busy, noisy world, you can probably bet that many celebrity posts are made by their PR teams and not by them.
Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?
All business is the business of relationships. Our agency has been focused on the media space for almost 20 years from content creation to the technology required for its delivery. I think we have developed very strong relationships with our clients, media and analysts and have demonstrated real value, connections and innovative accomplishments. We strive to give a better articulation to their business goals. By listening to what our clients and media friends need, not necessarily what they say they want shows that we deeply care about their success. At BG&A we strive to be a partner to our clients not a vendor.
What's next for the Business in the near future?
We are in the process of investing in new staff at all levels – the economy is good and we want to participate in the fast-changing business environment. It’s been a 20-year dream to open a NYC office. We are working to make that happen in 2017.
Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?
In 2006 Bob Gold & Associates became a co-founder of the Whiteoaks International Network, comprised of 17 agencies in 37 countries across four continents providing a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence as companies increasingly require global communications programs. Bob Gold & Associates offers its clients a cohesive international strategy via a single U.S.-based contact because ultimately it’s all about talent and accessibility.
Each year our 17 agency principals meet at someone’s key city–this has proven to be extremely valuable to serve as a trusted gateway for international companies looking to expand into the US market and vice versa.
All partners in the network share the same entrepreneurial philosophy, quality, approach and work process on a strategic and operational level. These agencies are all recognized communications leaders within their own countries with strong track records, close media relationships and substantial specialist skills.
Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)
Nothing prepared me for the recession in 2008. Frankly I was overwhelmed and lost and didn’t know the way forward. Our staff was cut from 15 top quality folks to five. But great leaders don’t have to do everything or solve everything by themselves I joined a national network of CEOs called Vistage, and over the next 5 years by working closely each month with my group and my chair, found a way forward to not only survive but thrive. My most important lesson was that leadership means being able to set an agenda, and then ask for help to achieve it. That’s what I try to practice today.
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
We are sticklers for measuring outcomes. We believe it’s imperative to be accountable to our clients around mutually agreed upon Key Performance Indicators. We’ve created our own S.M.A.R.T. Report (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely). When we combine measured results with a demonstrated and unwavering commitment to understanding the total industry ecosystem of every one of our clients, we earn their respect and appreciation and are pleased with what their investment yields. And most importantly, every CFO can now measure the value of our soft science – Public Relations.
Additionally – we may be the only PR agency that does not tell our clients that a solution to their problem is by securing a news story placement or by drafting a news release – we find creative solutions that truly address their customer relationship management issues.
How do you motivate others?
I’d like to think I lead by example, and practice what I preach. First it’s about fun. It’s about honestly caring about each individual and listening. Working fast and accurately. Preaching that professional development doesn’t happen in the 4 walls of our offices but by going out and joining associations, getting education, going to seminars.
We have some unusual company benefits – such as each employee gets an almost free (it costs them $10 a month) gym membership at the luxury gym next door to our offices (Park once – work out twice). We have no vacation policy. If you need any time off – take it – all employees are only responsible for ensuring the work gets done – not doing it. Everyone gets a free massage on their birthday. And I really like spending one on one time with each staff member.
Career advice to those in your industry?
Read, engage and most importantly learn to be an active maker of videos – the written word will not die in my lifetime but the more ways you can tell your clients story in video and voice the better. Today producing engaging videos is paramount so learn to speak the language of Snapchat, Vine and YouTube to be relevant.
If you have something to say – be pithy.
Failure is the best teacher – do not be afraid to fail – celebrate it – because growth only comes out of the worry and pain each of us must experience. It is the fuel for growth.