Good PR Pays Off! Theodora, Public Relations consultant at Theo’s Texte has always had a passion for communications. And when she takes on a client she embarks on a journey with them. Formulating strategies to improve communications with her clients and their customers. She feels she understands the needs and the languages of her clients. Why? Because she speaks 10 languages. And has honed her PR skills as a copywriter in the fields of Research and Development, journalism, the automotive industry, education, and the civil service.
MPM spoke with Theodora about the nuts and bolts of PR in the 21st century. And her interest in raising money through Berndorfer Fotomarathon to benefit Rodyna of the Ternopil’ Oblast, a family psychological support centre in the Ukraine.
MPM “What does public relations mean to you in the 21st century?”
“I think good public relations is now more important than ever. There’s competition everywhere. The internet has brought us all closer together. We have to find our niche to stay competitive.”
Theodora in her home country of Austria says, smaller businesses located outside cities are realizing the importance of corporate identity, public relations, branding, and social media. But the PR culture in Austria is still developing. Big businesses and NGO’s have discovered the value of good public relations. But for smaller businesses it’s slowly evolving.
“PR is seen as either dodgy and not particularly trustworthy or just way too expensive.” But it’s not true. Theodora believes good PR establishes trust and a dialogue. “And if it is done well and consistently and the product or service is actually good, investing in good PR pays off!”
MPM “What is your favourite brand and why? How do you approach revamping a neglected brand with a client?”
“That’s a tough question! There are actually many fascinating brands.” But, one of Theodora’s favourites is Zotter, an Austrian chocolate manufacturer. “They are very clear about who they are, what they want and how they convey their image and brand to the consumer.”
But, Zotter has what is most important about good PR: high-quality products with a twist. What’s the twist? Chocolate is just chocolate, right? Not Zotter chocolates! “They have re-invented chocolate reminding us to celebrate the experience instead of just gobbling it up. And they want the farmers to actually be able to make a living.” Zotter makes a bar of chocolate a good experience. “What’s not to love about them?”
Revamping a Brand
“Knowing who you are and what you want is one of the most important things when it comes to (re-)launching a brand. Everything else, from designs to texts and strategic plans, is based on those two pieces of information. That doesn’t mean you have to stick to your plans for the rest of your life. What you want – and also who you are – can and will change.”
MPM “What are the essential skills a public relations consultant should possess?”
Theodora believes empathy, an open mind, and “Stehaufmännchen-Mentalität” or “the mentality of little stand-up man” are essential skills a PR consultant must possess.
“Empathy. No matter if you talk to your client, your target group or multipliers such as journalists or influencers – you have to be able to put yourself in their shoes.”
“Open mind. Creative input can come from anywhere, so pay attention to details.”
“Stehaufmännchen-Mentalität” (mentality of “little stand-up-man”). There will be a lot of challenges – if you see them as such. You might call them problems but that just makes them seem insurmountable, which usually isn’t the case.”
Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.
MPM “What is the best all round social media platform to advertise your client’s brand?”
“None of them is the best – or all of them are.” Theodora uses a platform that focusses on her target audience. For instance LinkedIn professionals might not be interested in your new shoe collection. Or Facebook or Instagram Users may not be interested in your software.
Therefore, Theodora sets up an individual strategy for each client. She says that social media isn’t your only audience. “Traditional media isn’t dead and according to a futurologist I interviewed a couple of days ago, it won’t die in the foreseeable future, either! Traditional media are definitely still a big thing for PR.”
MPM “What did you want to be when you grew up?”
Theodora still has the book from her last year of nursery school. It’s an interview with her 6-year-old self. In the book, she revealed she wanted to be a shop assistant.
However, she soon thought about acting and then music. By the time, she turned 18, she had already performed in Japan, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, and, Austria with her jazz band and with an orchestra.
When she was ready for university, “I had been talked out of pursuing a career in arts. And that’s where the real struggle began: So many interesting things to learn, so little time. I thought about becoming an interpreter, doing research in animal cognition, science journalism, bar owner, a teacher, and opening a tutoring institute.”
MPM “What jobs did you do in the past?”
