As our research for the 100 Leading Legal Consultants & Strategists guide made clear, the talented individuals who are truly trusted in the area of crisis communications for law firms is a relatively small group. That thorny area is the expertise of Zach Olsen, the San Francisco-based president of Infinite Global. The UMass Amherst graduate held a variety of odd jobs before landing at Infinite, where he clearly found his knack – earning the trust of law firms and lawyers along with other clients the company serves.
Lawdragon: For those not too familiar with your company, what types of services do you provide and to whom?
Zach Olsen: Infinite Global provides a diversity of PR and communications, branding, and content creation services. Our clients include law firms, public and private companies, non-profits, individuals and other professional service organizations.
LD: How did you first become interested in doing this type of work?
ZO: I was considering going to law school until I took the LSATs and realized I might be better off in a more “creative” field. I was lucky enough to come across an opportunity to join Infinite as an account executive, and I went after it.
LD: What do you like about your job? And what do you like about working with lawyers?
ZO: I am extremely lucky because at this stage in my career I am surrounded by opportunities to make a difference and find professional satisfaction. I enjoy working with lawyers because I'm comfortable not being the smartest person in the room and I find that even though I’m often not, most of our clients appreciate and value my expertise and the counsel I provide. Outside of the client work, I find enormous satisfaction from observing and taking part in the growth and development of our younger employees. They are the real heart and soul of our organization and seeing them learn and grow together as individuals and as a team, is the part of the job I cherish most.
LD: Are there any trends you are seeing in crisis communications, reputation management or related issues?
ZO: Most of the trends we are seeing and the majority of my work recently can be bundled into the general category of “emerging risk.” These include data breaches and cybersecurity incidents, sexual harassment matters, public-facing litigation and other crises that require thoughtful communications strategies. In addition, we are doing an enormous amount of risk mitigation work which includes helping our clients anticipate and prepare ahead of time for crises.
LD: Can you tell us a bit more about your career path. What did you do before arriving at Infinite?
ZO: I have absolutely no business working for, much less leading, a PR firm. I graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, with a degree in Sociology and Criminal Justice and had a series of unrelated, dead-end jobs in the service, sales and wine industry before landing at Infinite. If nothing else, those jobs prepared me for a career in PR by forcing me to learn how to handle rejection and listen to and interact with a variety of people from a diversity of backgrounds. I think that experience probably helped shape the way that I interact with our clients, prospects, employees and the journalists that we rely on to help tell our stories.
LD: Was there a mentor in the field who really helped shape the course of your professional life?
ZO: I wouldn't be where I am today without the mentoring and guidance of Infinite's founder, Jamie Diaferia, and his former partner, Nick Gaffney. Jamie and Nick had wildly different styles of communicating, selling, training, and supporting me in the early stages of my career. I was able to learn from their successes and create my own style which has helped me become successful in my own right.
LD: How would you describe your style or philosophy as a professional service provider?
ZO: My philosophy is relatively straightforward - do good, be honest and work tirelessly on behalf of the clients and the employees that rely on and trust me. That trust is enormously hard to earn and very easy to lose and it is the single most important asset I have as a person and professional.