March 3, 2016
Motion PR turns 10 years old this month, capping off a whirlwind 2015 in which they moved into the penthouse suite of Chicago’s LaSalle-Wacker Building, grew the business significantly with high profile client wins, and hired PR industry vet Wheatley Marshall as senior vice president. We spoke with Motion PR founder Kim Eberl about her journey to here, and the challenges she sees going forward.
How did you get your start in PR?
I studied PR at Marquette University and had five internships before even graduating college. I really immersed myself in the industry to decide what setting best suited me long-term. Even though agency life can be intense, in the end, I felt that working at PR firms were best for my personality.
How did starting your own firm change your perspective of the PR industry?
Starting my PR firm changed my perspective because I realized first-hand how businesses rely on PR to grow and reach their business objectives. Prior to owning my own firm I wasn’t as aware of the role of PR in overall business. I appreciate the public relations discipline from a larger perspective now.
Motion PR grew by 60 percent in 2015. How does the business adapt to rapid growth and how has the business changed?
The adage of growth being “a good problem to have” is true. The challenge is inevitable to have the right staff in place to help handle the growth while maintaining our current client base. Additionally, handling some of our now bigger budget clients with smaller budget clients is a concern across the board. Our business has evolved from being centered on solely media relations to really encompassing and servicing fuller scopes.
What are the challenges and/or perks of being a Midwest-based PR firm?
I have seen and heard the stereotypes of being a Midwest PR firm time and time again. On the positive side we’re viewed as being a hard-working, roll-up-your-sleeves agency. However, some companies think that just being in Chicago prohibits our national media relations contacts. To the latter point, I do like to emphasize that contacts can be cemented across state lines.
Tell us about a campaign you’re particularly proud of and why it exemplifies Motion PR.
I am proud of launching the Premier Boxing Championship in 2015. We were brought on board before the name was even solidified, pre-website, pre-talent, etc. Our team was very creative with our outreach, aggressive, fast and nimble. I think it exemplifies us because at times companies don’t have all their PR ducks in a row from a business plan perspective yet still want results. We can be strategic yet at the same time respect some constraints that no one can control.
What advice do you have for companies on creating a successful communication strategy?
Communications strategies constantly evolve, and with good reason. My best piece of advice is to align on a communications strategy with stakeholders but constantly evolve to stay ahead of the game.
What’s the biggest challenge that PR professionals will face in the next five years?
I think this is a very interesting time in PR and marketing. First and obviously, newspapers are still struggling with advertising dollars, yet some bloggers are being weeded out as not as influential. Similarly, social media channels and marketing within them are evolving. I think the challenge will be to find creative non-media avenues to reach client KPI’s. Lastly, as I own a mid-sized PR firm, I do think firms that are my size are in serious competition with some of the bigger agencies and we’re starting to win both clients and talent.
Rapid Fire Round
1. I always thought I’d be… Murphy Brown. For the longest time I wanted to be a broadcast journalist but when I learned more about the PR field I thought it combined a few skills I possess.
2. My biggest pet peeve is… being late. If I’m even going to be one minute late I usually profusely apologize.
3. If I was stuck on a desert island, I’d… get a lot of steps in. #Fitbit
4. My hidden talent is… remembering things at work and forgetting things in my personal life.
5. I’m at my best when… I’ve had a lot of Diet Mountain Dew.
6. My favorite mobile app is…Weather Puppy. The Chicago weather isn’t great. Why not have a cute puppy tell you that Snowmageddon is coming.
7. On a karaoke stage, I’d be singing…”Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler.
Image via Kim Eberl