Communicator’s Corner with Jamie Garantziotis

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Jamie Garantziotis

Jamie Garantziotis

This week, we chat with Jamie Garantziotis, a public relations professional at the merging Southern Cross Media/Austereo Group.

What’s your elevator statement?

I’ve always love to read, write, and consume media, so it makes sense that I got hooked on communications and public relations.

As a communicator, I’m fascinated by the merging of traditional and new media in public relations, and how the profession is growing and diversifying as a result of these changes. Professionally, my interests include corporate communication and reputation management, crisis communication and issues management, social media, media relations, corporate and public affairs, corporate social responsibility and sustainability communications.

Outside communications, I love cycling and the endless search for the perfect cup of coffee. I also love reading, art-house cinema, travel and food.

Tell us about your typical day in communications?

I begin the day by checking my Twitter and email, flicking between morning TV shows before I head to work. At work, I like to check my media monitoring feed and news headlines before getting through the emails that may have come through overnight. Depending on the TV shows we may be featuring that week and the activity of our radio stations, the morning will consist of activities including writing, talent interview pitches, interview schedules and the distribution of materials both externally to media and internally to our staff. While undertaking these tasks, I like to keep my eye on the major papers for breaking news, as well as my Twitter feed for any key trending topics.

During the afternoon, I like to work on some of the larger long-term projects such as social media, attend any conference calls or meetings and planning required, as well as writing and editing media materials to be sent at a later date. Before I head off for the evening, I like to have a final scan of my media monitoring feed, major news headlines and trending online topics.

I keep evenings for a mix of blog and news reading, writing, podcasts, social platforms (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) and a chapter of a book if I’m lucky.

When did you first know you wanted to work in communications?

I first realised I wanted to work in communications during my third year of study at The University of Melbourne. Studying media and communications, I always had a great interest in the field, but never new quite where I wanted to work. I don’t remember precisely when, but during my third year I began expanding my extra-curricular reading to include public relations and corporate communications. From there, I began to explore more books and blogs and was hooked. This motivated me to study a Masters in PR and Corporate Communication at Bond University, and the rest is history.

Who’s your communication hero/mentor?

Wow, that’s a tough one. In this era of blogs and social media, there are so many incredible communicators that day in, day out produce fantastic content and commentary that I love to engage with and learn from. I always say that I idolise Richard Edelman. Richard is not only a communications professional, but a business professional that believes in the power of communications to impact upon business. I would love to one day emulate his academic achievement by completing an MBA.

In the field of social media, I love the work of Brian Solis – he truly is a thought leader in the world of social business, and continually shares brilliant content that triggers great thoughts and discussion. I also look up to Gary Vaynerchuk- a person who works hard and lives his passion.

As mentors and professionals I really admire Deirdre Breakenridge and Trevor Young who have always been so generous in sharing their time and insights with me. Making the transition from student to young professional, I can’t tell you how great it is to have professionals like Trevor and Deirdre to ask questions and discuss communications.

But, as I said, social media gives us so many opportunities to engage with and learn from fellow communicators that my list of influencers could go on and on – but I’ll leave it there for now.

Which tools can’t you live without?

I can’t live without my iPhone and was just yesterday joking with a friend of mine about how I wouldn’t know what to do without it. Certainly was a bit of a challenge when I was recently overseas and had to cut my usage down a little, but I think I survived.

The first thing I do when I wake up is check Twitter and email, so taking these away would be a huge shock to the system.

I also rely heavily on my Bloglines and news feeds/alerts to organise my reading, and know that keeping across all this content would be pretty difficult without great tools like these.

What are the biggest challenges in your role?

The greatest challenge for me has been working as the sole communications practitioner within the organisation. Being given the opportunity to build a communications role and department from the ground up has been incredible, but coming from a number of internships in the agency environment, I’m used to having fellow communicators around me to discuss campaigns and ideas.

Tell us about the best campaign you’ve ever worked on?

As an intern, I really enjoyed working on the launch of a brand new science precinct in Brisbane, as well as a campaign for Forest & Wood Products Australia.

