Communicating Success - Tiziana Rocca - ebook
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Corporations large and small, political figures, artists, and organizations: all of them need public relations to make their products or services known, to stimulate interest in a brand name, or to build the right image. As a result, recognition of the importance of communications is steadily growing, and interest in working in the PR field is on the rise. But those who want to enter the profession can’t forget that making a name for oneself takes skill, diplomacy, creativity, and well-focused training. In this lively guide, Tiziana Rocca, an undisputed public-relations leader, shares her approach and her vision for the profession. Rocca begins with a series of reflections on the nature and the goals of PR, then turns to an examination of key aspects of professionalism: service quality, relationships with clients, and the human values that must be reinforced on a day-to-day basis. A large section of the book is dedicated to issues related to marketing and publicity, to managing information, and to the profession’s concrete aspects: the creation of successful events, the modern art of entertaining, practical work tools and strategies, and effective collaboration with coworkers and team members. Experience, ideas, guidelines, and tips: Rocca’s guide is a decisive leg up for anyone who wants to stand out in the complex and diverse world of communications.

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Tiziana Rocca 

Communicating Success: Public Relations with an Italian Flair 

Copyright © 2011 IPOC di Pietro Condemi Milan Italy 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photo-copying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quota-tions embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher at the address below: 

IPOC di Pietro Condemi 

159, Viale Martesana

I - 20090 Vimodrone MI

Ph.: +39-0236550461 

Fax.: +39-0236550461 

[email protected] 

Original title: Come fare le pubbliche relazioni Le nuove regole per comunicare con successo. Edition: 2006 Publisher: Sperling & Kupfer Editori Spa Milan – Italy 

ISBN: 978-88-95145-68-6

English Translation by Wendell Ricketts 

The moral rights of the translator have been asserted 

Front cover: Tiziana Rocca, photograph by Gianmarco Chieregato

Acclaim for Tiziana Rocca 

“Tiziana, whom I affectionately call ‘Tizi,’ is the heart and core of every event she organizes. The reason is simple: the unparalleled personal magnetism that she transmits to everyone in attendance. Her warmth, charm, intelligence, elegance, and ‘screen presence’ are grand enough to transform any ‘Event X’ into a ‘Tiziana Event.’

Her entire professional life has been a Rossinian crescendo, though she’s so often featured in the society pages that one might tend to forget her noble side and her many endeavors on behalf of those less fortunate. That aspect of her character, those innumerable acts of charity, has been the driving force behind Tiziana’s rise – among martinis, Mercedes, and heart-felt ‘Praise the Lords’ – leading to her induction, in 1997, into the ‘Papal Order of Saint Gregory the Great.’ Tiziana, Our Lady of the Media.

Projects that come into her hands raw and unformed take shape, molded under the effect of her decades-long experience. A Hollywood inspiration, a dose of Italian practicality, and an after-hint of Naples on the palate. That combination of elements is reflected in every new project she undertakes, where high fashion promenades delicately alongside the music world, where attention to detail is Tiziana’s trademark, whether it’s a matter of ten guests or a thousand.

You can sense her guiding hand behind an ultra-exclusive supper for an international film premiere or at the product launch of the fashion world’s latest, hottest name.

You can see her, with her deceptively simple touch, manage veritable French gardens of guests of every conceivable kind. Figures from the world of politics, sports, and business are caught, like so many satellites, in the gravitational pull of her events. And there they orbit happily, among the delight of her clients, the contentment of the paparazzi, and the bliss for the taste buds that her guests always experience.

And all of that is the means to but a single end: Reach the top through the top. Tizi says it herself in her book: ‘Everybody needs a PR rep.’ I might put it another way: ‘Everybody needs an angel or two looking out for him in heaven.’

When there aren’t any angels, though, there’s Tiziana, Our Lady of the Media, and she’ll do very nicely, indeed.” 

Tony Renis 

“I have had the pleasure and fortune to meet Tiziana for working reasons. Therefore I became a sincere fan of this great professional beautiful woman.” 

F. Murray Abraham 

“It’s nice to see Tiziana, after so many years in this business, still enthusiastic and full of energy. As time goes by, she hasn’t changed at all: she’s still the spirited, charismatic girl we met at the beginning of her stellar career. We love her personality: she’s strong and positive!” 

