PR Face2Face: Ronn Torossian, Founder, President & CEO, 5WPR
PR Face2Face is a special series of interviews with the top public relations and publicity professionals in the country, as well as with people involved in the public relations world. The first is Ronn Torossian, the founder of 5WPR.
Ronn Torossian has made quite a name for himself in the past year. Despite a bit of controversy taking on some of the legends of public relations, Ronn has done an amazing job building his business in the past couple of years. Taking the lessons of the dotcom era, Ronn built 5WPR through organic growth and acquisition to where they have had a 311 percent growth spurt, according to the latest O’Dwyer’s figures.
Torossian is the Founder, President & CEO of New York City-based 5W Public Relations. Since founding the firm, he has overseen the company’s rapid growth and expansion, and provided advice and counsel to hundreds of companies, global interests, high-profile individuals, regional businesses, government agencies and academic institutions – both on routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive matters.
Ronn Torossian and Kimberly Jones aka Lil’ Kim
311 percent. Any comments?
5WPR is proud to be named the fastest growing firm by O’Dwyer’s.
We are the results-oriented public relations firm the corporate world, entertainment world, technology world are looking for. We are hungry, and don’t take no for an answer.
Our numbers say so, our clients say so – we’re just a different type of firm.
You have done an amazing job building up the agency quickly, with a wide range of clients. What do you credit for your secret of success?
The reason we have grown so quickly is simple: working harder, smarter and faster. That is the philosophy for the industry: we work smarter, harder and faster than other agencies.
And look at the diverse client list – Fortune 100, technology companies, entertainment, marketing firms. It’s a testament to our working habits that we can build such a client list.
Plus, it’s about deep relationships within the media.
Right now, there’s a bit of discussion on what are the differences between public relations and publicity. Do you envision yourself as more of a PR professional or publicist?
I am 100 percent a PR professional. Half the job is making sure the clients are in the media, but it’s also about being a spin doctor. 5WPR are spin doctors, strategic consultants, to our clients.
It is not all about getting into the press. It is more than just day-to-day publicity. It’s analyzing the impact of marketing communications on sales and perception.
You noted in the NYT article that you have no formal training. What do you mean by that?
That was somewhat of a misprint – I worked at IPG, and for two of the larger firms in the country.
But, as a 30-year old CEO, I am learning as I go along. We are very confident in our abilities, we do things in a different way and a different speed. We’ll stop at nothing to get the results – work harder, smarter and longer.
5WPR is looking to change the entire face of the public relations business. The 311 percent is not phenomenal for us. We look to continue to grow and change the face of the business, do great work for our clients and build upon that number.
You took on Howard Rubenstein – both in the NY Post and the NY Times. Rubenstein is seen as a stalwart in NY publicity, and he’s going to be interviewed tomorrow for this blog. Do you have any comments for him direct? Have you spoken to him directly since your comments?
I have nothing but the utmost respect for Howard. He has a phenomenal list of clients and a history in public relations.
But, it is time to pass the mantel or have it taken from him. 5WPR are the new kids on the block to challenge him as the leading PR person in NYC. We’re not afraid of being bold, brash and aggressive. We are the absolute best at what we do.
He has had a long time of success, but our day is here.
What advice would you give students entering public relations and publicity?
Work hard. Think like a journalist. Read every single thing that you can. Be a student of the media. Be multifaceted. Understand the media.
I like to interview people from politics and sports. If you work in politics and sports, you know if you lose you’re gone tomorrow.
The most important thing is to think like a journalist.
5WPR is always recruiting, so have people email their resumes.
You have an eclectic mix of clients. How do the religious groups feel about your bling bling clients?
It’s not an issue. Our clients simply care about the results we bring. We’re proud of the fact that we have a diverse client list.
How do you transition your Israeli tourism experience and apply it to your Hip Hop clientele?
They are one and the same – our Hip Hop clients and the Israelis are the same. They are both misunderstood by the world, unfairly portrayed by the press.
They are exactly the same people who are misunderstood by the world. Both groups are hard, focused, smart, aggressive people with their eyes on the ball.
The dotcom era brought about a lot of title inflation in the industry. Do you see PR as suffering from a lot of junior people with senior titles?
PR suffers from a lot of things. It suffers because anyone thinks that they can be a PR person.
People believe that they can get an office and a phone, and call themselves a PR professional. It’s not that easy.
A better organization is needed to serve the industry. No one does anything now to push for the industry, to be the spokespeople or looking out for the industry.
Jack O’Dwyer has been calling for a watchdog environment – and I agree with him. We need something like how lawyers have a bar association, in a formal manner to oversee public relations and make sure it’s okay.
You have grown your agency through acquisition and organic growth. In the past, it was common to see a 5WPR ad looking to buy single-person practices. Are you still on that strategy, or focused mainly on organic growth?
All of the above – since I’ve opened the doors, we have had 3 acquisitions; some were single practitioners, while others were larger agencies.
And, we are actively looking to grow. We expect to open more offices in 12-18 months, and will continue to look at small and middle-sized firms to acquire to keep growing.
5WPR is not going to stop or slowdown. This is just the beginning for 5WPR – we are just getting started. We’re actively looking for acquisitions, looking to grow organically. We keep hustling, grinding, harder than the next guy in all sectors: celebrities, technology, corporate communications.
It’s all about winning.
Your company does not have a blog – what are your views on the blogosphere and pitching blogs? Any short-term or long-term plans for launching a 5WPR blog?
Long term, 5WPR is interested in launching a blog. It’s an increasingly important form of communications that we are actively going to get involved with in the coming days, weeks, and months.
Who do you look to as your mentor in PR? From whom have you learned the most?
My role models are Karl Rove, who does a phenomenal job in spinning the media. Bill Clinton who knew how to work with the media. Sean “P. Diddy” Combs is a master of PR. Rudy Giuliani is a master of PR.
I am a student of the media, always analyzing the messages and how it works for public relations and public perception.
During your work, whom have you met that totally blew you away – where you lost the professional composure because you just were in awe.
God awes me. My mother, my father, my sister and my wife awe me.
What are the long-term plans for 5WPR? Are you open to an acquisition/merger of the agency, or do you prefer to continue on your own?
We’re very interested in growing, continuing to grow and being the best in doing what we do. We have experienced success and there are no limits to looking at what we do.
We are the best in the world at what we do, and will continue to be
The O’Dwyer’s numbers speak for themselves, and wait until next year when we blow them away again.
He authors the popular Musings from POP! Public Relations blog which offers Jeremy’s opinions and views – on public relations, publicity and other things.