Interview With Coral Graszer, Senior Public Relations & Communications Manager at Fiskars Group
David Erickson: Welcome to episode number 357 of the Beyond Social Media Show, the podcast for all of you marketing, advertising, public relations and communications professionals. You can find us by searching for Beyond Social Media Show. We are recording on July 24 2021.
Coral Graszer, Senior Public Relations and Communications Manager at Fiskars Group
David Erickson: And I am delighted to have with me today my former colleague, Coral Graszer, who is a Senior Public Relations and Communications Manager at Fiskars Group. Fiskars Group is a Finnish company that was founded in the village of Fiskars, Finland in 1649; the oldest business still operating in Finland and one of the oldest companies in the world.
It's best known--you will have no doubt seen their orange-handled scissors that were created in 1967. More than a billion were sold by 2010, according to Wikipedia. I'm sure many, many more were sold since then--in the decade since. Fiskars sells products for the home, for outdoor activities, interior decoration, table settings. Its key brands include Fiskars, of course, Iittala, Copenhagen, Wedgwood and Waterford--Waterford crystals.
And Coral has experience in brand marketing, content marketing, media relations, public relations, strategic planning, social media events, and much, much more. And as a former colleague--she's very talented, I can testify.
How Has Literature Influenced Your Public Relations Career?
David Erickson: We will start though, with Coral's origin story; start at the beginning and go through her path on how she got to Fiskars and then go in much more depth about what she does at Fiskars. So, Coral, you you studied literature in college; tell us what college you went to and how does the study of literature contribute to--or did it--your career success?
Coral Graszer: Sure. Well, thanks for having me, David; good to see you.
David Erickson: Good to see you.
The Storytelling Craft
Coral Graszer: I studied at University of Wisconsin Madison--go Badgers! have to get that out of the way--and I did; I studied literature and absolutely loved it. It was a place where I could just kind of escape the real world, usually, and go back to Shakespeare or Chaucer or someone and kind of see the stories that they were telling and loved studying it. And I do think it has kind of an impact on on my career. I always wanted to be a storyteller of some capacity; I didn't know if I would be a journalist or if I would be an author or a poet, and obviously ended up in marketing. But kind of take that idea of storytelling, I think, every day, and work that into what it is I'm trying to do. So if Shakespeare can be a master of words, I think me kind of reading literature from whatever time period and kind of seeing how those greats are telling stories are, subconsciously, kind of helping me as I try and tell a brand story or communication story to media or consumers.
David Erickson: Sure. Sure. I think also--I mean, I studied literature as well so I'm in favor of doing that. And I do think it plays a helpful role in what we do now. I look at it like when you study literature, you're breaking down how a story works. So figuring out the elements of the story. But also having the empathy of the characters and to be successful in public relations and media need to you need to have that ability to empathize.
Coral Graszer: Yeah, definitely.
Why Public Relations?
David Erickson: So you didn't know what you would do. Why did you decide on on public relations, ultimately?
Coral Graszer: I think, again, I loved the idea of being able to really craft a story no matter what it was about. And obviously, it's a little safer to go into public relations or marketing than it is to be a poet. So I felt like I could still kind of use my creativity, my love for words and that kind of passion, but to do it in a way that was really practical. It was kind of the best of both worlds. You've got to be strategic and it's got to really work but you have to be creative and kind of have that passion behind it in order for something to really stand out to a consumer or a client. So it was kind of a great marriage of those two different things.
Music & Marketing
David Erickson: What was your first job out of college?
Coral Graszer: My first job out of college, I had an internship in college that then I was able to stay on a little bit longer afterwards. I was with the Wisconsin School Music Association, which I loved. It was super fun. And I got to really try a ton of different things. I got to help with event planning. And I got to edit their monthly publication. And I got to do traditional media pitching and work on their website with a little bit of SEO work. So it was kind of a really great intro into a lot of different areas within marketing right off the bat. And I love that it was for a nonprofit and an organization that really spoke to me. As you know, David, I'm a singer. So it was great to be able to work for an organization that was all about advocating for school music programs and making sure that that was still important and taught in schools and really a champion behind that. So it was really great.
David Erickson: Cool. So yeah, I know that you're a singer. And I have thoughts on this as well. But I was fascinated to ask you: Does singing, does music, your passion for music--you're a singer so you're a musician, too--does that influence or have an effect on your professional practice at all?