Eva and Roberto Cavalli 

“Te deseo lo mejor para este libro y tus siguiente proyectos, fue un placer trabajar juntas.” 

Mónica Cruz

“Never visit Rome without Tiziana’s help!” 

Kirk Douglas 

“Ms. Tiziana Rocca has a natural talent for public relations and communication. Not only is she able to make one feel at ease, but she has a reassuring manner accompanied by a certainty that allows her client to know that everything is going to be all right. When you think of perfect organisation with beauty, class, and aesthetic, you can be certain that Ms. Tiziana Rocca will combine it all into a magnificent timeless events!” 

Adnan and Lamia Khashoggi 

“Tiziana does public relations not just with an Italian flair, but with a global sensibility.” 

Kevin King 

“It’s been a pleasure to know and work with Tiziana Rocca. She’s not only a first-class publicist, but a very charming and warm person.” 

Dolph Lundgren 

“While you are working is important to have a good friend and a very professional person like Tiziana around you.” 

Brigitte Nielsen 

“Tiziana is at the top of her profession and knows exactly how to promote to perfection.” 

Sylvester Stallone 

“Nobody has more connections in Italy than Tiziana… from the Vatican to the designers.” 

Keisha e Forest Whitaker 

“To our new friend Tiziana Rocca, a splendid woman and an extremely talented person.” 

Treat Williams 

Preface to the Italian Edition 

Tiziana Rocca, contemporary icon of Italian public relations, gets it right when she lays claim to – and underscores with a sense of stubborn pride – the element of managerial efficiency that is implicit in the practice of her profession, a profession that has always served as a focus for desire in the collective consciousness, but which has just as often been targeted for sarcastic comments and moralistic fixations.

That it could not be otherwise – that the inherent complexity of the (so to speak) epistemological ethos of public relations cannot be denied – this fact was understood as early as the 1920s by Edward Bernays, no less than the nephew of Sigmund Freud. Bernays likened public relations to an “applied social science” whose inspiration was drawn from psychology, sociology, and other scientific disciplines.

Nor can one say that the challenges this burgeoning profession faces are of little account, not if we consider that among the first to make ample use of public relations were American railroads at the end of the 1800s, Harvard University, and the government of the United States itself, with recruiting soldiers to serve on the European front during the First World War.

Tiziana gets it right, exactly right, in wanting to rise above the reductive and deceptive interpretations that attempt to dispatch public relations with the pun, “Parties and Receptions,” taking that as the very essence of the PR professional’s work, just as the modern press, steeped in an intolerable moralism, so often does, intent on contemplating the finger that points at the moon, rather than the moon itself.

For identical reasons, I’m all for eliminating – particularly in a year in which Italy’s “Azzurri” beat “Les Blues” of France in the final game of the World Cup – the Gallic recipe, “faire, faire savoir, savoir faire,” as if it were a hornbook containing the entire “true wisdom” of public relations, a phrase that, in its iconoclastic brevity fails to do justice to the enormous complexity of the profession (and what a dense word that is, with its flavors of competence, of direct experience acquired in the field, of homespun care for the telling detail).

As for me, I’ll limit myself to observing that it isn’t so paradoxical after all, this idea that we need to consider a radical reformation of the image of the image-makers. The debate over the particulars of this profession has reached a level of sophistication that would be unlikely to raise much interest beyond trade associations and which barely scratches the surface of public opinion.

The ability to define objectives, manage time resources, measure results, marshal and organize human resources, think strategically and often laterally, be decisive in guaranteeing the rapid execution of a project – all these, in reality, are the managerial skills that the modern PR professional can’t afford to be without.

If, as the experts tell us, thirty to forty percent of a corporate executive’s time is spent communicating something to someone (newspapers, TV, investors, clients, employees, regulatory authorities), it’s obvious that public relations activities involve quite a bit more than issuing the occasional invitation to dinner.

In other words, it’s not just a question of having the familiarity or, one might hope, the magic touch to deploy the tools of the trade (how to create a proper invitation; which guests should sit together at which table; how to arrange a happy marriage between the “art of the encounter,” aesthetics, and efficiency; how to write a press release; how to interact with the vast network of all those who have some stake in the event).

