The Qwoted 100 series of PR superstars prides itself on featuring folks with a wide range of experience, specialties and philosophies about media relations done right. This time around, we’ve got a truly established veteran: Denver-based Aimee Bennett. As principal of Fagan Business Communications, Bennett is going on 34 years in the business.
It’s not often you’ll meet a media maven with an MBA as well (Bennett earned hers at the University of Minnesota) with such a wide spectrum of specialties. Bennett’s on point in fields from travel to tech, and with services from media coaching to marketing. Here, Bennett talks about the importance of adopting the mindset of a journalist by providing valuable context to reporters — and doing what she calls “the a-ha work.”
Qwoted: What do you see as the future of PR—technologically, strategically, or in any category you’re passionate about?
Aimee Bennett: While technology will continue to drive areas of tactical public relations execution, the need for smart, creative thinking will be greater than ever. Getting a message out, and successfully implementing the basics of public relations – creating relationships with an organization’s publics – will take fully understanding the business, the industry, and audience wants and needs with an unprecedented level of detail.
Qwoted: What do you think you do that other PRs could learn from?
Bennett: Doing the “a-ha” work. That means really digging in and learning the business of the organization you’re working with, talking regularly with decision-makers and those in key roles, asking smart questions and listening for what’s interesting and newsworthy. If you have your “news hat” on, you’ll find those newsworthy nuggets – those “A-ha! That’s interesting!” moments that someone in the business would never identify as interesting.
Qwoted: What’s your toughest challenge with reporters?
Bennett: Getting attention at major publications with smaller, unknown companies – even if the spokesperson has solid input and views.
Qwoted: How do you approach breaking through the noise floor to get effective coverage?
Bennett: Work to understand what individual journalists actually need to do their jobs. Read/watch/listen to their work. Ask them for specifics. Then deliver that information, and only that information.
Qwoted: How does PR in 2023 square with the future of journalism?
Bennett: Media outlet staffs will likely continue to shrink, so public relations professionals will have to provide more and more information to time-strapped journalists. Particularly for major publications, media relations specialists will need to adopt even more of an “in-house journalist” role to find and provide the data, stories and input media needs. In addition, outlets will rely more on contributed articles.
Qwoted: What advice would you give to those seeking to find an effective PR person?
Bennett: Look for someone with solid business background and knowledge, as well as excellent news judgment. The latter doesn’t have to be developed over years and years; some people develop it working on a high school newspaper, some hone it early in their careers and others can learn quickly.
Qwoted: What is your golden rule of PR?
Bennett: Work hard, be honest and do the right thing — even when it’s inconvenient, tiring or uncomfortable.
Qwoted: Anything else to add?
Bennett: Keep things varied, stay sharp and informed, and have fun.