23 Apr Meet Phillip Raskin
Let’s give a warm welcome to Phillip Raskin, the newest member our GraviTeam! Phillip has an extensive PR background leading multinational brands in U.S., European and Asian markets, and we are thrilled to have him join the team as Vice President! We had the opportunity to sit down with Phillip to learn more about his career history, and interests. Let’s take a look at what he had to say:
How did you get into PR?
Accidentally – I was actually a history major. But everyone I knew in college was in comms, and my first jobs were all video/audio production and writing and publishing in the U.S. So basically I made content, but didn’t have much say in the direction of that content, which led me to want to move to an agency career.
From there it was a very non-traditional path – 1) I was living in Poland, 2) I joined an English-language theater troupe, and 3) almost everyone in that group happened to work in either PR or advertising in Warsaw. So I got my intros to agencies that way, and eventually landed a job at a major PR agency.
What made PR so interesting?
One is you get to learn about so many different clients and sectors, which means you get so many different windows on so many different aspects of how the world works and how things are put together. There was always a part of me that enjoyed learning that, my favorite TV shows as a kid were James Burke’s Connections series and Carl Sagan’s original Cosmos. I think with tech specifically, there are so many things behind the scenes that we don’t think about that influence our everyday lives.
What has been the hardest part?
The interpersonal side is the hardest part for all of us. There can be a lot of disconnect in the ebb and flow of getting all the work done, and then even small things can increase the distance – For example, if a client is under pressure to get coverage on something that isn’t coverage, we have to have that conversation with them. When we’re not working optimally together as a client/agency team, this can be challenging.
The second difficulty is how the media has changed. They say every 5 years there’s a seismic shift – we’ve gone through newsroom reductions, different ways of syndicating and creating content, and now all this fight for attention in a world where news sources have become increasingly biased. Right now we’re in a business that’s not fully trusted by the general public, and that’s very challenging.
How have you enjoyed working at Gravitate PR so far?
I’ve really liked it. I think this is a wonderful bunch of people who have made working here very enjoyable.
Is there any particular topic or technology that you want to explore more?
I’d like to get more involved in technology for good. We have so many challenges with our society, the earth, and our bodies/minds that we’re not addressing enough. I’d love to also work for non-profit clients making positive changes in the world.
What was the most memorable moment of your career?
I’ve gotten to do some really interesting programs! We worked closely with LG Electronics on a significant donation to and partnership with Doctors without Borders, and I also worked on a project with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and The Gallup Organization to reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues – that included scripting TV spots, building up new websites from scratch (a bigger deal then) and working with some very passionate people from around the country.
What are some hobbies or activities that you like to do in your free time?
Music – I’m not playing as much as I used to anymore, but I’ve played guitar and piano for years, I also love percussion and drumming and singing and even the odd accordion. About six years ago I got into standup comedy, and that’s been a lot of fun. I actually did improv first, on and off for quite a few years and I still like that as well. I’m excited to be back in the U.S. because there’s so much comedy here.
What do you miss most about working in an office?
Snacks! And people! There are a lot of serendipitous, unexpected, unscripted moments in the office that you don’t experience over Google Meet, Zoom and Skype as much. I also miss getting time to myself during the commute and getting to know a different part of town than I live in.
Favorite musical artists, book, or tv show?
- Musical Artists – David Bowie and Prince, both gone five years now
- Books – Sci-fi, mystery/thriller/spy novels, a lot of non-fiction
- TV – Documentaries, and now I’m really enjoying The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
What are you reading right now?
- A People’s History of the United States – Howard Zinn
- NeuroTribes – Steve Silberman
- The Woman in the Sun Hat – by my very dear longtime friend, actor/playwright Daniel Damiano
What fictional place would you most like to visit?
- 221B Baker Street
- Almost any sci-fi locale in books or movies
What is your ideal place to travel?
- This is hard to say as I’ve been to so many places. I really like traveling around Southeast Asia, and I miss going to Korea. Europe as well, I think the best vacation I ever took was to Greece with my wife, and even though I only lived there 4 months, I always have a soft spot for Paris.
What’s your favorite food?
- Breakfast diner foods
- Florida foods like seafood and key lime pie
What’s a fun fact that most people don’t know about you?
- I was once on Comedy Central Asia (for about 10 seconds)!
- I used to tap dance, and still love it – I once met Gregory Hines and also did a group shim-sham with Savion Glover
- I almost got arrested for accidentally being on Bruce Springsteen’s property!
Bad writing is a pet peeve because I did a lot of editing in my early days. My mom was an English literature major and teacher, so both my sister (who works as a copy/feature writer) and I are very picky about grammar, spelling and tone.