Welcome to Ditto PR’s first installment of our company spotlight series. Today we’re highlighting Associate Vice President and all around PR rock star, Danielle Orsino. Danielle has been working in PR for six years and has been at Ditto for nearly two. She takes the lead with our FinTech and Education industry clients overseeing Credible, Flatiron, Natixis, Envision and Argo. In this interview, she offers valuable insight about the public relations industry and shares what she likes to do outside the office as well!
What do you like most about working at Ditto? I love coming to work every day and knowing that what I do will have a direct impact on the company, our clients, my colleagues and my own career. I joined Ditto from Edelman, where I learned a lot but didn’t feel the sense of purpose I have here. At small firms, each team member needs to bring his or her A-game every day. I am happiest and feel like I do my best work in this type of environment.
How did you get started in PR? I moved to NYC in 2005 to study drama at NYU. My senior year of college, I tried to imagine my life after graduation -- auditioning during the day, waitressing or bartending at night -- and just couldn’t see it. The aspect of theater that I’ve always loved most is telling interesting and important stories, so I started thinking of other career paths where I could do that.
I applied to unpaid internships at fashion PR firms -- like many people, I assumed that PR is entwined with the fashion industry -- but no one would hire me. Finally, I landed my first job, working as the assistant to a publicist based on Long Island. My first task was to convince the Sbarro in Times Square to give away free pizza. I realized immediately how similar PR is to putting on a play -- making sure you have compelling characters, creating just the right amount of tension and drama. Despite working incessantly and commuting for four hours every day, I was in love.
What advice would you give to someone who is interested in PR? Read everything. Read the New York Times first thing in the morning when you wake up, and watch local and national news when you get home from work. Read Medium posts written by people you admire. Think about the elements that go into creating a good story. Pay attention to bylines. When you appreciate a reporter’s work, tell him or her so on Twitter.
Don’t worry too much about where your first job is or what type of clients you’re working with. If it’s not your dream job -- and it probably won’t be -- use it to learn the fundamentals of PR. They’re the same no matter where you’re working.
What is one of the most valuable lessons you've learned from your experience in PR? Always work as hard as you can, because eventually you will have to lean on the work you’ve put in. A former colleague of mine would compare PR to poker -- sometimes you win by skill, sometimes by luck -- but luck is the residue of design. In PR, what looks like luck, what looks effortless, is often the result of blood, sweat and tears.
As cheesy as it sounds, PR is largely driven by relationships. Building relationships takes time and can be tedious. It requires being a good listener (or a voracious consumer of a reporter’s work). It requires offering people things that will be useful and valuable to them without expecting anything in return. It requires treating everyone -- from columnists at the New York Times to freelancers just starting out -- with respect and like their work matters, because it does. Do this every day, and you will get results for your clients.
Where are your go to spots in New York? My friends and I tend to find a few places we like and stick to them with steadfast loyalty. Here are a few examples:
- For picnicking: The Christopher Street Pier. My friends and I go there theoretically for the sunbathing, in actuality for the people-watching. This place always seems to draw the most creative, interesting and diverse group of people in the city. You can always count on seeing a couple beautiful men in heels practicing their runway walks.
- For dinner: Miss Lily’s in the East Village and Siggy’s Good Food in NoHo. Two completely different vibes, but both have amazing food and super-nice people working there.
- For brunch: Mud is my favorite spot in the East Village. They have delicious coffee and lots of outdoor seating -- what more do you need? I also like El Camion, but only if I can take a nap afterwards (they have a $5 margarita special, which is amazing but also very dangerous).
- For drinks and good conversation: Pierre Loti -- they have two locations, in Gramercy and Chelsea. It has a great ambiance -- just dark and moody enough -- and an expansive wine selection.
- For karaoke: Grisly Pear, this dive bar in Greenwich Village, has the best karaoke I have ever been to. It starts at midnight on Fridays and Saturdays and draws the most eclectic but sweet group of people you can imagine. I have also had some very fun nights at Sing Sing on Avenue A.
What are your hobbies? I think having hobbies outside of work is extremely important. Music has always been a big part of my life, and I sing in a choir that performs at different venues around the city. I’m also learning to make my own clothes and spend a good chunk of most weekends hunched over my sewing machine. Lastly, I try to stay active by spinning and doing yoga a few times a week.
If you were given a free vacation next week where would you go and why? Most of my trips in recent years have been abroad (to Italy, Greece and Costa Rica, where my parents live), but lately I’ve been more interested in exploring parts of the U.S. I haven’t seen. Cities like Nashville, Memphis, Austin and Portland, OR are definitely on my list. I also spent a couple days in Arizona last year -- I used to live there but hadn’t been back in 10 years, and I was blown away by its beauty (which I had never noticed or appreciated). A longer trip back there is definitely in order, too.