With 25 years of PR experience, she has seen the industry grow and change firsthand. From her early days on Music Row to the launch of Wortman Works, she has had a front row seat for the evolution of the industry. “The art of PR has shifted. It’s always been an art to what we do, but the art has become a lot more colorful than it was.” Literally. “My employees found some old notebooks of mine that were black and white photos Xeroxed onto a page and a list of all the outlets I sent the photos to. That was how we did it,” she says. “It would take two days to get pictures from the photographer, then you would fold the paper over them with the cut line. Then you’d send it out to the outlets and write each down, then write down who you followed up with. Whereas those pictures might not show up for two weeks 25 years ago, they’re showing up in five minutes today.”
She says that immediacy is one of the biggest changes in the field of public relations, and that sometimes it can cause PR professionals to lose sight of the bigger picture.
“I see a lot of people that don’t have any strategy and just shoot from this hip,” she says. “Strategy is key. Of course you’re going to have things come up at the last minute—there might be a flood and you decide to do a flood relief concert, whatever the case may be—but an overall PR strategy is the best way to be prepared.”
A big part of the shift in PR is due to the domination of social media. “Usually news isn’t broken in long lead publications because it’s too late,” she explains. “Every celebrity is posting on social media, and sometimes, if you’re not holding the client’s hand, you might get the news when the public does—just because they’re so excited about something and they’re not thinking ahead and you’re not there to reign it in. That’s the worst case scenario in the PR world because you want to be the one in charge of controlling the message, but in today’s world the consumer has gotten so close to the client. Celebrities, CEOs of major corporations; everyone wants to be interfacing directly with their consumer. That’s where strategy sometimes goes out the window, but you have to realize strategy really is a key component to building your brand overall.
“Leaks need to be planned leaks because you’re building a tease to a bigger reveal. But when the leak gets out incorrectly, your team is either scrambling to massage the message that might have been disrupted or figure out the next steps to save the strategy.”
Another change: PR has become more than just public relations. “PR is shifting. It’s becoming more marketing/branding platforms. I named my company Wortman Works Media and Marketing because I do more than PR, but my background is PR. I majored in PR. I’ve run major PR departments. But the way my company works, I’m a big picture overarching PR strategist, and I don’t just do publicity to get ink. I’m trying to build brands. A lot of companies are dropping PR from their names, they’re merging with marketing departments and social media. They’re retooling their faculties. They’re renaming it. There’s crisis communications, there’s strategy, there’s movie campaigns and album campaigns, but it all boils down to a focused message. If you don’t have that, no one is going to pay attention.