When the owners of Seasons in Clifton wanted to get the word out that all their employees were vaccinated, they turned to their trusted public relations advisers, Warren H. Cohn of Englewood, and Juda Engelmayer of Teaneck, partners in HeraldPR/Emerald Digital. More than ever, successful public relations campaigns that reinforce a company’s brand or image, are made by professionals who craft a compelling story and get it to the right people.
“It’s about creativity, relationships and well-researched ways to connect to journalists and bloggers,” said Cohn. “PR is not just about getting media. It’s reaching all the stakeholders and the public. And being a friend, treating people like they matter.”
Building trust is a big part of HeraldPR’s success. Cohn gains the trust of clients by getting to know them as well as their business. Reporters trust Cohn and his staff to always be honest and forthright. “We come to them with stories, which helps them out,” said Cohn. “And sometimes they’re asking us questions, and when we don’t have the answers, we tell them and get back to them.” Cohn said he recently got to know a reporter while working on the Abeles and Heymann premium deli meat account.
Communicating with busy reporters is a big challenge, but Cohn and Engelmayer know how to get their attention. Emails and direct messaging through social media lead to the coveted result: a conversation, where both can hear each other out. “Maybe it takes 35 emails. But there are things you can’t explain in a tweet. A phone call with a real person is always the goal, and when a reporter realizes you have something to say that he’s interested in, he’ll pick up the phone,” said Cohn.
HeraldPR is a full-service public relations firm with deep knowledge of real estate, hospitality, law, technology, legal services, financial services and public service. When they take on clients in areas that they are less familiar with, they not only do their homework, they often partner with others who have more expertise.
Sometimes their relationships can bring parties together for real success. HeraldPR organized a wine tasting event at Seasons in Clifton as a fundraiser for two members of a family with Canavan disease who were trying to gain FDA approval for a drug trial. “We can use our relationships to build a better world.”
Crisis communications is another firm specialty, handled by Engelmayer. “I’ve never seen someone so good on the crisis side,” Cohn said about his partner. “He builds bridges and creates relationships, which is harder to do on the crisis side.”
Engelmayer handled a problem for the restaurant Le Marais several years ago. He not only saved the restaurant from the actions of a rogue mashgiach, he got to know the owner and his family so well that one of the daughters now works in the firm. He worked with the Chabad in Maryland, creating a narrative that helped them defeat efforts of locals who wanted to force them out.
Engelmayer has worked with Israeli high-tech firms, the Israeli government and the American Jewish Congress. He worked for Sholom Rubashkin/Agriprocessors when the company was under investigation, an experience that taught him a lot about how to handle both himself and a client in a crisis.
Crises can rapidly spin out of control, and Engelmayer steps in to stop and fix the damage. “Crises rarely happen intentionally,” Engelmayer explained. “They begin when people do things that some, or others, find offensive, wrong or criminal. Eventually they find themselves in a position where their livelihood is threatened, there is criminal or civil liability, or their reputation is hurt and they are looking to repair it.”
Engelmayer represented a professor who used a word he shouldn’t have in teaching a class, and found himself cancelled. “You have to understand the reason, build a narrative and get reporters to cover why it happened.” And in controversial cases, the PR consultant can get drawn into the fray. “You can be called out for trying to help; you have to avoid getting yourself in trouble,” Engelmayer said.
The partners have another firm, Emerald Digital, that started as a part of HeraldPR and is now its own entity. “Marketing and advertising target people directly, and have the ability to drive sales,” said Cohn. “Some of our clients start out using one firm and then realize they need both. With clients who use HeraldPR and Emerald Digital, we can split the budget and work with them so they get what they need and want.”
Both Cohn and Engelemayer came up through the ranks of public affairs. “I’ve been a news junkie since fourth grade,” said Cohn. “I’ve always liked trying to understand the news, the economy and markets.” After graduating from college, he worked for Ed Towns, who served as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee from 2009 to 2011, and then went into government relations and consulting. “I boiled down what I loved about it and realized it was the news story, figuring out the angles and getting peoples’ attention.” Cohn created a mobile office that drove around Nassau County, and it turned heads as planned. A love for that kind of creativity led him to public relations. He began Herald Strategies in 2013.
Engelmayer graduated from Queens College with a degree in English, a love for writing and not a clue what to do next. He volunteered working for Sheldon Silver, former speaker of the New York State Assembly. That led to a job with the Anti-Defamation League during the Crown Heights riots. “I was told to listen and take notes and report back,” he said. “I was in the middle of conversations about how to bring the community back together.” Following eight years working for H. Carl McCall, former New York State Comptroller, Engelmayer went into the public relations firm of the late Howard Rubenstein, whom he called one of the smartest and shrewdest people he has ever known, and worked in government affairs. Part of his job was getting Alon Pinkas, ambassador with Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on television every day.
His work with Israel’s diplomats put him in the center of events. He recalled being on the phone with Gideon Meir, Israel’s deputy director-general for media and public affairs, when 9/11 happened. “He told us then it was no accident.”
Engelmayer helped former U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon challenge BDS activity and advised Ido Aharoni, Israel’s former consul-general in New York and the tri-state area. He has worked with Mort Klein at the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA); Rabbi Marc Wildes’ Manhattan Jewish Experience; and Englewood’s Mayor Michael Wildes. Engelmayer joined Cohn, whom he knew from earlier work, in 2016, and the company was rebranded as HeraldPR.
“Everything I learned yesterday, I bring to today,” said Engelmayer. “I have an ability to listen to people, and work out solutions while knowing what the public needs to know, and hear as well.”
For more information on how HeraldPR and Emerald Media create branding and messaging with proven results, visit www.HeraldPR.com Emerald.Digital..
By Bracha Schwartz