Valek & Co. Brings Value, ROI to Safe Plumbing Communications, Feb. 22, 2018

By Judy Wohlt, PMI Communications Team, Valek and Co.

Used with permission from Plumbing Manufacturers International

Ray Valek of Valek & Company Communications, Plumbing Manufacturers International’s public relations firm, said he and his team serve as PMI’s rhythm section, maintaining a steady tempo of communications that support PMI’s voice and influence in the industry. “We’re the bass and drums, and we create opportunities for PMI members and leaders to be in the spotlight,” he explained.

In summer 2014, Ray began working with PMI to spread the word about the WaterSense program. PMI’s communications needs were quickly growing and required a strategic communications plan with regular support from a public relations (PR) consultancy. Valek & Co. stepped up with a competitive bid and was thrilled to win the job.

Since PMI had already established itself as a credible resource among policymakers and within its industry, Ray’s team was brought on to help enhance PMI’s communications approach. The team created a strategic plan directed at PMI’s key external audiences, including policymakers, advocacy partners and prospective members, and established tools to quantify the value of PMI’s communications.

PMI’s communications team boosted output and set an aggressive agenda that supported PMI’s business goals – promoting the value of plumbing products relating to water efficiency, health and safety, while leading and advocating for sound public policies.

“I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished so far,” Ray said. “We’ve produced strong, consistent and effective communications and we’ve been able to measure our impact.”

A primary team goal is to assign an expense to its media outreach on behalf of PMI, such as news releases, story pitches to news outlets and social media messages, and then assign a value to the outcomes of those efforts, including media placements, social media likes and shares and website page views. Through the end of April 2017, PMI’s communications expense was about $32,000 and generated a “media value” (paid advertising equivalency) of almost $201,000, which is a 6.3 to 1 return on investment.

In addition to
 Ray, the Valek 
& Company
 team includes 
Judy Wohlt, a
 former journal
ist and veteran
 PR manager,
 and his daugh
ter Genevieve, a 
recent graduate
 of Illinois State
 University with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism. Ray also enjoys
 a strong working relationship with Maureen Baird, PMI’s web and graphics expert, who also works with Ray on behalf of other Valek & Co. clients. The team also brings in additional people and resources on an as-needed basis, such as illustrators, video producers, and media monitoring and news distribution services.

With degrees in journalism and public relations, Ray has logged 125 hours in classes at The Second City in Chicago, a world premier comedy club and improvisational school. “I took the improv classes to become better on my feet in business situations,” he said. He also learned about The Second City’s primary mantra -- “Yes and ... ,” which he said he uses to guide his everyday decision making. He said those two words help him to deal with any challenge, from a tight work deadline to a family issue. “The ‘yes’ is acknowledging what’s happening. The ‘and ...’ helps you to focus on how to build upon or respond to what’s happening,” he said.

Ray noted that 
public relations
 changes quickly 
from year to
 year, with social
 media now 
established as a
 prominent tool 
for amplifying
 an organization’s messages
 more quickly 
and broadly. Internet search optimization is another important tool that helps people find PMI-branded information. “We’ve worked hard to strengthen PMI’s search optimization, which helps a good local story, like PMI’s aid and support in Flint, Michigan, become global almost instantly,” he said. To achieve optimal results, the team takes a layered communications approach, including face-to-face interactions, social media, traditional media placements, and robust website content.

Outside of work, Ray enjoys playing hockey twice a week as a member of the hockey club Max Achium, which means “great aches” in Latin. After spending hours on the ice, Ray and his teammates agree the name is apropos. “But, overall, hockey makes me feel better physically,” Ray said. He also uses hockey as a metaphor for his work. “In hockey, you have to keep your feet moving and keep trying to move the puck toward the goal. It’s all about persistence,” he said. “We bring the same qualities to our work with PMI. We try new strategies, never give up and always keep moving forward.”


@ Valek & Company 2016