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PR Rock Stars: HealthFitness’ Andy Jacobson

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A few weeks ago, a colleague recommended to me that I feature more experienced pros within this series from time to time. Maybe I had gotten a bit *too* focused on our millennial audience in 2016. But, rest assured, I certainly haven’t forgotten about our more senior-level counselors, as I’ve showcased people like Betsy Anderson, Holly Spaeth, Richie Escovedo, and Melissa Berggren (now Melissa Voronyak), in the past.

And today, I wanted to add another experienced counselor to that list: Andy Jacobson. Now, Andy is a client. So, you could construe this post as Arik keeping a client happy. Except, that’s not what it is at all. I got to know Andy about a year ago when we started working together. What we soon discovered is that we have a number of common interests–chief among them: Great TV shows!

Let’s hear about Andy Jacobson:

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You’ve spent the bulk of your career working on the agency side. You’ve worked for large agencies and smaller shops. What do you see as the pros and cons of each?

I never worked for an agency that only did PR so was fortunate to experience public relations within the context of other agency disciplines.  That being said, the larger agencies tend to “get” PR more and when you’re in a smaller shop with people who are more schooled in the traditional ad agency way of thinking, it presents some great opportunities for educating colleagues on what PR brings to the table. Fortunately the rise of content marketing has blurred the divisions even further and I believe will help people who work at agencies be less siloed in their thinking and work.

You’ve made the transition to the client side quite well, if I do say so myself. You’ve been at HealthFitness for just over a year, and you’ve already earned a promotion. What have been the keys to your success in making that transition? And, what were the biggest challenges?

I’m very fortunate at HealthFitness in that from day one I truly was able to embrace the brand; understand why I was there and how I could help contribute to the company’s vision and success.  It also helps to have passionate co-workers who literally see their work as helping make a lasting difference in people’s lives. And coming from the agency side, I don’t think I ever will be able to shake the client mentality. Not only do I treat my colleagues like clients, I also very much empathize with my colleagues who work in client service; I get their world and it has enabled me to build trust and demonstrate value.

You oversee PR+social for HealthFitness, an organization that plays in the wellness space. What trends do you see currently impacting that PR+social arena, especially from a B2B perspective?

I would imagine it’s no different than what peers of mine observe in their field. It’s about finding that balance – staying current, knowing where the industry is heading but also recognizing from a day-to-day level what works (and of course, doesn’t really work) and educating your internal stakeholders (clients, like I indicated previously). Especially with social media, my goal is to have an answer prepared for the “Why should I care?” question.

You’re also a fellow blogger! You’ve been blogging at shishkabobgirldad since 2012. Why did you start your blog, and how has it impacted your day job?

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It began as a way to hone my chops but evolved into so much more. I found myself at a point in my career where I was writing less and missed it. But starting the blog ultimately turned into an amazing educational experience. I learned about finding your voice, being authentic, posting with the right amount of frequency, what makes people react (or as the case may be, not react) to certain content. This helped inform my recommendations to clients when I was on the agency side and my peers and key HealthFitness stakeholders in my current position. When I provide counsel on content strategy or weigh in on the content development, I’m often calling upon personal experiences.

Much like me, you also repost your blog posts on LinkedIn–with much success. What have you seen/learned on LinkedIn that you didn’t see/learn on your blog? Especially since your blog is more personal in nature.

The key learning is that where you engage with content is almost as important as the content itself. Many people who read my posts on Facebook know me (or knew me years ago) on a personal level; there is a built in comfort level. But the content on LinkedIn (even though primarily the same) often is read with people who know me mostly on a professional basis. They’re engaging (or not engaging) because of the content itself and I believe they perceive it much differently. With LinkedIn you also see this engagement by proxy, which I find tremendously rewarding. I’ll come upon someone who liked a post of mine or commented on it, for example, who I don’t know at all but they saw someone in my network respond to the content. It really puts the onus on you as a writer to be truthful to yourself, always, while remaining mindful of who is reading your content.

Let’s get to the tough questions: What’s the best TV show you’ve watched in 2016 so far? And what are your top three series of all time?

I was very impressed with The People Vs. OJ Simpson. Great acting and a really gripping look at a key moment in our modern culture where we’re still feeling the repercussions. 

As for Top 3, I would list Sons of Anarchy, The Wire and The Shield. A common thread is that each of these shows features antiheroes – morally compromised individuals that we somehow root for – possibly because we see a bit of ourselves in them. And each features tremendous dialogue writing and plot development.  

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PR Rock Stars: HealthFitness’ Andy Jacobson

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