Ronn Torossian is the Founder, President, and CEO of 5WPR, an award-winning, top 20 independent US PR agency. An entrepreneur, as a PR firm CEO, Ronn has extensive experience in all aspects of public relations, marketing and reputation management, having led assignments for Fortune 500 companies and start-up companies, government agencies, academic institutions, corporate executives, politicians, non-profits, and luminaries in the business, entertainment and media worlds.
Ronn is a two-time winner of the Public Relations Executive of the Year by the American Business Awards, and a semi-finalist for Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year. He is nationally recognized as one of the most well-respected Public Relations professionals in the industry.
An esteemed expert and influencer in marketing and public relations, he regularly offers his insights in the media, including appearances on CNBC, Bloomberg, "The Today Show," and Fox News. He is also a resident public relations expert for Entertainment Tonight, and an op-ed contributor to Huffington Post, Wired Insights, The Observer, Business Insider, and other publications. He has been featured in Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, Bloomberg Businessweek and more.
His bestselling book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations," is a must read for marketers and PR professionals alike, as well as required reading for media and marketing students at colleges and universities.
How did you get into the PR industry?
On a practical basis, I am New York City born and bred. Born in Brooklyn, raised in the Bronx, Stuyvesant High School in NYC, then SUNY Albany. After college I had no clue what I wanted to do and spent time working in politics in Israel. I worked for the Likud Party, including work with the Mayor of Jerusalem and multiple Prime Ministers.
It gave me a taste for advocacy and by accident, I discovered PR. I love politics and PR is a nice combination of journalism, psychology and lawyering—it’s an ever-changing and always interesting landscape…and I LOVE IT! In 2003, I started 5W Public Relations, which consisted of me and an intern working for three clients in a 400 square foot rooftop office.
Tell us about 5WPR. What inspired the idea and what is your vision for the company?
A lot has changed since that 400 square foot rooftop office. One constant, as our name suggests, is the way we approach our clients. We dig into the essential questions, the "Who," "What," "When," "Where," and "Why," of our clients’ needs.
Because of that virtue, combined with the creativity and dedication of my tenacious team, 5WPR has become an award-winning top 20 PR agency in the US based out of our 1166 Avenue of the Americas, New York City office. We are known for needle-moving public relations programs, a novel approach, and innovative people who deliver measurable, game-changing results.
What strategic partnerships/marketing strategies have you implemented that have attributed to 5WPR's success?
We are an aggressive agency in a passive industry. We work with the media to build our brand and utilize public relations to garner awareness for ourselves. We understand speed and the need to deliver results. Everyone here pitches media, from myself to my most junior employees.
What industry trends are you noticing and how do you capitalize on them?
A big trend I’ve noticed in the industry is newsjacking. At its most basic, newsjacking is using current news that’s garnering a lot of interest and injecting your views and product information into the storyline. It’s beneficial in public relations because it provides an outlet to increase exposure and awareness of your brand while being extremely relevant.
There are really so many as I am a collector of quotes and have them all over my office. Two of my favorites include “Build It and They Will Come” to "Live an ethical, balanced life with honor, integrity, and laughter." My next two would also have to be from the book Samson, "Tell them three things in my name, not two: Gather iron, anoint a king, and learn to laugh” to the very simple, yet so accurate “There is no substitute for hard work.”
Real. Resourceful. Results. It reflects 5W's values for our clients and employees. We exist to help the companies, people and issues we work for get attention in today's noisy, crowded world. We think on our feet, relentlessly uncover opportunities and never lose sight of our clients' goals. We are known for big ideas and smart, resourceful programs and people that deliver game-changing results.
Your greatest success as Founder/CEO of 5WPR? Most difficult moment-how did you overcome and what did you learn?
Being listed in the Top 20 independent PR Agencies in the US. Most midsize or large PR agencies are owned by really old people. When I say 'old people' I mean old in age and old in thinking. Most who own PR firms are people who wear suspenders at the age of 60 or something, and they're not young and creative and fresh.
I think my younger, fresher approach has proven to be extremely successful. To grow my business in an unconventional way, the way I envisioned would be successful, not the way everyone else in the industry was doing it, is very rewarding. As a self-made New Yorker, the grandson of Holocaust survivors, I am the American dream.
Your advice to an aspiring entrepreneur?
Being a successful entrepreneur requires a lot of planning. Here are my five tips to succeed as an entrepreneur:
1) Offer what people want to buy
2) Work really hard
3) Believe In Yourself
4) Always overestimate expenses and underestimate revenues
5) Be a sales and marketing maniac
Describe the ideal experience using 5WPR.
5WPR’s goal is always to work as a seamless extension of our clients’ team. We develop tactical PR programs and offer an unyielding commitment to helping clients we believe in achieve the attention and respect they deserve. We secure top-notch media coverage for our clientele on a daily basis.
The successes we deliver stem from a close partnership, an understanding of clients’ needs, and a strategic approach to designing programs that accomplish their goals. We take pride in the successes we achieve for our clients.
How do you motivate your employees?
I would say our employees are motivated by being part of 5WPR. Our employees feel motivated to work hard and deliver results being part of such a strong team, working among top PR executives and advocating for some of the world’s biggest brands. 5WPR and our clients are constantly raising the bar and our employees consistently exceed our expectations.
Our employees’ passion is contagious. We know how diligently our employees are working, so we regularly give recognition where it’s due and opportunities for advancement. Any of my employees will tell you, this job is what you make of it. Our employees are happy to be here.
One food and drink left on earth, what would you choose?
Diet Coke of which I am an addict, and a slice of good old fashioned NYC pizza.
What literature is on your bed stand?
The Prince by Machiavelli or The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
Role model - business and personal?
My mom. She was born in a WWII Displaced Persons camp to a family of Holocaust survivors who would later move to Israel and ultimately the United States. Of the many things my mom taught me that made me who I am today, she taught me giving back was a necessary component for success.
Even though we had little when I was growing up, we knew the importance of charity. I have carried that concept with me throughout my life and career. I founded the Ronn Torossian Foundation, an institution that supports local and global initiatives with a focus on education, community and healthcare, with my mother’s values in mind.
The experiences I’ve had in my career have cemented my belief that giving back to the community and society at large is a crucial element of both personal happiness and success.
As a professional communicator, there are many great communications visionaries I admire, from Winston Churchill to Richard Branson. And last but not least, I learn every day from the very talented staff at the great PR firm called 5WPR.
Anything involving my family. I work very hard, and when I’m not working, I enjoy my family. I usually prefer a quiet night with my family. That being said, I live in Manhattan and there are so many great restaurants and cultural experiences, and I certainly love having Central Park as my backyard.
Favorite travel destination?
What's next for 5WPR?
In the past year, we’ve seen tremendous growth; seeing record growth and opening an office in Denver, Colorado. We’re focusing on the future and constantly modernizing our approach and adapting to the changes among us, so we can experience continued success in the years to come.