Given the sometimes adversarial relationship between reporters and PRs — often on the reporter side, according to TBN’s editor and publisher — it’s refreshing to hear Taylor Mullins talk about “a harmonious partnership between communicators and the media.” It’s needed more than ever: Don’t the political divisions in this country dish enough ill will to begin with?
Mullins, our latest Qwoted 100 PR superstar, talks about not just how communication pros can land placements, but also serve as a force for major advancement. From her perch at the prestigious Hill+Knowlton firm, she shares her views on a wide swath of media matters.
Qwoted: What do you see as the future of PR—technologically, strategically, or in any category you’re passionate about?
Taylor Mullins: I see a future where public relations pros have a larger integral role in major advancements and decisions in the world. I view PR professionals and the people behind the curtain as the navigation and communications tools between decisions, opportunities and outputs.
Qwoted: What do you think you do that other PRs could learn from?
Mullins: I look at everyone the same, whether you’re a client, reporter, newsstand employee or the CEO of a major company. We’re all people with feelings and opinions. I’ve learned so much from my mentors because they don’t treat me like a young kid or someone “new.” They treat me like a person willing to learn and always say how mentoring gives them an opportunity to learn as well. If I could give advice to anyone, it would be that.
Qwoted: What’s your toughest challenge with reporters?
Mullins: The most formidable challenge lies in the ability to take a step back and recognize that their newsrooms operate on a smaller scale. They often juggle a multitude of stories and competing interests. To effectively engage with journalists, it’s important to adopt a mindset akin to serving clients. I try to understand what I can offer to assist them in their reporting, contemplate how my resources or insights can be harnessed to aid their work, and remain mindful of the broader context within which they operate. In doing so, a collaborative and mutually beneficial relationship can be nurtured, which allows for a more productive and harmonious partnership between communicators and the media.
Qwoted: How do you break through the noise floor to get effective coverage?
Mullins: I value getting to know reporters. They’re people, and in my opinion when you treat people with respect then that respect is often reciprocated. It doesn’t always land coverage but it builds relationships and from that understanding, opportunities.
Qwoted: How does PR in 2023 square with the future of journalism?
Mullins: Public relations professionals must forge strong partnerships with journalism professionals and recognize that in an era of increasing demands on both sides, collaboration is pivotal to effectively convey stories to the public. By working closely, PR experts and journalists can navigate the evolving media landscape — and ensure that information is disseminated accurately and compellingly. This symbiotic relationship not only enhances the quality of news but also amplifies the impact of the narratives they jointly bring to the forefront.
Qwoted: What advice would you give to those seeking to find an effective PR person?
Mullins: Whether you’re a reporter, client or an agency, see how they handle adversity. How do they react when you accept their source and how do they react when you can’t squeeze their source in? How do they react when they win the new business pitch or don’t win an extension? It can be helpful and telling when your PR person or team battles adversity with poise to know how they will support you.
Qwoted: What is your golden rule of PR?
Mullins: Be confident in what you know and honest about what you don’t. There’s power in that. I believe that true value is displayed when you use your voice equally.
Qwoted: Anything else to add?
Mullins: I like to live by the famous words of PR gladiator Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington): “If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. But you have to try because if you try, if you leap and you try, and it doesn’t work out, it’s not on you.”
February 14, 2023