Artwork for podcast Copper State of Mind: public relations, media, and marketing in Arizona
From Media to PR: The Personal Journeys of Scott Hanson & Abbie Fink with HMA Public Relations (2019)
Episode 116th March 2021 • Copper State of Mind: public relations, media, and marketing in Arizona • HMA Public Relations | PHX.fm
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HMA Public Relations is a full-service marketing communications and public relations agency. Founded in 1980, they are the oldest continuously operating PR firm in Arizona and celebrated their 40th year in 2020. 

HMA Public Relations’ capabilities are not limited to any industry, nor bound by geographic boundaries. In addition to their headquarters office in Phoenix, they are a founding member of the Public Relations Global Network, a comprehensive network of independent public relations firms around the globe. They are active members in the Public Relations Society of America’s Counselors Academy, furthering a network of professionals across the country. Visit them online at https://hmapr.com 

Scott Hanson, APR, Fellow PRSA, is president of HMA Public Relations. He has been with the firm since 1986. Recognized as an industry leader, he is among only 550 PR practitioners to be admitted to the Public Relations Society of America’s distinguished College of Fellows and among only 20 percent of PR practitioners nationwide to have earned his Accredited in Public Relations certificate from the PRSA. He is also the author of “Who Is Gym?” an Arizona history book that captures the fascinating stories about the names behind high schools and their sports venues, and “What’s Your Number?” a book about the stories behind the retired numbers at Arizona’s high schools. Connect with Scott Hanson on LinkedIn and Twitter

Abbie S. Fink is vice president/general manager of HMA Public Relations and has been with the firm since 1993. Her varied marketing communications background includes skills in media relations, digital communications/social media strategies, special event management, community relations, issues management and marketing promotions for both the private and public sectors, including such industries as healthcare, financial services, professional services, government affairs and tribal affairs, as well as not-for-profit organizations. Fink is often called upon to present to a wide variety of business and civic organizations on such topics as media relations, social media and digital communications strategies, issues/crisis communications and special events management. Connect with Abbie Fink on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram

If you enjoyed this episode, please follow the Copper State of Mind podcast in your favorite app. We publish a new episode every other Tuesday. Just pick your preferred podcast player from this link and follow the show: https://www.copperstateofmind.show/listen

Copper State of Mind is recorded and produced in the studio of PHX.fm, the leading independent B2B online radio station and podcast studio in Arizona.

Transcripts

Adrian McIntyre:

Hi, this is Dr. Adrian McIntyre with PHX.fm. As we launch our new show, Copper State of Mind, I want to do something a little bit different. This is a retrospective. A replay of the very first conversation I had on my show Valley Business Radio with Abbie Fink and Scott Hansen of HMA Public Relations. The oldest continuously operating PR firm in Arizona. Now Abbie Fink and I are co-hosting the Copper State of Mind, this new show, but the conversation we had back in January, 2019 is still relevant today. And so I wanted to put that in here to give a little foundation, a little background for what's to come. What you're going to hear is the conversation as it happened in the PHX.fm studios, which at that time were co-located with HMA Public Relations. Since then that building is closed. The studios are closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We've gone entirely virtual, and yet we've continued to do our work separately and together. So here it is for a flashback Friday. My first conversation on the air with Scott Hanson and Abbie Fink of HMA Public Relations

Announcer:

Broadcasting live from the PHX.fm studio in Phoenix, Arizona. It's time for Valley Business Radio, spotlighting the Valley's best businesses and the people who lead them.

Adrian McIntyre:

And welcome. I'm Dr. Adrian McIntyre. This is Valley Business Radio. I'm joined in the studio today by Scott Hanson, president and Abbie Fink, Vice President and General Manager of HMA Public Relations. Welcome.

Abbie Fink:

Hello.

Scott Hanson:

Thanks for having us.

Adrian McIntyre:

Thanks for having us. We have our studios in your offices, so I thought it'd be great to have our first segment of Valley Business Radio, getting to know HMA Public Relations. Scott, why don't you tell us a little bit about the work you do and how you serve folks in the valley?

Scott Hanson:

Well our firm's been around coming up on 40 years. We're a full service PR marketing communications agency. I often tell people we have 20 clients in 20 different industries. We service clients in professional services, retail, hospitality, a lot of government work, construction, economic development, and the work that we do encompasses many things that fall under the PR umbrella. That includes media relations, issue management, crisis communication, community relations, digital marketing communications...

