June 25, 2020

Washington, DC.C., Susan Davis International

5 Questions – Susan Davis International

IPREX has more than 60 high-quality communications partners around the world that work together in a variety of ways. Get to know Susan Davis International in this month’s 5 Questions column.

Who are you?  Sean O’Leary, Vice President with Susan Davis International, located in Washington, D.C.

The zombie apocalypse is coming, who are three people you want on your team? First member would be The Rock. We’d definitely need a big strong guy to lead the fight and I’ve watched enough movies to think he’d be perfect in that role. I also grew up as a huge pro wrestling fan, so I’d have about a million questions to ask him.

Second would be Jose Andres. We’ll need to eat and his work in providing meals around the world to people in crisis gives me confidence that he’d be able to keep us fed.

The third member would be my wife, Tiffany. She’s a preschool teacher and is adept at dealing with whatever craziness those 2- and 3-year olds throw at her every day. Those skills will be necessary as we’re preparing to fight zombies.

What has been the most meaningful work you have done in your career? After I lost my job in journalism during the 2008 recession, I moved over to communications to work with the National MS Society for nearly four years. My aunt has MS, so there was a personal connection in addition to the professional reasons of needing a paycheck.

I served as a main spokesperson for local fundraising events, which would include doing TV and radio interviews. Many people would thank me for my work in spreading the word and raising awareness. I almost felt embarrassed they were thanking me, but I appreciated they felt my work was that important. The ability to work with more nonprofits and advocacy groups was a factor in why I joined SDI.

What do you see as the biggest challenge in the communications industry today? The dramatic reduction in the number of journalists and publications, as the numbers seem to dwindle every year, and the COVID-19 pandemic has led to even more layoffs.

How is your agency working to solve this challenge? There are two ways. First, the reduced number of reporters and outlets has put an added importance on relationship building, so we make sure our clients focus on developing those with key outlets.

The second is to identify non-traditional ways to reach target audiences. It varies from client to client, but implementing more social media and digital marketing strategies has been crucial. Podcasts, especially those independent of publications, have increased in visibility in recent years. Through the pandemic, we’ve seen an uptick in video interviews and virtual events, which I think will be an avenue that will only further increase in importance moving forward.