New Member Spotlight: Danny Aller
Name, title and organization:
Danny Aller, Public Information Coordinator for Social Media, The Florida Bar
What inspired you to pursue a career in public relations?
I’m a bit of a late bloomer. Allow me to explain …
I originally planned to begin my career in Communications/Public Relations after I graduated with a degree in English from Florida State, but the adage, “Do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life,” stuck with me. And, ultimately, it drove me into a field that combined two of my passions: sports and writing.
During the next 10 years, I served as a sports reporter and editor working at a variety of different newspapers around Florida and Georgia, and during that time I had lots of interaction with the sports information staffs and athletic offices at various different levels — from high school, to college to the pros. I would say about five years in, I’d had enough experience with these communications and PR departments to know which ones were doing it right — and which ones were handling their duties so unbelievably wrong that they they should probably fire their entire staff and start from scratch.
When newspapers began a downward spiral some time around 2008, it was the latter observance that led me to believe I would’ve been good at public relations and communications — had I decided to pursue that path a decade earlier. So when I officially left newspapers in 2013 and moved home to Tallahassee to accept a national wire service job covering FSU for Reuters, my “plan” was to eventually find a position in Tallahassee in the public relations field. And when The Florida Bar created a brand new job for a social media coordinator, it was both the perfect fit and an even more exciting venture than I had even hoped for. After all, considering what a forward-thinking move this was for The Florida Bar to even recognize they needed someone to handle their social media full-time, it made me feel like this wouldn’t be the kind of place “doing it wrong,” so to speak. And they most certainly weren’t.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Describe a project you were proud to have been a part of.
I’ve only been around 3 months, so I don’t feel I have a lot to hang my hat on yet. But if forced to pick something, it would have to be growing the reach of our current social media pages. And while I’m no where near satisfied with the — for example — 1,500 or so new FB likes and 500 new followers on Twitter that we’ve had since I came aboard, I try to keep in mind that this is not a sprint, but a marathon.
Sure, I’ve been proud of individual items I’ve promoted and spread the word about — and I’ve helped start three new platforms since I arrived: LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest — but being involved in a daily process to turn The Florida Bar’s social media efforts from something small into something bigger than anyone ever hoped or expected is what brings me a daily source of pride.
We’re pushing 3,000 followers on Facebook right now — which might sound great — but we’ve got nearly 100,000 member attorneys of The Florida Bar in the Sunshine State. So there is still lots of work to be done.
What is one piece of advice you would give others entering the field?
Be persistent about every opportunity you pursue — and make sure you stand out.
If you’re not making an extra phone call to follow-up after sending your resume, or writing a post-interview e-mail to thank the potential employer for their time and express your excitement about the position, you missed an important lesson plan in Success 101. Every job I’ve truly ever pursued with passion and persistence in my career — except one — I’ve been offered by simply following this piece of advice. (And the one that I didn’t get, for what it’s worth, was a bullet dodged in hindsight, considering there had been high turnover before I got there , as well as since I was one of the finalists — but wasn’t chosen).
Prospective employers notice this extra effort up front, and the goal is to have them say — when they hang up the phone with you or finish reading your e-mail — “I like guy’s approach. He really WANTS to be here. Let’s give him a shot.” And if you’re as good as you think you are, a “shot” is all you’ll need.
Once you work your way up to a managerial position at some point in your career and are tasked with hiring someone, this will make even more sense than it does now.
What do you think is the biggest challenge PR professionals will face going forward?
Adapting to all the changes in store for PR as it relates to technology.
Every day there seems to be a new way to connect and reach your audience. Keeping up with what works, what doesn’t and discovering what the next big thing is — and how to implement it effectively in your particular situation — will be the most daunting obstacles. Social media, meanwhile, is at the forefront of that. The same way someone came up with Twitter and Facebook, in 5-10 years (maybe sooner), there will be new, improved and even better platforms that someone will think up and force PR and communications professionals to learn in order to keep up.
In fact, I predict that in less than two years, every major company or business (or the smart ones, anyway) will have hired (or created a position for) a social media coordinator or entire social media department to handle all aspects of this new form of communication which has already been proven to be wildly effective.
What would your colleagues be surprised to know about you?
1. I grew up in a part of Wakulla County that was so remote, my nearest neighbor was at least five miles away.
2. I used to tell everyone I was going to be a meteorologist.
3. I was the first (and, I believe, still the only) region tennis champ at No. 1 singles in Wakulla County High School history.
4. I once won a BBQ sauce contest on B-103.1 FM in Tallahassee in which the grand prize was $1,000 in cash, a $300 gift certificate to Winn Dixie, a set of patio furniture, a gas grill and a year’s supply of Pepsi
5. I have so many dogs, cats and fish, my house resembles a petting zoo
6. I cry every time I see one of those news stories where a member of the military comes home unexpectedly and surprises his or her family
7. I’m addicted to food trucks
8. I’m an above-average poker player (whatever that means)
9. I once won two points against the 2011 U.S. Open Table Tennis Champion in a game to 11
10. My wife is related to Bonnie and Clyde
Have you had a mentor? If so, how has s/he influenced your career?
There isn’t just one person — it’s really my entire family. My mother taught me to be kind and thoughtful in all that I do;. my father taught me responsibility and accountability — and both my parents instilled one hell of a work ethic in me, one which I can only hope to impart on my own kids one day. My grandmother (on my mom’s side) taught me to be empathetic and walk a mile in someone else’s shoes before you act or react to any situation. And my grandfather (also on my mom’s side) is the origin of my PR gene — he wrote several books on logical and rational thinking once he retired from working in public relations with General Electric after 40 years. My dad’s parents had five kids and were super family-oriented, so this lesson comes full circle when I tell you that I learned from them how to be a good family man — one who balances his career and family life so every expectation is met.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I HATE cold French fries.
One of my dogs is named after a British swear word.
And “Carlito’s Way” is my favorite movie of all-time.
Oh, and I’m a Scorpio — but just like my predatory anthropod counterpart, I only sting when provoked!