Adam Ritchie, principal at Adam Ritchie Brand Direction and Bulldog Reporter’s Public Relations Professional of the Year, finished a seven-year round-trip walk across the continental U.S. using a client’s product, and marked the journey by publishing a three-part series called Invention in PR.
It happened on a treadmill desk made by Salt Lake City-based LifeSpan, an active workplace brand supported by his firm. Ritchie began the walk at his office in 2012, traveled the distance from Boston to San Francisco (3,086 miles) by 2015, and completed the walk back this year.
“Every public relations professional should bring their clients’ products into their life to the degree they can,” said Ritchie. “It’s important to understand how they work, see their impact firsthand and live by the message points we’re putting into the market.”
Ritchie isn’t the only media professional walking the talk. This summer, he worked with Joanna Coles, executive producer of Freeform‘s The Bold Type to bring her iconic treadmill desk to the beach, tennis court, pool, park and a restaurant in a series of Instagram posts following her departure as chief content officer for Hearst.
In the last three years of his walk, Ritchie applied an invention-first approach to his agency’s work. He wrote a trio of campaigns covering the performing, visual and culinary arts and branded the process that went into them. The full Invention in PR Trilogy can be seen online.
“It’s about PR driving product development,” said Ritchie. “When most PR teams engage with a brand, they assume the product is set in stone and they dig for the story. This is about stepping back and asking, ‘What can we make together? What can we transform for the sake of impact? Can we approach projects like concept albums? Can we approach annual plans like seasons of a TV show?’ It’s going beyond promotion and into creation. Deeper than storytelling and into authorship. Pushing public relations as far as it will go and evolving it from its past as an organization’s mouthpiece into its future as an organization’s creative engine. And hopefully changing perceptions about PR and the people who practice it along the way.”
Ritchie’s Invention in PR talks have reached more than 1,400 students at more than 40 universities across the country and will visit the Museum of Public Relations in New York City on July 18.