Michele Rubin: Senior Account Manager for BackBone Public Relations, Boca Raton, FL

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Moving from editorial work to public relations was a natural transition for Michele Rubin and brought her full circle back to her roots in writing.

Rubin is a senior account manager with BackBone Public Relations in their Hartford, Connecticut office. "My position deals with the day-to-day execution of public-relations strategies," she said.

It's a very hands-on position, and in any given day, she is doing everything from writing press releases to making follow-up pitches to speaking with editors to writing case studies, white papers, and articles on behalf of her clients. Some of her other responsibilities include coordinating media-relations campaigns, tracking editorial calendars, and responding to queries that come in from writers.

Rubin holds a degree in journalism with a concentration in public relations from New York University. She said that she got into PR in a roundabout way.

"I've always enjoyed writing and dealing with people, so PR seemed like a logical combination of the two things. When I graduated from NYU, I actually got a job with a business-to-business publisher. I started a rather long career as an editor and not doing any PR work at all. I started out as an editor and moved up the ranks as a managing editor," said Rubin.

Looking back, Rubin said she sees many instances in which she covered topics she had no idea would be relevant to the work she does now—subjects like occupational safety and health, human resources, and employment law. As an editor, Rubin handled not only print media but also online publication and video production.

Variety is what Rubin said she enjoys most about public relations. "Every day is really different. One day, I could be immersed in writing an article or a white paper; the next day, I might be coordinating interviews and media strategy for a client," she said.

"I really have to say that no two days are the same. Oftentimes, you have to multitask because you have different clients with different needs. You have to make sure that all of your bases are covered and you are attending to all of the details."

Another benefit is that she has opportunities to meet some really great and interesting people, often without leaving her office. "I have such interesting phone conversations with people; you find that you have something in common, and you just wind up in a conversation," said Rubin.

According to Rubin, a common challenge for PR professionals is the art of differentiation, setting the client's message apart.

"When you are trying to pitch stories or writing press releases, editors and the media in general are bombarded with information. The challenge is really that you have to come up with an interesting angle to stand out and get the editor's or the media analyst's attention. It's a challenge, but it is also an opportunity because you get to be a little creative in your writing," said Rubin.

Rubin met Charles Epstein, President of BackBone, while she was working in her previous position as an editor.

Q. What do you do for fun?
A. Going to the gym, reading—you name it, I'll read it. I look in magazines for up-and-coming authors, something that catches my eye. I'm not picky, and there have actually been very few books that I've started and not finished.
Q. What CD was most recently in your CD player?
A. Thanks to my son, who burned a CD for me, U2, Bruce Springsteen, and Coldplay.
Q. What is the last magazine you read?
A. People magazine. I read so many trade publications and magazines. Some of the things I read are kind of on the dry side, but it's necessary for my job. Sometimes I look forward to reading just for fun, and People magazine is my fun reading.
Q. What is your favorite TV show?
A. ER is probably my longstanding favorite. Boston Legal is probably my new favorite show. It's so sharp and so well written.
Q. Who is your role model?
A. I don't know if I have a single, particular role model. I think there are different people that I've come across in my life who have qualities that I have admired and have tried to emulate.

"Charles represented a number of clients who had contributed byline articles to the journal I was working on," said Rubin. "We developed a nice working relationship over the phone and through email."

When Rubin decided to make the transition back to her PR roots, Epstein was intrigued by her editorial background and thought it would allow him to make some nice additions to his client base. "[It's a] benefit to clients [that I have] been on both sides of the fence and can relate to editors," said Rubin. She has been working for BackBone for about three years.

One of the challenges that Rubin said she faces is that public relations tends to get lost in the crowd and takes a backseat to marketing and sales, which are more closely tied to the bottom line.

"It's challenging because oftentimes you have to quantify PR in terms of ROI, return on investment. It's difficult because you are trying to measure exposure; it's a tangible thing that you are trying to measure on behalf of a client. I think clients really need to understand that PR works hand in hand in support with sales and marketing. It adds what I think is one of the more important elements in that it gives you third-party media validation," said Rubin.

What is her advice for aspiring PR professionals? Develop the twin qualities of patience and perseverance.

"Understanding the mechanics of PR is different than putting it into practice. There are a lot of follow-up calls, email. You also have to be very careful that you don't cross the line between being persistent and being a pest. And having been an editor, I know what pesty PR people are like. If you love writing and you love dealing with people, then PR is a great, rewarding profession," said Rubin.

Rubin said that since she is married and has children, she has very little spare time, but when she does find the time, she enjoys taking motorcycle rides with her husband.
On the net:BackBone, Inc.

Boca Raton, FL

New York University
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 trade publications  account managers  public relations  journalism  working conditions  editorial calendars  degrees  New York University  Bruce Springsteen  Boston Legal

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