Behind the Headlines with Ranieri MD Pietro Ranieri

Pietro Ranieri, MD at consumer tech PR firm Ranieri, on the roller coaster ride of running a PR agency, understanding what success actually looks like, and why journalists shouldn’t bash PRs for trying to do their job.

Before I reach the office in the morning, I’ve already…Ranieri
Walked our chocolate labrador Rocky, helped get my three and five-year-old children ready for school, and, on a good day, dropped them off at school too. (Oh and probably responded to three or four messages from the team about meetings/activity/launches that are coming up).

You’ll mostly find emails about…in my inbox.
Ranieri has many international clients (US, Europe and HK/China) so the morning inbox can look pretty varied to say the least. My role means I’m heavily involved with the business development, financial and management challenges of the business, so my inbox is generally filled with opportunities for new business, partnerships or remittance slips. Unfortunately, like everyone else these days, there is also a lot of spam.

I know I’ve had a good day if…
Running a PR agency sometimes feels like a roller coaster ride, so good days can come in all shapes and sizes. I obviously love to hear when we’ve won a new client, but I also take a lot of pride in something like a new account executive achieving their first piece of coverage. You can easily get lost in the detail of the everyday job, so it’s nice to remember the feeling we all had as fresh-faced PRs when we achieved our first clipping.

My first job was…
I’ve had a lot of jobs before PR, in and around school and university. I have stacked shelves at Sainsbury’s, worked in McDonalds, I was a golf course green keeper and I have also worked as a chef and a waiter. Interestingly, I’m always keen to hear about first jobs in interviews. You can tell a lot about a person by what they did when they were younger.

My first ‘proper’ PR role was for a start up PR agency called Communicating IT. I was one of the first employees and it enabled me to see from start to finish how a PR agency can develop and some of the challenges it can face. I think this set me in good stead to set up and grow my own agency.

I can tell a campaign is succeeding when…
In PR, as we all know, the answer to this can be very subjective. It’s important to understand what success looks like before you embark on a PR campaign so that you and the client can understand if it is a success. However, clear signs include seeing genuine excitement from the media, the coverage starting to flow and the Ranieri team high fiving each other!

I eat….when nobody is watching.
I’m a 17.5 stone ex rugby player, so I’m afraid to say that I can’t hide the fact that I eat EVERYTHING, whether people are looking or not.

The first time I pitched to a journalist…
I first pitched to a journalist called Julian Torregiani who was the reviews editor at MacUser. I was nervous, being new to PR and under pressure to pitch my client’s products. I remember calling him to this day, as it was a hot summer’s afternoon and Julian told me that he was lying on the floor in his shorts and vest in the middle of the editorial office, trying to keep cool. I needed to pitch quickly with that vivid mental image!

The worst thing anyone has said to me is…
“Thanks for your team’s time, but on this occasion we’ve decided to go with….” (phone drops out of my hand, head hits the desk, everyone knows to leave me alone for a while…), Come on, we’ve all been there and it hurts every time. The next question should be ‘What’s the best thing anyone has said to you’…

The last book I read was…
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James. It was the Man Booker prize winner last year. My next door neighbour was at the awards and very kindly gave me a signed copy.

I’ve never really understood why…
Occasional tensions between PRs and journalists can sometimes escalate to naming and shaming on social media. I understand that PRs can sometimes make mistakes, but they are usually only trying to do their jobs under quite a lot of pressure from clients.

Personally, I don’t mind if a journalist gives a PR a good dressing down if they do something wrong. In fact, it’s one of the ways that PRs learn their craft (and we have ALL made mistakes!). What I don’t understand is the PR bashing in public forums after the fact. Surely it would be preferable to let the PR know so they can explain themselves and learn for next time?

If I could go back and talk to my 10-year-old self, I’d say…
Take advice from everyone, but do what you feel is right. No one knows your capabilities better than you.

This time next year, I’ll be…
Doing things better, as I believe you should never rest on your laurels. For Ranieri to continue to grow, we need to constantly look at how we can improve. If this is part of our DNA, then we will only get bigger and stronger.

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