6 questions with: Matt Afflixio of Access Brand Communications

Matt Afflixio highlights the importance of communication professionals broadening their horizons through diversifying their media consumption.

As the President of Access Brand Communications, a subsidiary of Ketchum, Inc., Matt Afflixio has become a driving force in strategic planning, corporate branding, executive visibility, special events, and crisis communications. His expertise spans diverse industries, including consumer, consumer technology, fashion, and small businesses.

In his current role, Afflixio spearheads the day-to-day operations of Access, leading its evolution and fostering collaboration with Ketchum to enhance its combined technology and consumer offerings. Renowned as “the hardest working man in the PR business,” the PR luminary has earned this title from both his dedicated Access team members and longstanding client partnerships.

We caught up with Afflixio to get his take on the future of the communications industry.

What book, podcast or other media do you recommend to other comms pros?

In the comms world, you have to broaden your horizons and diversify your media consumption in order to stay relevant. Go beyond your interests and learn from others – from the SmartLess guys (you have to keep a sense of humor to have this job) to The Tim Ferriss Show. I also like Side Hustle Pro, all about female Black entrepreneurs. Most recently, the book Mastering the Mental Game of Pickleball. Some great life lessons in there.

What’s your favorite tool you use regularly for work?  

My iPhone, hands down. Client service is at the heart of what we do, and I like to have actual live conversations with people spontaneously as needed, with the device I always have with me.

That, and my thesaurus. If it worked for Sondheim, a genius, who am I to argue.

What excites you most about the future of communications?

I love the fluidity of comms and how channels and formats are constantly evolving. Nurturing a good story and amplifying it is still at the heart of what we do, but today we’re exploring how AI can be inserted into our workstyle and also pursuing green shoots like influencer, which is an area where we’re hiring very aggressively.

What communications challenge keeps you up at night?

That has never changed: Making sure there is always a win-win-win for everyone, including our staff. I’ve never been prouder than I have been over the last few years watching them deliver at a time when change just keeps coming at you. 

There are always new challenges, of course, from meeting the demands of a 24/7 news cycle to new approaches for executive comms. We’re seeing a new set of executive needs. Media training, for example, is much broader now. It has to be aware of social and how an executive is engaging in the wider world.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome in your career?

Complacency. Think about that word. Overcoming complacency means you have to double-down on bringing your A-game every day – to clients to staff, and to myself. The tagline on my email is “Be Present, Be Proud, Be Productive.” It’s what I live by.

What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten?

Early on, I had someone tell me that I was meant for this business. Not only did it make me feel great, it helped me understand what I brought to the table that made it true. The advice was to have confidence in myself. It was a big message to hear early on in my career. That person helped me find my path, and I’ve tried to find opportunities to do the same for others.

Isis Simpson-Mersha is a conference producer/ reporter for Ragan. Follow her on LinkedIn.


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