“A lot of different ones! When I was in high school, I spent most of my summer holidays working in a metallurgic lab.” Theodora was pursuing several degrees while working at a museum, as a tutor, and briefly as a waitress and at a supermarket. “Then, I ended up working in the research and development department of an Austrian biotech company for six and a half years, taking care of my own project.”
Time for Something New
Theodora volunteers for the Austrian Biologist Association, as President and Editor of bioskop. At the time she was pursuing both her freelance journalist and research jobs until she quit them altogether. Why? It was time for something new!
And what would be more logical than a PR agency? “Right now, I’m finishing my bachelor’s degree in mass media and communication science.” She sees herself in media. Why? “It’s highly diverse and I love communicating – particularly about nature and science.”
Theodora loves her PR job but certainly has some additional ideas, “I’ve got several ideas for books and there are several other things I’d love to explore – just like most of us multipods, I guess!”
MPM “Was there a particular topic, story or phrase Emilie Wapnick said on her TED Talk ‘Why some of us don’t have one true calling’ that resonated with you?
“I LOVE TED talks! It was the whole video and every single word that resonated very strongly with me.” Theodora realized there’s a name for people like her. And she wasn’t indecisive or good for nothing. She’s just a Multipod.
But, Theodora didn’t join The Putty Tribe instantly until she came across the TED Talk several months later. She googled Emilie and ended up on The Putty Tribe through a scholarship thanks to Joel Zaslofsky and Emilie Wapnick. And she is glad she did. “It’s great to connect with other people who are like me and to exchange thoughts and opinions.”
MPM “Tell me more about your experiences in Ukraine and raising money for the women’s refuge.”
“My experiences in Ukraine could fill a couple of books.” Theodora went to the Ukraine for a month in 2007. At the women’s refuge, Rodyna of the Ternopil’ Oblast she heard of unspeakable things the women had suffered.
Life Changing Moment
But she had a life changing moment with a boy of 4 who she instantly connected with on her first day at the refuge. “I didn’t speak a lot of Ukrainian but he didn’t care. He just wanted to play and show me round the refuge.” But it was when he broke a bisquit and stuffed one half into her mouth, she knew she had to do something to help.
Theodora discovered his mother left her abusive husband and moved in with his grandparents. They lived in a hut near a forest but a storm came and damaged the house. Whereupon the grandparents died and the woman and her two sons ended up in the women’s refuge. “This little boy had literally nothing!”
Currently, Theodora is organizing a charity photo marathon Berndorfer Fotomarathon to raise money for the women’s refuge, Rodyna of the Ternopil’ Oblast . “I also created a platform for local businesses in my valley, where they can advertise their products and services. And I get to show people how much fun analogue and digital photography is!”
And Theodora is set to launch a new project in 2019 finding pen friends for Holocaust survivors. Last year, in L’viv, Ukraine she visited the Red Cross who provide survivors with a meeting place. “They are lovely people” with “a lot of interesting stories and would love to talk to people.” Letters received will be translated from German or English into Ukrainian and replies translated back. All are welcome to become a pen friend or donate money for the stamps. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
MPM “Is there a piece of music that keeps you motivated about your life and passions?”
“This question is impossible to answer for me! I find Paul McCartney, the Red Hot Chili Peppers – particularly Flea and Anthony Kiedis – truly inspirational. Austrian songwriters Reinhard Fendrich, Wolfgang Ambros, Georg Danzer, and Ludwig Hirsch as well as the band EAV have had a big impact on my life and work. Charlie Parker and John Coltrane, were probably my biggest role models when I was still making music. They were brave enough to do things others haven’t done before. Not everyone liked their music but they didn’t care and just carried on.”
MPM What does it mean to you to be a MultiPod?”
“I’m glad I am one! I’ve done so many things and gone so many places – I might not have done that as a non-multipod.” Theodora knows that being a MultiPod has made a big difference on her life. “It has changed my mindset and become more self-confident and less worried about pursuing all my different talents and interests.”
Contact Theodora today at Theo’s Texte. She’s eager to create good PR for your business. Because Good PR pays off!