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Speaker Recap - Joe Ricculli

Our second meeting of the semester, held on Tuesday, September 18, was a huge success thanks to our guest speaker, Joe Ricculli, Vice President at Weber Shandwick and Saint Joseph’s University alum. He shared his story with us but also made several points on why, in his own words, “This is a great time to be in PR.”

After working in public relations for a few years, Ricculli explained how he and his wife joined the Peace Corps and spent two years in Ethiopia. He is a healthcare PR specialist, which is quite different from the guest speakers we have had in the past. It was fascinating and valuable to learn more about an area of PR that is often overshadowed but affects so many people.

Ricculli provided several examples of why the PR industry is booming and continuing to expand. The divergence of PR, advertising, journalism and so on is inevitable, but it is still key to recognize the differences between them. He shared with us his definitions of advertising and PR: advertising is what you say about yourself to others but PR is what you get others to say about you. In other words, people are much more likely to believe in something if it is credible, authentic and coming from an unbiased source. PR can be seen as a dialogue and advertising as a one-sided conversation.

He provided case studies which convey how one brilliant idea at the right place and time can turn into a PR masterpiece. Royal Caribbean Cruise Line asking Bonnie Tyler to sing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” during the 2017 Solar Eclipse is a prime example. It was covered all over the news and it resulted in a huge spike in sales.

Ricculli also showed us Birds fans a case study on the free Bud Light initiative. The Eagles had a 50-1 odds of winning the 2018 Super Bowl, and Bud Light promised player, Lane Johnson, that if they won, Bud Light would give the whole city of Philadelphia free beer. The Eagles won. Bud Light fulfilled their promise. Their sales skyrocketed. The public values companies that actually follow-through on what they say.

There were several other case studies from brands like Excedrin and DiGiorno Pizza but they all showed us the same thing: PR practitioners are constantly creating new conversations and researching phenomenons that people find meaningful and, in turn, drive sales.

No matter what area of PR one specializes in, it will always be essential to a company or organization. PR is getting a seat at the table because it can make or break a brand. Ricculli comes from a unique perspective of PR and gave a tangible definition of what it was with case studies to support it.

Overall, I would have to agree with him—this is a perfect time to be in PR because companies need it more than ever. PR professionals can influence what the public thinks and does about a certain situation and that should not be taken lightly.

This blog post was written by Paige Kunkel, Director of Recruitment

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