AR|PR CEO and Co-Founder, Anna Ruth Williams, is results-driven leader with proven record of executing strategic online marketing campaigns. Williams was recently named Atlanta Business Person of the Year in the Early Stage Entrepreneur category by the Metro Atlanta Chamber. Not even three years young, her Atlanta-based media firm’s tailored focus on startups has garnered media coverage for its clients by CNN, TechCrunch, and the Wall Street Journal (just to name a few). We caught up with Anna Ruth (who is also a treasured Hypepotamus contributor) to find out how what makes her tick and led to her recent recognition.
How do you stay informed & in front of emerging pr/industry trends?
There has never been a more dynamic, integrated and evolved time in the history of communications. Traditional and digital media are colliding and morphing incredibly fast. To keep up, I have intentionally built a team of PR experts that have individual specialities/interests. Together, this makes us collectively unstoppable. Nearly every day, someone on our team shares an article, piece of breaking news, or best practice. Our weekly “Pow Wows” are a time we trade ideas/tips. And we invest heavily in monthly professional development stipends, lunch & learns, etc. There is simply no way that I can individually harness every update to broadcast trends, Facebook’s millionth algorithm change, and newsroom turnovers. Thats exactly why agencies are so valuable, now, more than ever. We have collective knowledge and cross collaboration that just isn’t found in-house.
With that being said, I’m always reading. From 7am to midnight I’m consuming Tweets, headlines, magazines and e-newsletters. One of AR|PR’s spirited ideals is ‘learning never ceases.’ Whether you’re an intern or the CEO, you need to learn, baby learn.
What are your best technical or creative skills?
There’s a whole lot of stuff I’m really bad at (like painting my own nails, cooking and patience). But my two strongest skills are:
1) Public speaking: I was on the speech and debate team in college which later served me well as a spokeswoman. Today, I channel those lessons when leading media trainings and pitch practices with clients.
2) Identifying story lines and boiling down complex topics into digestible nuggets: This is why I love press releases. They’re like verbal jigsaw puzzles and I like stacking the pieces just right.
What’s next on your list to learn?
Everything I can possibly fit in my brain about venture capital financing, with a greater understanding for both sides of the table.
Why the interest in startups and the technology field?
My geek pride has evolved throughout my life. It started when I was a kid. My dad was my very own Inspector Gadget. He was the first dad to have a ginormous car phone, the first to have a palm pilot, and he was so obsessed with GPS that he used his first Garmin to get to the grocery store – just because it was cool to watch. He taught me how to type faster than all the other kids in school and taught me how to burn CD-ROMS with speed on his custom, built-by-hand PC. And if I must confess, he always left WiRED Magazines and PCMags on the back of the toilet and I would read them between cheerleading and theater practice. Fast forward to my early twenties when I was a political press secretary. At that time, the political climate was tough since we were barely seeing the light at the end of the recession tunnel. Much of my job was focused on crafting messages for candidates about their platforms, which focused on “high tech, high wage jobs of the future.” This is when I first learned about angel investing, toured my first incubator, and was getting hooked. By my late twenties, I was at a PR firm and I was fortunate to have two global B2B tech brands fall in my lap. I was fascinated with enterprise tech, but wanted to get my hands dirty in a tech company at each stage of its business life cycle from inception to exit. That’s exactly what we do at AR|PR today. I found my passion and feel very fortunate.
Want to hear more from Anna? Check out her interview on The Incubator – a podcast featuring weekly interviews with Atlanta-based startup founders, influencers, and entrepreneurs. In partnership with Hypepotamus and IntrepidNOW, The Incubator showcases innovators, companies, and all breaking Atlanta tech news. Sponsored by Wela – an online financial and investment platform – the show is recorded and broadcast from the Wela office in the Atlanta Tech Village each week. Sign up if you want to have the podcast sent to you weekly.
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