Coral Graszer: Yeah, I think that's a really interesting question. I'd love to know your thoughts with all your guitars in the background. But I would say I think music, again, it just opens up a different side of your brain, right? It's a different way of thinking about things; it's a different way of communicating. And, again, you kind of--I, at least, when I'm singing, you know, with a choir or by myself--you kind of transcend a lot of other things. And you're kind of finding that harmony with other people with other musicians, whatever it is. If you want to think of that as collaboration, in a certain sense; you're kind of doing that, you're trying to find how you all jive together. But again, I think it's that creativity that you're tapping into when you are doing anything really music related, that I think can totally then be translated or transferred to your everyday work where it's, you know, you don't always get the luxury of being able to kind of creatively think through a problem. And so you can kind of do that. Outside of the the nine to five.
David Erickson: Yeah. Sound is becoming such a more and more important part of how we do our jobs, with virtual assistants, with smart speakers, with streaming music and streaming and podcasts. And so I think, yeah, sound is-- The musical background-- I think of it in terms of like, as a singer, you think of phrasing, you think of how you deliver a lyric and how that coincides with the music. And I think that's a skill that you can apply to language as well, as your writing out something; hearing the music of the language as you're writing it out. But also, you know, live performances: Stage presence. I've learned it, you know, from playing in bands learned about stage presence. And we do pitches, we do public performances and are spokespeople and need to know that and how to read an audience and whether they're responding and all that, as well.
Remote Working Pioneer
David Erickson: LatPro. What is LatPro? That was your next job after Wisconsin School Music.
Coral Graszer: Yeah, LatPro. That was next on the list. It's funny, I--LatPro was an organization that I worked for that was fully remote before any of us were--
David Erickson: Really?
Coral Graszer: --all the time. Yeah. So I--there was a handful of us; I think there were about 30 people who worked for the company. But we were all over the US. And essentially, it's a job search engine. So it's a--
David Erickson: Okay.
Coral Graszer: --competed there with some of the bigger names. But it was a great way for me to kind of learn more technical skills at different points. Again, there was event planning. That one was a bit heavier with SEO. I got to help with their social media strategy.
Coral Graszer: And I don't know if the remote working at the time was the best for me. It was right after college. So you kind of--I made that transition from going from where you are constantly surrounded by people in college, no matter where you're at. And then I was by myself working on different time zones and in different states with other people. But I I look back on it now as a total blessing because everybody's doing it. And it really helped me to, from an earlier age, kind of set some of those best practices and learn how to shut the work off at a certain point so that you're not working at 9 pm, you know, from your home office. So there I'm very glad in hindsight that I had that aspect of it, which kind of helped me with the present state that we're in.
David Erickson: Yeah, I imagine. I mean, very few people have that skill. One is the ability that to know your work/life balance, as you mentioned; but also juggling time zones, collaborating virtually, interpreting people through a screen. That's a skill that a lot of people didn't have. It's amazing that you got it and good for you.
Coral Graszer: Yeah, I know. It definitely--I didn't know that at the time, but very thankful now.
Fiskars Group, Round I
David Erickson: Right, right. So I kind of want to ask: Did you always want to work at Fiskars? Because your next step was at Fiskars. And you've returned to Fiskars. So tell us how you first got hired at Fiskars and what you did?
Coral Graszer: Yeah, so the first time around at Fiskars; it's really full circle because the first time around, I was on the PR team and, of course, I'm on the PR team now. I loved Fiskars from the beginning, I really did. It's, as you mentioned, based out of Finland but our North American headquarters are in Madison, Wisconsin. And everyone I worked with was super great. It was just really fun. I loved the public relations team. Like I'd mentioned, I'd done some of that before, through my internship and even through a few kind of organizations in college.
Coral Graszer: But this was my first title, probably with PR in it. And I loved that. I loved even the small stuff, like sending out product samples to editors. I really loved seeing the stories come to life in print or online or whatever it was and helping plan media events. And it was just a great place to work. My team was awesome. It was tons of fun.
Broadening The Skill Set
Coral Graszer: And I probably would have stayed at Fiskars had I not wanted agency experience, which is where you and I met when we get there. But that was really kind of the main reason for why I ended up leaving; was just that I kind of wanted that super fast-paced, learn it all, work with different clients, and learn kind of budgeting and project planning and really get to tap into a ton of different things.
And while I loved PR and I'm back there now, I wanted to continue kind of broadening my skill set. And I felt the best place I was going to be able to do that would be at an agency. I also always wanted to come back to Minnesota. I'm from Minnesota, and always wanted to live up in Minneapolis. So that kind of weighed out at the time. But I think I kind of always knew I wasn't done with Fiskars. I would probably be back. It was just kind of always in my head. I didn't know when, I didn't really know how it was gonna work out, but I kind of felt an inkling of that chapter wasn't over yet. You know?
David Erickson: Yeah. Well, clearly. So you...from Fiskars to Target.