Abbie Fink:

Social media.

Scott Hanson:

Social media.

Abbie Fink:

Really, we just help clients tell their stories in whatever way they can.

Scott Hanson:

Right, right.

Adrian McIntyre:

And Abbie, why don't you give us a little overview? You're in the trenches a lot here. What are you seeing now in this landscape of media and public relations? You're in a unique position to really assess some of what's changed and some of what's the same. What's going on?

Abbie Fink:

Well, really what's stayed the same in all the years that we've been doing public relations is the need for our clients to get information out to the people that need to hear about it. What's changed of course is how we do that. We live in such an instantaneous world now. News is 24/7, by the minute, really, by the second, at this point, anyone who has access to the internet with a smartphone has the ability to share information. So those of us that are tasked with that as our responsibility have to be ahead of the curve, have to pay attention. We really need to be a 24/7 operation as well so we know what's coming before our clients ask us for it and we're anticipating what they need before they realize that they need it.

Adrian McIntyre:

That's a unique skill set, see where the puck is going. Scott, you've been at this a long time. Well, you both have. Tell us a little bit of a backstory here. How did you get involved in PR? What was before that?

Scott Hanson:

Well, for me, my background was in television. I was a TV sportscaster and was tired of working nights and weekends and was looking for what I called a real job. And I was hired by a guy named Ed Moser to come and work at Ed Moser & Associates. I was an account writer. I sat in an IBM Selectric typewriter all day and I wrote press releases and newsletters and speeches and whatever our clients needed written. And I've been working for Ed for about five years and had the opportunity to buy the agency. And I did. And in the interim, the weekend sports job at Channel Five had opened up. So I went back into TV and I worked in television, again for another seven plus years while also working at the agency. So I had a period of five years where I worked seven days a week. I was five days here at the agency and two days plus fill in work at the station, which was really kind of fortuitous because while I was at Channel Five, working as the weekend sportscaster, I had a chance to meet Abbie who was working at the Fiesta Bowl at the time. And she would pitch me stories, wanted me to come and cover events and things that she was working on for the Fiesta Bowl. And I had come to find out that she was a pretty good PR person through my work in the media. And we had known each other for, I don't know, I guess two or three years probably. And we were getting into the growth mode and we were looking for a great professional and I knew Abbie and we ended up getting together. And that was more than 20 years ago now that we've been working together.

Abbie Fink:

Yeah. About 26 years actually.

Scott Hanson:

Time flies when you're having fun.

Abbie Fink:

It sure does. It sure does. And I think that's probably one of the drivers for me in terms of why this business is so much fun and really so interesting is the relationships that we built and as Scott said we've known each other upwards of 30 years back and forth, but worked together about 26 years and so much of what we have as a company and what we bring for our team and our clients is that ability to have these relationships in our community. We're very proud of the fact that we've been here for 40 years. It makes us one of the old... Well, as far as we know, the oldest continuously operating PR firm in the state, the fact that we've been working here together for as long as we have and many of our clients have been with us that long. And that's a point of pride for us and something that I think speaks volumes for the way that we approach what we do. I could probably say my career started somewhat in television as well. Maybe on the other side of the camera, I was in sixth grade when my administrators took away the graduation dance for us because of some of the kids being bad. I didn't think that was very fair. So I staged a picket in front of my elementary school and got a television station to come out and ironically enough, it was Channel Five. So I did my very first interview with a reporter there and we did get our dance back. So although I wouldn't have told you it was public relations back then, it certainly was what set the path for utilizing I guess, my ability to be persuasive and to kind of help guide conversations.

Adrian McIntyre:

You discovered the power of the media to force the hand of decision makers at some point.

Abbie Fink:

My mother would tell you it's just because I have a big mouth and I found someplace to use it. But yeah, basically that.

Adrian McIntyre:

I love it. Now, Abbie, what's the real story here? So you met Scott, you were working for the Fiesta Bowl. He was the media at the time. How did that unfold? How did you then come to cross over to the other side as it were and join forces here at HMA?

Abbie Fink:

Well, I was handling public relations for the Fiesta Bowl. They do at the time about 60 events besides the football game. Scott was the sports caster at Channel Five on the weekends, which is when the majority of the events were happening. And this was a time before fax machines and before cell phones. And as I was pitching media to cover events, his newscast was on about, what was it? Was a half an hour earlier than the network stations.

Scott Hanson:

Right. We were on at 9:30.

