What does does Fleishman Hillard do?
Fleishman-Hillard is a global communications and public relations firm. Our FH Digital practice group helps our clients stay on top of the latest trends in digital communications. We have a large team of web designers, developers, project managers, SEO specialists, and social media experts. Among many other things, we do a lot of work with content management systems and blogs, which has obviously led us in the direction of Drupal.
How did you decide to get involved in Drupal development?
Historically we were a Microsoft .NET shop up until about a year ago, with just a few LAMP projects here and there, particularly with blogs. There just isn’t a good blogging platform on .NET. So that’s how we started building up our experience with Drupal, along with Movable Type and Wordpress. Early in 2008, we realized that Drupal was mature enough for us to use as an effective CMS for some of our bigger client projects. We started working more closely with the Drupal community here in D.C. and launched our first major Drupal site last summer. We still do plenty of work in .NET and with other CMS platforms, but we’re doing more and more with Drupal every day.
PR has certainly changed a lot in the last 10 years because of online technology. What should companies be thinking about these days when it comes to bridging their PR work and their online infrastructure?
For starters, companies need to realize that their online infrastructure is inherently part of their PR. There is no separation between “traditional” PR and digital PR. The online and offline must be complementary in order to successful. Successful online PR requires proactive outreach — taking your message to the places your audience is spending time online. Depending on your audience, this might be search engines or social networks or a tiny niche online community. Whatever you do, don’t build your Website in a silo.
You also have to engage with the people online who are already talking about the issues you care about. Everyone has a voice on the Web now, so companies can no longer speak from a pulpit. Listen to your audience and the other voices in your industry or field, and embrace the open culture of social media. This might mean building social components into your own site, or participating through existing communities or tools. Participation is only way to influence the online conversation, which is going to carry on whether you like it or not.
Since you’re local to D.C., do you have any advice or recommendations for Drupalers from out of town?
Read the parking signs at least 3 times, or you will definitely get a ticket! Otherwise, DC is an exciting town with lots of fantastic restaurants, bars, clubs, and obviously museums. Downtown has a lot to offer, but don’t leave town without venturing away from the Convention Center area to check out one of the great neighborhoods like Adams Morgan, U Street, Georgetown, Capitol Hill, Clarendon, or Old Town Alexandria.
What are you most looking forward to at DrupalCon DC?
I’m eager to meet more people in the global Drupal community and to hear from other developers who share the same challenges we face on our projects. Also there are lots of SaaS providers integrating with Drupal these days, so I’m hoping to find some new partnerships and services we can offer to our clients through Drupal.