January 23, 2017
Who is Dan Dent?
My story began in Chicago, where I grew up, enjoyed life as a Cubs-Bears-Bulls fan, married my lovely wife, Sarah, and then started my career in PR. Now I’m in Boston, with a family of five, loads of experience in B2B technology PR, including two stints on my own, and a great year ahead of me as president of PRSA Boston. When I’m not running the occasional half marathon, I ply my trade at Draper, surely one of the grandees of the technology and engineering industry in Cambridge, or anywhere.
You’ve been a PRSA member since 1996 and a board member since 2010. What is your focus for 2017?
PRSA is unlike any other professional organization in that we are all about the member experience at every stage, and that goes for college students through career professionals to retirees. Even well intentioned professional societies find themselves serving the large middle of their membership, and undeserving so many others. PRSA is different in that we see value in connecting people at every stage. My focus for 2017 will be along those lines: celebrating and enhancing the member experience.
Why are you involved in PRSA and what has it meant for your career?
In my career, I’ve had the privilege of working in PR agencies, corporations, non-profits and on my own. At every turn, PRSA was there when I needed a resource or smart colleague to help me set my course. At the end of the day, we are all in a client service business, and that means you need great ideas, great execution and great relationship building skills. I’ve learned all those things at PRSA.
What is your recommendations for those considering PRSA membership?
Start with meeting our members. There’s quite a variety, and a million reasons people join PRSA. Some come for the networking, others for professional development, and still others want to explore career options with a trusted community. Over the years, I’ve received job leads, new business leads, advice about client management and creative programs. You can attend a PRSA meeting even if you aren’t a member – that’s a great way to start.
When you’re not involved with PRSA Boston or doing your full-time PR gig, what do you do?
I’m a coach for girls lacrosse, a board member for our town lacrosse team, an active member and communications contributor at our church, and the go-to guy for all things related to our golden retriever, Maisy.
Tell us something not many people know about you (Don’t worry, we’ll keep it a secret?)
I once spent a season backpacking alone in Europe, where I discovered you can live on very little money, very few clothes and scant local knowledge as long as you can build rapport with strangers and make them your friends.
January 9, 2017
PRSA Boston was thrilled to sit down with Sharon Barbano, Saucony’s head of public relations, to discuss sports PR, marketing to women, and what were the best and worst PR/marketing experiences that she has faced during her career. Sharon will be PRSA Boston’s featured speaker in January as she talks about “Find Your Strong: The PR Athlete” on Wednesday, January 25, 2017 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the Wolverine Worldwide headquarters in Boston. To get your ticket, visit eventbrite HERE.
Here are five questions that we asked Sharon during our conversation.
Q1: What does it take to be a winning PR Athlete?
A: Two runners stand at the starting line of the Boston Marathon. Both have similar body types, training programs, and personal bests. Who crosses the finish line first? The one who expected to win finishes first.
Winning is an action. But first, you need the mindset to be a winner. Just like that runner, a winning mindset is the key to becoming a successful PR pro. But you can’t develop a winning mindset until you program your mind to be a winner. That’s where the hard work comes in. Discovering your life’s purpose, exploring your possibilities, and establishing your presence in the world are part of the groundwork. Next comes goal setting, planning, and visualization. Of course, all of this is futile without the passion to win. You’ve got to love what you do.
Q2: You’ve always been passionate about marketing to women and even ran your own agency−the Women’s Sports Marketing Group−which tapped into the power of women’s sports to help high-growth brands gain female market share. What’s the secret to winning this majority consumer?
A: There is an old journalism adage: “Follow the money, follow the women or follow both.” I’m suggesting that marketers do the same. Women drive an estimated 85 percent of consumer spending with their purchasing power and influence, yet women still say that marketers don’t understand them. Here’s my Eight-C Chicklist ™; it was developed based on the principles I learned and continue to follow while working with the majority consumer:
- Connection: A woman’s purchasing decision is based on how a certain service or product will improve her life.
- Communication: Understanding the difference between listening and hearing are crucial in the communication process between a brand and its female customers. Once you’ve listened, respond. Only then will she know that she’s really been heard.
- Choice: According to research, the average 30-year-old woman has nearly 24 pairs of shoes in her closet. Why so many? She wants a choice: she works at the office and works out at the gym; she runs errands on Saturday and 5K’s on Sunday; she meets her friends in the city and her kids’ teachers at PTC. Her 360-degree lifestyle demands options.
- Customization: And while we’re on shoes, if the shoe fits, she’ll wear it; but only if it fits her really well. They need to feel and perform to her personal needs. Today’s female consumer expects products created just for her.
- Consistency: Defection comes easy. Let her down once, and she’s off into the arms of another brand. It’s not fickleness; its unmet expectations.
- Cause-Related: According to a recent AOL study, 54 percent of millennial women switched brands because it supported a cause they cared about. What does that mean? More cause marketing, of course.
- Convenience: Millennials crave convenience stores with women now shopping at them as much or more than men. It demonstrates how valuable time is for today’s multi-dimensional woman. By streamlining her life with apps and ease of accessibility, a brand can become part of her solution, and she becomes part of the brand.
- Credibility: Millennial women are digitally-savvy people. They know what’s fake and what’s not. They crave authenticity. Female shoppers respond strongly to content shared by other women, transforming everyday consumers into influential brand advocates.
Q3: What is your worst PR/marketing experience and what did you learn from it?