Quite the contrary – and Tiziana ably demonstrates how well she knows this – it’s a question of acquiring a sophisticated “know how,” imbued with enormous creativity in trend-setting, that gives birth to the richest possible network of interrelationships between a company, its culture, its values, its products, its targets, and the “event” – by which I mean the arrival of the message and its meaning in the hands of its intended audience.

Consider the list provided by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), for example, which is enough to make one’s head spin (http://www.prsa.org/aboutUs/officialStatement.html): 

Examples of the knowledge that may be required in the professional practice of public relations include communication arts, psychology, social psychology, sociology, political science, economics, and the principles of management and ethics. Technical knowledge and skills are required for opinion research, public issues analysis, media relations, direct mail, institutional advertising, publications, film/video productions, special events, speeches, and presentations.

When all is said and done, we don’t much need a lot of manuals and “how to” guides; but the vision and the experience that Tiziana offers her readers in these pages – yes, that we can surely use. And not solely in order to spend some time “in the master’s workshop,” as artists and artisans did during the Renaissance, but also to guide, with a steadfastness that’s as de-lightful as it is necessary, our own clients – so often infected, as they are, by the pretense of believing, as if it were something they’d picked up out of thin air, that they know how public relations ought to be done.

Vincenzo Novari 

CEO 

3 ITALIA S.p.A.

Introduction: A PR Consultant’s Story 

Fifteen years ago, I never thought I would make my career in public relations. Today, the field has almost become trendy, but at the time there was no standard definition of public relations: everything had to be more-or-less invented along the way. Organizing events as an “event manager,” as they’re now called, was an activity that I built on my own. The effort required was constant, and I put my heart and soul into it. In order to realize the objectives I had set for myself, I tried to focus my attention on human relationships, making a genuine effort to overcome the inevitable difficulties, to stick with it and keep going, being careful never to let my personal feelings or likes and dislikes affect my professionalism. Professionalism, in the end, is what should shine through, always and in every situation.

Those who decide to go into this profession today can turn to specialized university courses in Communication Sciences. As for me, I began in Geneva with a Master’s degree in Economics, convinced that, in order to pursue this career in the best way possible, I needed all sorts of qualities and knowledge in addition to an ability to communicate. And it’s true: you do need to know how to maintain a balance between costs and revenues and how to read a budget.

Everything’s important, in fact, when your work moves into a business context. Often, your very first step is to draft a budget with your client or provide an estimate, and that means staying on top of costs, making sure that everything is checked and double-checked and never strays off-kilter.

I started out by organizing events for volunteer organizations. Since I was available to help with planning (and being available is a fundamental quality in a good PR rep), large numbers of clients immediately began to ask me to work with them. I began getting more and more involved in the search for sponsors and unique locations, even enlisting the cooperation of show-business personalities, thanks to personal contacts that have remained extremely helpful in my work.

When I came to Rome, after working for a time in Milan, my circle expanded beyond social causes and I starting moving in other circles and in other kinds of companies and organizations. As a result, I decided to create my own agency. I knew I was taking a risk: at the time, the business I was going into still wasn’t very well known, but I found that such worries were actually galvanizing.

In the fifteen years of my career, I have to say that I’ve tried, above all, to construct my professional image through the power of creative thinking and with seriousness of intent. What I mean is this: I’ve created any number of events literally from nothing and have then been rewarded by the results – often truly extraordinary results that were decisive for the success of a product. I’ve always tried to motivate private companies to set aside a part of their earnings for humanitarian and volunteer organizations, because my belief is that everyone who can do so has a duty to help those less fortunate.

Travel has always been wonderfully stimulating for me as well. In order to understand how public relations are managed elsewhere, you have to keep your eyes and your mind wide open, observing and absorbing everything that goes on around you.

I’m also of the opinion that events can be planned in such a way as to make them available to all five senses: from the magic that imaginative lighting can create, to the music, and even to the aromas that accompany the dishes you serve. All of these things captivate your guests’ senses and put them center-stage in a dream you’ve created just for them.

