Congrats to Kate Ryan, “PR Rising Star” Silver Award Winner in Bulldog’s 2017 Stars of PR Awards. Bulldog’s 2018 PR Awards are now open for submissions.
They come along once in a blue moon—a practitioner with all the bona fide skills, as well as the vision and integrity to do her best work, for both her colleagues and clients. Kate Ryan is an epicenter of strategic PR planning as Managing Director, U.S. at Diffusion, encouraging strategic media tactics to secure game-changing media results.
Because of her experience as a mom and immense success so closely tied to her time becoming a mother, Kate is also a champion for mothers in the workforce. And as a workplace leader, Kate leads by example through not only supporting and advocating for Diffusion’s accountability model, but also holding the agency and employees accountable for remaining on top of their work and delivering results for clients.
“We’re very lucky to be a firm that easily shifts from deep tech expertise to true lifestyle brand experience, which helped contribute to our success this year,” Ryan says. “I think that has a lot to do with our ‘blank page’ approach to any new business brief—we focus on what makes sense for the specific client and their goals, not any pre-determined concept of what ‘works’ for a certain industry. That fresh thinking combined with our team’s incredible experience helped us do everything from lead successful press trips to Ibiza and Australia, to breaking a Guinness World Record for longest time spent in Virtual Reality.”
Read on to see why Kate won a Silver Award in the “PR Rising Star” category in Bulldog Reporter’s 2017 Stars of PR Awards.
Breakthrough communication approaches
Having an extensive career on the media relations side for a plethora of clients, Kate recognizes what it takes to win clients amazing coverage around product updates or a noteworthy business momentum story—but where Kate shines for Diffusion is in her ability to inspire and propel teams to turn over impactful media results on behalf of clients during times when there is no news.
“The Diffusion mission is to ‘make brands matter’ and I think that continued to help us win and retain clients in 2017,” she offers. “Every brand we work with, regardless of industry, is fighting to stay relevant to often distracted audiences. Our creative ideas begin with real insights and end in campaigns that directly help brands tell stories and articulate why they matter. We call it ‘creativity with purpose’ and it’s something we put into practice with everything we do for clients, every single day.”
She offers an example of ROI that her firm’s PR activities delivered last year: “We designed, developed and put into action a massive thought leadership campaign where the client created a major report on the future of the retail industry on a quarterly basis. While creating a report isn’t anything new or exciting, our team came up with fresh takes on topics of major interest to media, resulting in incredible top tier coverage, including a segment on ‘NBC Nightly News.’ The corresponding report was available for download on the client’s website, where more than 15 major, name-brand retailers downloaded it within the first few hours of our media exclusive going live. The client’s sales team was able to prospect those leads, resulting in real new business for the company.”
That example tells as much about Kate’s professional integrity as it does her media relations chops. “As an agency, we are just as focused on campaign outcomes as we are on delivering agreed-upon campaign outputs,” she says. “A great campaign must be judged on how it has helped the bottom line and driven business success, which is exactly what this example did.”
Professional leadership and contribution
In an industry dominated by women, Kate sees and knows firsthand how important it is to provide support for working mothers. It’s through her dedication that Diffusion constructed a nursing room into Diffusion’s new U.S. office and why she pushes so hard for flexible work schedules—including spearheading a flexible work program.
Kate cites the complete construction overhaul of the firm’s brand-new office as a huge challenge she was able to overcome. “We outgrew our office space in late 2016 and had no choice but to accelerate our plan to move into a new, much bigger space that could accommodate our growing team—but this meant ongoing construction to build out the space to our standards,” she relates. “Our team were true professionals and didn’t let the sound of, say, a new wall being built for our second conference room distract them from delivering great client service!”
Kate is also a judge for the PRSA-NY “Big Apple Awards” on a yearly basis, willingly and excitedly donating her industry knowledge and experience to judge dozens upon dozens of the best and most impactful PR campaigns from neighboring agencies.
Finally, Kate has pioneered a nurturing—yet competitive—culture at Diffusion. She created the Diffusion Rookie Program; a post-graduate position that selects the highest qualified applicants and prepares them, through training and mentoring, to be skilled and valued members of the team. Her creation of the Diffusion Rockstar Program, a competition that rewards staff for attainting pre-set and high-achieving goals, motivates and inspires the entire agency to go above and beyond to deliver work to clients.
Kate has also created many internal programs to promote staff unity, locally and internationally. An example is the Diffusion Exchange Program, which brings members of the Diffusion London office to NYC and vice versa every quarter to spend face-to-face time with coworkers, thus forging strong inter-agency relationships.
Demonstration of integrity
Diffusion is an agency that operates uniquely in the PR industry through an accountability model. The model itself promotes integrity, honesty and transparency within the industry by holding Diffusion accountable for all work promised to clients. Clients of Diffusion always know exactly what they will receive from the get-go and will never pay for anything that was promised but not delivered. As such, this model of operation demands a high level of strategic thinking, creativity and forward thought to set goals for clients as well as fosters clear and transparent conversation around success parameters.
Kate leads by example through not only supporting and advocating for this accountability model, but also holding the agency and employees accountable for remaining on top of their work and delivering results for clients. She sits in an open-floor plan among the entirety of her U.S. staff; offering her desk for open “office hours” for anyone to bring questions, issues or to just simply pick her brain.
Kate oversees quarterly reviews for each of her employees to provide optimal opportunity for upward mobility. She creates tailored goals for each employee that are both challenging while instrumental to earning swift, but earned, promotions. In an anonymous office-wide survey, 100% of employees said they either “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that Kate was invested in their upward mobility.
Kate joined Diffusion as one of the firm’s first employees in the U.S. shortly after its opening in New York in 2012 as an Account Director, and worked her way to U.S. Managing Director in a mere four years. During her tenure, Kate has grown the team size to four times the initial headcount; Diffusion is now more than 50 team members globally.
Kate has been instrumental in recruiting, promoting and retaining talent at Diffusion through the creation of the Diffusion post-graduate “Rookie Program.” Much of the talent she gathered from this program have stayed with Diffusion for the duration of their career, working their way to management and supervisory positions.
In addition to team growth, Kate has driven the overall growth of Diffusion’s U.S. office, doubling the revenue growth and exceeding growth and profitability targets in the 2016-2017 fiscal year. Kate has been the architect of major client campaigns, including the award-winning CyberLink campaign, “Binge Watching to Victory” which launched CyberLink’s PowerDVD16 by breaking the Guinness World Record for Binge Watching (94 hours). Her campaigns – including the world record break for CyberLink – have led Diffusion to win, or be shortlisted, for no less than twenty industry awards in the last year alone.
In addition to her day-to-day leadership of the Diffusion U.S. office, Kate delivered in excess of 30% YOY revenue growth. She also led on securing new business from prominent companies like CyberLink, Mobileye and the USA TODAY NETWORK.
“I’m often surprised at how many people I interview who have no experience ideating campaign strategy or coming up with big ideas for clients,” she says. “Our open plan environment is purposely and strategically about constantly discussing new ideas and exposing staff at every level to the creative process and inspiring them to imagine new ideas and approaches. This means our clients have access to every brain at Diffusion, which is a very powerful asset. I really don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that I work with some of the best and brightest.”