Allyson Markey is the CEO of Forum Public Relations.
Allyson Markey is dedicated to helping your business thrive; however, it didn’t always start that way. With an academic background in geology, Allyson developed the skill of translating scientific concepts into easily understandable real-world narratives. From this skill, she learned that she had a passion for building relationships and began her journey into PR.
Now with a decade of communications, public relations, and branding experience, Allyson is the CEO of her own PR firm, Forum. In her day-to-day, Allyson develops, manages, and implements successful foreign and domestic campaigns. Her bread and butter is building brand awareness, engagement, and relationships. Allyson is the real deal when it comes to PR Pros!
A lot of the publicists we talk to start their careers with internships. What made you get into this industry?
I wish I had started my career with a PR internship! My path to PR is pretty strange. I am a geologist by education. While I was at university, I landed a coveted internship at a multi-national engineering firm. The only “catch” was that it was with the company’s marketing department. At the time, I thought it was weird – who would want a geologist doing marketing? We’re rock nerds, not word nerds! But within the first month, I realized I loved what I was doing — translating technical or hard to understand concepts into emotionally evocative stories. I was hooked! Then, I started learning about PR. I remember thinking, “why am I not majoring in this?!” After a couple of years in the field, someone took a big chance on me and gave me a PR role in the company. It changed my life. I love everything about PR – from building relationships with journalists to being a passionate advocate for my clients, to building narratives that connect on a human level. I am so happy I got the wrong internship.
What is the most important part of your day? Why?
I firmly believe the first two hours of the day are the most important. I get up, make the bed, make coffee, and get my daughter ready for the day. Then, I check my to-do list, answer quick or high-priority emails, and read the news. I also check my calendar and check in with my clients. I think mornings set the tone for the rest of the day – if I have a good morning and accomplish even the smallest tasks (like making the bed) makes me more productive.
What is your favorite part about working in PR?
It’s hard to come up with just one! The first thing I love is building relationships. There’s nothing like a client or journalist reaching out to say “Hey, I trust you. Can you help me with X, Y, Z?” That’s tied with helping my clients tell their stories. Because I was a scientist first, I look at things a little differently. I love the hard to tell or highly technical stories – the challenge makes it interesting.
What are some of the trends you saw take shape this year?
Two things stick out. The first is a stronger focus on brands being of service to their clients, typically by creating educational content. The second I experienced was that clients were taking a strong point of view on a topic, and sticking with it. It’s been quite refreshing.
What tech industry do you think is going to change the most over the next 5 years?
I actually don’t think it will a specific industry that will change the most. Instead, I think AI-led automation will change the most. Hopefully, we will see automation do the easy work (like data management) and leave the hard problems for human brains to solve! Of course, making the argument that AI will be helpful, not destructive, will be a huge factor in this.
How do you prove the value of PR to your clients or executives?
When I was a scientist, we said: “Numbers don’t lie.” At the end of the day, people want to see the numbers. That’s the approach I take with my clients. I work with them to create SMART goals and then measure the results. I also provide weekly or monthly reports to make sure that the client knows what we are working on, and how it is helping them meet their goals.
What is the toughest part of your job?
The administrative side is hardest, only because I would much rather be pitching or developing a narrative with a client. I have to set aside time to do my “homework” every week!
How do you see PR and marketing changing in the next 10 years?
I honestly don’t think there will be much of a difference between the two in the future. Combined with social media, I think clients and their audiences expect a more comprehensive and consistent brand and messaging experience. They also expect a higher level of transparency – audiences are smart and can tell when a brand isn’t sincere. And, I think audiences will want to have a closer, more personal relationships with brands. And I think that can be accomplished by a PR/marketing hybrid in the future.
What are your must-have tools for your day-to-day work?
First, coffee. Then my iPhone, iPad, computer, and cloud accounts. From a software side, I love Sendible, CisionPoint, and (of course) OnePitch!
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Is that still a thing? In all seriousness, that’s a huge challenge. I block off time on my calendar to spend time with my daughter – she’ll be 10 months old soon — throughout the day. I block off lunches and make nightly family time a priority. I also (try) to not work on the weekends. But it’s a struggle.
We hoped you enjoyed getting to know Allyson. If you are interested in getting to know someone on the other side of the coin – a journalist – head over to last week’s blog: 10 Questions with Simon Hill!