Gail Bergman, head of Toronto-based public relations firm Gail Bergman PR, has helped hundreds of organizations raise brand awareness, increase sales, and connect with customers, stakeholders and employees for more than two decades.
Since launching the firm in 1994, Bergman and her team have developed and managed public relations campaigns for large and small companies and not-for-profit organizations across North America, specializing in media relations, social media marketing and communications.
Over the years, Bergman’s PR campaigns have ranged from consumer product launches, B2B promotions and blogger events, to trade and consumer shows, news conferences and media spokesperson training.
An accredited PR practitioner (APR) in both Canada and the U.S.A., Bergman has a background in journalism and sits on the judging panel for the Canadian Public Relations Society’s annual national industry awards.
What sets your firm apart from the competition?
In an industry that sees its fair share of hype, we are all about measurable results. We listen very carefully to the needs of our clients, set strategic goals and don’t stop until we deliver what we set out to achieve. Not all communicators are business people. We are both. As experienced business people, we understand our clients’ messages and how they want them to be communicated. As creative communicators, we get our clients’ messages where they need to go. Our firm’s success is a direct reflection of our clients’ success.
What advice do you have for companies when it comes to PR?
We all learn from an early age that it’s not only what you say that matters, but also how and to whom you say it. On a corporate level, it’s no different. Regardless of size, every company needs a communications plan to reach and connect with their target audience, whoever that may be. As in life, business is all about communication – getting the right message to the right people at the right time in the right way. A strategic public relations program is key in helping to achieve that.
What are some of the biggest challenges PR firms face today?
The PR industry has seen a major transformation over the last several years as a result of technological innovations. The numerous multimedia platforms out there — from traditional media to blogs and social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and others — provide a greater opportunity to get messages across to target audiences, yet at the same time, increase communication chaos. As PR specialists, we have to be more creative than ever to cut through the clutter and ensure our clients’ messages get to where they need to go. Today, anyone can get a message out in seconds. It’s the skilled communicators, however, who are able to get credible third parties talking to the right audiences about specific companies, products, services, events or announcements, and position messages in a way that increases their likelihood of going viral.
What is the future of PR and why?
Companies will always have a need to reach their stakeholders, so demand for PR will remain strong. Traditional media such as newspapers, magazines, television and radio will remain important communication vehicles, albeit with a greater online focus, while journalists themselves — with their personal social accounts pushing out original content — will become more important conduits for messaging. As digital platforms continue to evolve and new technologies are introduced, PR strategies will increasingly need to incorporate multi-platform options to effectively communicate with targeted audiences. Due to our increasingly instantaneous, “tell me what I need to know now” world where people have shorter attention spans, future content will be even more concise and to the point. We’ll see increased use of visuals such as videos, infographics and images, to help communicate messages in an impactful and entertaining way. Creativity will be the key to success in the future world of PR, both in terms of message content and delivery.
What are some misconceptions about PR?
A common myth is that an organization needs to have a breakthrough product or revolutionary announcement in order to do PR. While a strong story is no doubt helpful in generating significant results, it is not always necessary. A good PR professional is able to create news and develop an angle that will get the organization’s message attention among its target audience. It is also important to understand that PR is not just about news releases, another common misconception. Brand, image and relationship building are achievable through many additional PR strategies today.