A: During the 2008 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in NYC’s Central Park, Saucony athlete and friend Ryan Shay collapsed and died at the 5-mile mark from a sudden cardiac event. Ryan’s family, the Saucony family, and the entire running community were devastated. A month later, we established a memorial bench at the site in Central Park where Ryan collapsed and held a memorial event there with Ryan’s family, the media, and the whole Saucony team attending.
Each year since then, the day before the NYC Marathon, the whole Saucony team runs together before dawn to Ryan’s bench, leaving behind a pair of running shoes in his honor. This experience continues to underline the importance of always having a crisis communications plan ready to execute. Because of our plan, we were ready and able to do the right thing in the midst of tragedy, not only to manage the media but also to grieve with Ryan’s family and the running community as a whole.
Q4: What was your best PR/marketing experience and what did you learn from it?
A: I was given the opportunity to launch the PR function at Saucony 15 years ago and have continued to successfully oversee the brand’s communication strategy single-handedly. While it would have been easy to use the excuse that we didn’t have an agency to support my individual efforts and thus accept self-mediocrity, I took it as a challenge. I now know from experience that nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Wishing will not. Talent will not. Bigger teams will not. Persistence is a powerful force.
Q5: Can you describe yourself in one word?
Sharon Barbano, head of Public Relations for Saucony, is an industry leader in strategic communications and sports marketing with more than 25 years of experience in entrepreneurial and corporate leadership positions. At Saucony, Sharon has applied her passion as a former world-class runner to communicate the brand’s award-winning performance running technologies while inspiring others to experience the transformational power of running. Prior to joining Saucony 15 years ago, Sharon was Reebok’s Group Director for Women’s Global Marketing. Sharon is the race analyst for many of the nation’s top running events; her on-air commentary has included television and radio coverage of the Boston, Chicago, LA, and New York City Marathons. Sharon was named a 2015 Achilles Hero by the Achilles Foundation for her work in the encouragement of disabled people to participate in mainstream running events. She was presented with the Women’s Trailblazer Award by Running USA and is a recipient of the Woman of Distinction Award from the National Association of Women in Education.
About Fast 5
This is a feature of PRSA Boston’s Hot Topics blog page. The expert subject is someone who is clearly in demand, on the go, and nailing them down for a conversation is about as easy as … winning Powerball at $1.5 billion! But we know leaders like to share, so check back for insights, wisdom, author’s books about to hit the stands and other valuable tips. @prsaboston #prsabos
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author or the individual being interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PRSA Boston, PRSA National, staff or board of directors of either organization.
January 6, 2017
Who is Sofia Coon?
I’m 26 years old and am originally from Syracuse, NY. I’m currently a Senior Account Executive at Scratch Marketing and Media in Cambridge, MA. I’ve been with the company for about a year and a half and love the technology startups and companies we work with. I enjoy that I can nerd out on things like data integration, mobile apps, customer experience platforms and more. Trying to find a basic way to explain complex things is a fun challenge for me. I am extremely passionate about public relations and love that I get to help shape the strategy and messaging used by a client to provide awareness for them within their industry.
You’ve been a board member for a few years. What is your focus for 2017?
I was a PRSSA member at both Curry College in Milton, MA where I earned my Bachelor’s and Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY where I earned my Master’s. When I moved back to Boston, I immediately got involved with the Boston chapter as I knew it would give me the networking contacts and friends that I would need throughout my career. I started on the junior leadership team, working to reinvigorate the young professionals network (YPN) with a colleague. The two of us recreated the program structure for professionals with 5 or less years’ experience, hosting networking sessions and events that catered to what the new PR professional needs to know. In 2016, I was asked to become a Director at Large on the board. I am now in my second term, continuing work with YPN as well as being a part of the committee for the 2017 PRSA International Conference, which will be held in Boston this fall. I am also working with our campus connection program – providing Boston area schools with information on the tools and resources PRSA can provide rising juniors and seniors. I look forward to seeing what all three opportunities bring in 2017 and continuing to be a part of the board for years to come.
Why are you involved with PRSA and what has it meant for your career?
PRSA has always been a rock for me. The seasoned professionals I’ve met have been through a number of the same obstacles and challenges that I have. I know I can count on them to respond to an email, help me with a recommendation or provide me the advice and guidance that will continue to send me down a successful career path in the future. All I can do is to continue to have the same “pay it forward” mentality and do what I can for the generations of PR professionals behind me. I also know that I can reach out to a PRSA member internationally and more likely than not they are happy to answer any questions I may have. I was recently doing some industry research in Canada and had multiple members that were willing to have phone and video conversations to tell me about their experiences.
What is your recommendations for individuals thinking about joining PRSA?
I always offer them a chance to be a guest at an event or to look at what the national website has to offer in terms of webinars and mentorships. I have a number of examples of how PRSA has helped me navigate my career and I can share how it will help them if they become a part of the network.
When you’re not involved with PRSA Boston or doing your full time PR gig, what do you do?
I love reading and reviewing books. I have so many daily adventures in my job, but I love reading about other worlds and time periods. I’m also a big musical theater and drama nerd. I used to be on the board of a theater company in Wayland, MA and now volunteer for box office or front of house management when I have the opportunity. My boyfriend and I also love going on road trips. Vermont is one of our favorite places to go when we have a long weekend.
Tell us something not many people know about you (Don’t worry….we’ll keep it a secret!).
I have a bookstagram! I’m getting it back up and running in 2017 as I had to take a small hiatus, but follow me on @BookishBlueFox for some book recommendations and to follow my personal reading challenge of 60 books in 12 months (I read 55 in 2016).