Abbie Fink:

And as long as I got him information on time and accurate, he would make sure that it aired. And I didn't know he was a PR guy at the time and it wasn't until we kind of saw each other out at events and things and found out some mutual relationships that I discovered he was doing the same kind of work I was doing. It was time for me to take a leave from the Fiesta Bowl. I was doing some work independently, reached out to Scott and had the opportunity to do some freelance project work here. Then, as he said, as the agency was starting to grow, it was a good fit for me to take my freelance work and join in here and become a full-time employee, which ultimately led them to the partnership that we have now.

Adrian McIntyre:

Scott, you’ve worked both sides of the aisle, so to speak in both media and PR. And I suspect there's probably folks listening to this that don't know a lot about how the sausage is made, so to speak. What goes on behind the scenes to make the stories they're consuming on the news on radio, on TV, and now on social media? If you were to just educate the uninitiated a little bit. Break it down for us. The relationship between media and public relations and folks with stories to tell. Obviously there's positives and negatives in that mix. Talk a bit about that.

Scott Hanson:

Well, I always used to tell people and I still do when I get to speak at Arizona State or Grand Canyon or Northern Arizona University, wherever, when you read the sports page, the hard copy sports page in the morning, which not many people do anymore, the hard copy. I do. It might take you 15 or 20 minutes to read that cover to cover. Well, what happens in a TV sports cast is you take that entire sports page and put it into a two and a half minute segment. So the news changes dramatically from what you read in the paper in the morning to what you might see on TV. And so I think that points to the fact that there's an awful lot of competition for that airtime for the stories that we see. And I think the PR professional has to understand what makes news and what is going to be appealing to a TV station to want to cover it, or to put it on their air so that it will have interest for their viewers. And it's not always as simple as pitching a reporter or a producer with a story idea. It's getting to know them and having those relationships with the media so that when we do call, we are a trusted source for them, we are a respected contributor to the process, providing them with factual information and information that we have a pretty good idea that their viewers will like to see.

Adrian McIntyre:

Yeah, I think that's something that folks don't necessarily realize is this is a relationships business. The business model is often driven by advertising and by clicks now and other kinds of things, but behind the scenes, the professionals have relationships that help them facilitate telling those stories. And so it's your reputation as a PR professional, isn't it? That is as much whether or not you can get the right story and the right outlet at the right time as the quality of the story itself. What do you make of the fact that so much of the media coverage has gone in the direction of the clickbait, the hype, the high... There's a lot of stories to be told that don't fit that mold. How do you navigate this new landscape where audience tastes have changed? Abbie, do you want to weigh in on that?

Abbie Fink:

I think it's an interesting question because the media is a product, right? The newspaper, television, radio, that's a product that we consume. We have a variety of different ways to consume that product now. It's not so much that we pick up the newspaper off our driveway in the morning. We might see it on our phones. We might get it off of our computers, but I think the clicking component of what media has become has really challenged those of us that bring information to the reporters for them to do and really has challenged them. They know that their product is being judged daily on not so much always the value of the story itself, but whether or not they get the click-throughs and the shares that happen on social media. And I think that some of that is directing what actually ends up being written about. One of the things that most people may or may not know is that an article is written, but there's typically someone else that's writing the headlines. Well, I think that's blended now because those headlines are now being written in a way to drive your eyeballs and click through to that content. And we know that our friends in the media are being evaluated by what their following is on social media. So it's a different level of conversation now. It's a different level of review of whether your information is correct. It puts an awful lot of pressure on all sides of that to deliver accurate, deliver it fast, make it relevant because what we're talking about in the two o'clock hour one afternoon is not going to be the same as what is getting talked about by four o'clock that same afternoon. And so there's a lot of pressure to deliver a product that appeals to so many different people. And that's challenging for us on this side that are bringing the news to the reporters in hopes that they see relevancy in it as well.

Scott Hanson:

And I think another really key aspect of this is for consumers to be able to differentiate between news and opinion. At the local level, I think it's still pretty objective. I think our newscasts at the local level in any market are pretty objective and the reporters do a really good job of being factual and keeping their opinions out of it as much as they can. But we've seen a morph over the last few years with some of the networks where it's either a liberal network or a conservative network, and people that want to hear that type of news will go there. And I think we've seen that happen in the last few years, which has certainly changed the whole media landscape as well.