Coral Graszer: Yes, I had a very short stint at Target. Yeah. That was another place I was really interested in--again, being from Minnesota, Target's kind of a hometown hero--and always wanted to try that out. Love the brand. You know, I shop at Target all the time. So it was something that I could connect to.
Coral Graszer: I think I was just there at a weird time. I was there when Target was trying their hand at going into the Canada business. They went through a few rounds of layoffs. It just wasn't great for the company at the time. And so I think had I joined a little earlier or a little later it may have been a little different but it didn't feel super stable. I could kind of see the writing on the wall of what was going on.
And I wasn't in the exact department I wanted to be in. It wasn't comms. It wasn't PR. And so...and I still had that want of: Okay, well Target is here and that would be great to work for but I wanted that agency experience. So, glad I did it. But ultimately it was a super short stint and ended up just kind of leading me into K&C.
Sales Promotion & Marketing
David Erickson: Yeah. So you weren't in the department you wanted to be in; what department were you in?
Coral Graszer: I was in the sales promotion marketing department. We mainly worked on the weekly flyer that went out. So I learned a lot of collaboration there. Again, tons of partners in different time zones. You know, I had 7 am calls multiple times a week with colleagues over in India. So again, definitely good skills learned. But, yeah, not exactly the spot that I wanted to be in.
Public Relations Agency Experience
David Erickson: Yeah, well, you escaped a sinking ship, as well. That Canada experiment did not work out well for Target. So good for you. You came to K&C; I was one of the people that did an interview with you. I remember I think during the interview you mentioned "I love Shakespeare." I was like: Yeah, I like this person.
Coral Graszer: I'm sitting sitting next to volumes of Shakespeare here. So, yep.
David Erickson: So yeah, we hired you at Karwoski & Courage, K&C. And tell us about what your experience there was, what you did. You got the...started doing the agency work.
Coral Graszer: Yeah, yeah; it was great. It was kind of everything I hoped for, to be honest. It was great in that I loved that K&C was part of a larger advertising agency. But we were a smaller group, more specialized and focused on the PR side of things.
But we weren't really specialists. I mean, we were generalists. We did a lot of different things for clients, right? We worked on traditional public relations but there were definitely clients who wanted help with social media strategy, or with branding, or with event planning. And with advertising, even trafficking and help like that. So it was it was great in that I felt like I got to learn a ton of different disciplines.
There was a larger agency kind of at the ready to be able to help. But we ourselves were a little bit smaller. Lots of collaboration, everybody's super nimble, and just in there to get the job done and do a good job for the for the client. And I don't know, I kind of felt like a good team. There was nobody who was like too big for a job; everybody really just wanted to help out and get in there.
And I thought that client mix is really cool, too. You know, there are some agencies, especially in the cities that are so focused on, you know, the ag industry; given where we're talking about, in Minnesota. But I liked how, you know, K&C had some ag clients, but we had the Basilica Block Party and we had Valspar and we had, you know, Patterson Dental. Like all of these kind of different clients in healthcare and there were some beauty.
I thought that was really interesting too, to be able to not be--as you are when you go corporate--you know, pigeonholed into one brand or one specific industry. I really liked the idea of kind of exploring and learning a lot of different industries as well as marketing disciplines.
David Erickson: Yeah, that is one thing that I really do like about and why I probably will always be an agency guy, rather than going to a corporation, is the variety over time as you get that experience working in different industries and with different clients and different sectors, allows you to connect dots that you don't wouldn't normally connect, because you have such a variety of experiences. So you might come up with a unique idea simply because, ah, this worked here could probably work here in this different industry. But, yeah.
Coral Graszer: Totally. Yeah. I thought that was an added bonus that, you're right, you missed if you're not living that and having to think that way across different industries.
Fiskars Group, Round II
David Erickson: Yeah. So you left K&C. You went back to Fiskars. So tell us about what you do now, what your role is, and what it involves.
Coral Graszer: Sure. So, I left K&C and came back. Fiskars was the only place that I looked and thankfully, they had a job open.
Coral Graszer: I actually joined their brand team, which wasn't there the first time around. It was a newer addition. And I was really interested in that. I always had a soft spot for PR and, spoiler, that's where I'm at now but I wanted to try my hand at more true kind of branding and really answer those questions: Who are we to a consumer? What can we be? What's our voice? Those types of things. And I loved being on the brand team. We were, again, super small. But, I think, really creative and worked cross-functionally globally with a couple different people.
Public Relations Team
Coral Graszer: But when there was a job opening on the PR team after a few years, I wanted to go back to that. So that's where I'm at currently. And my main areas of focus are traditional public relations, working with editors and journalists.
