Ronn Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the 25 largest independent American PR firms, headquartered in New York with an office in Los Angeles. Known for its results-oriented approach, 5WPR has been named PR Agency of the Year by the American Business Awards, and has been named to the Inc. 500 list. Torossian is a featured op-ed columnist for The Huffington Post, Newsmax, Wired Magazine and others. He is the recipient of multiple awards, including PR Executive of the Year, and is a past semi-finalist for Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young.
1) How did you get into the PR industry and why?
I love the energy of Public Relations and the many different ways to communicate a story. There is something so exciting about waking up every morning, reading/watching the news – which is always very different – and then figuring out ways to incorporate our clients into stories. I love being able to shape our clients messaging and communications strategies. Simply put, I love working with clients and love working in PR.
On a practical basis, I am New York City born and bred. Born in Brooklyn, raised in the Bronx, Stuyvesant High School in NYC, then SUNY Albany. And after college I had no clue what I wanted to do and spent time working in politics in Israel – and by accident discovered PR. Soon after, I returned to NYC, started working for an agency and fell in love with the business.
PR is a mix of journalism, psychology, and lawyering—it’s an ever-changing and always interesting landscape.. and I LOVE IT!
2) How does your firm utilize social media and stay ahead of competitors?
Social media is ingrained in our culture and part of what we do. One of the reasons we have success is we view all forms of digital media as part and parcel of today’s PR process –we have 100 media professionals who are all adept at utilizing social media to benefit their clients. One of the reasons we are successful is we are the only top 50 PR Agency with a CEO under the age of 45 – that matters because we simply get it in a different cultural way than other firms. Our team actively blogs, authors op-eds, and uses social media to interact with members of the media and those within the PR industry. This has allowed us to continue practicing what we preach, and take our day-to-day experiences and apply them to our client support.
3) What is a great night out like to you?
A great night out for me is a great night “in.” I am not an out-on-the-town executive. I work very hard, and when not working I enjoy my family. I generally wake around 5AM or so, and my schedule is so jam-packed, many times with exciting client events, that on the rare occasion I make it home before 10PM, I usually prefer a quiet night with my family. That being said, I live in Manhattan and there are so many great restaurants and cultural experiences, and I certainly love having Central Park as my backyard.
4) What brands do you rep and what is the niftiest PR move you have implemented for them?
At 5WPR, we are fortunate to work for blue chip companies in industries including corporate, consumer, healthcare, technology, public affairs, entertainment and more. Through the years, from work for Microsoft to start-up companies, our clients very much run the gamut from Fortune 500 to exciting entrepreneurial ventures.
It is so hard to identify one specific “nifty” PR move --- I am so proud to have written an industry leading book “For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations” which was released last year and is now used in colleges and universities all over the country.
Every single day we do great work for clients. Our niftiest move is yet to come – we are just getting started.
5) What is your life motto/quote?
There are really so many as I am a collector of quotes and have them all over my office.
Two of my favorites include “Build It and They Will Come” to "Live an ethical, balanced life with honor, integrity, and laughter." My next two would also have to be from the book Samson, "Tell them three things in my name, not two: Gather iron, anoint a king, and learn to laugh” to the very simple, yet so accurate “There is no substitute for hard work.”
6) What would you say are the top two personality traits someone needs to do a PR job well?
First, I need to say that succeeding in PR is really hard. That said, we need more people who understand business – too many people in our industry do not think about business ramifications. CEO’s don’t stay awake at night because a story didn’t run – they stay awake at night for many other reasons.
We also want people to be hungry for success. Passion and the desire to win and do a great job really matters. Wanting to do great work absolutely shows in the results which we deliver to our clients.
7) Who is your mentor and how do you stay so successful in the PR industry?
My mentor in life is my hero; my mother, Penny Waga who died last year and will always remain with me everywhere I go in life. My single mom taught me that I can be anything I put my mind to and to never ever give up.
As a professional communicator, there are many great communications visionaries I admire, from Winston Churchill to Richard Branson. And within the Public Relations industry, I greatly respect Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman, the largest PR firm in the world who works every day like he is just getting started. His concept of hard work and constant sense of urgency is admirable. I also respect Peter Gummer, Lord Chadlington, the Chairman of Huntsworth, one of the largest communications companies in the world.
And last but not least, I learn every day from the very talented staff at the great pr firm called 5WPR.