Leadership

Liza Anderson PR Powerhouse: Moving The Needle

Sometimes the less people say, the more we learn about them. Liza Anderson, founder of Los Angeles-based Anderson Group Public Relations is one of those people. Her business demands that she is fiercely loyal to her clients, so whether it’s a straight-forward question or a light-hearted attempt to peek into that world, she doesn’t budge. She divulges nothing. It’s in the vault (think “Seinfeld”).

So, what did Anderson reveal during a recent interview for “Advisors Magazine? For one, she has a great laugh and it played throughout our conversation. We learned some other things, too. For instance, Anderson embraces not only her clients, but her employees – and dogs.

lizaeva“I have a really great team, I’m very lucky. I’m surrounded by great people. I hire younger, smarter, and prettier – that’s the key to my success,” Anderson said, as the laugh makes it first appearance.

With over 25 employees at the firm’s West Coast office, plus interns from local schools and seven dogs (one of them hers), it’s a full house.

“It’s a busy beehive. Every time I walk in the office, there’s a lot going on – the dogs running around, the phones are ringing, it’s bustling at all times,” said Anderson. “And we have a partnership on the East Coast, so we have a bi-coastal presence.”

Corporate Execs are People Too
The Anderson Group covers a range of representation from entertainers to CEOs to entrepreneurs. While the core of the firm’s client base is “Hollywood-centric” representing film and TV actors, they also represent influencers – people in the social media space, athletes, authors, and people in the beauty and fashion industry.

Asked about the top concerns of corporate clients and entrepreneurs, Anderson says that often their goals are not that different than those in the entertainment industry.

“Like with any client, they want to shine from their competition as far as their image and their public persona is concerned – they want to be the best that they can be. They want to create a buzz out in the world in any way that they can do that as far as PR [public relations] is concerned,” she said. “When somebody googles their name, or when someone picks up a magazine, or turns on their computer, TV, tablet or phone, they want themselves, their brand, and products to shine in the best way they can.”

liza250x400Anderson also explained that many execs are seeking a spotlight that shines beyond corporate America and into mainstream media as well.

“They want to be on “Good Morning America,” or in the “Los Angeles Times,” or the “New York Times” the same way an actor does. We have those connections that they seek in a business environment too. We can pick up the phone and call somebody at “Ellen” and Jimmy Fallon [“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”] the same way we can call somebody at the “Wall Street Journal” or MSNBC. The goal is to make them a more valuable commodity on the marketplace for whatever they do. That’s the same thing we do for actors,” said Anderson. As long as we’re moving the needle for the client – we’re very results oriented.”

And the Beat Goes On
Public relations is a 24/7 job, which is a turn-on for Anderson – it suits her personality. She says she loves the “get it done and get it done now” drumbeat that plays out every day.

“I think that everybody that works here, and in the industry, has to have that personality; you have to thrive under pressure and organize chaos,” she said, adding that every day is different with new people, ideas, new problems, and new solutions. “You have to enjoy that, otherwise you don’t get into this business.”

liza600x300Anderson founded her firm just under a decade ago. Prior to that, she worked for two PR powerhouses who served as her mentors.

As a newbie in the industry, she started at B|W|R Public Relations – a prominent West Coast PR firm – hired as the assistant to the company’s two owners. Then she went on to work for legendary publicist, Warren Cowan, co-founder of Rogers & Cowan, billed at the time as the world’s largest publicity firm, and who Anderson calls “an amazing mentor.”

“Warren was one of the men that started the whole idea of personal publicity for actors. Before Henry Rogers and Warren Cowan came about, the movie studios represented actors,” she said.
Eventually, Cowan was too frail to work any longer, so armed with the combined wisdom of pioneers in the industry – along with a client base of her own – Anderson set out with a couple of assistants to launch Anderson Group Public Relations.

“I knew if I went to work someplace else, I was going to have to abide by somebody else’s rules. I didn’t want to worry about whether I had to wear a blazer because somebody told me to, or not bring my dog to work because someone said I couldn’t, or I didn’t want to fill out a form because I needed extra pens.”

(Laugh break.)

“I just said, ‘How do I pay the rent? And how can I make my clients happy? And how do I work with people that I can work with that I want to be with every day?’ Those are the things I wanted to achieve,” she said. “That, and to create my own happy space.”

What’s Anderson’s idea of a happy space? Dogs in the office. No worries about what to wear to work because jeans and a t-shirt suffice. No shiny, sterile conference rooms. In other words, no corporate vibe.

liza1 100x800And who are the clients in that happy space? Finally, Anderson drops some names – actors Eva Longoria, Terry Crews, and James Brolin; fashion designer Tan France; cruelty-free and toxin-free beauty brand, Winky Lux; and award-winning spirits company, Martin Miller’s Gin to name a few. And Anderson recently signed a major Chinese film company adding to her firm’s international reach, and said that representing corporate clients on a global level is also on the rise.

#OhSh!t
Crisis management has always been a part of the publicity business and “it comes in a lot of sizes, shapes and forms,” says Anderson who has worked with many clients in a crisis situation.

“It can be anything from divorce, a cheating spouse, a DUI – it could be a Tweet gone wrong, it could be any situation a client has gotten themselves into, or a situation that has happened to a client,” she explained. “It can also be a situation that has become public or one that you don’t want to hit the media, so how do you avoid it from becoming public? Every case is different, but you have to be the best advocate for your client and do whatever it takes.”

Anderson artfully declines to offer specifics.

It’s a Wrap
Anderson emphasized again and again throughout our interview that the strategies designed by the Anderson Group are always individualized to the particular client. And from our conversation, we learned that while she is certainly an independent woman, her business thrives on collaboration. And we learned that as media – both traditional and social – becomes more pervasive in our everyday lives, the line between “Hollywood-centric” and corporate PR has blurred.

We also learned that Anderson, just once in a while, would like to escape the sunshine of Los Angeles and relax to the sounds of raindrops tapping on the windows of a country cabin with a cozy fire, a good book, and her dog.

 

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