Published on March 7, 2019, at 7:35 p.m.
by Julia Landon.
More and more today, public relations agencies are shying away from being solely PR and moving toward being integrated agencies with advertising and marketing equally on the team. In Anchorage, Alaska, the same trends are occurring, but one agency has held firm in its practices.
Thompson & Co. Public Relations is the only true full-service PR agency in the Anchorage area, meaning its staff focus solely on what they can bring their clients from a PR perspective.
Understandably, there are several differences between doing PR in Alaska and in the Lower 48, but there are also many things that make doing PR in Alaska appealing.
Challenges and fun tasks
Being a PR practitioner in Alaska is “really, really fun,” according to Jennifer Thompson, President/CEO of Thompson & Co. Public Relations, but also extremely challenging.
“Our media market is very, very small, so we have to be super good at pitching for local media, just because there’s only a handful of outlets here. So when you have 35 or 36 clients, trying to pitch 36 clients to 20 outlets is challenging,” Thompson said.
However, T&C doesn’t let its limited media market stop what it can do. Alaskans, according to Thompson, don’t really want to do things the way everyone else is doing things, so that allows for T&C to bring out the “logo on the moon” idea. One of T&C’s clients is the Alaska tourism account, so there is never a lack of stunning visuals and interesting stories to share.
Thompson shared, “[Our clients] love thinking big and showing that just because we’re not in the Lower 48, we can still do cool, big, forward-thinking things.”
In addition to the openness of its clients, T&C also has a national media strategist based out of Los Angeles, so she is able to do desk-sized briefings with national media outlets much easier than the Anchorage team. That, paired with its small Houston office, gives T&C a more widespread presence in the national media market.
“I think that has been our tactic … to give our clients that extra edge of being able to hire a local PR firm that really knows the state and understands the state and has in-state connections, but also is able to access national connections, too, and have access to national media as well,” Emily McLaughlin, senior account executive at T&C, shared.
There’s more to life than the business aspects, and T&C’s company culture is one of the aspects that really makes the company stand out. From Thirsty Thursdays to work-at-home Fridays to family leave, T&C finds ways to make its small office feel welcoming and open. Company culture is extremely important to Thompson, so much that she currently spends around 50 percent of her time ensuring T&C is a place where people want to work.
T&C has a social committee helmed by two people, and this committee ensures birthdays and other achievements are celebrated. McLaughlin is one of the committee members.
“You have to put some people in charge of making sure that events are recognized and people are recognized and that we do fun activities inside of work and outside of work,” McLaughlin said.
T&C also has something many agencies are working to integrate currently: universal family leave. Starting, or even growing, a family is a stressful situation. T&C recognizes that and offers family leave to all of its employees. It doesn’t matter if you’re the mother or the father, or if you adopted or gave birth, there are eight weeks of paid maternity or paternity leave for all employees. This benefit gives employees the ability to have the best of both worlds by not having to worry about money and being able to be with and care for their family.
McLaughlin started as an intern right out of college at T&C and has since moved up to a senior account executive position. “There’s a lot of focus on growing from within, and there’s a lot of support in growing your career with the agency, and if you want to be promoted, you’re working with your manager to make sure that you’re taking on projects that will get you to that next level that you need to get to,” she said.
In addition, T&C does not do formal annual reviews because Thompson believes that one’s manager should be course-correcting the whole time.
Public relations is constantly changing, and what PR meant 10 years ago is different than what it means now. But T&C seems to be a company one can rely on to stay true to the principles of PR, regardless of how the industry changes over the next 10 years.