Glen King's interview for Magicseen Magazine on the power of PR

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Glen King - Director of GKPR Group

September 29, 2017

Glen King – founder director of Glen King PR – based in Exeter

1. Tell us a little about how you got involved in PR and about your current business.

Actively involved in the exciting and historical and launch of The National Lottery in 1994, I was the Deputy Regional Centre Manager SW for the Exeter office of Camelot, paying out the major lottery winners, and formally trained as a media spokesperson. I worked closely with Camelot’s PR agency which at that time was, Hall, Harrison & Cowley and was regularly involved in press conferences and creating great lottery winner news stories – I loved every minute of it and finally found my vocation even though I went to the University of Life! After eight years Camelot closed six regional centres around the UK including Exeter and we were all made redundant. I then took a job as a marketing manager with a local insurance company and having developed a close-working relationship with the local media over a decade and obtained a high profile in the South West business community, I then set up my own PR company, Glen King PR in March 2005 and have never looked back...

2. For those who are not quite sure exactly what PR is, please could you explain broadly how it works?

Public Relations (PR), is all about communication, brand and image - the way that you speak to your audience, and the way you present yourself. PR is what companies, organisations and individuals can use to help people shape an opinion on them, to ensure the get to their target market or sector with a loyal following. PR can also be negative and destroy a business if handled badly – think Gerald Ratner and the collapse of the family firm following his infamous address to 5000 members of the Institute of Directors when he joked: "We even sell a pair of gold earrings for under £1, which is cheaper than a prawn sandwich from Marks & Spencer. But I have to say that the sandwich will probably last longer than the earrings."

To explain PR in simple terms, think of two well-known grocery brands: M&S Simply Food and Lidl... When you look at the highly respected M&S brand, you think of premium quality, inspirational and delicious food, together with high-quality flowers and gifts coupled with excellent customer service. At Lidl, which is a leading supermarket for saving money - you expect good value and a wide choice at a more affordable cost where you get much more for your money for your everyday needs. And let’s face it where else can you buy a roast chicken and a socket set?!

3. Would you say that PR is more effective than general advertising normally is, and if so, why?

With some services, such as retail, general advertising works well and is even more effective when combined with PR. Pure PR is editorial used to promote good news stories such as the launch of a new product or service, expansion or an anniversary/milestone in business. I believe out of the two PR is much more powerful as it’s seen as independent. For example, if you read a review by the editor of a respected magazine and they are raving about a new product, this is more likely to influence you to rush out and buy it rather than seeing the same item within an advert where the organisation is looking to sell, sell, sell!

4. As a professional PR consultant, what can you do for a magician to help him get bookings that he can’t just do for himself?

It takes a lot of time and commitment to become a respected PR professional. A good PR consultant builds up a close-working relationship with the local media, and gets to understand the individual style of writing of editors and reporters. We make life easy for the media by creating copy in an easy layout that they can cut and paste to fit within their piece which will then go out under their name.

For example: Glen King PR created a highly effective PR campaign on behalf of Mark Leveridge – strolling magician, to promote his new technical magic skills workshops aimed at children aged 11 – 17 years called ‘Let’s do Magic’. Initially we picked up the phone to each relevant reporter/editor across the region, who we knew well, to check their interest and the angle of the news story that would suit their needs. As a result, we gained maximum media coverage to a wider audience which proved excellent value for our client as opposed to him investing in advertising with a couple of local magazines, which would limit his reach to the end-user.

We created a full PR mix including BBC Spotlight TV (where Mark did magic tricks for Christmas shoppers in Exeter High Street) /a radio interview with Simon Bates of BBC Radio Devon, plus a variety of press releases and features used in magazines, newspapers, on-line news portals and social media and digital marketing platforms. This not only created a buzz, excitement and awareness of the new service over a longer period to a larger audience, but also helped to raise the brand and profile of Mark Leveridge Magic as a strolling magician.

In addition, we took a gallery of photographs of Mark doing tricks, which were not only used for the PR campaign but he was then able to also use these for his website and other marketing purposes, which added value to his investment.

5. Can you suggest the sort of stories or ‘hooks’ that a magician might be able to use to get a PR piece together?

The new magic workshop for children by Mark Leveridge was a perfect RP campaign generating a huge amount of excitement and interest in the local media. My suggestion would be to pick up the phone or email the local media (always find out the reporter’s name) and introduce yourself. Tell them about your background, qualifications and expertise (what is different about you compared to other magicians in the local area – do you have any new tricks or a different style of performing)? Check to see if they have any upcoming features that may fit your profession and leave them your details so when they need something magical you will be their local go to expert.

6. If an entertainer is determined to submit a PR piece himself, what is the process that he needs to go through to a) write the article in the first place, and b) get it to the correct people who need to see it?

  • a)Make sure your first paragraph reflects the headline. A sub editor always edits from the bottom upwards – so ensure your key message is at the top!
  • b)Make it interesting – be passionate. Lay out press releases a paragraph at a time and in 1.5 lines to make it easier for the editor to read and digest and also edit.
  • c)Get in touch with the publication and find out which reporter deals with entertainment/ creativity or professional services. Ensure you get their direct line and email address and call to introduce yourself and why you think you have a great news story which would work for the readership

7. What are the three biggest things NOT to do in a PR campaign?

  • 1.Treat the media with respect: Never send a news release to all media contacts in one email and cc each of them in – this is lazy journalism and trust me – none of them will print it and you are more likely to be blacklisted for any future copy
  • 2.Do not create a blanket press release and send with the same image – publications come out at different times and it will be seen as old news if the story and photograph appears in say a daily or weekly newspaper before a monthly magazine which works up to 6 – 8 weeks ahead and will be seen as old news
  • 3.Is your idea newsworthy – will people want to read this?

8. What are the three most essential things to do?

  • 1.Get the media interested in you and what you do so they remember you when they have a relevant feature.

2. What is new in your profession?

  • 3. Who, what, where, why, when and how is always a good start to writing a press release

9. Any other general advice you care to pass on that you haven’t covered in the above answers?

PR is a specialist service and it takes a lot of time and energy to build relationships with the media and gain an understanding how each genre works and then come up with creative campaigns and copy. My advice would be “do what you do best and outsource the rest! I’m not a magician so I don’t do tricks... Leave it to the experts and get on with the day job...

Glen King PR is a small professional, dynamic and friendly PR consultancy based in Exeter. The company has an enviable and diverse portfolio of clients, both large and small, across a wide range of market sectors, with a specialist knowledge of the construction and renewables industry. Working in the South West, predominantly in Devon, Somerset and Dorset, Glen King PR has developed a close working relationship with the media across the region.

Glen King PR

See coverage on: Magicseen Magazine