Kevin Dugan is an award-winning marketing and public relations expert based in Cincinnati, Ohio. A founder of Cincinnati Social Media, a mentor to startups at The Brandery and marketing director at Empower MediaMarketing, Kevin has more than 18 years industry experience. You can find Kevin at www.kevindugan.com and on his two blogs Strategic Public Relations and Bad Pitch Blog – both award winners.
1. What is your role at Empower MediaMarketing and what’s the best part of your job?
My role at Empower is to market the company, inside and outside our four-walls. This includes its social media strategy. I also help the firm’s social media team with some of our client efforts. The best part of my job is the autonomy to be creative and to get things done.
2. You’ve consulted for Fortune 500 companies like Xerox and GE, have you had thoughts of working as an independent consultant? What are the benefits of working as part of a larger organization?
I’ve worked as an independent consultant before. Both options have their benefits. One of the things I like working for larger organizations is the opportunity to collaborate with a broad variety of teams. It’s easier for me to recharge my energy and my industry experiences when I am working with folks that have their own set of experiences to share with me.
3. Your PR work has won several awards. Is there one element that each of these needed to have to be successful? What was it, and why aren’t others making use of it the same way?
The common thread through the projects I’ve worked on that win awards is there is substance…a genuine story to tell. I think it’s hard to not get emotionally attached to projects. It’s that connection that often drives our passion for our work. But sometimes, there can be more emotional ties than substance. As a result, some entries are not as substantive than others. I’ve judged a lot of competitions actually and I created a list of other important details to consider during this process (http://prblog.typepad.com/strategic_public_relation/2006/09/10_awardwinning.html)
4. You’re a mentor to startup companies. What’s the biggest challenge you see most new companies facing (an aspect of sales, focus, positioning, research, etc) and how do you recommend they deal with it?
Most new companies have a great idea. But they risk losing focus as they need to pay attention to every detail of the business — at least initially. This takes most businesspeople out of their comfort zone and into spread sheets, computer code, marketing and financial projections. It’s a broad scope for anyone to manage. So there is a tough period of time where the individual must move the idea forward, keep their passion and flesh out details in areas where they’re not experts.
To deal with this, I think most companies do their best and they get into a habit of constant iteration — nothing is “done.” Do your best to keep things moving and you can always come back to (sales plan, marketing, financials) if they’re not perfect. This can be risky over longer periods of time so hopefully at that point you will have someone to deal with areas that are not your strength.
5. Aside from your work at Empower MediaMarketing it looks like you’re pretty focused on speaking. How did you get into standing up on that podium and how has speaking impacted your career?
Speaking is an extension of blogging. You’re taking your opinion and fleshing it out and presenting it to a crowd. Blogging is great, but it’s one facet of social media. In person interaction is key. Speaking helps make this happen. It also forces you to push your thinking further. It’s more than a one-off blog post. It requires you to prove
out your thoughts. And you benefit from the feedback and questions of attendees.
Speaking has vetted my credentials. It’s also made me a better speaker. Having an opinion is worth 80 IQ points. Speaking on the dais furthers that opinion and improves your critical thinking. You also get into the habit of packaging your ideas more easily.
6. You work full-time, do speaking engagements, mentor startups and run a PR association/meetup – do you believe in a “work-life balance”
and if so how do you manage yours?
Work-Life-Balance is of critical importance. My blog suffers because I do not post as much as others. I set this expectation in one of my first posts. It’s easier at my current job because there is some cross-over and Empower benefits from most of my efforts directly or indirectly. I’m very focused on making sure I balance my personal brand in a way that it benefits my employer.
Work-Life Balance is also more of a journey than a destination. So I am adjusting all the time to adjust to peaks and valleys in home and work life. The key is a lot of communication.
7. You’re into technology and have a lot on the go – are there any tools you use or productivity tips you can share?
A smart phone is pretty critical to managing the balance of work-life and industry activities. And I am big on lists. Not all of these are electronic, but over time I do want to centralize all of my lists. I also use sites like Hootsuite to centralize efforts and sites like DropBox to make it easier to work in the cloud vs. being computer specific. The more you can work in the cloud, the more flexible you can be and work on the go. The more you need to be in a specific place, the tougher it is to get things done. For example, I’m in a waiting room answering these questions. Once I knew I was in a wifi hotspot (using my phone), I just opened my laptop and answered the questions.
I think the key is to look at various productivity options, create your own set and stick to them.