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One On One With David Morelli, Closes The Gap On Corporate Communications Needs

One One One Series
Earlier in the year David Morelli launched Rosedale Strategy Group, we took a few minutes to catch up with this Canadian public relations industry veteran as part of our One on One series.

David Morelli - Rosedale Strategy GroupPR In Canada – You’ve been in the public relations game for a while, this gives you a unique opportunity to have seen a few changes.
David – One of my first tech clients was the makers of the PalmPilot in the late 1990s (!!). Revolutionary at the time – your entire ‘Rolodex,’ calendar and email in the palm of your hand. Seems long ago but was really little more than a generation. Great lessons learned in launching disruptive, market-shaping products. That expertise was applied a few years later launching a game-changer with the Nintendo Wii, and several others since.

PR In Canada – This is the first time you’ve branched out on your own and launched an agency. Why now?
David – The time seemed right. We see gaps we can fill in the agency world. Clients are demanding more nimble and creative communications. They don’t accept cookie cutter approaches. Clients are also recognizing the opportunity, and need, to provide executive-level corporate strategy and C-suite guidance – which is not a core competency of many consumer or marketing-focused agencies.
RSG offers both. We have deep experience launching and promoting products and services across a variety of sectors (tech, finance, CPG, food services, e-commerce and more). We also have client-side corporate experience leading some of the most successful brands in Canada, like TD Bank, Tim Hortons and SickKids Foundation. We helped those influential brands build sophisticated approaches to reputation management, communications leadership and customer trust.
At the same time, we’ve discovered an interesting niche. Other boutique agencies want to strengthen their in-house corporate expertise and are inviting us to help augment their new business pitches or client work. It’s a win-win arrangement: our boutique partners are the lead, we are a value-added “associate” and we stay in our lane. Perfect examples – our corporate strategy work, media training and crisis/issues management expertise. The arrangement allows our boutique partners to build deeper (i.e. more lucrative) client relationships and create more client loyalty by offering expanded services.

PR In Canada – We’ve had a few readers ask why the name Rosedale Strategy?
David – The name “Rosedale Strategy Group” was purposeful (Tim Hortons and TD Bank were great training grounds for the importance of branding). “Rosedale” is the east-end Hamilton neighbourhood where I grew up – an eclectic community whose values also reflect what our agency stands for: integrity (say what you mean and mean what you say), the importance of relationships and pride in your work. “Strategy” is our agency’s core competency, with accompanying senior-level counsel. And “Group” reflects that we scale up or down with a network of specialists and extended support to service clients.

PR In Canada – There are a lot of agencies out there, what can the market expect from Rosedale Strategy?
David – Respectful but fearless counsel. Clients hire us for our arms and legs AND brains. If you’re too ambitious, we’ll tell you. If you’re under ambitious, we’ll tell you that too, and encourage you to think and act bigger. It’s your call at the end of the day, but we’ll always show you the opportunity and inspire you to reach farther than you thought possible.
Second, always-on, senior-level involvement. We don’t bait and switch. Clients have senior-level participation and counsel available consistently. And we have deep experience working with senior leadership. We can have those tough conversations and give confident counsel to the most senior execs.
Finally, at RSG, we’ve walked in our clients’ shoes. We help them sell in their ideas, overcome internal obstacles and demonstrate the value of public relations to the key internal stakeholders in the way that’s important to them.

PR In Canada – Has social media made the job of a CEO easier or harder
David – Social media has certainly made communications more complex. You can’t ignore the ease that information is shared, and the speed and reach that it’s broadcast. Senior leaders should be building two distinct but complementary strategies: one to manage social media, and one to take advantage of this pivotal opportunity. Leaders can “listen and learn” and communicate in ways unavailable in the past. At the same time, you can use social media tactically: to defend your organization, speak directly to employees, reach out to customers or advocate for an important piece of legislation.

PR In Canada – Should all CEO’s be on social media?
David – Short answer: yes. In fact, according to, about 60 per cent of Fortune 500 CEOs have social media accounts – a number that’s been steadily rising the past three years. That doesn’t mean a CEO needs to engage everywhere or have an Instagram and Snapchat account. But select platforms allow a leader to reach key audiences at a frequency that makes sense, for a steady drum beat of information and engagement. Practically speaking, think: “thought leadership” platform on LinkedIn, or issues management on Twitter. Like all communications, the key is the content, not just the distribution method. What do you want to say, to whom, when and why? We help our clients answer those questions and develop content.

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