Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5WPR, one of the top PR agencies in the country. With clients ranging from Lil Kim to Whole Foods to Marc Ecko, Torossian continues the legacy of excellence developed by his company since its inception in 2003 by sharing some of his knowledge of the game. In his new book, For Immediate Release, he drops gems on how to successfully utilize public relations, marketing and branding in the digital age. VIBE caught up with him to talk about the inspiration behind his book and to get some insight into why everyone could learn a thing or two about good public relations.
Talk about the concept behind For Immediate Release and the inspiration behind creating it.
I think there’s a lot of people who talk about PR and very few of them actually earn a living doing PR. I’m not a professor or someone who learns things from classrooms I’m somebody who makes a living from doing PR and so I wanted to offer people the opportunity to learn what real life PR is about.
You’re right that there are a lot of self proclaimed publicists out there, so what’s the science behind effective PR?
There’s a lot of different things. I think being effective at PR means understanding your brand, who you are, what success looks like and it’s different if you’re a celebrity or if you’re a Fortune 500 corporation of if you’re a local store. There’s different goals and objectives in terms of what good PR looks like but certainly, good PR is only good if its strategic and if it’s focused. All press is not good and all attention is not good. It’s about having the right exposure for your brand.
You’ve worked with various celebrities who have had their fair share of drama so what’s the first thing you should do when the client is going through a crisis?
First of all, realize that a crisis is exactly that, a crisis [and] it doesn’t wait for you. That means you need to act quickly, even if you have other things or distractions going on. Nobody cares if your basement is flooded and nobody cares if your Aunt Bertha is sick, the media is going to write the story with or without you. So you have to be a part of the story and there’s a lot of different things that have to be considered when you’re doing that, so it could be anything from a lawyer that gets in the way—lawyers might tell you “Hey, if you make the wrong statement a year from now when we’re in court you’re gonna have a problem with that,” well guess what, your business, your customers, your employees might not wait a year for that story to come out so it’s going to hurt you along the way; its going to hurt you way before you ever get to court. So that’s something to consider. You need to know that crisis is immediate, its not waiting, its going to happen very quickly and he needs to be prepared and ready for the crisis so it means you have to think about everything from what will your Google search results look like if you don’t handle it to what will your customers say, to what will your vendors say so its happening quickly and the world moves very quickly and you’ve got to be prepared. Warren Buffet said something very interesting, which is that it takes 20 years to build a relationship and to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it.
In your book you talk a lot about public image so in terms of social media, particularly Twitter, do you think it’s smart for celebs to have a Twitter?
I think celebrities need a Twitter page, I think that the best thing that people should realize is that their public brand is always out there. What that means is that you shouldn’t be tweeting things that you don’t want the whole world to know so if you’re out drunk and you don’t want anybody to know well then don’t tweet it. If you don’t want somebody to see naked pictures of you then don’t send it, look at Anthony Weiner. That’s the world we live in today and it’s true whether [or not] you’re a celebrity. People can talk all they want about privacy online but guess what? If you’re applying for a job somewhere and your email is email@example.com then you should change that before you’re applying for a job. We had an intern a few years ago who tweeted about [her] leaving work and going to get high, well [she] didn’t need to worry about coming back to work the next day. That’s not something I want associated with our brand and many of our people don’t think of that. So, you need to understand that people have to have a public [and] private persona and that goes for celebrities and many other people as well.
Is it a good or bad that fans have more access to their favorite celebrities online?
It’s a good and a bad thing because what does that mean? It means more access is good but you also have to be careful with it. Again, today is a world where everybody has instant access and demand instant access to everything. If your best friend calls you and you don’t call back in a few they’re going to think you’re dead and one has to realize that in terms of how they communicate. So. It’s great and negative to have instant access. So what I would tell you is, that you have to be very prepared ready and cognitive of the various things that instant communication means. It means that you can be rewarded but you can also be endangered.
As a publicist but also a celebrity in your own right, how do you balance being on both sides of the fence?
For me, it’s very important for us to promote our business the right way, which means that I wanted to write a book because I think that we have a lot to share with people from our success. I’m 37, I started this business, a NYC public school kid who thank God was educated and I’m an entrepreneur who has built a business, and it’s important for me that we share some of the things that we’ve learned along the way. So, when were working for a client its all about our client, we don’t share any secrets in the book. This is not a tell- all book [that] reveals client’s secrets. This is a book where we’re talking about strategies and focuses to win at PR.