Interview with Lainya Magaña
Founder & Principal @ A&O

Founded in 2009 by Lainya Magaña, A&O PR is an integrated marketing and PR firm based in NY, CA and OR specializing in arts, culture, music and technology. Creative, strategic and results-oriented, A&O PR fosters a strong connection between their clients’ business and their audience acting as an extension of their team and a stakeholder in their success. They combine marketing intelligence, business strategy, media and mass culture insights with a reputation for delivering strong media coverage to ensure their clients receive the reach and reputation that drives exposure and revenue.
Hi Lainya! Could you please introduce your work with A&O and tell us a bit more about what led to your founding the agency back in 2009?
A&O PR is a marketing and public relations agency, that specializes in arts and culture clients. We are based in New York City and Portland, Oregon, and have affiliates around the country for select projects, as well as internationally. Our mission is to support the vision of businesses and individuals who are impacting culture in meaningful ways. We do that by connecting them to their ideal or target audiences across mediums and channels, to bring awareness and attention and, ultimately, drive revenue in ways that are important to the clients that we work with. We like to bring much-deserved attention to the stories and ideas that are shaping the future of a society that values arts and creativity. I founded this agency in 2009, after the financial downturn led to my departure from a gallery and I founded the gallery - or founded the PR firm - out of a desire to bring public relations, marketing, social media strategy, digital marketing and brand development services to galleries and artists who, at the time, were very new to these types of tools that are very important for driving business.
What are some of the main challenges faced by creative startups and companies when conducting marketing and PR campaigns?
Creative startups and companies face a variety of challenges when conducting marketing PR campaigns. The challenges that I'm going to identify are the ones that we in particular care the most about, and that is messaging and how to get a story across in a meaningful way to your audience, when there is so much competition for attention. Another challenge is identifying your target audience - so, knowing what drives and motivates your audience, and what messages they are looking to hear from you. And where is that audience located, and what are the best ways to reach them. Is that through social media? Is that through traditional press releases going to a media outlet and having a story written about you? Is that through thought leadership and positioning you within a desired demographic? Is that through interesting video or content creation pieces? Is it a new web design project? So we like to think about all of the tools to use marketing and PR for a business to get that message across, and our specialty is analyzing what the best method will be and what the best timing will be to deliver that message.
Who have been some of the biggest clients of A&O - what are some of your main client acquisition channels in the creative space?
Hi, I'm Lainya Magaña, the CEO of A&O PR. The question was: Who are some of our biggest clients at our agency? In the past we have worked with Untitled, which is an American art fair that takes place during Art Basel Miami Beach, and they were the first art fair to actually take place on the beach in South Beach in Miami. That was really exciting art fair to work on. Another really big client of ours has been Van Doren Waxter. They are a late 20th century American abstraction gallery, located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. We also had the pleasure of, in the past, working with a gallery called The Hole, which does very amazing exhibitions by contemporary artists. We worked on a particular art campaign featuring Kembra Pfahler, in which she transformed the gallery into the gardens of Giverny. We also have had the pleasure of working with the street artist Invader, through his gallery show at our client Over the Influence Gallery. And we've worked on several music festivals, including Pick-A-Thon in Portland, and Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland, and currently we are working on the Disjecta Biennial for Portland with Jane Lombard Gallery in Chelsea, along with a number of other exciting clients.
What are some of the main tools / methods you utilize to analyze data and derive mass culture insights?
The tools we use in our industry to analyze data and derive mass culture insights are: Google Analytics, AdWord campaign data, social media, advertising data, email marketing data. All of those resources provide us with insights that are helpful to assessing not only our demographic, our audience, but the impact that we're having going out to those audiences with specific messaging. We can analyze that data to see if our message is resonating; if we might need to revise our campaign strategy; and we expect to see certain ROI or KPIs met, that we can assess via that data. Our industry is a very niche industry in arts and culture PR, so the market that we are analyzing isn't exactly a mass market, but the insights that we are gathering are certainly used and leveraged to drive culture forward on a massive scale, by creating influence for our clients and managing their reputations and amplifying that reputation across a variety of channels.
What's next for your work with A&O - what new projects, services and partnerships will you be focusing on throughout the next year?
Our next year is going to be focused on growth, also trying to really hone the tools we use to analyze our clients' audiences to gather more data. I'm currently studying for a Certificate in Marketing through Wharton, as well as an analytics business analytics certificate through M.I.T., because data is more important to our industry now than ever. As there is more competition, I believe that there's competition not only for our clients, but also amongst PR agencies, and differentiation could come down to the agencies that know how to analyze - well, first gather and then analyze - and leverage data analytics on behalf of not only their own business, but on behalf of their clients' businesses. So I believe that that will be an area in which we would like to grow, and we will see a lot of growth across PR agencies in that capacity. And in terms of new projects, we are currently looking to bring in some exciting new clients internationally that we will soon announce, and are offering more digital services and more brand development services, and we are aligning with partners who are really expert in those categories, to offer those services to our customers.