Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the 10 largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of developing influential campaigns, Torossian is one of the industry’s most prolific and well-respected public relations professionals.
5W has efficiently expanded and evolved through a diverse and impressive client roster that includes KRUPS, Unilever, All-Clad, Sparkling Ice, Walgreens, as well as unicorn and hyper-growth tech companies, such as Digital Ocean, Zeta Global, JetSmarter, and many more. The firm was named “PR Agency of the Year” by American Business Awards for the third straight year in 2018.
Recognized as Entrepreneur of the Year by the Stevie’s Awards, Torossian has spoken at Harvard Business School and provides expert commentary and insight for top tier media outlets including Fox News, CNBC, and Entertainment Tonight. He regularly contributes for popular outlets such as The Huffington Post, Business Insider, and the NY Observer. His “Behind the Lines” blog gives readers an insider’s perspective on today’s trending topics and his best-selling PR book, “For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations” is required reading at numerous universities.
What inspired you to start 5W Public Relations?
Before starting 5W, I realized that the PR industry was ripe for disruption and felt there was a lot of room for growth, innovation and change. While I started over 16 years ago as a one man operation, today, and over 160 employees later, I still feel there’s a lot of room for growth, innovation and change.
The name, 5WPR – stands for the 5W’s of marketing – who, what, when, where, and why. At our core, we are storytellers. I wanted to build a PR firm that wouldn’t just stand on strategy for strategy’s sake, but rather, focus on results and working in real time to assess our approach, innovating constantly, and changing with the pace of the media landscape.
With 5W PR ranking as one of the top 10 independently-owned PR agencies in the country, what are some strategies and tactics that you use to help the business grow and evolve?
It’s not always easy, but we have carved out a reputation in the industry of being laser focused on results and developing a niche working alongside hyper growth clients – the challengers and those who want to make a mark. As a result we needed to change the way we think and the way we interact with our clients as our stakeholders or points of contact are not just the typical PR person anymore. We talk the language of CTO’s, CRO’s and growth marketers. We are able to translate the value of PR to make it resonate with the modern day CMO.
We are also not afraid to take risks. We understand that in order to spearhead innovation and remain ahead of the industry curve, we must be willing to engage in entrepreneurial explorations of out-of-the-box ideas.
Speaking of these ideas, how do you develop and effectively bring them to life?
When an idea arrives, we take action. I don’t believe in overthinking – make it happen. You need to have the courage and determination to roll your sleeves up and go for it. An idea should be fostered not fraught over. I have learned to make things happen every step of the way, and if that’s going to happen, I’m willing to work really, really hard.
What is one trend that interests and excites you in the PR landscape?
PR mirrors what is going on in our lives and has to connect with audiences where we live, work and play. The biggest trend impacting our daily lives is the hyper connectivity we encounter every day. From connected homes, phone chargers in everything and social platforms that allow one-to-one communication from brands directly to consumers, we are always on. As a result the PR landscape has changed and grown because there are so many more touch points our clients have to consider. Only talking to media isn’t enough, PR professionals need to have programs that include digital, social and influencers strategies. I’m excited to see how brands and companies will continue to innovate not only their products but also the way they make their businesses relevant to their customers.
2018 was a big year for 5W, so what do you anticipate and aim for in the coming year?
Since day one, 5W’s ethos has been to work really hard, think outside the box and deliver results for our clients; and it has been exciting each year to see how the team’s continued commitment to those principles has driven the agency to innovate and grow.
Our sights are now set on 2019 – and beyond – where we will continue to pursue innovation and integration, leading the industry and our clients in the future of communications. Whether it is with our newly-announced strategic partnership with PHA Group, or with our cannabinoid specialty group, or all of our successful practice areas, I know 5W will continue to set the industry standard for PR excellence.
As an entrepreneur you have had a tremendous amount of success; what is one thing that you would recommend to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Yes, work hard and take risks, but also make time for the little things. Sure, it sounds easy, but many forget to consider this aspect while trying to grow a business, yet it can be the most important.
Remember to spend time family – I have two daughters who are the biggest blessings in my life. Thank employees for their hard work. Treat your team fairly and always bring positivity to the workplace. Learn the importance of balance and of what makes you, and those you are leading on this entrepreneurial journey, tick.
In looking over your career, what is one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?
I would tell myself to lead by example always. I would also tell myself to embrace good ideas, regardless of where and who they come from. Understand that you have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Learn to listen, and learn to trust your gut.