As the founder, president, and CEO of 5WPR (one of the country’s largest independently-owned public relations firms), Ronn Torossian has positioned such notable brands as L’Oréal, Walgreens, and JetSmarter as integral components of not only popular consumer culture, but countless individuals’ everyday lives. As someone who has proven his versatility and expertise in entrepreneurship, marketing, and PR, we spoke with Torossian about his accomplishments, lifestyle, and advice for future moguls like himself.
What tends to be the biggest mistake a company makes in regard to its image and marketing? How do you solve that?
The biggest mistake a company can make is to try to be something it’s not. Deviating from your roots sends mixed messages to your audience. When your image—your language, look, and actions—becomes out of sync with consumers’ expectations, your brand integrity is shaken and the customers’ trust is broken. A company should recognize its limitations and maintain its identity and authenticity. It’s possible to innovate and grow a business while remaining connected to an audience on a personal level. Know your strengths and your core customer—and also know your limits.
How do you think social media platforms should be used to successfully leave an impression on consumers?
The challenge of social media is cutting through distractions. How can you make someone stop scrolling and actually interact with you? The key is to make meaningful connections with target consumers. Share relevant and helpful information. Go beyond sales and promotions: Let consumers know where they can buy your products. A business can allow its individual locations to create pages to keep local consumers updated on events and special offers. Also, ask questions and provide a forum for fans to talk about their shared interests. Ongoing conversations are key because social media is most exciting when it’s participatory. In an era where even the President of the United States communicates directly through social media, so too must every company use it to send its own message directly to the public.
How do you juggle all your responsibilities while respecting family and personal life?
This is a very difficult question to answer. The balance is an ever-changing dynamic. There’s no on/off switch these days; work and personal time seem to meld together in many ways, for better or worse. My daughters are my priority, then comes my business. Vacation and “off” time matters. So does knowing that just because something is important to someone else, doesn’t mean it always has to be important to you. You have to know what you care about. I care about spending time with my kids, giving back to my community, and doing great work. That said, I am constantly multi-tasking. I’ll be watching my kids in the park while texting and talking on the phone. There’s no easy answer. Success in any area of life comes at a price.
What has been your biggest accomplishment?
My kids. And again, my kids. Aside from them, I’m proud of having built a major independently-owned public relations agency. We have 150 employees, and I still feel like every day is my first. [In a way], we’re just starting [because] my agency is agile and able to move quickly. I take great pride in the work we have done for so many amazing companies since 5WPR was founded in 2003.
Life can’t be all work and no play—what activities do you indulge in during your free time?
I enjoy running and biking. I’m addicted to chess. I must read every single day. And I love art—collecting it, going to exhibits, and discovering new artists. Travel is fun, whether domestic or international. And I live in the greatest city in the world. There’s always something to do in New York.