How to Make It in PR and Marketing: Getting Lost to Find Answers

CLEVELAND - “Go where others are not.” These words resonated with me as I got off the phone with Paul Roetzer, founder and president of PR 20/20, a Cleveland-based inbound marketing and public relations firm. The propensity to venture where others are either unwilling or unable to go is tantamount to Roetzer and other thought leaders in the industry, who are redefining the ways we do business online and in the workplace.

It is often easy for passion to obscure perspective, especially in your twenties. Since finishing my degree in public relations at Baldwin-Wallace College three years ago, I’ve gotten a lot better at failing and letting go.

Time and space take on new meaning as you get older: relationships change, jobs change (I’ve had three in the past year), income and geography change. These crossroads challenged me to stretch in new ways, and accept that part of growing – in life and especially this landscape, is embracing the unknown. Adversity and failure led to a deeper sense of gratitude, humility and resolve.

There is no substitute for hard work, a willing attitude and internal fire in what you do. After college, I learned three-paid internships, work through school, a padded resume and portfolio to boot is essentially standard, particularly in the field of PR and current economic climate. As the ways in which companies define and select talent evolve, candidates seeking to advance in their career must actively cultivate new ways to develop communication, technical and networking competencies – regardless of industry.

It’s about passion and aplomb – entitlement has no place here (Tamsen McMahon, Calling Bullsh*t on Social Media). If you reach the point where you feel you have done enough, you haven’t – be wary of complacency. There is always more to see, do and become.

Christina Capadona-Schmitz, Assistant VP and Consultant at PR 20/20, contends ”“If you’re not being chased, trying to catch up, or highly focused on getting ahead, motivation needs to be managed as its own pursuit (Why to Keep Running When No One is Chasing You).

Anthony Iannarino, president and CSO of a B2B firm in Westerville, adds “You are only limited by your own vision of yourself, and your willingness to take action to realize that vision. Period.”

The secret is not to dwell on the things that don’t work, but to get back up and do something differently with as much (or greater) enthusiasm and conviction as before. Toss the snooze button (The Case for Personal Development: You Are Your Only Asset).

A visit last week with PR 20/20 and 19 classmates from the Baldwin-Wallace PR Center was enlightening for Jamie Ryan, a junior PR major at BW. Ryan mentioned she was struck by Roetzer’s notion that if you are in a job “where you are no longer counting the hours, you’re in the right place.”

Firms like PR 20/20 thrive because there is no longer a distinction between work and play – they simply love what they do. Building and retaining meaningful relationships is one of the most rewarding aspects of PR, and why networking face-to-face and online is so vital. Industry leaders want to know whom you are listening to and what you are learning, where you are finding value online and the story your personal brand has to tell.

As Deepak Chopra puts it, your social network (human and virtual) reflects your level of awareness. Rather than demanding a job or reference at the onset of an informational interview or networking opportunity, ask questions – and wait for a response. Remembering to listen and contribute to the industry will reap long-term rewards, as you’ll begin to grow and become more viable on a personal and professional level.

Inbound marketing is alluring because it is frontier, integrating a content-driven market within the crosshairs of web development, brand marketing, search marketing, public relations and social media.

How many leaders today have an insatiable appetite for uncertainty and challenging convention? Moreover, how many like Roetzer have the freedom (and nerve) to revamp an entire service model on a plane to Dallas, adjusting to real-time changes in the market?

Save it for the Google or Silicon Valley VCs and kooks on Wall Street, cynics might mutter. But that resilience and initiative is exactly the sensibility it takes to own oneself and inspire others toward greater awareness and action: To see before others see. To see more than others see. To see farther than others see.

And go where others are not.


Paul Roetzer and his team at PR 20/20 recently celebrated their 5-year anniversary. In September 2010, Roetzer was also recognized by Smart Business as a Rising Star for Innovation in Business. You can reach them at

18 thoughts on “How to Make It in PR and Marketing: Getting Lost to Find Answers

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