Coral Graszer: And then I'm also responsible for our North American influencer program. So we do a lot of influencer marketing and content campaigns with different partners who have, you know, sizable or niche followings on social media or they get book deals or they're on HBO shows or whatever it might be. So it's really fun to be able to kind of work, again, that kind of different creative angle and working with some of these really true artists in figuring out, okay, how can we blend what you're doing to help tell a brand story or to promote a product that feels authentic to you and to your followers? It's really a fun place to be, I think, right now. So those are the those are the two main areas that I'm focused on.
David Erickson: Okay, let's start with start with the branding. So I used to think branding wasn't as big of a deal as a lot of people did as a digital guy, because I'm just like, I can find the audience we need to find. I don't need a brand to find them. And, you know, if I'm good enough at my targeting and messaging and everything, I can get them to do what we need them to do for the client without having, you know, this branding thing. But given how social media is changing and pulling back a lot of the data that we relied on previously to really hyper-target those audiences we wanted to reach, there's an argument and I'm tending to buy it now, that branding is more important than ever. So what are your thoughts about that?
Coral Graszer: Yeah, I, I totally think branding is super important. I think, you can find...we'll just use Fiskars, for example: you can find 100 pairs of scissors, right? at any local shop. You go online, you can find 1,000 pairs of, you know, more than that. So why does the consumer want to buy mine over yours? Sometimes it's just gonna be price driven. And then maybe you don't need a brand. But a lot of the times I think consumers are looking for something deeper than and or more meaningful.
I mean, people now are looking much more intensely on companies and what are their sustainability practices? How and where are their products being made? And what are the types of social issues that companies stand for? I mean, there's a lot that goes into figuring out, who am I as a brand? What do I want to give to my consumers that goes beyond a quality product? Right? What will they expect from me? What can I give to them?
And so I think everything about you as a brand; the way in which you speak to them, how you're identifying who your target audience is, what your packaging looks like, if you're using packaging, I mean, all of that, I think is is so important. And again, it's maybe because I just love storytelling, but I always look at that, as you know, what makes me better than the competition? A lot of that is going to come into how I present myself, what I have to say about myself; thinking, you know, as a brand.
So I think it's super important. And when there's a million different choices, I think you've got to look at all these different things that can kind of set you above the the competition and branding is one aspect that can definitely go into that.
Archetypes & Branding
David Erickson: Yeah. I've been for the past year and a half, two years, been studying a lot on archetypes. So, you know from storytelling, from the beginning of history, when we started as human beings started telling stories, that one thing that remains consistent is that there are archetypes in stories. And using using that as a shorthand for identifying a brand in alignment with the audience that you want to reach. Think of Harley Davidson. Harley Davidson is an Outlaw archetype, right? So how do you...is that something that you take into consideration at Fiskars when you're when you're thinking about brand and brand positioning?
Coral Graszer: Yeah, I think so. And again, one of the things that I think works well for us is, we are a heritage brand, right? We have a legacy behind us that not many other companies in any industry can really say. The fact that we are over 370 years old, that we're based out of a Finnish village that we still own today, which is just entirely occupied by artisans; there's just such a story to be told that really sets us apart.
And when you're always looking for those types of roles that you can play for a consumer, I think there's one that Fiskars so naturally can fall into. Because we're--part of it is how you want to describe yourself and the voice that you use and all that, but two, I think it's also where you come from and the true authentic part of you. I'm just very lucky that Fiskars has such a great story and heritage that we can use. And it's not all just marketing fluff, you know?
David Erickson: Yeah. So I've been been following your career; as a former colleague, I'm interested in your success and delighted to see it, and follow you on LinkedIn and noticed you started posting about a clothing line. Which seemed really--I mean for me, not knowing a lot about Fiskars--it seemed like not intuitive. So tell me about about the Fiskars clothing line.
Coral Graszer: Yeah, yeah, that was a super fun project. So we started thinking about this back in, let's see, for sure 2019, may have been 2018. We always want to think about how we can push the boundary but kind of stay within our lane. And we want to constantly surprise consumers. But always make sure that whatever we're offering stands up to who Fiskars is and the quality of the products and what we stand for, and all of that.
And so we thought, all right, we really want to continue to offer newness. We want to continue to grow and expand. And so we thought of kind of an adjacent category would be garden wear. And I had so much fun really trying to figure out the best way to do this and how we approach it.
Coral Graszer: And so we worked with a really up-and-coming Finnish designer; her name is Maria Korkeila. And she focuses mainly on streetwear but she's also a gardening enthusiast and is very interested in house plants. And so she was really a natural fit. And the collaboration process was super fun to be able to bring in her design eye, as well as the Fiskars quality and aesthetic and what we're known for behind our whole design DNA process for any kind of product that we put out, and marry those together.