Abbie Fink:

Well, and it requires all of us to be smarter consumers of that product. We have to recognize where that information is coming from and be a good consumer, find multiple channels. Channel is a general word, but multiple places for that information to come from so that whether you are liberal or conservative, you are getting your information from all sides to make good, smart decisions.

Adrian McIntyre:

Your clients span a variety of industries, professional services, real estate, finance, non-profit, you've got a number of interesting nonprofit clients, government, tribal affairs, restaurants, hospitality. How do you help your clients? I imagine there's a lot of education going on as well here as you sort of trained your clients to uncover the stories that are worth sharing, as well as facilitate getting those stories in the hands of a reporter or producer assignment editor, whoever it is that's actually going to put it on the air, so to speak.

Abbie Fink:

Well, typically when a client comes to us, they're generally coming for one purpose. They have a new product they're launching, they're opening up a new restaurant, they're breaking ground on something, but there's a thing. One thing that says we need to hire a public relations agency, which is great, gives us the opening to have the conversation. When you have that conversation, you often discover there is many things much deeper to talk about than just that one particular thing that they came from. Our job on their behalf is to listen to that story and find the appropriate place to tell it. It may not necessarily be a story for the local daily paper. It might be more appropriate for a program like this. It might be more appropriate for a television story. It might be a piece of information that might be shared via email to their prospective clients or their prospective customers. So that's our job, is to take what it is and determine how the best way is to deliver it. And when you build up that relationship again, back to relationships with the client and you become a trusted member of their team, and you're willing to ask a lot of questions and keep digging until you get different answers. That's how you develop those kinds of strategies that really do what they thought they came to you for in the first place, and really lead them to what it is that they're expecting to get.

Adrian McIntyre:

Over the years, you've had a lot of success. You've scored a lot of wins for clients, and there's lots of different ways that can be measured. In the media business, it was often counting impressions and clicks and views and Nielsen ratings and all that kind of stuff. But I imagine by now, you've also got your own personal metric of success. Scott, tell us about a project or a client or something that you really are proud of in these 35 years you've been at this game.

Scott Hanson:

Well, I think there are a number of them, but the one to me that I think had the most impact on the state of Arizona was that we were doing work for a small law firm based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Their specialization was tribal affairs, and they came to us and said, we've got a PR problem and we're wondering if you can help. And I said, of course we can. And this predated Indian gaming in Arizona, and we were brought on board to help the Tohono O'odham nation, which is southwest of Tucson with a PR problem. And at the time, their problem was that federal law said they could open a casino, but they had to have a compact sign with the state of Arizona. And at the time the governor of Arizona did not want to sign those compacts with the tribes to allow them to open up their casinos and through a long process of some very strategic communications programming and key media wins. There was quite a process. Now we have casinos all across the state of Arizona. And we were there before it happened really and were successful in working with a coalition of tribes, which had really never been done before. We got all of the tribal leaders in the state of Arizona to really speak with one solid voice. And their messaging finally started resonating with the people of Arizona and it worked and pro or against tribal gaming, Indian gaming, we were the agency that was involved with them and played a critical role in helping them get to that level. And there were so many things that happened the way. And we were flying by the seat of our pants because it was brand new, but the decisions that we made were so important, and most of them were the right decisions in getting the messaging out to the public that we had some pretty big successes and have been very well recognized by our peers for that work and those types of things. And in my mind, I think that is I think the biggest thing we've done as an agency. It's been a long time, but we're still involved in that now with doing work for casinos and tribal governments. We gained that respect of those tribal leaders back then, and we were such a trusted partner for them, and we've never lost that. And I think that's been very important to us as a business over the last 25 years.

Adrian McIntyre:

It really speaks to me as a cultural anthropologist and someone who grew up in the media and something that I think people sometimes take for granted. And that is when we talk about communication and sharing and telling a story, we're not just talking about it in some sort of expedient way, like taking this information and pushing it out through these channels, we're talking about changing the way people talk to each other and the way people think. And that example is fascinating to me because of the community building aspect of what you described. The fact that you went in there and folks with different points of view and different perspectives that had never had a unified voice through a process of engaging with you found the message, found the alignment internally first. Abbie, do you find that same thing playing out sometimes in organizations and companies or nonprofits where you've got to get multiple perspectives and somehow shepherd them to a point where you actually can have a message and a story to share?

