Blending marketing with technology

At Rosica Communications, public relations clients get the best of both worlds

Brett Johnson//November 21, 2016//

Blending marketing with technology

At Rosica Communications, public relations clients get the best of both worlds

Brett Johnson//November 21, 2016//

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Chris Rosica celebrates how well the two sides of the business he spearheads work together — the traditional public relations and marketing, and the new technology services that complement it.

But when it comes to the workforce behind these different elements, the story isn’t the same.

“Put it this way: You would much rather be at a party with a person from my PR-focused office than (our affiliate) online marketing firm,” said Rosica, CEO and president of Rosica Communications.

Under the shared ownership of Rosica Communications, there are two separate teams operating in different offices: One handles communications-related services for clients, and the other deals with the technology that leverages those services.

Bad news
Single-digits are one thing, but the figures Chris Rosica of Rosica Communications gives when talking about readership of emailed newsletters from companies can only be described as dismal.
“Readership rates among newsletters has diminished significantly — click rates have fallen to less than 5 percent,” Rosica said. “Not great considering all the time and effort put into them.”
Rosica said that’s even true for an organization like a nonprofit that sends its newsletters to people who have previously donated money to its efforts.
As the numbers fall, Rosica said, companies are having to find other ways to catch eyes in inboxes.
“Video is huge now,” Rosica said. “So, we’re counseling all of our clients that when they’re communicating internally or externally, use video instead. …  And make it about the reader, not the company.”

Rosica said people with vastly different personalities gravitate to these different segments of the business — with the tech side generally attracting introverts and the communications side unsurprisingly bringing in a more extroverted group.

“On top of that, our technology-focused office has one woman working in it, while it’s almost the exact opposite at our PR office, where (an assistant account executive) and I are the only men,” Rosica said.

Women are strongly represented in the employee pool at PR firms nationwide. Women make up 63 percent of PR specialists in data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and have been reported in numbers closer to 80 percent in other surveys.

“From what I’ve seen, on the PR side, there’s almost four times as many women as men, but, conversely, on the online marketing side, there’s eight times as many men as women,” Rosica said.

The disparity is a newer phenomenon brought about by a sudden technological shock to the marketing system, a result of more and more people plugging into goings-on of social media and the internet at large.

“(About a decade ago), people started talking about ‘integrated marketing communications,’ and it was really a bunch of jargon at the time; it hadn’t become a reality. Marketing was very siloed and the digital side was, too,” Rosica said. “Today, I see that integration piece becoming not only a reality but a requirement among marketers.”

Rosica Communications has, over the past decade, fueled its traditional PR and marketing engine with social media outreach efforts, marketing automation tools, search engine optimization and other new capabilities, as other firms are also beginning to do. And, like others, the Fair Lawn-based firm is always working to stay ahead of the game by staying apprised of the potential services these platforms offer.

The man who made Amos famous
It wasn’t a cookie-cutter approach that John Rosica took when he launched Rosica Communications in 1980.
A year before founding the firm, he was handling marketing for a former talent agent who was known for attracting clients with his homemade cookies.
Rosica had then-little-known Wally Amos become a spokesman for Literacy Volunteers of America. The story of Famous Amos was told to the country while the sweet treat entrepreneur was credited for a key role in alerting people to a prevalent illiteracy problem.
Rosica, who has since passed leadership of the firm to his son, is thought of in the industry as a pioneer of what is now known as cause marketing. It’s a case study that is still used in marketing classes today (it’s even featured prominently on the term’s Wikipedia page). Along with other recognition, Rosica has been inducted into the PR News Hall of Fame in Washington, D.C.
Today, Rosica is grappling with the recent technology-driven shakeup of the world of marketing and advertising. But he thinks there’s certain fundamentals that still prevail in the business.
“Everything is an emotional buy, from that automobile to that bag of licorice that you shouldn’t have bought,” he said. “Human nature hasn’t yet changed.”

“Unlike a lot of other firms, we’re doing reputation management — trying to manage online reviews, feedback on sites like Twitter — and that’s important now too, because the internet is the new Wild West,” he said.

And, by the way, Rosica owns the trademark to that — the whole “internet is the new Wild West” thing.

Rosica’s a larger-than-life figure. It makes him stick out.

“The holiday parties are always telling. … everyone from the tech side is very contained, and I’m there cracking jokes and speaking with my hands while everyone else has theirs in their pockets,” he said.

But the seeming mismatch aligns where it matters most.

“(In presentations and meetings), I find that clients appreciate our differences,” he said. “And it takes us working together to bring the right set of tools to clients.”

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