Test & Learn
Coral Graszer: And really use it as a test-and-learn of is this a space that we can play in for consumers? Because yes, it's a way to gain new consumers. It's not something that we've offered before. And there's always an element of that, that we want to see. Alright, can we get some new people in? But we also want to make sure that we're serving our existing consumer base and that they don't look at it and say: "You can't play here, I don't get it. It's not going to work. I don't buy into it." So we really wanted to see if it was something that would be well received. And is this an area that we could kind of shift to.
Earned Media Success
Coral Graszer: And from a PR perspective, it's been super successful. I mean, everybody that we worked with was really impressed with the line. And we got coverage in places like Vogue; like who would think that Fiskars would get coverage in Vogue or Hypebeast, right? Like some of these really cool, very high-fashion, fashion-forward outlets. But the fact that they were interested in talking to their consumers about us, at the same time that we would work with some of our existing partners in the garden space and seeing that it was well-received with them as well and saying: "Hey, you know what? These do actually function like...these do actually do what they need to do in the garden." It's not just some marketing ploy that's not going to hold up to it at the end.
Coral Graszer: It was a really fun kind of test-and-learn of a new product. And it's something that we want to aim to do every two to three years, is to try a new, big, bold, adjacent category or launch that says like, Okay, can we play over here? Is this something else that we can introduce? Can we start to be known in this space a little bit more that may not be exactly on the top of your head to say "Fiskars and clothing? Okay, I'm not sure." But when you hear a little bit about it, you say, "Alright, I might be able to buy that." Like Finnish designer streetwear but made to work in the garden and holds up to the same kind of design DNA. That's really the goal for it. So it was a super fun project to work on. And I hope we keep doing tons of things like that. It's always fun when you get to refresh that. I mean, I can talk about scissors all day. It's great when when there's something new.
David Erickson: That's cool. So was the garden clothing line, was that a direct result of the pandemic? I mean, back early in the pandemic, there was the trend of Victory Gardens returning.
Coral Graszer: it was prior to that, actually. So we were supposed to launch in 2020. We had our big media event at the Pitti Uomo, which is a men's fashion show that happens every year in Florence. We did that in January of 2020. And that was supposed to be our...okay, launch to everybody, and then we would release to consumers in April.
And we ended up having to delay a year because of supply chains, because of everything. And just saying, I'm not sure that this is everything that we want to do. So it was a happy coincidence and that we had launched it to media and so we were still telling stories about it. But the actual launch of the line didn't happen until twenty-one, that would have been January of this year. So we were a little delayed.
David Erickson: So let's talk about influencers. What kind of influencers...do you work with one kind influencer? Do you work with different types of--I imagine different types of influencer depending on the brand? What do you look for in an influencer? How do you work with them?
Coral Graszer: Yeah. So we we definitely try and work with a few different kinds of influencers. We'll work with definitely some niche influencers, some micro influencers. We don't really play in the celebrity game. I'm happy to send tools to Oprah if she'll ever respond to my DM. But we're not really in that space. But we'll work with some kind of mid-tier influencers.
Coral Graszer: And really, the thing that we're always looking for is true, authentic users of our tools, no matter what the category is. So if we're talking about kind of our creating enthusiast, they could be sewists. They could be home DIYers. They could be home renovators who use some of our tools. It could be paper flower artists. It kind of really spans the gamut.
And some of those topics even are a bit more niche, right? A paper flower artists doesn't usually have as many followers as some of the HGTV individuals that we might work with who are doing home rennos.
Same on the garden side of things. We will work with floral designers. We will work with true backyard raised-bed gardeners. But we'll work with house plant parents who have got, you know, 200 house plants in their Brooklyn apartments. And we'll work with anything really adjacent with the gardening category.
Coral Graszer: There's a super fun partnership that I always love to work on every year. Her name is Loria Stern. And she grows her own edible flowers as well as herbs and some vegetables. But her main thing is using those in baking or in cocktails or in cooking. And so her content is so visually appealing to be putting dried marigolds all over a beautiful tiered wedding cake. Like it's so much fun to be able to work with her and see some of the content that she comes up with. But it works because she's an actual user of our tools and she loves to use them to either plant in the spring or to harvest or even in the kitchen to use some of our knives to chop.
True Brand Advocates
Coral Graszer: So really what we're looking for is to make sure that the influencers are true brand advocates and they actually want to use our tools. And the vast majority of them are using our tools before we approach them, which I love because it just makes it so much easier. I think consumers today are way too smart. And they know when somebody is doing it just because they're getting a paycheck, you know? So we really want to avoid that kind of, I'm here with my favorite Fiskars tool. We really want it to be more of what's the type of content that they're already providing to their fans and followers? And how, if at all, can we seamlessly integrate our product into that because they're already using us or they want to use us in the first place.
