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When it comes to content there is a true art to designing an effective, inspiring and sustainable strategy. Just ask today's PLANOLEADERS who are lending their expertise in communications and their creative acumen to implement strategies, activations and solutions for the world's most celebrated companies within the design and art fields. Enter Sarah Natkins and Alisa Richter Sheridan of Camron PR who we recently had the pleasure of sitting down with at the agency's new Soho office (did we mention that the unit previously belonged to David Bowie!?). While our visit was brief, both Alisa and Sarah shared more on their respective professional endeavors, their thoughts on PR's relationship to content and what it's like to work with a global team. Read on to meet them both and for a glimpse into the daily happenings inside Camron's bustling New York office.
Please introduce yourself!
Sarah: I'm Sarah Natkins — I head up the NY office of Camron, a communications and creative strategy agency with a focus on design. We work with designers, architects, exhibitions, galleries, fairs, museums, retailers, manufacturers, and what I like to call design-minded lifestyle brands. We have offices in London, NYC and LA and pride ourselves on our global point of view when it comes to design. We're in Milan for the Salone del Mobile (the biggest design fair in the world) this week with over 20 projects! Alisa: Hi! I'm Alisa Richter Sheridan, Senior Account Director at Camron PR. I joined Camron's New York office last year, working with clients like Airbnb, PaperlessPost, Ace Hotels, Kano, Rifle Paper Co., MAST Chocolate, and MUJI. I'm originally from the San Francisco Bay Area and often bring my Cavalier King Charles, Penny to the office (follow her on Instagram!). In my downtime, I love a good vintage flea market, hiking upstate, or taking ceramics classes.
Prior to Camron PR, what were you up to professionally? What role did digital play in your job description and what have been some notable moments throughout your career so far?
Sarah: I have been working in design in one way or another for about 15 years. I studied art and architectural history and thought that I would be a curator or a practitioner. An internship at SFMoMA in the Architecture & Design department led me to spend the summer studying architecture, and then I helped start the design fair, Design Miami. From there, I stumbled into PR and then worked for a design management agency that put together projects for designers. Ultimately, I didn't get into digital until I got to Camron and so much has shifted since I've joined. Alisa: Before joining Camron, I handled PR and influencer marketing for Small Girls PR, working with clients like GE, Ann Taylor, BB Dakota, HelloFlo, and Helix Sleep. Prior to that, I was the first employee at interior design startup, Homepolish, where I led PR, social media strategy, and launched their first influencer program, with people like Man Repeller, Rumi Neely, and Kelly Oxford. I was also the Program Manager of TechStars New York, a startup accelerator program. I studied Public Health and Nutrition in college and graduate school, so it's a bit of a serendipitous path.
What role does content and planning play in your respective roles? How often do your paths cross when it comes to working together/while in the office?
Sarah: While social has played a role in our agency for a few years (we've had a social team in our London office for a while), we needed to bring someone onto our NY team with a deep understanding of digital and the strategic thinking to match and that was Alisa. Throughout my day I'll tap Alisa for insight into building social strategies for our clients or for her to help give direction as to how we are utilizing our own social channels.
From design to food to art, we love how dynamic Camron's clientele is. How would you say social media and content play a role when crafting PR strategies and ideas for each client?
Sarah:Content is key. It seems obvious, but we still have clients that we have to get on board with this idea. If I had my way, everyone would have an in-house editorial director. The other half of that coin is a social strategy to match. The shift toward this being a "must have" as opposed to a "nice to have" has been quite swift, and no matter how crucial, I hope we never give up good old-fashioned print. Alisa: These days, social media and PR are inextricably linked, and you really need a 360 degree approach in order to be successful.
With Camron's global clientele also comes a global team. How have you learned to manage, delegate, and craft consistent strategies, even if your team is not all in the same place/on the move?
Sarah:Evolving the way we work is a never ending process and being flexible is key. You have to be willing to commit to working one way, and then be ok with shifting the system or structure if it's not working. It can be quite humbling. I've learned a lot from the owner of our company about iterating quickly, getting ideas on paper, and putting them into action swiftly. Alisa: I live and die by Google Docs, Asana, Slack, and PLANOLY. We often have multiple client events in a single week--sometimes on the same night--whether it's a new collection from The Future Perfect, a press preview for MoMA Design Store, or a gallery opening at The Whitney, Plus we're a global agency, with offices in Los Angeles, New York, and London, so it's important to make sure each office is clued into what the others are doing. We're always looking into new methods and tools to better streamline this process.
When it comes to merging PR and content, what are your 3 tips for brands looking to refine and develop their planning/content strategy?
Sarah: A point of view is essential. Nurture and develop it. Understanding the context within which that point of view is formed, and will live, is key. Build the strategy concurrent with the planning of the project, rather than tacking it on after the fact. Alisa:Pay attention to your community, whether it's regramming a beautiful photo and crediting the original photographer, responding to and encouraging feedback, or otherwise engaging with your audience. It's important to foster a real sense of community, rather than just pumping out content. Social media is meant to be social, after all. Post frequently, but not too much. Lastly, read, research, and review; I think it's so important to diversify your media consumption and be clued into what's happening in the news and other industries.
"Point of view is essential. Nurture & develop it. Understanding the context within which that point of view is formed,
& will live, is key."
With regard to trends in the art and design space, what are you excited to see more of on social this year?
Sarah: I am personally very interested in how things are made. Fortunately, this is relevant to my professional life as well. Insta Stories allows one to delve into the process of how something is made. It's a critical narrative and I hope to see even more of it on Instagram this year. Alisa: I'm really fascinated by niche or "micro-communities" on Instagram, whether it's the tiny house phenomenon (#TinyHouseMovement), backpackers and travelers with tricked camper vans (#VanLifeExplorers), #FacesInPlaces (exactly what it sounds like), or one of my personal favorites, #JungalowStyle, a bohemian, plant-loving aesthetic popularized by Justina Blakeney. I'm also excited to see how video evolves, be it stop-motion video, 360 VR, live-streaming, or really innovative video-based apps, like One Second Every Day.