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"People have more trust in their peers than professionals"

Interview with Keum Roling, Head of Marketing & Communications for Casting Workbook

Please introduce yourself to our readers

I am the Head of Marketing & Communications for Casting Workbook based at its headquarters in Vancouver, BC in Canada. I am responsible for the global marketing initiatives to help drive growth and international expansion, as well as raising global brand and product awareness. 

Casting Workbook is the leading tech company connecting the entertainment industry and inspiring actors. We have always been at the forefront of casting innovation whether it’s through our architecture or service commitment, and we continue to set industry standards for our clients. For over 20 years, we have been anticipating the industry needs and creating innovative solutions - making it’s easier for actors to get jobs and where casting directors can find their next stars.

Why do you work in PR?

I’d say that I’m working in Communications which includes PR - the line between internal and external communications will continue to blur, and it’s clear that most companies already no longer view the two as completely separate entities. I look at it from a channel and audience point of view - looking for ways to have that vital conversation with them, however and wherever.  

The work as a communicator is so multifaceted - being able to communicate with local communities as well as the world. We solve problems, tell stories, connect with people and have people connect with each other. I would not have it any other way.  

What differentiates the Canadian market from other markets?

Certainly there are differences on a local level - the Vancouver market vs the Toronto market - which has to do with interests, type of economies, and ability to adapt to changes. Globally we have seen many similar evolutions - moving from traditional media outlets, like print and television, to digital media where social media is playing a prominent role. I’d rather think we have more in common than not; we share the same challenges when it comes to reaching our clients.

What is your take on the convergence of PR and content marketing?

My take is that the need to communicate with our audiences and building communities has never changed - we only label things differently all the time. Yes, with the rise of social media and development of technology we just have more options, more channels and ways to communicate. Sure, some options have been made obsolete, but fundamentally nothing has changed. 

What is your take on how (and if?) traditional PR is losing it’s influence?

Consumers have only so much time and energy to consume information, so the battle is to find ways to make it easier for them to digest content while remaining that trustworthy source. It is all about the narrative and the relevancy. It is not just the influence which traditional PR is losing, but rather the ability to connect with their ever changing audience and how they consume information. Influencers, such as vloggers and bloggers, understand much better how to connect with their audiences. The status quo has changed due to the way we live today - it is exciting for PR and for communication professionals. 

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Can you give an example of a recent PR failure and how you've learned from that?

Even though I love British Airways (BA) and their storytelling in general, they got it so wrong after its IT meltdown earlier this year. I am sure this wasn’t their first crisis and for the CEO to take 7 hours to put out a statement is baffling and quite costly. A few days later, half a billion pounds in the value of BA parent company IAG gone up in flames. I am surprised that they appeared not to have a solid crisis communications plan in place to handle such incident effectively.

During my time at Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, we also quickly understood the incredible value of a SOP (Standard Operating Procedure [ed]) for dealing with a crisis is essential. In late 2015, one of the hotels was attacked by terrorists which was widely covered by all the big media outlets. It was of great importance to assess the situation calmly, get the crisis team together, and never jump to conclusions. Be human, stick with the facts and be honest.

What role do bloggers & vloggers play for current PR strategies?

Influencers aren't a new thing but it has become so much easier to ‘broadcast’ yourself to the world. Done well and you can have a huge following. They always have been, and with the number of them rising, incredibly important. The right bloggers and bloggers for your brand can be incredibly valuable as they can help reach your audience. 

What role does mobile, video and social play for today’s PR pros / practitioners?

The role of social play, mobile and video plays a huge role in today’s PR / Communications world. I dare to say that it is one of the hygiene factors, without it you are losing the battle of staying relevant. Nobody has really the patience to read anything remotely lengthy if it comes from a commercial entity. Sure, if it is really relevant and incredibly engaging, you can definitely pull it off. However, that’s rare these days. Video is a must to convey messages in a short, clear and relevant way. Mobile - the only moment we take the time to look on our phones is when we are transiting. And, social play keeps us all engaged and who doesn’t like a good play? Our job is to provide instant and more relevant content. 

What newspaper, magazines and blogs do you read personally?

Actually, I am reading a lot of newsletters - aggregated content that provides me with a quick update on the latest trends and news. I don’t always read the full article, only if the topic interests me that much, but I get a good high level overview. I get newsletters from Digital Trends, Mashable, TechCrunch, Thrillist to name just a few I read. But, I also love reading Monocle, Wired, Harvard Business Review and FastCompany for example.

Fake news are a substantial challenge for the current political discourse - what does this mean for PR practitioners?

It means that PR practitioners need to reevaluate their PR mix and transparency is more than ever key. The value of earned media placements for certain outlets has definitely been impacted. On the back of this, there is a surge in demand for social media and its influencers. People have more trust in their peers, friends, colleagues and those they admire or look up to. 

What do you think of PR technology providers such as pr.co?

Technology providers are giving us so many amazing tools and ways to organize, plan and execute strategies - including PR and Communications strategies. It is making my life easier and being able to be more effective in everything I do. However, there is a choice-overload where it has become complex to identify which provider/system suits the business and needs the best.

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About Keum Roling

Keum Roling is currently the Head of Marketing & Communications for Casting Workbook - the leading tech company, connecting the entertainment industry and inspiring actors. For over 20 years, Casting Workbook has been anticipating the industry's needs and creating innovative solutions.

Prior to this, he worked as the Global PR & Communications Manager for BDO, Corporate Brand & Communication Manager for Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, Quality Improvement Consultant for the National Health Service in London and he was a Producer within the creative industry across Asia and Europe. He is also the Marketing Jury Member at The Shorty Awards, an On Purpose Fellow, an Affiliated Faculty Member at Colorado State University and a guest speaker at various universities.

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The pr.co team thanks Keum wholeheartedly for this interview. 

You can connect with Keum on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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