Approach To Working With Influencers
David Erickson: Is there a difference in the way that you work with influencers based on the type of content that they produce? So, for example, visual people are primarily for photographic or visual, video, podcast, bloggers, just somebody who's got a following on social but doesn't really produce one type of content or another? Is there a different way of approaching and working with them?
Coral Graszer: I don't think so. To be quite honest, I always try to approach everyone no matter what their medium is, in the same way. Which is, how can we help you communicate to your audience in a way that feels natural and authentic? So we definitely work with certain podcasters. And then we'll work with someone who's going to do a video for us. Or we'll work with people who are more kind of merchandisers.
Coral Graszer: And another great one--I love working with her--she goes by @wifeNYC on Instagram; her name is Sophie Parker. And she's a true artist. Like she's got a Brooklyn-based art studio and she does installations. And she has her own shows. And to be able to work with her and see the kind of unbelievable art installations that she's doing with our tools. It's beautiful. And it's amazing to see.
Brand In The Background
Coral Graszer: And it's also really interesting to me, because it's like, well, I gave a pretty similar brief to someone else. And they came up with something totally different or they used it in a different way. So I always really want to have their authentic selves, their creativity shine. I really try and keep the brand out of it as much as we can, if that makes sense. I mean, it's got to at the end work for us in some capacity but we really want it to be seamless and authentic. We found that works much, much better for us. And really, their fans and followers seem to ask more questions about us when we are kind of more in the background and playing that supporting role, you know?
What Makes An Influencer Campaign Successful?
David Erickson: So that's fascinating. How do you determine whether a campaign with an influencer is successful? Is it content? Is it analytics? Is it who reached? You know, all that stuff. How do you determine what's successful?
Coral Graszer: Yeah, that's probably where it varies most from person to person. Because I don't think there's a one size fits all approach when we're working with so many different types of people in different mediums doing different things. So I would say first and foremost, it's the content, does the content aesthetically look pleasing?
Coral Graszer: And then we look at engagement rate, when applicable. So again, no matter what the out outlet is, if it's how many people are listening to the podcast or how many likes and comments you're getting on a post or views on a video, we are looking at the engagement rates to make sure that it's content that's resonating with the fan base. But I'm not sitting over here and saying you have to get X number of likes on a post or I'm not going to work with you.
Coral Graszer: Or you know, we have benchmarks that we like to keep internally but I really am always looking at does it seem to ring true to your fans and followers? That, at the end of the day, is really what we're trying to have happen. And we want...I'll look at their--again, with Instagram, for example--look at their feed and say is the content that they're producing for us seem to fit in with what else they're doing? Because that's also important for us. We don't want it to seem like everything else they're doing is them and then they've got a weird ad on their page. So that I think is where I have fun looking at those types of things.
Influencers' Extended Reach
Coral Graszer: It can definitely be the most challenging for some of my non-PR or marketing colleagues to understand how do you measure this, right? Because if it is subjective and trying to figure out what's best here and how is it working? But we look at things too, like, are they getting book deals? Are these people getting their own press? Are they getting interviewed in the L.A. Times because they're an up-and-coming designer? Are they showing up on some of these Netflix competition shows?
We're looking at those types of things too to say, hey, this person may only have 50,000 followers right now. But they just participated in two interviews for Conde Nast. This is someone that we need to be working with because it's going to be helping us in six months or a year as they continue to grow. So it's that kind of investigative questions too that we're trying to figure out who is kind of up-and-coming and trending. And you know, what's working?
Investing In Influencers
David Erickson: It sounds too like you're looking at the potential, the future--well, you just said that--you're looking at future potential but also with an eye towards investing in their success?
Coral Graszer: Totally. I think you're totally right about that. Because from a strictly financial perspective, it makes more sense for us to do that. If we try and go with Joanna Gaines right now; we can't afford her. That's not the wheelhouse that we play in. If we try and find next Joanna Gaines and we're trying to work with them now, that's definitely something that we can afford. And then we hope that we continue with some of those those relationships and that growth that will serve us well.
Coral Graszer: We've got a great partner ours--he goes by @farmernick on Instagram--and he's someone that we started working with when he had maybe 40,000 followers and tripled or quadrupled that at this point in less than a year. And I know he's got some other stuff coming on that will likely continue to grow that. So that's a great example of someone who we wanted to kind of get early on with and make sure that it was someone that we could work with. And want to maintain that relationship because we hope that it's always symbiotic, you know,
Benefits Of A Global Team
David Erickson: What else? What is the most fascinating thing that you do?
