For this “Secrets of the Biz” article we sat down with Corey Herscu, CEO of RNMKR, one of Canada’s best innovation, lifestyle and cannabis-focused PR agencies.
Tell us about Corey (in 140 characters)
An ‘always-on’ sneaker-collecting publicist with an awesome team and a reputation for getting the job done.
You’ve been doing PR for 5-6 years, what’s the most interesting campaign you’ve worked on?
Not to sound cheesy, but they’ve all been equally fun. If I absolutely had to pick just one project, it would be the “Kids Read Mean Tweets” campaign we assisted John St. advertising with. As a father/uncle, anything youth-related hits close to home.
So you went through a big re-brand over the summer, tell us about that!
Yes! This was the second rebrand the company has gone through. I started off with HerscuPR — my first company as a publicist — which then evolved into Herscu & Goldsilver via a new partnership. This summer we rebranded again to match a shift in the agency’s change in leadership. RNMKR embodies everything we do and stand for: Securing killer coverage and creating all-encompassing campaigns that help “Make it Rain” for our clients.
We’ve heard your company has gone lean, what have you learned about removing things like a physical office?
We used to have a beautiful space downtown Toronto; it was everything you’d want from an office. Cool art, lightning fast internet, exposed wood beams, huge windows, and unlimited Nespresso. But honestly, we just didn’t need it; we’re a small (but mighty) team.
Between meetings, off-sites, conferences, and remote hours, we just didn’t need the space. Nowadays, my team is just as efficient — if not more so — being able to shape their own hours.
I have a young daughter and tend to work best early mornings/night; my director is a (crazy) morning person, and starts her day at 5:30 a.m.; we have runners, yoga-fanatics, and commuters on our team. Working remotely allows us to get our shit done, but also live our lives to the fullest.
This lean model eliminates unnecessary overhead, keeps us focussed, and most importantly — it keeps my team balanced and happy.
Tell us about your new found focus on cannabis companies.
I was diagnosed late in life with Anxiety and ADHD. I tried every medication under the sun and none were effective in helping me positively cope with the day to day triggers I was experiencing; in fact, for the most part, the meds prescribed were making things significantly worse. This caused me to develop a slight reputation for being petty, jealous, and negative; I had a literal disdain for anyone who I perceived to be doing better or getting more attention, and wasn’t shy to talk about it.
Then I was introduced to the Cannabidiol (CBD for short) the medicinal, non-psychoactive part of the Cannabis plant, and it changed things for me almost instantly. This change helped me learn new coping mechanisms, which in turn have helped me process things differently and more positively. I have felt so inspired by this change – and of course the new legalities around Cannabis coming to Canada — that I have made it a goal of mine to help spread the word.
If you were to highlight some key moments throughout your career in PR, what would they be?
As Herscu & Goldsilver, winning our first big account (League) from one of the biggest agencies in the world (Edelman); doing my first keynote talk; being nominated for a Notable Award.
When is someone ready to hire a PR agency?
Ah – this is always one of my favourite questions. You’re ready when you want new people and/or businesses to know about you. The biggest hurdle with PR is measuring ROI; especially for those who are using it for the first time. It’s not a cheap endeavor, but it is one that should be a business priority for anyone looking to gain awareness about their brand/product/service.
You aren’t ready if either of the following apply:
#1 – You don’t have the money to pay for it. And I mean this in a few different ways. First — you get what you pay for. I won’t take a client who doesn’t have the bandwidth to make this financial commitment. Secondly — if this money is coming from another budget (for example, production), and is being used to create awareness before being ready for mass attention. Which brings me to ….
#2 – Your brand/product isn’t cemented. PR brings attention to you. If you aren’t sure where you want to take a product or company, then generating awareness first won’t do you any good.
What’s your secret to attracting new clients?
Being honest and not stroking egos just to win; also being realistic about results and what clients can expect. I am very comfortable saying no/walking business because I don’t see the angle or don’t think I could show a solid enough ROI on the spend. I am a tenacious hustler who tries to do good by everyone.
Craziest PR Story, GO!
When my old business partner and I first met, she brought in me on a project, PinchVR, to give a hand with amplifying their press. I met the client at 4pm on a Tuesday and was so blown away by what I saw, that I turned around a media tour for Toronto and New York City in about four hours. Things moved so quickly that I flew into NYC with the client that same night. The following day, from 8am-6pm, we hosted journalist from WIRED, Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch. Engadget, etc.
Tell us a secret. Don’t worry we won’t tell.
Most people don’t know that I am a very, very good dancer; Hip-hop, salsa, and freestyle. I’ve gone to classes, but have never danced competitively because I don’t want to ever be judged on something I consider a hobby. I assure you, a circle will form around me at the awards ceremony. I am also an avid sneaker collector; I dare you to ask me about my favourites!