We at Rasky Baerlein are proud of our talented public relations and public affairs experts across the firm’s practice areas. In our new Meet the Expert series, we sit down with a different agency leader every Monday to get their thoughts on several important and timely questions and gain a greater sense of their industry expertise and experiences. This week we sit down with Senior Vice President and leader of RBSC’s nonprofit, education and consumer practice, Sandi Goldfarb.
You’ve been working in the industry for more than 25 years now. How has it changed over the years, and how have you adapted in the process?
One of the most significant changes in media relations is the explosion of news outlets, the expansion of cable and the evolution of the 24-hour news cycle. Equally important is the role and rapid growth of social media and its impact on traditional media. Today, fresh content and speed mater. Anyone with a smartphone or a Twitter account can be considered a reporter.
As you well know, public relations is a constantly evolving industry. Where do you see the field headed and what can pros do to keep up?
In addition to understanding and employing new technologies, it’s important to keep up with new outlets. For example, The Boston Globe has launched new sections, both in print and online, and beefed up its coverage of health, life sciences, technology, business, politics and the Catholic Church. We need to maintain long-time contacts and continue to develop solid working relationships with folks who may be new to the market.
Before joining the firm you headed the Communications/Member Services team at the New England Aquarium and then directed your own agency (Goldfarb Communications Group). How did these in-house and entrepreneurial experiences prepare you for your current leadership role at Rasky Baerlein?
Whether working in-house or in an agency setting, I’ve always been involved with nonprofits, both large and small. Understanding nonprofits from the inside, out, helps me better serve my clients. They know I “speak the language;” that I understand the demands and expectations they juggle every day.
You have worked with a wide variety of clients during your career that include nationally-known brands such as NOVA, Ford Motor Company, Zipcar and the National Park Service. In what ways is working on these bigger brands similar to and different from managing smaller ones?
While the budgets are often more flexible, the process is generally the same. In each instance I still had to identify the factors that make a client unique, find ways to insert them into the larger conversation and engage reporters and producers. In the end, it’s still about storytelling.
You lead the firm’s nonprofit, education and consumer team. What do you enjoy most about working in each of these practice areas?
I work with some of the best brands in the market, including UMass Amherst, Mass General and the Museum of Science. Besides raising awareness, garnering media attention for nonprofit and education clients can help attract donors, volunteers and supporters. For example, a story we secured in The New York Times for a Massachusetts-based nonprofit resulted in a sizeable gift. Knowing that we make a difference to the clients we serve reminds us why we got into this business.
What sets Rasky Baerlein apart from the rest when it comes to its approach to public relations?
The fact that senior staff work on every account distinguishes Rasky Baerlein from other firms. In addition, clients appreciate that our agency background is enhanced by experience in their sectors.
If you could offer clients one piece of advice, what would it be?
I have a client who, at the outset of our engagement, asked what she could do to “be a good client.” This simple question resulted in a terrific conversation about roles and responsibilities and her organization’s definition of success. It’s always best when clients consider their PR agency an extension of their communications divisions – recognizing that we’re all on the same team with shared goals and challenges.
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