Coral Graszer: Most fascinating thing. I really love that I get to work on a truly global team. I'm the only North American on my PR team. I've got colleagues in Finland and in Denmark and Germany. And it's really fun for me to be able to have our bi-weekly meetings and hear what everybody else is doing and the trends that they're seeing in their markets or the things that are working in their markets. And sometimes it's exactly the same and it's great for us to know that, cool, what I'm doing here is working over there. But to hear some of the things that work in different markets, it can just be really eye-opening to say I would have never thought of that. And to have people who I can kind of learn from across the globe. I find really enriching and beneficial to be able to have true collaboration of people from from all over I think is is really great and an aspect of my of my current role that I really love.
International Reach Of US Efforts?
David Erickson: How much of...I don't know how to ask this question. I don't necessarily know what I'm asking, I guess, but I'm gonna try. Given given what you just said--how much of your work...it's centered on North America.
Coral Graszer: Yeah.
David Erickson: But how much of it? Whatever you do in North America plays elsewhere? And how does that..how does that work?
Coral Graszer: I know what you're getting at. I don't know if I can put like a 50% of what I do translates over. I don't know if I've thought about it that way. But I would say we're always sharing with each other. And there are definitely aspects that I have taken from my colleagues, from something that they've done in Germany, that's worked well, and I will implement it in the US to also see success. And so can certainly share that vice versa.
I think again, one of the areas that will be interesting for us to try and continue to get closer on or see if there's anything symbiotic again, is influencers. How many partners of mine in the US actually have big following in another country and maybe we can be better leveraging that partnership further, if that makes sense? So those are types of things that we don't have figured out but are definitely thinking through.
And yeah, it's a little bit of trial and error and saying like this worked really well here and how can we try it? What would need to be changed if we wanted to do it in the US? Usually things cost a bit more here than they do in some of our other markets. And so how do we right size? How do we take that? Those are always things that we're trying to figure out and our hope and our goal is to continue to get better at that, to best leverage the work that we're doing in other countries. It's just like what we're trying to do with our product assortment, how do we best leverage our product assortment across the world and make sure that we're offering the best for every consumer, no matter where they are or what their needs might be? So always trying to figure that out.
David Erickson: At the end of the day, what we do as public relations professionals amounts to reputation. We're either building a reputation, we're maintaining a reputation, or we're trying to fix a reputation in service in service of revenue. So how do you think of that? How do you measure reputation? I don't necessarily mean literally measure it. But if you have thoughts on that, that's great. But you know, how do you approach that question?
Coral Graszer: Yeah, I think from my perspective, my kind of best touch point is, who are the people that want to work with us? Who are the editors that want to write about us? What are the books that want to print us? For me, that's important. We're always trying to kind of push it. You know, to go more premium and go more...I say niche but I don't mean that we want to isolate our consumer base. I just mean in that if you think about it today, there are so many different areas that Fiskars can play in. And we want to talk to all these consumers.
If you think of our categories, they're very broad. If you think of the creating category or the gardening category; like I said, for gardening, that can mean house plants, it can mean floral designers, it can mean floral artistry, people who forage and press flowers and then they turn that into art. It can go so many different ways.
And so I measure it by are we working with the right people? And do they want to work with us? And are they getting feedback from, you know, if I've got a list of partners that I want to work with only really hope this person says that they want to work with us? Am I going to get a yes on that? Am I going to get someone who is interested? Or are they working with a competitor of ours? Have they signed on? Do they not care for Fiskaras for a certain reason? So that's kind of a way that I gauge it because those are the partners that I'm closest with.
Consumer Insights Team
Coral Graszer: We do have a whole consumer insights team and a brand team. We're doing tons of measuring of those types of reputation builders, and what's our Net Promoter Score? And all of those those types of things that I'm a little less connected on. But from my perspective, it's more who are those partners that say yes to wanting to collaborate and create content? Or to do an event or whatever it might be?
What Do PR Agency Pros Need To Know About Working With Brands?
David Erickson: Sure. What do agency PR pros need to know about working with a brand like Fiskars?
Coral Graszer: Good question. I think the thing that I always look for with our agency is, do they know the brand as well as I do? And that can be hard when you work at an agency because you got to know a ton of different brands, right? But that's what's most important to me. Do they truly feel like members of my PR team? Or are they someone that I'm just like, paying to help, you know? I think that's what really can set apart the great agency partners that I've had from the fine people, right?
That's what I'm looking for are people actually spending time learning about not just the new products that we're launching this year, but about the partners that we want to work with? The brand legacy and the voice that we carry. Do they understand the types of journalists that we want to be working with? Like, are they--do they really get it? And do they feel like true team members, rather than just someone that I've hired to help me pitch? You know?
David Erickson: Oh, yeah, sure.
Coral Graszer: And it takes a lot of work, as I know, from the agency side; it's not easy to do. But I mean, that's the best piece of advice that I can tell what separates the great people that I want to keep working with from others.