Abbie Fink:

All the time. And what's interesting is I was listening to Scott tell that story and how you related it in terms of today's vernacular about building community. That was so not how we would have described what we were doing then. We were just trying to get all these tribal leaders to agree to certain messaging, and that this one person was going to be the one talking, but that's what we did is we built a community, and yes, that is relevant across virtually every client that we work with and whether that's their internal group, where their employees are trying to get involved with a community outreach program. And we have to determine how that aligns with the company mission, or we're talking about a large scale change at the legislature or whatever it might be. It's really getting the varying sides of a story to agree and come together with one unified voice. And in thinking about that, where we have been in our history here in the community and the kinds of things that we've been able to do, and we have some incredible clients that have allowed us to do some amazing things for them. And no matter what industry we're talking about, probably the common denominator in terms of measuring our success are those things that we're most proud of is when we have changed or moved a direction that benefited that. So whether that's in a nonprofit organization or in the case of the tribal sovereignty and allowing them to be for their own community, regardless of the client we're talking about, that probably comes back to that same bottom line is that we were able to be with them and provide strategic counsel that allowed something different to happen within their organization. And that's pretty powerful.

Scott Hanson:

It is. And even in perceptions of things, and we've had clients in the past, we've done a lot of work in the disability advocacy world where we've been able to work with the media to change the terminology, which ultimately changes the perception of people, of an industry, of whatever it might be. And I think that's one great example of the disability advocacy world where we worked with the media to say, look, these are terms that are no longer acceptable. These are terms that are acceptable and usable, and Abbie's done so much work in that area with seminars with the media to help educate them that look, this is how these things should be communicated.

Abbie Fink:

Yeah. Arizona State University hosts the National Disability Journalism Commission, which didn't exist at that point, but really exactly that is language is important. How we address things is important. How we talk to our communities is important. And when we get the opportunity to do that with, again, within our own organizations and the clients that we work with, to be able to have those conversations with members of the media and watch the change in the way that those, even in that case, a written conversation might be taking place. You can look back and you can pull up some of the archives and see how we've changed direction or been involved in how direction has changed. And that's pretty amazing.

Adrian McIntyre:

It sounds to me as though education is a cross-cutting theme here. You're educating clients, you're educating your contacts in the media. You're educating, to a certain degree, perhaps some consumers, but certainly also the next generation. At this point you must have mentored or whether formally or informally, a lot of folks in this industry. What does it take to be successful in today's PR professional landscape? What kinds of skills, what sorts of mindsets are you finding really help folks to come up now, the next generation in this field?

Scott Hanson:

Well, I think from a business standpoint, you've got to make smart business decisions. You've got to have great people around you. You've got to have great clients. I think those things all are a part of survival in today's business environment. But I think the individual people that come on board, it's a big change from what we saw when we first started. We were much more on the ground writing with typewriters and pre computers and hand delivering those things to the media. And now, as, as our team has been in the business for so much longer, we become much more strategic. And then as we have newer people coming into the industry, they've been able to help educate us as to what some of these new platforms are. And what the new generations expect in their communications messaging and how they want to receive it.

Abbie Fink:

The question actually is being asked when I do that mentoring now. The students that are coming out of the journalism programs or the communications or programs are asking that question, what do I need to be successful? So the first thing is that you're in the right place. You're getting your degree in a communications field journalism. So you're learning the tactical skills. The part that I think makes you a successful public relations practitioner is other stuff. Reading or watching the news every day and knowing what's happening in your community. Because what we do is dictated by what else is happening out there in the marketplace. It is recognizing what is... If you're working on a project here in the Phoenix area, what's important to Phoenix, what are the things that make sense here may be different than what if you're working on a project in say, Chicago or Los Angeles. You can't teach those things. Those sort of come inherently, but a natural sense of curiosity, the ability to ask a lot of questions, those are the kinds of things that make you successful. We can teach you a lot about how to do the work that we do, but you have to come into it with really that desire to uncover information, to keep digging and really to believe in the projects that you're working on that are so important to the clients that we're willing to invest our time and talent and helping them out. And we want you to come in and have that same expectation. Yes. I want you to be a good writer and yes, I want you to understand what social media is all about, but more importantly, I want you to know why. Why do you want to do with this? And why are those things important?

