When he’s not leading the national PR agency Havas Formula, Michael Olguin can be found tweeting @MichaelOlguin, enjoying a nice bottle of Scotch, and traveling “more than a JetBlue flight attendant.”
Get to know Michael and Havas Formula in our chat below.
The Mag: You founded Formula in 1992. Since then, it’s grown to an agency of 100 people in three offices nationwide. What have you learned about growing a business?
MO: Sounds cliché, but you really must understand where your strengths lie and where you have holes in your game. Hire people you trust and believe in to fill those holes, and you will be successful. Thinking you are good at everything and can do everything is a HUGE mistake—a formula for disaster!
The Mag: Last year, Formula and Havas joined forces. Tell us a little bit about how that relationship came to be and how it’s been going so far.
MO: We had been successfully growing for more than 20 years, but there was a point when I said to myself, “Do I need help to continue to fuel growth?” We were acquired by Havas in December 2014 and have been working closely ever since. One of the most exciting parts of the journey has been the vision of the Village concept and how that translates into a 360-degree offering for clients. This message has been received very well by prospects, and we’re looking forward to seeing how it evolves over time.
The Mag: You’ve had over 25 years of PR experience. What’s been your proudest career achievement to date?
MO: I’m most proud of my management team. They have really believed in the vision of the company and the hard work it would take to get there. Their dedication to their clients and teams has been instrumental in Havas Formula’s success over the years. Loyalty is huge to me; thus, having our leadership team’s tenure range from five to 20 years has really contributed to our overall success.
The Mag: What are the keys to achieving cultural relevancy?
MO: The most important element is to not speak at your end-user consumer, but instead invite them into the conversation. This nuance can be expressed in many ways and through many marketing channels; however, for it to truly resonate, it must be authentic and reflect the tone, voice, and personality of the brand’s DNA.
The Mag: As new ways, mediums and platforms for brands to reach their audiences arise every day, where do you see PR heading? As consumer behavior evolves, how does PR evolve along with it?
MO: We believe the biggest trend happening right now in the PR space is the convergence of public relations and social media. We have started to refer to it as “social relations.” We are finding that paid integrations—whether within traditional or social media—are becoming more of the norm. Going forward, it will be increasingly difficult for brands to rely solely on earned media because bloggers and social influencers have monetized their platforms. If used correctly, however, it can benefit both parties.
The Mag: What should we know about marketing to the Hispanic market?
MO: Today’s Hispanic consumer is less about demographics and more about psychographics. Most of the growth of the Hispanic market will come from those born in the U.S., which means their influences will be similar to the general market. And though there is a “retro-acculturation” movement, the reality is that today’s Hispanic consumer is not dramatically different from the general market—the major difference being their comfort level in jumping back and forth between cultures, whether that is through language, media, or family.
The Mag: You’ve completed seven (SEVEN!) marathons. What would you tell someone who’s nervous about taking on that feat? (And are you a masochist?)
MO: I have been a runner since high school, so running is part of my life. I have also trained many people to run. For example, I trained my three sisters and two brothers to run a marathon and raise money for Alzheimer’s, which we lost our mother to. None of them were runners before and ranged in age from the mid-30s to mid-50s. Each finished, albeit not in record time, but they did finish. Broken down, a marathon is really about the accomplishment of setting a goal and reaching it.
The Mag: What’s your preferred brand of Scotch?
MO: Macallan 18.