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In Conversation: Tom Zigo

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We sat down with our newest member of the New York office, senior associate, Tom Zigo, to talk about list-making, Seamless ordering, and how to sharpen your writing skills.

Q: How did you wind up at Precision?

TZ: I joined Precision in the summer of 2016 after working at a PR agency in New York City. The work I was doing there was a mix of everything from crisis communication and public policy to events, sports, and film festivals — I was doing quite a broad range of work, which I enjoyed, but as the election cycle began to heat up, I realized I wanted to get more focused on issue-oriented work.

I found that Precision kept popping up on my radar before I even began looking for a new opportunity. I applied during the summer and moved down to DC that same summer.

Q: What was the issue-oriented work you were doing before the job that preceded this one?

TZ: I worked on a number of issues like labor negotiations, education, criminal justice reform, and even working to get more people running (as in the physical running, not for office!).

I really represented a broad range of clients, and a lot of my work was project-based. I like to say that none of my clients made sense next to each other, but when you looked at the work I was doing, it all made sense.

Q: Can you walk me through a typical day in your role at Precision?

TZ: It’s funny – I think every single person that’s been interviewed in this series has said that there is no typical day, and while that’s very true, there is a structure to my day-to-day here at Precision.

Each day begins before I get to the office. Making sure I’ve checked the news, even if it’s just catching headlines or reading through tip sheets, before I get to work is essential to being prepared for the day being in comms.

Once I get to work, the first thing I always do is write down every single task that I know has to get done that day. Then, by the end of the day, I write a separate list, jotting down everything I did that day, which usually is much more than what I knew I had to do at the beginning of the day, but I make sure that that first list matches up with everything on that second list— which means everything from client meetings to internal calls to drafting materials, op-eds, pitches, and all the other comms related activities that I do on a day-to-day basis. And, while those activities vary day-to-day, most days include some combination of that.

Q: What are the parts that vary?

TZ: I think, particularly in the communications field, that one story, one tweet, or one comment, can completely reshape your day, your week, your month, so you always have to be on your toes. Even if you’re deep in the weeds focused on one project, you have to make sure that you’re also listening to the external conversation that’s happening around you.

Q: How do you see comms changing over the next 3-5 years?

TZ: I think we’re already seeing how it will change, in that a good communications strategy cannot rely on communications alone. We’ll definitely see more and more of that, and that’s one thing I think Precision does really well, meaning we recognize that and bring other tactics to the table. When your goal is to reach a targeted audience with a targeted message through the right medium, sometimes it’s not always going to be an op-ed or a story pitch, it may be Facebook Live, it may be a tweet. It’s going to be all about how traditional media, paid media, and social media will exist in the same space.

Q: What are some primary skills someone would need to do your job? What are some things that you’ve learned in your time and role here?

TZ: I think the biggest thing that people in communications need to have is creativity. You need to find ways to communicate a message that will make an impact, and a lot of times it’s having to deliver that message in a lot of different ways.

Once you get that first hit, how do you keep that momentum going? That’s where the creativity really comes into play.

In my work specifically, I think being a strong writer is incredibly important, and I think that will continue in the coming years.

One thing I’ve gotten really good at since coming to Precision is writing op-eds. I didn’t write a lot of op-eds in my previous jobs, and I write a lot of op-eds here. Doing that is really interesting and that’s also another way that you get to be creative in the communications process. You have to be able to put your opinions and feelings about the situation to the side a bit to be able to make an argument that will resonate with somebody else, through somebody else’s voice. You might not completely align with that person, yet you’re both looking to get to the same goal, so you make the case in a way that best works for them.

Calvin: What is your favorite thing about working at Precision?

TZ: One of my favorite things about working at Precision is the people I work with. They’re not only the best at what they’re doing, incredibly intelligent, and smart and savvy, but they’re just really enjoyable to be around.

It makes the work we do even more exciting because we’re working on such great issues and with such great organizations, but at the end of the day, a lot of the tactics you do are the same, just for different clients, but getting to do it with great people makes the difference. It goes to show that even when the day is over, a lot of us still want to hang out. It makes it nice to come to work every day.

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