As part of my series about the “How Business Leaders Plan To Rebuild In The Post COVID Economy,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Steve Dubin.
Steve Dubin, president of PR WORKS, knows the “marketing” business. His newspaper career started by covering the Boston Celtics for the New Bedford Standard Times, Steve and Larry Bird shared rookie years. From there Steve progressed to editing and marketing positions in several publishing companies, including Mariner Newspapers.
He is the author of the E-Book “PR 101” — download for free at www.PRWorkZone.com. Steve has is a contributing author to “Get Slightly Famous”, a book about becoming a celebrity in your field and attracting more business with less effort and “Tricks of the Trade”, the complete guide to succeeding in the advice business.
He understands that good marketing has to be a win-win. Content must be useful and interesting to an editor’s primary audience. Free exposure is only available to those who recognize news angles, package news in a digestible form, and take care of all the details of story placement — from arranging interviews to providing appropriate visuals.
Steve is the past president of the New England Franchise Association, founding president of the South Shore Ad Club and founder member of My Pinnacle Network, a business-to-business lead generation group with eight groups throughout Massachusetts.
He has presented seminars on various marketing topics for the Association of Franchisees and Dealers; Small Business Development Center, University of Massachusetts/Dartmouth; Metro South Chamber of Commerce; New England Healthcare Assembly; and South Shore Women’s Business Network.
He resides in America’s hometown Plymouth, MA with his wife Wendy.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Before PR, I had legitimate work. My newspaper career started with writing feature stories about the Boston Celtics for the New Bedford Standard Times. Larry Bird and I shared rookie years. From there I progressed to editing and marketing positions in several publishing companies, including Mariner Newspapers, a group of weeklies South of Boston.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
The biggest challenge in the PR business is often your co-workers. As writers, they know how to talk and can talk the day away. The “Hey, Steve” factor of shouts from the next desk were eating up my day. I had to build a wall and create a private space for my first office to be productive. I learned that it didn’t matter where I worked from — the office, home or Panera Bread — I needed quiet, focused time to be productive.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
“Guerrilla Marketing” by Jay Conrad opened my eyes and mind. It outlined the low cost, high impact, out of the box campaigns that I wanted to implement for clients. From a Gun Buyback program for a regional ambulance company to working with a regional body shop to completely renovate a crashed car as part of a Prom Safety program, I enjoy creating partnerships and reaping the rewards.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
As a former journalist, I saw newspapers as a single flavor — vanilla. I knew that there were so many other ways to tell a story, share the many flavors. Thus, I created a PR company that looked at every situation as a unique opportunity. There are many channels to choose from and I wanted to help clients chose prudently and gain quick traction.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
Take a personal interest in the client. Understand that their business is both their livelihood and their baby. Encourage collaboration — they know their industry. I know marketing. Often times we are the first marketing firms they’ve ever worked with. Thus, I help them understand the process and how we can maximize our efforts.
Thank you for all that. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. For the benefit of empowering our readers, can you share with our readers a few of the personal and family related challenges you faced during this crisis? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
My daughter Hannah is a recent college grad and a registered dietician. Her first job is working in two nursing homes — the petri dish of the pandemic. We talk, text and email daily to make sure everyone is making good decisions and remaining healthy.
My wife is a behavioral therapist and has been working remotely via Telemedicine. We try to retain our sanity via long walks and laughs about the topsy turvy world.
Can you share a few of the biggest work related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
We’ve faced both ends of the spectrum. Several clients put us on a dreaded “furlough” due to their reduced revenue during the pandemic. Others have ramped up with the perspective that they need to communicate even more clearly and regularly to their customers, staff, supply chain and other stakeholders. Thus, we dug in and offered creative solutions to help clients through these hard times.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. What are a few ideas that you have used to offer support to your family and loved ones who were feeling anxious? Can you explain?
First, we do a lot of Zoom calls so that we are often face to face and having a human experience. Second, I reiterate “This too shall pass.” Although this situation is more than disruptive, we will return to some level of normalcy. Third, on a simple level, I started a movie/TV content sharing email stream that includes offbeat reviews and suggestions among friends and family.
Obviously we can’t know for certain what the Post-Covid economy will look like. But we can of course try our best to be prepared. We can reasonably assume that the Post-Covid economy will be a trying time for many people across the globe. Yet at the same time the Post-Covid growth can be a time of opportunity. Can you share a few of the opportunities that you anticipate in the Post-Covid economy?
Home/office delivery — from food to intellectual content — will continue to be a staple. We are exploring ways that clients can streamline the delivery of goods and services. Internally we are expanding a podcast service — both arranging guest appearances for clients or helping them build a podcast from the ground up. This brings them intimately and directly into homes and offices.
How do you think the COVID pandemic might permanently change the way we behave, act or live?
Big crowds, big events may be a thing of the past, at least for now. Similar to narrow-casting, we will need to impact people in smaller groups and more frequently.
Considering the potential challenges and opportunities in the Post-Covid economy, what do you personally plan to do to rebuild and grow your business or organization in the Post-Covid Economy?
In addition to podcasting, we are developing new products/services that engage prospects and coax them to take action. New offerings will include E-books, Webinars, Speakers Bureaus, E-newsletters and improved online and in-person networking.
Similarly, what would you encourage others to do?
Take a real broad view of how to reach new audiences and stand out. Example — Our client Crescent Ridge Dairy is expanding their milk delivery to a much more expansive farm to table delivery service. New business is booming.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I tell my kids, (Abraham, 32; Isaac, 29 and Hannah, 23) “If you are not making mistakes, you are not trying hard enough.” In other words, go and try new stuff. Swing away. Enjoy your successes. Don’t sweat your loses.
How can our readers further follow your work?
They can read my blog on www.PRWorkZone.com or my LinkedIn postings under my name — Steven V. Dubin.