BY: SAM MURPHY
On Thursday, April 20th, PRSSA- UD had the amazing opportunity of traveling to New York City to visit two unique public relations firms. Our first stop in the Big Apple was MSLGROUP, where we were all enthusiastic to learn more about about one of the top five PR agencies in the entire world. Aside from delicious breakfast pastries and a breathtaking view of the NYC skyline, MSLGROUP had plenty to offer!
Joey Silver, Margarita Miranda- Abate, Kevin Tressler, and Thea Linscott had much to say when discussing their overall focus as an agency. Abate emphasized that there’s nothing more engaging than being able to tell a story for your brand. Her point was further validated when the crew showed us videos of MSL’s top campaign hits that were particularly crafted to stir up emotion, a prime example being their #LikeAGirl Always campaign, which continues to hold millions of people captivated. Our speakers then served as guides in terms of helping us understand our own, individual career paths. They explained that even though advertising, public relations, and media agencies are becoming much more interwoven nowadays, there are still small distinctions that could determine which direction we choose to take in the future.
In addition to all of the valuable information MSLGROUP shared with us last week, they didn’t let us get away before giving our members some personal insight on the NYC experience. Linscott best described it as a place of endless options, insisting that “there’s more opportunity within 7 blocks of this building than most other places.” NYC is also a great spot to receive agency background, which all our speakers recommended practicing at least once in life, due to the incomparable strategy skills acquired. However, they emphasized that above all else, your main focus should be choosing a city you could picture yourself living in, while still doing what you love (which is PR, of course)!
After a quick lunch break to eat and refuel, we headed to our next stop, Stuntman PR, a firm primarily focused on promoting culinary businesses. Neil Alumkal and Katherine Liab provided us with a relaxed, conversational setting where we could ask any PR related questions and receive honest feedback by their professional expertise.
A major piece of advice Stuntman reiterated was that if you can’t tell a narrative that will rip through and catch people’s interest, it isn’t worth telling at all. They also shed light on the significance of being able to adapt in such a constantly evolving industry. This includes paying attention to what news is being covered and finding out what people really want to read about. Stuntman mastered this technique with a restaurant- owning client who desired to bring in more customers. They responded with the creative perspective of taking the main food item, dumplings, and remaking them into the largest soup dumplings in NYC. By taking a risk and making their food differently than anyone ever had, Stuntman was able to take a restaurant that previously didn’t even have a printed menu, to bringing them coverage from an abundance of established news outlets. This example highlights Alumkal’s motto that you should always go with your gut, even if the idea seems outrageous at first, which clearly seems to have worked for him thus far!
A key concept Stuntman introduced to us was “backdoor pitching,” which refers to the use of informality to cultivate a journalist/ publicist relationship. In the PR world, Stuntman uses a different technique consisting of casual emails and inviting reporters out for a bite to eat to subtly hook them. This way, they’re establishing a personal bond before a professional one, which Stuntman would agree takes the faceless, robotic aspect out of pitching a story.
Both public relations firms did a great job at developing our understanding of the industry as young PR professionals. We are so grateful to all who took the time to speak with us and make a beautiful day exploring the city that much more memorable!
Sam Murphy is a freshman Communications Interest Major with a minor in advertising. Along with PRSSA-UD, Sam is currently a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority.