DATE: FEBRUARY 1, 2021
26TH ANNIVERSARY INTERVIEW:
FIVE QUESTIONS WITH
SRO PARTNER MARCEE RONDAN
View from the pit…
What was the most surreal moment of your career so far?
Marcee Rondan: I think it’s really hard to pin-point just one moment of a career. I’ve been fortunate to be at the right place at the right time for so many moments. From key festival performances to iconic award show highlights, red carpet days, and there’s always that moment when you first hear a new song (which you re-live every time you hear it).
I think one that sticks out as a historical moment was in 2011 when Mitch and I were watching Leon Russell perform at Stagecoach and he stopped to tell the crowd that “Osama bin Laden has left this world,” and went on to sing “Amazing Grace” to a grateful crowd. I think for the rest of my life, every time I hear that song, I’ll be transported back to that tent.
Another funny story is about my first business trip. Most people either go to New York, or to some small town on the road with a band. My first trip? To Telluride, CO for a Wilson Phillips Vogue magazine photo shoot.
What is your fondest memory of working with SRO founder Mitch Schneider?
Marcee: Again, there are so many highlights. I’ve worked alongside Mitch for many years and the memories are far and wide. I think some of the best ones have taken place on just another day whether in Los Angeles, New York or in the many cites we’ve travelled and worked in over the years. It’s the ability to share key moments with someone you work with every day. There’s an adage that if you continue to share those memories and recount them, they will stay with you for the rest of your life. And the memories are not just about PR campaigns. Some highlights include driving through the Louisiana bayou (the morning after a Voodoo Experience weekend) in the middle of a horrible storm as the EBS warning alarms came out of the car radio and identified the areas in the path of the storm, which we were in the middle of; leaving NYC a few years ago–after a great week of meetings–on the last flight out as the city prepared for a blizzard that never came; the initial Ozzfest, where we experienced the first, but certainly not the last, of many cold festival nights.
Leaving on a jet plane…
If you could go back in time, what’s the best career advice you’ve been given?
Marcee: It’s funny, the best piece of advice is one Mitch gave me years ago and one that I have honored and shared with friends and colleagues through the years, “it’s to enjoy the moment as you are in it.” Whenever I’ve been in a place and thought excitedly, “what in the hell am I doing here?” I stop and take a second to acknowledge and celebrate that exact time and place and create a memory.
What has been the biggest change in PR over the past 25 years and how has SRO adapted?
Marcee: One of the beautiful things about PR is that it is ever-changing.
The biggest change is the growth of the internet and social media. It used to be all phone calls and faxes. In fact, in the early days of email, I distinctly remember that whenever we sent a press release out, the Associated Press required a verbal validation on a story. Now, we see the press citing social media posts in their coverage.
Things also shifted dramatically with the advent of smart phones and virtual offices. Not so long ago, there were many late nights sitting in the office waiting for clients to approve press releases. With smart phones and the ability to log into email remotely, everything changed. I remember sitting in a festival press tent on a Sunday afternoon writing a press release to be distributed the next day. These are things that seemed impossible a few years ago.
How does SRO adapt to the changing times?
Marcee: Last year, the world adapted to a new normal and we made the necessary steps to change the way we work and how we approach PR. If PR was a full-time job before, it definitely has become more so in this WFH world. I think one thing we’ve all had to learn is how to stay connected in this disconnected time. It used to be that you’d see people at concerts, award shows and events, now you rely more on texts, emails and social media as a way to keep in touch.
As for the company, we’ve adapted many times. Through the years, SRO has explored different genres of music and expanded to handling festivals, events and lifestyle brands. It’s one of the things that makes it exciting. It also allows us to interact with a wide variety of media on diverse subjects. While musical artists and festivals are always at the forefront of our client list, we’ve also had the good fortune to work with sporting events, jewelry lines, beverage companies and one-off immersive experiences. We’re anxiously awaiting the return of live music and festivals so we can get back out on the road to re-connect in person with our colleagues and friends across the country.
Can’t wait to get back to this…
**All photos courtesy Marcee Rondan.