Stay “smarter” and “scrappier” in public relations

By Jake Kreinberg

We spoke with a senior account executive at Edelman about the changing trends affecting public relations professionals and asked her to test AP’s planning tool to see if it could help grow her clients’ brand exposure. Read her story to see how it held up.

Like journalism, public relations has been disrupted by changes in technology and consumer behavior. I spoke with Kyrsten Aspegren, a senior account executive at Edelman, to understand whether AP’s planning tool could help her stay on top of these industry trends.

As a public relations professional, how have your day-to-day responsibilities changed?

Edelman is a communications marketing firm, which is really an evolution from a public relations firm. Yes, we still aim to generate earned media for our clients, but we do so now through a variety of channels, including building corporate reputations through executive positioning and thought leadership.

No matter the size or non- or for-profit status of the companies we work with, our goal is to help them tell their story in a compelling, relevant and meaningful way to the different audiences important to them or relevant to their work. We help them make an impact and resonate with these different groups of stakeholders.

What are some of the questions you ask to help tell these stories?

Well first let me say, I get to tell stories on behalf of really interesting, dynamic organizations, some of which are making an incredible impact on the world. So they really make the job fun for me, and coming from a journalism school background, I love telling their stories and identifying new, creative and impactful ways to do so.

When we develop communications marketing plans and map out story arcs, we ask how we can evolve and enhance what brands are doing and then determine how best to promote them. If they’re leading the conversation around a particular issue, how can we sustain that momentum in an interesting way? How can we position an organization or executive as a thought leader in an industry if they aren’t already (but are equipped to be)?

How do events, such as awareness days or conferences, help answer those questions?

In the communications marketing industry, we try to identify certain inflection points — certain moments in time that we can leverage to tell our clients’ stories.

Let’s say we know International Women’s Day is coming up and that women’s empowerment is an important issue to a client and one it is equipped to discuss. We could use this day as a moment to position that organization’s CEO or executive director as a thought leader to show their audiences that they have an opinion about what women’s empowerment means, what it looks like and the importance and impact of it.

We want to be able to leverage that day to tell that story.

Fama Francisco, global president of feminine care at Procter & Gamble, speaks at the Let Girls Learn event in Washington on International Women’s Day, Tuesday, March 8, 2016. Always is making a commitment to the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Fund and exploring ways to expand the Always Confidence Teaching Curriculum to help more girls build and maintain confidence through education. (Kevin Wolf / AP Images for Always)

How would AP Planner help you with those events so you can tell better stories for your clients?

A component of developing communications marketing campaigns includes deskside research to identify pre-existing moments in time – conferences, commemorative days, awards ceremonies, etc. – to leverage as an inflection point or milestone to help our clients tell their stories. A few examples could be publishing a byline in a mainstream publication, pushing out a post on Medium or chiming in on social on a particular issue tied to that event or date. The Planner would help us find those events.

On a day-to-day basis, just seeing what’s going on that day or the next is helpful for us to make quick-turn, proactive recommendations to our clients. Like, “Hey, this event’s happening – let’s pitch five reporters at these key outlets to have a conversation with you to talk about that topic.”

The Planner could help us plan for events further out, as well. For example, if through the Planner, we identified that an important conference is accepting submissions for speakers or attendees, it could help us make recommendations we may not have otherwise been able to make.

… it could help us make recommendations we may not have otherwise been able to make.

Do you find AP Planner easy to use?

It’s funny; I actually took a web design and usability class in college and still look at whether websites do a good job of being user-friendly. And I feel like Planner’s interface is actually really straightforward and helpful.

For example, take the time frame drop-down menu — it’s very clear whether you’re looking at events taking place during the week ahead or the next week or the next six weeks. I also love how convenient it is to have the option to license AP photos and videos from each event, as we can let our clients know that’s an option available to them.

Would you recommend AP Planner to other professionals?

Overall, I think it’s a pretty cool platform. I think the tool would help make public relations professionals smarter, more nimble and scrappier in our recommendations to clients. And because it’s the AP, the information that’s listed is high quality. So you know it’s a reliable and trusted source for that reason.

Overall, I think it’s a pretty cool platform.

So yeah, I would recommend it. It’s interesting to see AP moving to serve public relations professionals. I look forward to seeing how this effort evolves as the broader media industry does so, too.

Jake Kreinberg

Jake is the text and multimedia product manager at The Associated Press and the former editor of Insights. He previously covered college sports as a reporter for AP and helped design its multi-year strategic plan. Have feedback about the blog? Contact us at

media tools, insights, planner