A recent PRSA-NY member spotlight centers on Andrew Healy, Co-founder, and Partner of Water & Wall. In the full feature below he talks about brand creation from a behind the scenes approach as well as the importance of staying connected in the PR field.
How did you get into PR?
As luck would have it, one of my best friends from college was neighbors with the owners of a successful and well-known boutique financial PR and crisis firm, TowersGroup. They mentioned to my friend’s parents that they were trying to fill an entry level position and my friend called me to see if I might like to interview with them. I didn’t know a thing about finance or PR/marketing, but as I went on a series of interviews over the following weeks it immediately piqued my interest. That was in March 2004, so I just hit my 16th year in the business.
What is your favorite PR experience?
I probably shouldn’t say this out loud, but it still makes me laugh so what the hell. Early in my career I was on a media tour, one of the first I was allowed to go on, with an economist from a large asset management firm. I had booked a full day of interviews and was really happy with how it worked out. The client was a fantastic spokesperson and great to spend time with, and we started to develop a rapport as the day went on. He was very interested in how the PR process worked and asked a million questions, and overall he seemed fascinated with PR and marketing and how those functions help shape perception and influence clients’ investment behaviors. As the day was coming to an end, I thanked him for taking the time to come to town and offered some feedback and thoughts. And right as we were about to part he turns around and says, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but do you know who you remind me of? Samantha from Sex in the City. She was an ambitious PR person too….”, and then he walked away. It was maybe the strangest compliment I’ve ever received.
What do you love about PR?
I get to go behind the scenes and see what goes into making a brand. Consumers see the final version of things, whether it’s a new product or an advertising campaign, but for anything to see the light of day it has to go through a massive amount of work first, from the origination of an idea to the discovery phase to conducting research to analyzing competitors to assessing the marketplace to testing out messaging points to connecting with the media and influencers to crafting a digital strategy and assessing analytics to test along the way…. It’s the difference between seeing a movie and seeing how the movie was made, and I think the back-end work that goes into all of this is fascinating. We get to see so much that others can’t.
Why is PRSA-NY membership valuable?
It is important for staying connected in the field: because it connects me with people I can learn from and lend support to. As competitive as the PR space is, there’s always been a sense of decency between peers that I found admirable. We can go head-to-head with an agency on a new business pitch and then be getting drinks with them the next week and referring business to each other. The truth is, and I’ve always felt this, there are way more clients then there are agencies to service them. Couple that with taking a long-term approach to running a business, and the advantages of developing, growing, and maintaining a strong network is massive. I’ve gained clients through the PRSA-NY, I’ve helped others get clients, I’ve made new friends that I can reach out to when I need advice and help, I’ve learned about what firms are doing to evolve and stay ahead of the curve, etc. All of these things are positives.
Read the Q&A and more from PRSA NY here.