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Bill Byrne: “The 4-Hour Work Week”

Brace yourself for the grunt work. The term white-collar job does not apply in marketing if you want to work on the projects your passionate about. You may wear a collared shirt, but you’re going to get your hands dirty, literally. Early on, I had to lay on the floor in my nicest clothes assembling […]


Brace yourself for the grunt work. The term white-collar job does not apply in marketing if you want to work on the projects your passionate about. You may wear a collared shirt, but you’re going to get your hands dirty, literally. Early on, I had to lay on the floor in my nicest clothes assembling snowboards for a magazine shoot because we needed to make sure they looked authentic in the production. I’ve spent many days faxing media alerts for events, wondering why speed dialing wasn’t part of my college curriculum. The fax machine is long gone, but there’s other grunt work to be had now.


As a part of my series about the things you need to know to excel in the modern PR industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Bill Byrne. Bill Byrne is the co-founder and managing director of Remedy Public Relations in San Diego. He manages a worldwide team that handles media relations for an enviable list of clients in industries that include the active-outdoor lifestyle, such as skateboarding, snowboarding, etc., along with craft beer, finance, tech, healthcare, and consumer goods. Throughout the year, you can find Bill at CES showcasing future tech, running between booths for media appointments at the Outdoor Retailer show, or contributing thought leadership pieces on the real estate and public relations industries. Remedy’s clients love Bill’s knack in developing programs that secure media attention that go beyond the obvious. In the last few years, he has led campaigns for brands and initiatives that secured media attention beyond the expected. Bill was also instrumental in developing the Remedy PR Checkup, a communications and media relations audit aimed to determine if a brand is making the most of the resources it’s putting towards public relations. The audit yields a variety of results and many times has led to brands realizing that they are actually getting a great value in relation to the efforts being put in. Forward-thinking, outspoken, and sometimes called motivationally abrasive by colleagues, Bill embodies the mantra that you can’t lead by standing in the back.


Thank you so much for your time Bill! I know that you are a very busy person. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Never too busy for you guys! Working in PR wasn’t an actual goal of mine. I graduated college with a degree in advertising and public relations, but the PR portion of the curriculum was minimal, as it seems to be at most schools today. I wanted to be a copywriter at a big NYC ad agency. That was the goal.

There wasn’t a real focus on media relations when I was in school and I honestly didn’t know much about PR. At the time, and even now it seems that most public relations and media relations programs focus on writing in a bubble. PR is not about creating a 1,000-word advertisement. It’s earned media, not owed.

I graduated college in the late nineties and snowboarding was still fairly new in the mainstream, especially on the East Coast. I had on my resume that I co-chaired the snowboard club in college, along with a few other things such as the ad club and ultimate Frisbee team, but I really didn’t think much of it. The snowboard part paid off.

A corporate recruiter saw my involvement in the snowboard club on my resume and knew that one of his clients, Cohn & Wolfe, a sister company of Y&R Advertising, was looking for a junior team member to work on some key accounts, including Burton Snowboards. This was right before the Nagano Olympics, the first time snowboarding was on the world stage in that way. They had other great accounts at the time, including Intel, Sony, Guinness, and Audi, so the opportunity to be a part of such amazing brands was something I didn’t want to pass up, even if I didn’t have a true understanding of what PR was at the time!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?

I always have a bit of impostor syndrome when being asked about my career, but I have two funny stories to share. Or at least they’re funny to me.

There was a time I was interviewed or a Sunday New York Times feature without knowing it, tied back to one of the largest rock bands in the world and skiing. A journalist friend called me off the cuff to ask some questions about something that happened during a trade show. It wasn’t about one of our clients, so I thought nothing of it.

A week after the call I got a text from the creative director of a design studio we partner, with telling me nice work on the article. I thought he was mentioning a story that ran the week before, which we landed for a mutual colleague, but then I discovered otherwise. It was a good reminder that everything is on the record.

Another great one was helping to teach surfing on Good Morning America as part of an environment-focused segment with the Surfrider Foundation. The segment took place back on my home turf on Long Island. Aside from being a great PR hit, I had the opportunity to take my client, who was born and raised in Southern California, to his first authentic pizzeria. Pizza shops tend to be a lot different in SoCal!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

This is one of those times when I think about how if I played it differently, success might have come sooner. It’s a relatively painless lesson that others can hopefully learn from when it comes to potentially missing a big opportunity.

The day after I quit my job as the director of what was billed as the fastest growing mobile social network in the U.S., I bumped into the co-founder of Injinji at my local deli, one of the pioneering leading brands in the growing toe-sock movement. Turns out, their office was a block from mine. He heard me talking to a friend about the next phase of my career and asked for my card. I didn’t have any made at the time.

We eventually reconnected, but not much came out of it. I know for a fact they eventually hired a mid-sized PR firm for what I would consider a healthy retainer. I can’t help but wonder if they could have been the client that really gave us an early boost.