In my current role, our marketing and communications team had great fun working on the campaign of our 90.9 Sea FM breakfast radio team to bring Ellen DeGeneres to Australia.

With great talent, content and events, it was great fun to work on.

Which campaign do you most admire?

It’s hard to go past Tourism Queensland’s ‘Best Job in the World’ campaign. Their team integrated the use of traditional and new media and executed it brilliantly to create a campaign that generated a world wide rave beyond expectation.

What’s been the biggest change to communication/marketing/public relations since you began your career?

Well, I’m only 14 months into my full-time career, but in the past two to three years I’ve seen some big changes in media and communications. Two really stand out for me.

Firstly, with changes in technology the news cycle is getting faster, and we’re consuming and demanding such great amounts of content that media are adapting their platforms and speed to match.

Secondly, with the continual growth of social media and online relationships, I feel that the role and importance of community management has become greater than ever before. Yes, communications has always been about developing and maintaining relationships, but the site and scope of conversations around a brand or organisation are now happening 24/7 across a multitude of platforms that require their own unique set of skills for management and engagement.

If you had to cut/keep something in your communication budget, what would it be?

Be it purchasing a physical newspaper, or the iPad/online/mobile version, I’d have to keep my budget for news and media. Conversely, I’d cut a bit of my expenditure on books and start to selectively purchase a few more e-books. I tend to scan Amazon and Fishpond looking to buy one book, but two hours later somehow have an order of 10 books on the way – quite a few of which are still on the ‘to read’ shelf.

What quality do you look for in your communication team members?

Passion and work ethic. I think Gary Vaynerchuk hit the nail on the head when he wrote that he lives by three rules: (1) Love your family (2) Work super hard (3) Live your passion.

As a communicator, I want to work with colleagues who love communications and have that drive and work ethic.

What’s your favourite brand?

Would it be a bit of a cliché if I said Apple? Well, aside from Apple, I’m a big fan of Rapha (English-based boutique cycling brand). As a bit of a cycling geek, I last week wrote a post about why I’m going to purchase from Rapha. In short, they produce incredible content that underlines the pure joy of cycling. While all the content may feature their products, that isn’t their focus. Instead, they create a world where cyclists can close their eyes and escape, and they ensure that they maintain a suite of supporting social platforms and community management and engagement that really does make you feel as though you’re part of the Rapha way of life. For a bike geek like me, that’s pretty special, and I’ve got great admiration for their content and community management teams.

What book/blog do you think every communicator should read?

Great question. There’s so much great content out there, but here’s a few …

Must read book(s)- Engage! (Brian Solis), The New Rules of Marketing & PR (David Meerman Scott), The Cluetrain Manifesto, Putting the Public Back in Public Relations (Deirdre Breakenridge & Brian Solis)

Must read blog(s)- PR Breakfast Club, Spin Sucks, PR Warrior, The Comms Corner, DeirdreBreakenridge.com, The Flack, BrianSolis.com, 6AM- Richard Edelman

Podcasts- Inside PR, For Immediate Release

What tips do you wish you’d known starting out in communications?

Another great question. I don’t know whether it’s a tip, but I wish I’d been familiar with the work of Gary Vaynerchuk when I began in communications. I absolutely love communications – and whenever I read Gary’s work his passion inspires me to try and do even more – to really grow as a person. The word that Gary uses for this is ‘hustle’. That is, we as communicators now have unparalleled opportunities to learn from and engage with each other and develop as people and professionals through our work. As a young professional, this inspires me, and if I could provide one tip to other young communicators starting in the field, it would be to keep up that hustle and let that passion shine through.

Finish this sentence:

Communication is…’ everything. Be it professionally or personally, we are all humans and social beings that rely on communication to build and develop relationships. Be it a conversation with a family member or the announcement of your company’s financial result to shareholders, communication is key. More than that, if you are lucky enough to work in communication, it is a field that is growing and developing like never before, with a wide world of opportunities out there to apply your skills.

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