Believe in the Power of “No” — It’s easy to get consumed by the needs and wants of clients, our colleagues, and executives. PR has always been an area that involves educating those around you about the value, tactics, and best practices. As the PR subject matter expert: Trust yourself, trust your experience, and don’t be afraid to express your professional opinion even if it doesn’t align with those around you.
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 Eloise Pisano.
Eloise Pisano is a seasoned public relations professional currently working as a senior specialist for Canon U.S.A., Inc. With a vast client portfolio that includes a variety of consumer lifestyle brands, such as Bounty Paper Towels, Coors Brewing Company and 1–800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc.,
she started her career in the non-profit world, transitioned into agency life, and then landed with internal PR/communications teams for large corporations. Currently, with Canon for three years, Pisano has seen how the industry has shifted, from directly experiencing the 2008 recession and now the COVID-19 pandemic. Through it all, Pisano’s love for the ever-changing, fast-paced world of PR continues.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
When starting the college application process, I was dead-set on going into athletic training and that quickly changed my freshman year when I discovered that I wasn’t great with anatomy and physiology. My passion for sports didn’t change, so I quickly switched to a Sports Recreation & Management major, but when it came time to declare a minor, my advisor suggested PR. I clearly remember not understanding what PR was, but my college advisor reminded me of my strengths, seeing something in me that I clearly did not. I signed up for a PR 101 class and immediately set my goal of working in sports PR. I spent the first half of my career focused on sports PR and never looked back.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
Early into my time at Canon, I had the opportunity to attend my first CES. In addition to the trip being my first time at the massive tradeshow, it was my first time traveling to Las Vegas and leaving my daughter for an extended period of time. I had a lot of nerves going into the show but quickly learned to appreciate the opportunity I was given. Between meeting one-on-one with media, being a part of non-disclosure meetings, experiencing a variety of brands via their booths and activations — it provided an opportunity to immerse myself into my new company and really appreciate the history Canon has as an industry leader.
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?
During my internship, I learned first-hand the difference between being on and off the record. I received a call from a Florida-based newspaper who was looking for our organization’s statement on a controversial topic dealing with a high-profile celebrity. I went ahead and the pre-drafted statement, and, in response to follow-up questions, added some additional commentary. Hours later, my fellow interns and I saw my name listed as the official spokesperson for the organization in an article — which was quickly picked up by other news outlets. Luckily, the added commentary was appropriate and aligned with our pre-approved messaging. With my boss out of the office that day, I was praised for thinking quickly on my feet even though I was just an intern — not the official spokesperson for a leading nonprofit!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
With COVID-19 and the shift to working from home and schooling from home, Canon pivoted its focus towards creating the EOS Webcam Utility Software. This software converts compatible EOS and PowerShot cameras into a webcam. This project has been exciting to work on as it started out in beta for Windows, then beta for macOS, and, just recently, the company announced the software is out of beta for Windows and offering a full production version.
From a PR perspective, this narrative has provided our team with so many story angles and has been a success for the brand. It provides a useful solution to our customers during a time of so many unknowns. Aside from the software being a smart business decision, it’s great to be part of something that is helping make life easier for so many people.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
· Believe in the Power of “No” — It’s easy to get consumed by the needs and wants of clients, our colleagues, and executives. PR has always been an area that involves educating those around you about the value, tactics, and best practices. As the PR subject matter expert: Trust yourself, trust your experience, and don’t be afraid to express your professional opinion even if it doesn’t align with those around you.
· Your Value Doesn’t Decrease Based on Someone’s Ability to See Your Worth — PR professionals are usually the first to blame when it goes wrong and the last to be credited when it goes right — and that’s okay, as part of our expertise is working behind the scenes. However, the work you do is valuable: the time you put in, the effort, the relationships you build. Some might not understand the process and question if it’s really worth it — is the ROI really strong? But that doesn’t take away from the value you have as the PR subject matter expert.
· It’s okay to fail — Failure is another opportunity to learn. Admitting the fault — owning the mishap — is okay. We’re never supposed to stop learning so use those moments as a chance to step back, examine what’s happening around you, and most of all: Do something! Your next move is the most important course of action — do not wallow in your failure.
· Your Time Is Valuable — Your ideas, contacts, tactics, strategies, points-of-view….those are valuable, and it’s important to make sure you aren’t always giving those away. Sure, collaboration is important — brainstorming is crucial, but the time you’ve dedicated to building your brand and your expertise should not be taken advantage of. Be proud of your successes — showcase your accomplishments and remember: Just because PR is always on, you are entitled to turn off and reset.
· Be Kind to Yourself — Your plan may be derailed, your idea might fall flat, there might be a typo and you might have missed that e-mail. Nevertheless, you are human — you are not a robot. Give yourself a little leeway.
You are known as a master networker. Can you share some tips on great networking?
You don’t have to network in-network. It’s good to go outside the world of PR and connect with those from other fields. PR is a small world and there is a lot to learn from those who work in all different industries. Also, don’t forget to look inside your own organization — a network within your own company, be it small or large. It’s easy to get into a routine with your colleagues, but they all have a work history, too. Ask to be part of those meetings that might be outside your scope of work, you never know who else might be in the room.
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?
Similar to the networking question — I think it’s imperative to look outside your bubble. Leads can present themselves in the simplest of ways, such as a conversation in the supermarket or from a more streamlined opportunity like an industry networking event. I also try to remember that everyone has a starting point — so when I receive requests via LinkedIn or a cold-e-mail via our general inquiries inbox, I take a minute to read through it. Those are the types of communications that could lead to big and exciting opportunities. Not everything is a fit, but I’m sure we all remember moments of feeling defeated when we didn’t hear back from a job interview or a pitch you thought was outstanding — and I try to ground myself with those reminders.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
While answering this question, I turned to look at the bookshelf behind me, which holds all of the books I’ve read. To be honest, I didn’t start reading for leisure until my early 20’s, but, as I skimmed through the titles, I started to see a pattern: A majority of them have a strong female main character and are historical in nature. “Jane Eyre”; “Outlander”; “Victoria”; “Far from The Maddening Crowd” and “The Book of Life” are some of my favorites. These stories include women who were far ahead of their time — working in unprecedented situations, acting as a leader, standing up for what they believe in and staying true to themselves. They are flawed and stumble along the way, but they get up — they own their mistakes and move forward.
As a mom, working professional, wife, daughter and friend — these are the lessons I try to remind myself of and instill in my daughter. In regards to my career, I feel a lot of these lessons have helped shape me into the professional I am today. The books might not be industry related, but I’m a true believer of stepping away, doing something you love and living in that moment — reading (when I have the time, #motherhood) has been that avenue for me.
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. 🙂
From my past experience, coming back into the workforce after maternity leave was an extremely hard transition while with a previous company. Aside from the guilt of having to leave my infant daughter to go back to work, I didn’t feel I had any resources through my employer at the time to experience an easy transition. Maternity leave is not a vacation, and I feel it would be of value for employers to invest their time to identify resources, policies and processes that are focused on returning to work. Assisting new moms with the back to work transition could really help that process go smoothly, create a feeling of safety and foster an encouraging/welcoming working environment.
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Kristin Photography
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Kristin Photography
This was really meaningful! Thank you so much for your time.