Qwoted 100: Flying through the PR ‘Natmosfear’ with Natalie Bickel
What’s it like to occupy not just a rarified PR atmosphere, but the “natmosfear”? That’s the URL extension on the LinkedIn profile of Natalie Bickel and make no mistake: Nat (as she likes to be called) is a high flyer who has just landed on our Qwoted 100 list of PR rock stars.
Now with CommOddities, Inc. after two-plus years at Brielle Cotterman Media, the University of Louisville grad loves her work, and considers PR a calling where she merges of her passions of storytelling, writing and connecting with audiences. Here, Bickel talks about the future of PR in terms of making fast connections between PRs and reporters, and how she gets around the reporter’s favorite stall tactic, “not right now.”
Qwoted: What do you see as the future of PR—technologically, strategically, or in any category you’re passionate about?
Natalie Bickel: My prediction is that we’ll keep seeing platforms like Qwoted [Editor’s note: Yeah!] and Muck Rack — where direct media-to-publicist communication occurs — continue to flourish when it comes to sourcing stories and current assignments. It’s vital for journalists to trust PR pros to deliver quality content and sources by their strict deadlines. These platforms allow for increased verification of both parties.
Qwoted: What do you do that other PRs could learn from?
Bickel: Having a network through Facebook groups has led to huge wins for my clients. I’m able to connect directly with other PR pros and journalists who trust the community in the groups to provide qualified sources. By checking in multiple times a week, I’m able to find opportunities that aren’t posted in HARO or Qwoted. I’m also able to foster connection through social media. Following Twitter hashtags like #journorequest provides a similar level of top-tier opportunity for my clients. Wading through the long list of requests can take time. But when you find a golden one that aligns perfectly with a client’s expertise, it feels like a hard-earned rush of excitement!
Qwoted: What’s your toughest challenge with reporters?
Bickel: My toughest challenge is when a reporter says “not right now.” Getting interest from a pitch is a win within itself, but I love when things come to fruition sooner rather than later. I’m always one to ensure that I follow up with reporters when I get this type of response, but the challenge is to know when to wait and when to lean in.
Qwoted: How do you break through the noise floor to get effective coverage?
Bickel: Reporters get hundreds of emails daily, so making my pitch stand out among the masses is always a challenge I’m willing to take. Researching what they’ve worked on recently while crafting a pitch that’s timely and catchy is a riveting part of my job, especially when I get a positive response. My approach centers on what my client can provide to their specific audience; focusing on what knowledge the audience will walk away with that they didn’t have prior to the interview. It’s important to focus on what I can do to make a journalist’s job easier and not the other way around.
Qwoted: How does PR in 2023 square with the future of journalism?
Bickel: The future of journalism centers around impact and those making a difference. It’s less about business profiles and more about how our world is moving in the right or wrong direction. Journalism elevates the voices of those who take a stand and dedicate their brand or life to helping others. Public relations that focuses on solving a problem that benefits others, especially marginalized groups, has increased greatly this year. I believe we will see more and more of this in the coming years: more positive voices coming into the light and into the press.
Qwoted: What advice would you give to those looking for an effective PR person?
Bickel: If you’re trying to find the right PR person, look for someone that’s a good listener. When I onboard a client, I interview them. We talk about their background, business, personal life, opinions and more, so I get a well-rounded view for who they are, what they do, and what they stand for. I want my clients to feel fully seen by our company. I would suggest that you find someone who does that for you, and who’ll always strive to find wins, turning over rocks in unexpected places and using unconventional methods to help you gain exposure. Ultimately, find a PR pro who is scrappy!
Qwoted: What’s your golden rule of PR?
Bickel: My golden rule of PR is to always follow up and provide additional value when doing so. A majority of my placements come from following up at least once if not multiple times. As mentioned earlier, journalists get hundreds of emails, so moving mine back to the top of their inbox is vital in getting secured coverage. I don’t know that I’ve ever sent a pitch that I haven’t followed up on unless I received a response immediately. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m almost OCD about it, making sure I do my full duty in giving my clients the best possible outcome for features.
Qwoted: Anything else to add?
Bickel: I’ll end with this sentiment: I absolutely love public relations. I get to practice creativity daily and talk to members of the media all over the globe. Presenting wins to clients is such a rush I don’t think I’ll ever get over, and frankly, I don’t want to. My job gives me great joy in spreading impactful messages that wouldn’t be heard as far and wide without the span of public relations and the expansive reach of media outlets.
You can connect with Natalie Bickel of CommOddities via email at email@example.com, her website or on LinkedIn.
Lou Carlozo is Qwoted’s Editor in Chief and the Editor/Publisher of Talking Biz News. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or connect on LinkedIn.
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