November 13, 2007

Shit Talkers in War, Offering Useful Insights Into How They Deal With Problems

Filed under: Business, Funny, General — omsarti @ 5:48 pm

What do Anheuser-Busch, The American Bible Society, Snoop Dogg, and the folks who brought you the Girls Gone Wild soft-porn videos have in common? The same public-relations guy: Ronn D. Torossian.

Even in an industry fueled by hype, Torossian stands out. He claims to have evangelist Pat Robertson and Israel’s Prime Minister on speed dial. He carouses with celebrities. He courts controversy–sliming rivals, scrapping with journalists, lobbing public insults on behalf of clients. And, at 33, he has built his New York-based 5W Public Relations into one of America’s fastest-growing independent agencies. “It’s easy to hire [firms like] Burson-Marsteller or Edelman,” Torossian brags. “It takes guts to hire 5W”–Who, What, Where, When, Why.

Torossian has anointed himself the brash new face of PR. And it’s true that few seem better equipped to navigate a celebrity-obsessed culture. One of his biggest coups was getting a newborn Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt photographed in a T-shirt sold by a Denver retailer, 5W’s client Belly; the photo then made the cover of People magazine. Torossian–loud, crass, buzz-obsessed–also echoes the raw, unvarnished discourse of the blogosphere, which he claims to understand better than anyone. Brian Connolly, who founded the irreverent PR blog Strumpette, says Torossian represents “what the industry has become.”

Perhaps, but Torossian and his 85-person agency face a conundrum. The tactical provocations may cut through the media noise. They also could sabotage an agency that has worked with the likes of McDonald’s and Coca-Cola but failed to sign many blue-chip companies (though Torossian says there are several he can’t name). Torossian’s rivals quietly suggest he is more fad than change agent and that modern PR is less about generating buzz than backroom strategy. Not that Torossian, a guy who has been known to issue press releases about himself, expresses any self-doubt. “One of the reasons I’ve grown so quickly is that I’m bright,” he says. “Another is that my competitors are not so bright.” (…)

“They are not currently representing us,” says a McDonald’s spokeswoman. Anheuser-Busch declined to comment. One ex- client says: “I saw more press releases on him than any work for my firm.” Torossian seems aware he may have, well, a PR problem.

{ Business Week | Continue reading }


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