Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The first page is really good! Interview with Craig Oda from Page One PR

As this project continues to help others, I thought it would be a good idea to seek advice and insights through digital sources. After all, this is an open advice forum, why not have the advice stem from a variety of sources?

With that being said, I was on LinkedIn the other day when I came across a job posting for Page One PR. Living in SF for quite a while, I had heard of Page One, but still took the opportunity to thicken my understanding of the company.

Page One PR is a very innovative, forward-thinking firm. The realization that traditional PR methods did not work for their clients sparked the creation of this company.

I emailed the company and explained my project and heard back from Mr. Craig Oda, who offered to answer a few questions via email. The following is the raw email received from Mr. Oda. Enjoy!

Please check out the company's website at

-Alexander N Harvilla

These questions are my personal perspective. Some points about me:

- managing partner at Page One PR
- executive in charge of strategy for all social media programs
- currently working on strategy with a mix of Silicon Valley startups and large tech companies like Cisco and SAP.
- started first ISP in Japan, now part of Cable and Wireless Japan
Can't help but love and embrace the US's migration towards electronic music. Awesome, right?

Begin Questions:

How did you break into the PR industry?

A group of us in Silicon Valley were trying to develop business models around open source software. We had raised $96 million in venture funding and saw that the public perception of software was critical to the success of start-ups. Having hired many PR firms, we found that the traditional way of doing PR did not adequately address the need to communicate to people online. Traditional PR especially didn't address the viral communication aspects that were so critical to open source communities. My friend Lonn Johnston decided to leave the venture-funded start-up we were at and eventually started Page One PR. He asked me to join him on this incredible journey to build a new type of PR company.

Knowing what you know now would you do it differently? If so how?

I think we were successful under Lonn's strategic leadership. In retrospect, I might have hired young, smart people earlier and built up teams around them.

When looking for a job, can one be too aggressive? Is it better to be too aggressive than too shy?

Well, that's pretty obvious. If you are a shy PR person, you're not going to stand out above the competition.

What do you think the difference is when trying to land a job at a large agency vs. a smaller one?

Smaller agencies generally want people that can take on larger blocks of responsibility more quickly with less direction. Larger agencies might be more interested in experience with the process of PR and especially dealing with the internal communication issues of larger organizations.

In 4 words, can you say something inspiring to those currently job searching?

Huge opportunity now!

How can we use cultural trends to help us find a position?

The culture is changing very rapidly. Expertise in the new elements of culture probably doesn’t exist internal to most organizations. By showcasing how the culture has changed and why your experience with the new culture is relevant, you'll be able to capitalize on the HUGE opportunities we're now faced with in the communications industry.
What are some ideas and methods we can implement to 'up' the value of our social network?
People are obviously moving from print media to online media. People are also looking for product and corporate information from their friends, not just the traditional paid influencers.

What are some methods to make ourselves more visual within social media?

Do a campaign pro-bono for a high-profile non-profit. Don't charge them in return for them serving as a reference for you.

I would love to hear your view on the importance of a multifaceted social networking profile.

A small number of strong channels are better than having a shallow presence in many channels. Ultimately, people will find out about the strength of your ideas.

I have been told that it is very important to sound "real" and more "like a person" when applying for a job online. What are some effective ways to do this?

Your employer will most likely see your LinkedIn and public Facebook profile. If you're a top candidate, they'll scrutinize your cover letter. You should send an introduction letter regardless of whether or not they ask for it.

Creating a portfolio of your work might distinguish you.

What is the importance of having a unique voice? How do we show this uniqueness without being tacky?

You need to have strong ideas. Even student-run campaigns can showcase strong ideas that will resonate with employers.

What is the most effective tool to have or use when job hunting?

If I were looking for job, I would start with my existing network of friends and try to do work for their company even without getting paid. Proof of successful work experience and products is going to be the most effective tool. Also, you're going to be top of the list to move from a volunteer to a paid position if your work is any good. Taking contract work might also help.

If SFO's ad market were a dessert, what would it be, how would it taste and how would you eat it?

Tiramisu comes to mind. It's a mixture of light layers and more dense layers with a bittersweet chocolate and caffeine kick. Get it and eat it right now before someone else does.

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