Public Relations Pro, Blogger (and yes) Stand Up Comedian Andrea Cordts Takes Center Stage

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

One great satisfaction of working in public relations for a few decades is observing the ascent of younger professionals, those aspiring communicators dedicated to growing, learning and moving the industry and practice forward.

Andrea Cordts

Public relations pro and rising stand up comedy star Andrea Cordts.

Andrea Cordts certainly meets this criteria. We met through the PRSA Chicago Board of Directors, where we both served as volunteer leaders.  At the time, she worked in the communications department at Baird & Warner, a Chicago real estate firm with a 160-year history.  Always bright and energetic, Andrea demonstrated poise and professionalism at chapter meetings and events.

Not surprisingly, she’s moved on to a new company and new challenges.

Andrea now holds the position of Account Director with Fetch Public Relations, LLC, a seven-year-old Chicago communications company.  According to the agency’s website, Fetch is “a full service public relations firm specializing in publicity, content marketing, social media and branding.”

In the latest PRDude Q&A feature profile, Andrea shares thoughts on her new company, her successful blog and “show business” career.

  1. The big first question: You left the corporate world for the agency world. Congratulations! What prompted the move to Fetch Public Relations, LLC?

Thank you! I didn’t really look at it as a corporate-to-agency move, so much as an opportunity to become more involved in the overall strategy and development of public relations plans. I was also eager to gain more experience in mentoring junior staff and making a real impact in the day-to-day running of a company, both of which are a part of my new position.

  1. A review of the agency’s website reveals you’re representing hospitality, as well as some real estate accounts. How did your work at Baird and Warner prepare you for these new client challenges?

Real estate is all about customer service and experience, which translates very well to hospitality. This, paired with my early career experiences in the hospitality industry, made for a pretty seamless transition.

  1. We met a few years ago when we both were on the Board at PRSA Chicago. How have you grown as a public relations professional during that time? 

    Andrea left corporate PR to join this young PR agency.

    Andrea left corporate PR to join this progressive Chicago PR agency.

Being on the Board at PRSA Chicago was such an incredible learning experience, especially at that stage of my career. I learned a great deal about accountability and how to work with professionals at all levels in a learning, collaborative environment.

  1. My sources tell me – okay, you told me – that you’re a fellow blogger. What’s the status of the Chicago Quirk blog?

Ha ha, bloggers gotta stick together! However, I have moved on from Chicago Quirk. It’s still live, and since I utilized SEO tactics when writing my blogs, it still gets nearly 200 hits a day! My life changed immensely since I started it — job changes, had a kid, bought a house — and since it’s a Chicago Now blog, I wasn’t able to really re-brand. I’m actually working on another blog project that I hope to launch soon though. Stay tuned!

  1. My sources also told me – full disclosure: You told me – that you once had a career in the medieval-themed entertainment industry. And, your LinkedIn profile states you were a professional dancer and still do standup comedy. Do you incorporate these talents into your client work at Fetch?

I’m not sure my days as a wench at Medieval Times helps my current career, aside from the fact that I have unique stories to tell at cocktail parties! (Especially since my husband worked their too!) Yes, I was in a professional dance company until my late 20’s, and I did standup for several years until my daughter was born. Again, good stories to tell at parties, but it gave me invaluable presentation skills and the ability to think on my feet — no pun intended.

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This space has profiled other outstanding women in public relations.  Visit the links below to read Q&A profiles from:

  • Gini Dietrich, founder and president of Arment Dietrich and the amazingly popular Spin Sucks blog.
  • Chris Ruys, founder and president of Chris Ruys Communications, a long-standing, diversified Chicago firm.
  • Carolyn Grisko, founder and president of Grisko, a leader in transportation and public affairs communications.

Five Reasons Why I Transitioned From Public Relations: Q& A With R.J. Sirois

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Once a public relations professional, always a public relations professional?

Not always.

Here’s what I envision will be the first of a series of Q and A posts on friends and colleagues who have moved on from public relations to other industries.

R.J. Sirois, Broker.

R.J. Sirois, Broker.

Today let me introduce you to R.J. Sirois, now a real estate broker here in Chicago with Baird & Warner.   For more than two decades prior, Mr. Sirois held public relations positions that spanned the cycle of agency, corporate and association.

And, let’s get the “full-disclosure” statement out of the way:  Mr. Sirois and I worked together on two occasions, at the now-gone Dragonette, Inc., a boutique firm that represented many real estate concerns, and at CCIM Institute, a commercial real estate association.  We remain friends today.

Here’s R.J.’s written replies to my five questions.

1.  The first, biggest and most obvious question: Why, after nearly three decades in publishing and public relations, did you decide to shift careers and go into real estate brokerage?

The time was right.  In Chicago, the median price of a single-family home has increased 25% since 2012 , while condominiums are up 14%.  Average market time, or days on the market, is down 30% to only 48 days. And interest rates remain healthy in the mid-4% range.  I’ve essentially transitioned from institutional marketing communications in the real estate industry to property marketing and sales.  It’s a natural transition.

2. Transferring skills from one arena to the next is vital to success.  What communication skills and strategies will help you in your career representing buyers and sellers of residential properties?

Residential real estate brokers are independent contractors and thus personal branding is important.  I spent years building brands for others, so I understand the process.  Your reputation in the marketplace, name recognition, longevity in the industry, the quality of your product and service, the companies you choose to affiliate with and, of course, client satisfaction all play a role in building your brand.  It’s very visceral.  And affiliating with a venerable Chicago real estate company certainly helps.

3.  There are similarities in real estate sales and public relations.  Aren’t there?  Please confirm, elaborate and expound.B&W Logo 3c

Public relations is not a sales function as many believe.  It’s purely a management function.  However, real estate sales is similar to PR in that market research and analysis is critical in a transaction, from property valuation and setting competitive price points to managing the myriad levels of the sale through to closing.  A good broker will then evaluate the deal and often use that intelligence in the next transaction.

4. You work for a legendary, well-respected real estate company that’s been around for 156 years.  Do the Baird & Warner PR staff ever reach out to you for advice or direction, given your experience in the industry?

The Baird & Warner corporate communications staff certainly understands that public relations plays a central role in the marketing function.  It also understands that while yesterday’s marketing was solely the role of the marketing department, marketing today is the responsibility of everyone, from the CEO to the managing brokers and agents.  Everyone is involved in building the Baird & Warner brand and its reputation management.

5. Do you miss public relations?  The planning, the execution of strategic communications, providing counsel?

At times, yes.  It’s something I did for many years.  But there truly are many parallels.

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Do you know of a PR professional who moved on to another career?  How about yourself?