Things I’ve Learned About PR from Mixed Martial Arts

This is the post I wrote for the Edelman Australia Blog (where I work!):

 

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is considered a complete system, combining the most effective elements of grappling and striking arts to create a seamless system that covers all bases. – Dominance MMA

There are many similarities between MMA and PR, aside from lending their names to acronyms. I’d like to start by looking at pitching for business, as an Edelman firm. With outstanding competencies in PR, communications, marketing, traditional media, social media and digital, our range of skills affords us the privilege of thinking and working broader than traditional PR.

And, as the global Edelman brand expands, we now find ourselves up against advertising, branding, digital and creative agencies. Having developed our mix of skills we are no longer restricted to a single discipline. It’s game on for competitive pitches and we’re surpassing the beginner stage … no headgear!

Check out the Edelman Australia Blog for the full post

World PR Day – 28 October

This is the date the very first press release was issued back in 1906 by one of the founders of PR – Ivy Ledbetter Lee. No, we are not related (that I know of) but he’s the founding reason for the profession I’ve chosen to be my career.

We at parkyoung have decided to celebrate 28 October as World PR Day. Find out more at our company blog here.

Would love to hear thoughts from industry colleagues about celebrating Public Relations on this day…

Melbourne’s First PR/Comms/Media networking night – 30 Sept #prjournolove

Last year in July 2009 when I was still relatively new to Twitter and well into the media relations space the lovely Jen Bishop at Dynamic Business Magazine and I were musing about the myth of ‘PR people versus Journalists’ and why this was so. Lamenting about the negativity of this industry rift and how much love there actually is, and can be, between media and PR people we came up with a Twitter hashtag #prjournolove.

Since that fateful day we’ve seen the tag spreading the love far and wide and the wonderful Jen started a Sydney #prjournolove event, giving media and PR people the chance to meet and mingle and strengthen the bond between the two professions.

There should not be such a ‘us versus them’ mentality because in reality we need each other. When PR and media work best is when they work best together because ultimately we’re working towards getting stories and information out there.

So, together with a group of lovely friends and colleagues in the PR and media industry whom I’ve met here in Melbourne, we’re bringing the very first Melbourne #prjournolove event to town.

Next Thursday 30 September at 24 Moons in ACDC Lane in the city from 6.30pm. #prjournolove

RSVP at the Facebook event: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=115658781823055

See you there!

Notes About Working in PR (from my talk with University of Notre Dame students in 2009)

In March 2009 I was invited to speak to a PR and Journalism class about my experiences working in PR in media relations. The lecturer is a journalist with whom I had (and still have) a good PR/Journo relationship with so I was more than happy to oblige. I stumbled across my notes the other day and thought they may provide some insight for those thinking about getting into the industry.

I’ve picked out some of the notes still relevant – please bear in mind they are from over a year ago but most of it still stands today despite the rapidly changing communication landscape.

Good Things To Do

  • Build relationship with media, get to know the journalists – what they like in terms of work and personal – e.g. Editor if Dynamic Business mag likes chilli hot chocolate
  • Tailor pitches and press releases to the person and publication you are pitching
  • Do be yourself – have personality, don’t just be a pitching robot
  • Do be honest with clients, media and yourself – if you can’t make a deadline when you say you can, tell the journalist asap so they have time to pursue another option
  • Be realistic about prioritising and working out what you can get done in the day/week/month – under promise, over deliver!
  • Proof read everything for spelling and grammar. Even emails. Get someone else to proof. Spell check is not enough.
  • Do be creative and think about all the possibilities when coming up with story angles for your client aside from main publications and newspapers. E.g. Business angles, health and wellbeing, parenting, bridal, niche and trade publications, regional papers may be interested in a local angle

Things Not To Do

  • Never get the journalist’s media outlet wrong – don’t confuse Sun-Herald with Sunday Telegraph or Vogue with Harpers Bazaar
  • Don’t follow up the same / next day and always have something else to offer such as images

Good Personal Attributes to Have in PR

  • Be determined and patient – it may take 50 pitches before you get one hit but that could be the make (or break) for your client
  • Be resilient – you will be rejected by journalists but don’t take it personally
  • Be creative – it only takes one great idea – brainstorm with your colleagues, peers, people from outside the industry, at the pub
  • Be efficient and deliver when you say you will
  • Be honest
  • Be diplomatic
  • Be prepared to work to deadlines which may mean putting in extra hours
  • Be flexible – your clients and media can changes their mind about things at the most inappropriate of times but you have to remember the client is paying you and the journalist is your way of getting results so stay calm and work with what you’ve got
  • Be professional – always start an email with Dear and don’t include kisses or smiley faces unless you would normally kiss person when you see them!
  • Be calm when you need to be such as when speaking to media and clients – you can swear and have a stress tantrum in front of friends and family but not your clients or boss
  • Look professional – be well presented and tidy in front of media and clients – they may be the CEO of their company. You can swap your heels for slippers in the office at your desk
  • Do your research and know as much as you can about your client + why and what you are pitching + the journalist and media outlet you are pitching to
  • Be yourself – there is the rumour that PRs are ruthless and will do anything for a story/angle, word ‘spin doctor’ is used…
    • Don’t do anything you don’t morally or ethically agree with because ultimately, you are the one who has to publicly deal with it
  • Be polite – don’t forget basic communication skills – please and thank you goes a long way

