PR Perspective – Jonny Rosemont

Jonny This week’s PR Perspective feature’s Jonny Rosemont.  In a strange twist of fate, it turns out I used to work with Jonny’s mother.  Small world.  Anyway, Jonny is a PR professional of four years. He is currently a consultant in Weber Shandwick’s dedicated web relations team, comprising digital and social media strategies for all of it’s and Golin Harris’ (Weber’s sister agency) clients. His existing and previous client portfolio includes high-profile names such as Microsoft, Gartner, BT, Toshiba and Berry Bros. & Rudd. His blog, The Rosemont Loving, offers a reflection of his opinions and interests relating to PR and beyond.

How long have you been blogging?
Since August 2004, I’m celebrating (by myself) my 3 year blogging anniversary this month.

Why did you start?
I didn’t really start for professional reasons, although one of the reasons was to improve the quality of my writing. Effectively though, I used to be one of those people who sent loads of “funny” emails to friends…you know the type of emails you get loads of on a Friday afternoon! I decided not to continue annoying people and run a site where people could ultimately opt-in to see. I think the remit of the blog continues to be the same – it’s a place where people I know can be updated on the things I care about and the opinions I have. PR is only a small bit of it; I don’t want it to be just another PR blog. I’d like to thank PR Lord of the Sith Ged Carroll (http://renaissancechambara.com) for showing me the light though, he helped me set up the first incarnation of the blog.

Do you thinking blogging has helped your business?
I’d say so…for a start it has played a big part in me getting my current job (web relations consultant at Weber Shandwick). My blog has ultimately led me to be interested in the Internet and how it is continually changing communications and how we practice PR. In my previous job at Bite Communications, my fascination of blogging and all things social media helped me play a big part in developing the company’s online services. I worked closely with James Warren, who I then followed to WS. Robin to his Batman and without the silly costumes.

What do you feel is the biggest challenge about writing a blog?
Simple: it is the challenge to keep it going and interesting. Time is obviously a constraint and when you have so many other responsibilities, blogging is often neglected. I try to post at least three or four times a week, even if it’s just highlighting the links to stories that I’ve taken an interest in. Having been an active blogger for three years though, I know it’s all about peaks and troughs – so you’ll probably see a ramp up in activity in the near future.

In the last few months I’ve also seen a great number of PR professionals entering the blogosphere. The challenge remains the same – i.e. keeping blogs fresh with decent content – but it is also a great opportunity for the PR industry to really drive forward thought leadership, which can only be a good thing. There might be an argument to create some kind of industry body, but someone less busy than me can organise that!

What do you want your readers to know about you?
They probably already know too much about me already! New readers will probably come to learn fairly quickly that I’m pretty opinionated and politically incorrect. I think that’s partly why I’ve managed to build up a wee, but dedicated following. Ultimately though, to be a successful PR or marketing person, I think you need to have interests outside of work and my blog is a great reflection of mine. I’m always free to meet for a beer with any like-minded folk.

Which other blogs do you read regularly and why?
You’ll probably see that my blogroll is pretty extensive…I often find it is the bane of my life when reading. That said, I really do feel that most of the best thought-provoking stuff is in blogs; that’s why I’m so committed to the cause. Some of my PR blog must-reads are Colin Byrne, Steve Rubel, David Brain and TWL. I really could go on, there are absolutely loads worth mentioning. It is, however, in my “contract” to read Mr Warren’s (http://jameswarren.wordpress.com), so I really have to give a shout out to him 😉 Oh and watch this space for something from us in the near future…

If you knew someone was thinking about starting a PR related blog what advice would you want to give them?
Go ahead! If it improves your learning about PR, marketing, the media etc. then it can only be a good thing for your own career progression and the industry as a whole. Read others, get engaged in the wider debate and enjoy it. There are loads of blogs that are already out there but that doesn’t matter – ideas and thinking can come from many a source. Personally I’d like to see a rise in collaborative blogging, which I’m sure we will.

Do you think Web 2.0 is having an impact on how PR is practiced?
I hope so – otherwise I’ll be out of a job! Personally I’m of the opinion that the PR industry will be dead if it doesn’t engrain itself in Web 2.0 and beyond. The simple fact is that Generation Y and others are consuming more information on the web than any other media, so it is our job to make sure our clients are there, entering discussions and having direct contact with their customers. There is so much we can do, and clients/agencies should be embracing it with open arms. That said, in my opinion, there are still way too many sceptics. I really feel we are at the tipping point right now, so the industry has to decide which way it should go. It really doesn’t get anymore fascinating.

What’s the biggest challenge in PR?
Getting decent talent in is a problem for the industry; effectively you really have to be adamant and committed to be successful in PR because the wages at a junior level are, frankly, outrageous. London is a pricey city after years of university debt, and it’s even harder work once you’ve embarked on your PR career.

The other big challenge is the ongoing focus on media coverage. PR is not all about getting media exposure; ultimately, it is about improving and maintaining  perceptions about any given company and improving their bottom line.  This objective is often lost in the battle to justify marketing spend and the biggest barrier we are having is getting clients to commit to social media activity and view this as a vital way to engage influencers and consumers.

What would be your advice to someone who is looking to embark on a career in PR?
PR is all about developing decent relationships, being creative, understanding the media and working bloody hard. If you are a personable individual who is always up for a bit of a challenge then PR is certainly a good career option for you. Not many other industries give you an opportunity to really affect corporate strategy from day one – not even in the city. So, how can it not be appealing?!

Is there a question you wish I had asked you?
Enough about me, let’s talk about you.

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