We’ll Be Back Stronger Than Ever — Every time throughout American history that there has been a major crisis, we’ve come out of it stronger than before. I am confident in predicting the coronavirus will be no exception. And we won’t just come back stronger as a country, we can come back stronger on an individual level as well. Now is a wakeup call for you to be the best version of yourself that you can be, to work hard on a day-by-day level on what you want to achieve, and to connect on a more personal level with your friends and family. All of these things together will make you a stronger individual in the end.
I had the pleasure to interview Ronn Torossian. Ronn is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the 15 largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America’s most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals.
Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company’s growth, overseeing more than 175 professionals in the company’s headquarters in the iconic Helmsley Building in Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer, and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named “PR Agency of the Year” by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions.
Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world’s most visible companies, brands, and organizations. His roster of client experience includes work for L’Oreal, Unilever, Walgreens, SAP NS2, Sparkling Ice, KRUPS, Zeta Global, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Welch’s Fruit Snacks and a plethora of celebrities and high-profile individuals. He also has represented top global brands including Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Microsoft.
His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist and by Metropolitan Magazine as one of the Most Influential New Yorkers. Torossian is known as one of the country’s foremost experts on crisis communications and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide.
Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, has appeared on CNN & CNBC, was named to PR Week’s “40 under Forty” list, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and his book, “For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations” is an industry best-seller.
An NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Ronn! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Iwas born in Brooklyn and raised in the Bronx, I am a proud native New Yorker and a product of the NYC public school system. I began working at a pizza shop when I was eleven, before studying liberal arts in college with the intention of becoming a lawyer. I then discovered a newfound passion for public relations.
That’s because public relations is really psychology, lawyering, and journalism all rolled into one. In other words, it was the perfect career path for me. But I’ve always had a strong work ethic. I’ve worked very hard and learned from a lot of mistakes to get to where I am today, and I’m proud of that.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Just one? That’s a difficult question. There are several books that have had a major impact on me as I’m an avid reader, but one I keep coming back to is “How To Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. This book is essentially the Bible of Public Relations. The most important lesson learned from the book, and one that I think about constantly is that success is due to many things, including professional knowledge, the unique ability to express and create enthusiasm in people, and a relentless work ethic.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
This is a difficult situation for everyone. It has caused so much death and destruction — It’s clear that there are and will continue to be severe economic consequences created by the virus. There is so much ‘uncertainty, fear, and loneliness’ in people (not to mention the feelings of isolation from quarantining). Some reasons to be hopeful:
1. Working Harder On What We Want to Achieve — Has there ever been a better wakeup call to begin working on what we really want to achieve out of life? Now that we’re all under quarantine, the time is not to just sit around in front of the TV and watch Netflix all day. Rather, the time is now to seize the day and begin slaying it at whatever it is you want to achieve in life. Is there a book you’ve wanted to write? Write it! A piece of art you’ve wanted to create? Create it! Have you wanted to improve your physique? Work out!
2. Becoming More Connected — I think that the increasing interconnectedness of the world from technology has actually contributed to making society more disconnected on an individual, person-to-person level. But I also think that we’re becoming closer to our friends and family now on that person-to-person level thanks to the coronavirus.
3. We Take Things One Day At A Time — One of my favorite ways to get things done is to break tasks down into smaller tasks and then tackle those tasks individually. Sometimes, this means breaking things down one day at a time. For people struggling with fear and uncertainty, I’d tell them to begin working hard now on whatever it is they want to achieve, like I discussed above, and to break things down on a day-by-day level.
4. We Can Take Greater Advantage of the Help Available To Us — Again, the coronavirus is giving us perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend more time with our friends and family on a personal level. This will help us to manage our feelings of uncertainty and certainly our feelings of loneliness.
5. We’ll Be Back Stronger Than Ever — Every time throughout American history that there has been a major crisis, we’ve come out of it stronger than before. I am confident in predicting the coronavirus will be no exception. And we won’t just come back stronger as a country, we can come back stronger on an individual level as well. Now is a wakeup call for you to be the best version of yourself that you can be, to work hard on a day-by-day level on what you want to achieve, and to connect on a more personal level with your friends and family. All of these things together will make you a stronger individual in the end.
From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
That’s a tough question because every individual is unique and therefore handles anxiety differently. I can tell you that working in public relations makes stress and anxiety very common. I can also tell you what I personally do to keep my stress and anxiety levels down:
1. Get your mind off the problem. Honestly, the more I think about how to solve something I’m stressed out about, the more problematic it gets and the more stressful I feel. So I need to find something to just temporarily take my mind off of it for a few minutes. Mediating, reading a book, listening to music, or going for a walk helps me to get a fresh perspective on things.
2. Relax. As clichéd as it may sound, you need to find ways to help you relax to manage your anxiety. One of the best ways for me to relax is to write things down.
3. Talk to a friend or family member. Make sure it’s somebody you can trust. And don’t just talk to them. Have honest conversations with them about how you truly feel. If you can’t in person, do so over a phone or video call.
4. Reshape your thinking patterns. What I like to do is break a major task down into multiple smaller ones and tackle them each one at a time. This helps make stress significantly more manageable.
5. Challenge your negative thinking. Make it a habit that for every negative statement that comes into your head, you’ll immediately think of two positive ones. You’ll be amazed at how much this helps.
And perhaps most importantly, laugh every single day.
What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?
Again, everybody handles stress and anxiety differently. But I would imagine that the best resource for somebody to turn to, especially during this difficult time, is friends and family. I think that our society as a whole, despite becoming more interconnected thanks to technology, has also actually become more distant on a personal level and this has contributed to greater feelings of stress and anxiety in our everyday lives as well. Spend time talking to those you know and those you trust.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“Get busy living or get busy dying,” from Stephen King. You only live once, and you’re only here for a glimpse. The strong work ethic I’ve had for my entire life has been driven by my fear of never achieving the goals and dreams that I’ve set for myself. Don’t start tomorrow. Start today. Literally right now.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start 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. 🙂
A movement that could bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people? I would start a movement teaching people to identify what they want to achieve out of life and then use my method of breaking down how to achieve that into daily achievements you can do that will add up to the one major achievement in the end. It’s like the Japanese kaizen method — make small but consistent daily improvements that will add up in the end. Just make sure that you do take action each and every day. That’s what I’ve done to get to where I am today.
How can our readers follow you online?