Since 2005, I’ve taught a course at the Cinecittà Campus in Rome, a university-level training program connected to Italy’s “Hollywood” complex. My goal is to communicate my experience and to explain my work to the many young people who hope to begin a career in public relations. For them, finding a way into the work force is complicated, especially in the area of communications.

Even if talking about public relations is almost trendy these days, a kind of status symbol, many people still use the term incorrectly – in part because it’s a job that must be performed on so many different levels at once. Being successful in this work means adhering to very precise rules and ways of conducting yourself, learning the tricks and secrets of strategies for organization and communication. More than anything else, what it takes are loads of enthusiasm – the kind of enthusiasm that makes you immune to exhaustion and keeps you working all night long.

You’ve Gotta Have Heart!

What’s more, you need to have the kind of personality that’s often called “outgoing” or “other-oriented”; you’ve got to be able to make yourself understood and appreciated. That’s what I try to communicate in the course I teach – I even tell my students about the mistakes I’ve made over the years (by now, heading off such errors has become second nature). Among the personality characteristics that I make a special effort to cultivate in my students are, in fact, humility and the willingness to acknowledge one’s mistakes, because it’s in so doing that we get better.

A PR consultant worth her salt has to respect professional ethics above all else: avoid engaging in gossip, take care to protect others’ privacy and confidentiality, keep your outlook moderate, don’t allow yourself to make harsh judgments, and keep your mind on your work. What goes around comes around in life, and knowing how to behave in a way that’s proper and straightforward, without being swayed by backbiting or envy, always pays off in the end.

Here’s the First Lesson!

My great strengths are that I never give up and that I have an enormous store of energy and genuine passion for my work. I do my best not to get caught up in feeling sorry for myself or playing the victim, doing what I need to do with professionalism instead.

People have asked me whether writing books or teaching courses doesn’t make me worry that I’ll somehow be “cloned,” increasing competition in my own profession and creating problems for myself. What I always say is that I like to think of myself as a generous person, and I like thinking that others can learn from my experience. In any event, I have faith in my abilities, in the “personal” touch that I bring to everything I organize or create, and so the risk doesn’t worry me. On the contrary, it’s an inspiration!

I hope that those who read this book will follow my suggestions and make the best use of them they can, never forgetting the human dimension, the question of social responsibility. And remember: read, gather as much information as you can, stay well informed and up to date. Knowledge is fundamental to avoiding stupid mistakes.

Putting all of ourselves into our work is exhausting: it takes enormous energy, and there’s the risk that your job will become a literal “thief” of your time, sometimes to the detriment of your family and the people to whom you are closest. I’ve learned that you have to struggle and to commit yourself wholeheartedly in life if you want to be successful in reaching your goals. In that regard, my family helps me; they give me strength and support. My feeling is that what’s important is the quality of the time you spend together and not just the quantity. Sometimes, I even involve my children in my work, though they’re still young: I bring them to the venues where I’m organizing events; I make sure they participate in what is taking place. Often, my daughter helps us put stamps on the invitations we send out! Even at this early stage of their lives, I want to give them a sense of responsibility and make them understand the value of reaching one’s goals; I want them to know that nothing is ever built without effort, work, and commitment. I believe that absorbing these principles now, while they’re still children, is essential to their futures.

Today the role of the PR consultant is more important than ever. PR reps are engaged in specific duties in virtually every imaginable business sector, and they’re the motor that provides the energy that brings a project, a brand name, or a consumer item to the public’s attention. Their areas of specialization and the details of their work may be different, but they remain an integral part of the processes of communication.

The clients one encounters in public relations work are highly variable and range from the private sector to the public. There’s no doubt that the private sector requires a decidedly faster pace. Immediate results are expected, and you’ve got to be good in order to produce them. That’s why I always emphasize that, if you want to grow in this profession, you can’t wait for someone to hand you a job. You’ve got to try to give your utmost at all times and be available for any kind of work, your fatigue notwithstanding. It’s the only way for your efforts to be rewarded: only when we’re capable of doing what’s most difficult do we become truly good at doing what’s easier and more fun. Never forget: one thing leads to another!

How Public Relations Work 

Public Relations: Instructions for Use