Adrian McIntyre:

So much has changed. I grew up in radio and my dad before I was born started a small radio station. It was a one-room college radio station in Southern California. When I was five years old, he got the bright idea that our family should have a show. So we recorded a weekly children's radio show and really just being part of KSGN. That was the station. And growing up in that environment really exposed me to one way that media was done. And that was the way for a long time. And this was a small nonprofit community station. It eventually grew to be quite significant in its impact in its small way. My dad used to say, well, I'm a huge fish in a very small pond, but so much has changed. And now there's no question that the smartphone and the apps built on top of not only the phones, but the internet itself have changed the way that we communicate or let's say they have changed the opportunities that we have. Maybe we still communicate in the same ways. Some of it positive, some of it negative, some of it good, some of it ugly. What do you see from your professional point of view about how social media, which is just another way of saying what we all do now, how we find information, there's Google, and then there's the other apps on your phone, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. How has that changed your work or has it?

Scott Hanson:

Oh, I think it's changed things tremendously. And I think what it has done is it's allowed citizen journalism to be created. And there's some good to that, but it's not all good because when we see things on Twitter or Facebook or whatever other platform we're on, there probably wasn't an editor to verify the facts, to do the fact checking, to make sure that what's going up there is legit. And I think that's caused a problem in the last several years, as far as the whole fake news and what is out there that we should or should not believe. And so that's been a little bit of a problem, but it has also created a tremendous opportunity for the smart PR professionals to capitalize on these new and emerging platforms as a great place to help their clients reach their target audiences.

Abbie Fink:

I can remember in the earlier days, 10 years ago, when Facebook and Twitter was becoming a little bit more of a commonplace and you'd see on your local news, before they go into a commercial they would announce a question, ask you to respond to them on Twitter, and then they would read the responses, but it was very clear these are responses from our viewers. Today, we're seeing sourcing for stories happening much more significantly on these social media platforms, which again means anyone with access to them becomes a source for a story. There's a responsibility again, on all ends, and as Scott said, there is no editing function in Facebook and Twitter, other than your own self editing, nobody is monitoring to determine the validity of that information. Those of us that receive it, whether we receive it friend to friend, or whether we receive it from a professional level, have to be able to figure out a way to verify that information and its truthfulness. And there's no question in all the years that we've been doing this social media probably has changed what we do more significantly than any of the other technologies, if you will, that have come into the workplace. And again, we started before fax machines and FedEx was our instantaneous delivery service, but because of social we've stepped up our strategies. We talk a lot more about how those platforms can be beneficial to us and to the clients. And when kids as young as five and six have accounts and platforms like LinkedIn lower the age of being able to access it. And my father was an early adopter of Facebook, he had it before I did, we have to think about how that reach happens and how you use it to your best advantage.

Adrian McIntyre:

Yeah. And the most recent statistics I saw, the fastest growing segment on Facebook is 60 to 80 year olds. And it's a very dynamic environment. One of the things about that editor role has been taken over by the algorithms themselves, oh, you like that? You'll like this. And there's a way in which that's very beneficial to consumers because it helps surface in a sea of information and stories and things shared by folks in their network. It helps surface things that are relevant and interesting. Of course, we've all seen the dark side of that, which is it starts to become an echo chamber. And you're only hearing the points of view that you like and that you resonate with and that gets you to click on them and so on. Has anything changed in the nature of what makes a great story? With taste and consumption, having shifted a little bit, are the fundamentals of what you're trying to get your clients to communicate still the same or have you discovered new dimensions of the storytelling part of public relations?

Scott Hanson:

Oh I think a good story is still a good story. Because of the different platforms, it's just a variation of how it's told or where it's told, but the great stories are still great stories no matter what and they're timeless, I think.

Abbie Fink:

Yeah. I think I would agree with that that you can't get this information out if it's not worthy. And as you said, algorithms and things help dish up what we want to see, but we're only seeing it because we've shown interest in it before. And so being able to keep finding it is pretty important.

Adrian McIntyre:

Now what makes a good client for someone like HMA Public Relations? You have the fortunate, I guess, position of being able to be a little bit selective. And at the same time, there's always a need for new business. What are some of your core capabilities and how does that match up with an ideal client for your firm?

Scott Hanson:

Well I think we've gained a reputation over the years as being strong in a couple of key areas. One is media relations. The other is crisis communications and community relations. And I think those three areas have sort of driven certain types of clients to us. A lot of business to business communication is something that we become very strong at. Tribal affairs is another sector that we've become very strong at. You'd mentioned nonprofit work earlier. So I think a good client for us is a client that has a great story to tell that's willing to invest in public relations. They care about their image. They care about reaching their target audience, whether it's shareholders or consumers or media members, whoever it is, with smart strategic messaging.

