In this episode of the Network AF podcast, Avi Freedman connects with Ilissa Miller, network whisperer and PR industry veteran. Ilissa and her team translate technology into business terms by helping clients understand the value and functionality of a company. Avi asks Ilissa how she got into the field, her biggest takeaways that helped launch her own business and what’s important in today’s networking world.
Today, Ilissa is the CEO of iMiller Public Relations and president of NEDAS, a company that covers convergence for wireline and wireless communications infrastructure. She also works for a company called DE-CIX, an internet-exchange operator, supporting their partner and marketing initiatives in North America.
Ilissa helps businesses grow and market their products, educate the masses on new technologies and provide context and understanding on what matters in a constantly changing industry.
Topics Avi and Ilissa cover:
Ilissa started out as a consultant in the networking space, under the guidance of her mentor, David Mayer. She learned by watching how strategic relationships are formed and how deals are structured. She talks about striking out on her own and the trial-by-fire of an individual executive responsible for business development and marketing.
Ilissa shares that her past experience as a product manager really helped her navigate the inner workings of a company. As a product manager, you have to work with all the departments: operations, legal, sales, and cannot bring a product to market without all of those key services. She wanted to understand how everything worked in symphony because that is the key to helping companies. If you know how companies work, you can get the right team aligned to help move the business forward.
What actually drives a company forward? Is it the people and how they organize, or is it being well versed in engineering? Ilissa believes that becoming fluent in the dynamics of people, and understanding how to position your needs is what works best in today’s society.
In earlier industry days, people would hoard information because they felt that was their value. Being a living legacy system was job security. Ilissa points out that in today’s paradigm, it takes a certain psychological finesse to share information quickly and be understood.
Avi shares a similar story in the startup world. People are afraid to share their idea in fear that someone will steal it, not realizing that the clincher is in the execution. It requires grit and human beings coming together to make an idea real.
Ilissa cautions that assumptions are a detriment to both business and progress. Case in point, we can assume that Akamai is a CDN and they do X, Y and Z, but the assumptions that we have may be based on outdated information or constructs that no longer exist. This grinds communication to a halt and calcifies new opportunities.
There is also a translation that needs to happen within teams. Practitioners speak in features and technical know-how, and executives speak in business value. Mutual curiosity is necessary when they are not speaking the same language to gain perspective and break new ground.
Time stamp: 18:59
Enter the importance of a PR firm that knows how to translate technical terms to business value. Ilissa traverses the gap between technology and understanding by valuing the evolution of the industry and training teams to grasp the bigger picture.
A company has to decide and maintain messaging, even through the inevitable ebbs and flows of growth. Ilissa focuses on balancing what the company thinks might be important, and what the marketplace actually wants. Therein lies the secret weapon of good PR.
Tune in to this episode to learn more about insider PR strategy, the biggest problem the industry faces today and the key to move your company forward in today’s world.