Specialty: PR Counsel
Team member since: 2012
Third in our team interview series, is Vincent Salas, a native Texan and president of Salas PR, a full service public relations practice in Austin, TX.
Janke has had the opportunity to work with Vince and SPR for years, and we can tell you that he is a man gifted with many communication skills. A week in the life of Vince might have him unveiling the Willie Nelson statue to the public one day, in a University of Texas board meeting the next, interviewing influential individuals for a video shoot, or conducting a meeting at the Headliner’s Club – each day followed up with a peaceful run around the lake trail for a quiet brainstorming session. He’s an award-winning communication expert and understands brand development, media relations, crisis management, advertising, and public policy campaigns… for starters. We hope you enjoy his interview.
- Overflowing with opinions
- At ease in neckties or flip-flops
- Runner with a smile
- Prefers a Single Malt Scotch
Q: PR is a broad term. How would you describe the services you provide clients today?
A: Brain power is what I hope to bring to the table for clients. It’s not about redundant or smarter thinking than what already exists in the C-Suite. PR brings a strategic communication perspective that adds value to the visionary and operational expertise already at the helm. A strong PR counselor strategically looks out for the best interest of the business, in terms of brand position and equity. The applications influence employee culture and external or client perceptions and attitudes that impact the bottom line.
Q: Tell us what specifics you like about “PR”?
A: Because PR execution encompasses so many elements, I like to focus more on the big picture. Is the brand portraying itself and behaving overall in a consistent fashion that is moving the business forward and strengthening its level of trust with all its stakeholders? Those are the specific questions I like to pursue. I usually find the answers within the communication and operational mix of the business. I pursue questions, like 1) Does the client over-promise and under-deliver? 2) Is the client’s voice consistent in terms of how it portrays itself across various communication platforms? 3) Is the client communicating on its own terms or connecting with its targets, based on an understanding of what content best engages the target audience? These questions help get to the heart of effective communication.
“Brain power is what I hope to be
able to bring to the table for clients.”
Q: What is the most interesting project or task you have had to do with or for a client?
A: Our work with Philips, NA, was one of many interesting and rewarding assignments. Philips Healthcare required brand positioning and B2B marketing support for a technology health product within the senior living segment. We were able to evaluate its current marketing strategy, and recommend a fresh approach in terms of how it portrayed its technology, service and commitment to the senior living industry. Our work gave us exposure to the complexities within the industry and to the tremendous stories of a rapidly aging senior market. We were able to successfully portray those stories through video, print collateral, and social media campaigns that helped Philips exceed its sales goals for the segment.
Q: What is one recommendation you would share with a business owner who recognizes that their business has plateaued?
A: I would recommend doing a reassessment of the business and its brand positioning. Perhaps the environment within or surrounding the business has changed, and the business owner has not kept pace with the dynamics. A fresh review of the landscape can reveal new opportunities that may prove to be more exciting and profitable.
Q: How has the industry changed over the past 5 years, and where’s it going?
A: The PR profession has continued to be an influential leader within the world of branding and shaping of a corporate image. PR strategy has played out publicly in a defensive posture, as social media can quickly dictate the public’s conversation and attitudes toward a brand. Transparency and honesty have always been important influences in terms of how PR counsels a client and shapes the brand. However, successful practitioners today need to be better chess players and help clients see how today’s commentary may play out for the brand down the road, and then take the necessary steps to change the move today in order to influence the outcome the client would prefer. Nothing is certain in the world of PR, but that uncertainty should not cause a brand to become passive. That posture will surely put the brand into a reactive position, which is not where you want to be in the game of chess.
Q: What is the most creative use of guerrilla marketing you have experienced?
A: Artform is always a good approach to guerrilla marketing. Once we devised a plan that used laser beams to create images and messaging on the towering office buildings towering over the business district of Sao Paulo, Brazil. We used the technique to launch a new international service targeting U.S. corporate employees and travelers in Brazil. We were able to pull it off without permitting or permission, and the light show created a great buzz in the metropolitan city.
Q: How has your collaboration with Janke helped clients over the years?
A: We live in a visual world today. The PR discipline and its expression — although rooted in the written word — is conveyed more and more in visual fashion. This is where graphic design plays a key role. It is a visual portrayal of a brand, and can open the door of inquiry into the written word or story a brand tells. A formal communication strategy can be persuasively stated in word, but design and presentation provide tremendous lures into the content. I enjoy the energy when formal thought and strategy is conveyed and then interpreted in a creative visual way. Clients can wrap their heads around a strategy, but the graphic design element helps them also connect to a strategy with their hearts and emotion.
Q: Free-time, unrelated to work, what do you enjoy doing?
A: If the sun is out, I usually try soaking it in, before nightfall. The Texas sun can be an energy source for me, and being outside fuels my brain to think about things in a fresh way. Running and tennis are two ways to get me outside. I also like to explore new places especially as Austin encounters so much change. Being outdoors lets me enjoy God’s creation, and helps me focus on the bigger picture rather than put too much time and attention to the picture TV in front of the couch.