What Do Brands Need To Know About Working With PR Agencies?
David Erickson: So both sides...I want to ask that question--you've had experience from both sides. So flip it around and say what do brands need to know about working with an agency?
Coral Graszer: Oh, gosh, I think brands need to know that...you got to move faster. That's always my biggest thing, and it's hard because there's a lot more red tape when you're on the corporate side of things.
But I think the more information you can give your agency partner, the faster you can do something. The more you can just say like, yeah, let's try it. I think that works better. You know, because at least at Fiskars, we really do want to try and move faster and test and learn.
And the way that you do that usually is by working with people who can move faster than you; that's an agency. People who know more than you in different areas, are willing to take risks for you. And so I think allowing an agency to kind of try more, can really end up benefiting you more in the end. Because there's so much red tape and so many people that have to sign off when you're at the corporate world that if you can just work with an agency and try and move things faster, you're going to learn more than if you're constantly just: uh, can't do it, you know?
David Erickson: Yeah, yeah, that's an excellent point. I tell young people coming into the agency world: "Welcome to the agency world, 90% of your best ideas will never get implemented."
Coral Graszer: Exactly. And it's so sad. I would love to try and turn that around and just be able to say, if you can frame things more internally as like, hey, it's a small investment, it's a trial, we're gonna report back in three months and see. If we could just do that more and learn, I think it would be so much more beneficial. And, again, you just can move faster, you learn more, you can do more.
David Erickson: I think also being willing to do that as a brand, being willing to take your agency's advice and and implement their ideas. I mean, I find myself for the clients who are willing to do that I think more about them. I have more ideas for them because I know there's a chance that I'm going to be able to do something.
Coral Graszer: Exactly. Yeah, more freedom. It makes you want to work harder to get those ideas actually done. Yeah, for sure.
Pro Tip For People Starting Out In Public Relations
David Erickson: So lastly, let's wrap this up. But I want to ask you for two Pro Tips. For people entering the PR world, maybe they're in an internship or they're thinking about going into PR from college or their first PR gig, what is the pro tip you would give them based on your long and storied and successful career?
Coral Graszer: I would say that the biggest thing is just try everything that you can, right? I had an inkling from the beginning that I wanted to go into PR and that's where I am now. But I'm so glad that I tried so many other things along the way. And I tried to learn and immerse myself more in a kind of digital world. And I did ad trafficking and worked with SEO agencies and I did event planning and trade shows. And I just think saying yes to just trying it will really help you find things that you want to do.
And sometimes, more importantly, the things you don't want to do. You know, you have to just try it and actually learn it. Because I thought at one point all I want to do is social media, like that's it. I love it. It's so fun. And after doing it for six months, it became a little less important to me and I found certain things that I gravitated towards more, right? But if I didn't try and test and learn some of those things, especially in an agency setting, it could have sent me down a not super-fun path. So I just think try it all out and then you'll learn about what works best for you and and what doesn't.
Pro Tip For Brand Side PR Professionals
David Erickson: Great, good tip. And then for people--your peers, somebody that is at your level of experience and brand side professionals--what is a pro tip for them?
Coral Graszer: Oh, I think I would say...it's a little bit similar but try not to become pigeon-holed in where you're at. And it's kind of like what we were talking about. When you're at an agency and you're working across different industries, you're inherently thinking in a different way or leveraging different ideas that if you were just stuck in one aspect, you may not get to. So I think I would say, not all the time, but sometimes try and throw the rulebook out and really do those big, crazy ideas. And if you have to scale them down for budget reasons, do that practically, but really try and do things that are a little bit out of your comfort zone.
And maybe that's out of the office, right? Maybe that's trying a new hobby that opens you up to something or doing continuous professional development and more learning, but really trying to just get out of your own way sometimes and saying, well, this is the way that it's always been, this is why I have to do it. I've been doing this for ten years, this is what's working. Just try different creative things to see; maybe you spark a new passion, maybe you find a new way to do something that's easier or more efficient or produces more revenue or whatever it is. So just try and be a little bit outside of the box, I think.
How To Contact Coral
David Erickson: Great. Well, thank you Coral. This has been a delight chatting with you. Thank you for taking the time out. And for people who want might want to contact you listening to the podcast, how do people get ahold of you?
Coral Graszer: Oh, sure. I'm on LinkedIn, like you said: just Coral Graszer. I'm on Instagram. I don't even know what my handle is. Maybe it's just @coral.graszer? Maybe it's coralCG...I don't know.
David Erickson: We will put links in the show notes so people can find you on the BeyondSocialMediaShow.com page. And again, thanks a lot for taking time.
Coral Graszer: Thank you, David. It was great to chat.