The moral of the story, which I enforce with all partners, is don’t talk about what you’re doing until you’re ready to show it.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

It’s been a crazy year. I can’t speak too much about the future since most of it won’t be announced for a bit, but here are some recent highlights from the past and I know we’ll be going in a similar direction. We started 2019 by wrapping up media relations for a couple of groundbreaking products in consumer tech and outdoor. We also made a PR push to take on the largest mortgage lender in the online space, educating media and consumers on why you may not want to Amazon Prime your home purchase.

We also launched some big campaigns that landed a yoga towel client on Good Morning America, helped take CBD-infused sunscreen mainstream and the unveiling of a bag line featuring everyone’s favorite Hogwarts characters.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

There are so many things, Kristin!

Brace yourself for the grunt work. The term white-collar job does not apply in marketing if you want to work on the projects your passionate about. You may wear a collared shirt, but you’re going to get your hands dirty, literally. Early on, I had to lay on the floor in my nicest clothes assembling snowboards for a magazine shoot because we needed to make sure they looked authentic in the production. I’ve spent many days faxing media alerts for events, wondering why speed dialing wasn’t part of my college curriculum. The fax machine is long gone, but there’s other grunt work to be had now.

Be ready to take punches from the client. They have internal organizational pressure on them, some justified, some based on misconceptions about how the media world really operates. Regardless, we’re going to receive the blows. You need thick skin to have success in this industry.

Ever see The Bodyguard? We take bullets for our clients. I don’t always love the direction of where my clients want to go, but I’m paid to be there for them. The client inevitably has the final decision with the media. That means deflecting requests, backtracking on promises, and more often than not, apologizing. When the media get upset, we take the hit. The client may have dropped the ball, but I have to make it look like it was an uncatchable pass, to begin with. It was our mistake, not our partner-clients, even when it was theirs, to begin with. I send a lot of cookies and beer deliveries as a result of this.

Go to the gym every day. By 4 pm, not seven at night when you’re exhausted. Or work on your practice, take a 45-minute walk…whatever. Go while you still have energy. Go before you’re beaten down from the day. Then finish up the work. This is something I wish I was told to do, and right now it’s something I encourage. It’s why we have a very liberal remote work policy. When you’re stronger away from your desk, you’re stronger at your desk.

Learn from those outside your lane. The skateboard world practically invented influencer marketing. What can the real estate world learn from that? A lot.

You are known as a master networker. Can you share some tips on great networking?

Keep giving. That’s the fundamental. Send leads to potential clients, even if they have a team.

Share content from journalists. Forward emerging trends that you see that could be of interest, not just about the space your partner-clients are in, and give them kudos too on their published pieces. A re-Tweet or hitting the heart button isn’t that hard. Sharing is caring.

Do favors before you’re asked. It’ll come back. Not in a one-to-one ratio… probably a one-to-one hundred. Like with the lottery, you have to be in it to win it.

Lead generation is one of the most important aspects of any business. Can you share some of the strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?

Basic research. Nothing takes the place of that. We’re often asked, “don’t you have great lists?” Sure we do. I have more than 20 years in PR in a lot of different industries. Just because I know someone somewhere doesn’t mean they’re appropriate to cover your story. Good PR people are always forging new relationships.

Find the right contacts, befriend them, and pitch on relevant story ideas. Not junk.

I don’t like junk mail. You don’t like junk mail. What makes you think a journalist likes junk mail?

Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?

There are a few.

“The 4-Hour Work Week,” was brilliant on so many levels. The title alone owns the game in the media. No one works four hours. Not even Tim Ferris, but he made us look, and taught us a lot in the process. With that in mind, whenever anyone that tells me they’re the master of the four-hour work week, I immediately cancel them mentally.

I find Gary Vaynerchuck motivational. I don’t love everything he says, but his candor is great and I find most of his ideas spot on. And he’s completely correct that a lot of older agencies are out of date in their thinking.

Jordan Harbinger sends great networking and life advice regularly. Not specifically on business, but more about being a successful human.

“Trust, Me I’m Lying,” is a great book too. If you’re willing to take chances in your marketing, you can reap some big rewards.

Oh, if I can plug Remedy PR, we have one coming out as well. It’s called The Byrne Notice, and you can probably guess why. It’ll be up and running soon, but you can follow it on Twitter and Instagram to know when we launch.

Because of the role you play, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Hold the door, and say hi to people you see on the street. Both are very basic. Don’t get put off if someone doesn’t say thanks when you do. You don’t know what they’re going through.

On a professional level, be realistic. Journalists don’t care about your brand’s KPI’s. Growth isn’t always sustainable. Keep it in check if you want to be around for the long term.

This was really meaningful! Thank you so much for your time.

Thank you. Always an honor and a pleasure to connect with you guys.

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