This is a selection from the 7 pages of hints, tips and anecdotes I prepared and I’m more than happy to chat with budding PR and Comms students about what it’s like to work in PR. It’s something I would have liked to do more of.

Twitter: @KimberleyL or Email: kimberleyjlee@gmail.com

NOTES: How to Get the Media to Notice You – an event from SourceBottle #sblive

Tuesday night brought together about 300 small business owners and PR professionals together for the very first SourceBottle networking event, a panel discussion about ‘How to get the media to notice you’. This was very well run, and well organised by the delightful Rebecca Derrington of SourceBottle fame with help from the team from Handle Your Own PR, Creative Cats, Leonda By The Yarra, The Templar Group and The Woo.

The panel was introduced by Tom Gleisner who is also founder of the charity benefiting from the evening – Learning for Life, for children with autism. On the panel was:

Tom Fahey – Producer on The Circle, Channel 10

Tim Verrall – Breakfast Producer, MixFM

Leo D’Angelo Fisher – Senior Journalist, BRW

Janice Breen Burns – Fashion Editor, The Age

Their insights should have been nothing new for PR professionals and I was concerned there may have been too many practicing PR people learning way too much for the level of knowledge the panel was imparting. It was all 101 stuff and a refresher can’t do any harm but definitely all things a PR practitioner should already be doing.

The key thing is (and always has been) to know the media – media relations is all about relationship building with journalists: know them, know their space, know why they would want to cover your news.

So, these notes will be good for those wanting to know more about the workings of media relations:

  • Most effective way to contact media is via email – only call if it’s to radio and it’s something urgent/timely, and if you do call breakfast shows the best time is 11am
  • Pitch a story that is news – don’t just pitch your client/product and expect the journalist to come up with a story (help them help you!)
  • Make sure you know the media outlet you’re pitching to – know where your story would fit in their publication/program and identify this for the media; know how the process works for their section
  • Know media deadlines and work to these
  • Get to know the journalists – topics and issues they cover, their style of writing (do they like pics?), how they like to be pitched to, what they like … developing good relationships with the media is so important and this is one of the best ways to get them to notice you: notice them first and know what they want
  • Journalists won’t always respond: they will respond if they want the story, file the email for later reference or delete (although Leo will always respond with a thank you; Janice doesn’t think PR people expect a response anymore!)
  • Quirky media send-outs are losing appeal – if you do go down the inflatable thong path, make sure it’s relevant and adds value to the pitch
  • Get straight to the point of your pitch – bullets in the email body preferable: you don’t need to attach the release if it’s all in the body of the email
  • Really personalise your pitches and know WHO to pitch to – don’t send the same release to different people at the same media outlet without advising them
  • Write the release with media in mind, not your client – too many releases ‘blow smoke up the client’s ass’ rather than writing for what the media want to know/need to know –> give them what they need
    • what is the story? what does your client do? why should X write about it?
  • Leave out the jargon and the ‘boilerplate’ if it’s irrelevant corporate speak
  • Give as much of the story as you can (help them help you!)
  • DO NOT FOLLOW UP CALL TO SEE IF THEY GO THE RELEASE – so many PR people are obviously still doing this because there was a bit of commotion and even an audience member who asked ‘then why does our boss make us follow up call?’ (PR FAIL, right there)
  • Some journalists prefer to deal with PR people … GOOD PR people who know what they’re doing; Leo doesn’t mind giving a ‘fair hearing’ to business owners if they have the guts to call him personally; Janice wants to be put in touch with the source

Leo also brought up an interesting point – everything and anything has their own PR person. When getting clients on board you need to ask ‘why’ are they going for PR and is it really something with PR value?

One thing I’ve learned along the way working in media relations, aside from the value of good journalist relationships is the importance of good client management – they need to understand what PR is, how it works and what they can expect.

Thanks Rebecca and team!

NOTE: I had a Kimberley Fail and switched from the #sblive hashtag to #sbevent at one stage – so you may like to track them both! Thanks Fran for bringing it to my attention!

P.S. Apologies for the quality of my photography – sneaky pics from the front row not as good as I hoped they would be!