Adrian McIntyre:

Scott, before we let you go, I also want to ask you about your books. You've got two books out dealing with different angles on sports. That's obviously a lifetime passion of yours. Tell us a little bit about those books and what you were trying to accomplish there.

Scott Hanson:

Well, it is something that I'm very passionate about. I've been officiating high school sports for more than 30 years. And a few years ago, it kind of occurred to me as I was going to these different high schools around Arizona, that people did not know who or why the football field or the gymnasium, or even the school itself, who they were named after. And I would ask the kids on campus. I'd say, we're here at Joe Smith stadium. Who's Joe Smith? And they didn't know the answer. And so I started doing the research and I wasn't planning on writing a book, but I ran into the Arizona state historian, Marshall Tremble, and I showed him my notes and told them what I was up to. And he kind of strong armed me. He said, Scott, you've got to write a book. This is lost Arizona history. So the book is called, Who Is Gym? Spelled G-Y-M. And it's about the who and the why high schools and their sports facilities are named after people. And it was tremendous fulfilling work to uncover these stories and be able to put them into one place into a book. After that book was out for about a year, I was umpiring a high school baseball game, and I was looking out at right field and I saw that there were a number of jerseys hanging out there. And my empire partner suggested to me, he says, I've got the idea for your second book. He said, who are all these numbers and why'd they retire them? So my second book is called, What's Your Number? And it's about the who and the why every high school retired number in Arizona has been done. Who they are, why they retired their number and the stories behind them are just as fascinating. And it has been quite a labor of love, but it's been quite fulfilling, and you become a de facto expert. I love being able to go to the universities when I'm talking to students and ask them, so who here went to high school in Arizona? They'll raise their hands and say, oh so you went to what high school? And they say, well, I went to Washington High School. I said, oh, well, the Washington Rams. And they play on Pagel Field. And the look in these kids' eyes is like, well, how do you know that stuff? But it's because I've retained a lot of useless information, I guess, over the course of writing these two books.

Adrian McIntyre:

Well, it's a fascinating angle on the forgotten or not often told stories and backstories of local communities. It's really great. Abbie, as we wind the interview up, I know that you are involved not just here in this firm, but you both have roles that you play in national organizations. And so talk a little bit about your work really in public relations and in the industry, not just here in the valley.

Abbie Fink:

Our agency is a founding member of the public relations global network, which is an international network of more than 50 independently owned PR agencies around the world. We are the Arizona affiliate of that program. Gives us an opportunity to be local and international if we need be. We oftentimes partner with client project with our agency partners and other parts of the world. Gives us a breadth and depth that we don't have here in our own office. And really one of the few in the state that has a relationship like that. On a US-based, we're also part of the Public Relations Society of America, which is our trade association. We're very actively involved locally, regionally and nationally there, and have served on the boards of a variety of different components of that organization as well. So it keeps us interacting with our colleagues across the industry, keeps us abreast of all the knowledge that we need in terms of what the industry is doing. Gives us access to information that we might not have otherwise. And it's really, I think one of the things that, well, we take a lot of pride in it and we encourage our team members to be involved with it. And it gives us additional information that sets us apart from our competition in the marketplace as well. And as a result we have the ability to pick up the phone in virtually any market around the world and say, "We need some help. Can you be there for us?" And whether that's boots on the ground or just information sharing, it's a pretty great resource for us and one that we tap into on a daily basis.

Scott Hanson:

And I think from a business leadership standpoint, us being able to see how things are being done in other parts of the world helps us in being able to deliver for our clients here.

Adrian McIntyre:

Absolutely. Well, this has been a fascinating conversation. There's so much more layers that I'm sure we could explore. Maybe we'll get a chance again in the future. How do folks learn more about you? Where do they go?

Abbie Fink:

Well, they can visit us on our website at hmapr.com. And if you are active on the social media world, you can find us across Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and that might be it for now. Once the newest and greatest thing that gets invented in the next couple of weeks, we'll probably be on that too.

Adrian McIntyre:

You'll be there as well. Scott, Abbie, thank you for joining us. I'm Dr. Adrian McIntyre and we'll see you next time on Valley Business Radio.

If you enjoyed today’s show, please find and follow Copper State of Mind in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or any other podcast app. You can also find the show online at HMAPR.com. For all of us here at PHX.fm, I’m Adrian McIntyre. Thanks for listening, and please join us for the next Copper State of Mind.