Must-See Monday “Rough and Tumble: Public Relations for Startups with Aly Saxe”

Public relations isn’t just about getting the story out, said public relations professional turned  entrepreneur, Aly Saxe, to a group of public relations students and professionals at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication on Monday.

Saxe, the founder of Ubiquity PR and Iris PR Software, presented “Rough and Tumble: Public Relations for Startups” at the Cronkite School’s signature Must-See Monday event.

During the presentation, she described public relations strategies, went over what entrepreneurs should expect when looking into public relations, and gave tips to students.

Saxe described public relations as getting the story out to the public and making people aware of a company or a product.

“I have considered my own definition of PR as getting the story out through a variety of mediums with the intent to hit a specific target,” said Saxe during an onstage interview conducted by Alan Lobock, a cofounder of SkyMall and a Reynolds visiting professor in Journalism Entrepreneurship.

Lobock said public relations means having to create stories to get on a people’s radar.

Saxe said public relations is important for entrepreneurs in today’s world because the startup culture is at a record high.

According to private-equity firm Veronhis Suhler Stevenson, spending on public relations services in the U.S. totaled $5.7 billion in 2010 with the number predicted to increase with time.

“PR is not here is our new stuff. It is here is our company and here is why you should care. It is digging in and finding the real heart of the company’s story. It is what is going to get somebody noticed,” said Saxe.

The biggest misconception that entrepreneurs have is that the entrepreneur is going to have one major article that propels them to success instantly, she said.

“Entrepreneurs need to come in with realistic expectations. They come in with big expectations, but PR is apart of a bigger marketing strategy,” said Saxe.

Saxe grabbed the attention of the audience when she said, “PR is the redheaded stepchild of marketing. Everyone hates it.”

Mindy Riesenberg, who is seeking a master’s degree in digital media and has spent 20 years in the marketing and public relations field, disagreed with Saxe’s view of the marketing department disliking public relations.

“In my 20 years of experience, I never felt that way. I was always integrated with marketing. I thought that is was very odd that she was describing PR as the bastard stepchild. I thought that was very misleading for the people who want to go into PR,” said Riesenberg after the speech.

Bryce Bozadjian, a sophomore studying public relations and film, said that Saxe’s presentation taught her that PR doesn’t have only a creative side, but involves a lot of analysis.

“I was a little shocked at the amount of technical terms she threw around. PR certainly has its creative aspects, but it is also a lot of measuring and analyzing data. After hearing Saxe talk I am even more motivated to learn more about PR,” said Bozadjian after the presentation.

The next Must-See Monday will be Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. in the First Amendment Forum at the Cronkite School. The topic will be “Next-generation Reporting:Using Data.” The guest speaker will be Pulitzer-Prize winner Sarah Cohen.


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