My Work in PRogress this week is the super lovely Chris Nunn, who is a freelance digital PR consultant, travel blogger and an ex-colleague of mine!
Not only is Chris genuinely one of the nicest people I’ve met in the industry so far, but he’s also super talented at all things PR, writing and links. From his successful travel blog, to building hundreds of links over the past few years, I couldn’t wait to pick Chris’ brain in this issue of Work in PRogress.
In this interview, we chatted about Chris’ love for Linkin Park and his top tips for those starting out in the industry.
What is your ultimate shower song? (The song you can give a 10/10 Grammy-worthy performance of in your shower on a Saturday morning)
In the End by Linkin Park – both the Chester and Mike parts. I never really left the late 90s/2000’s alt-rock phase, so I can bust out most songs in that genre. 🤟🏼
A really pop-based ‘made for you’ “appeared” on my Spotify that’s full of absolute bangers that I’ll either hum to myself around the house or bust out in the shower – I’m talking Whole Again (takes me back to summer 2018), All Rise and Keep On Movin’ levels of utter cheese and awesomeness.
(I think there’s a video of me doing a Richard Cheese version of Missy Elliott, during a work party at my first agency, that I’m both embarrassed by and insanely proud of. It was really, really good in my opinion.)
What are your top three favourite campaigns that you’ve ever worked on?
Sonic Movie Trailer Reactive
I’d only been doing work with Root Digital for a week or two and they asked me to take a look at a reactive piece a client was interested in. They’d used a mixture of really simple Youtube stats and data, plus some client insights into costs, to provide a commentary on how the new trailer had been received and how much it might cost the filmmakers to ‘reshoot’ all the scenes.
The first round of outreach was pretty steady and it got picked up by Yahoo!, IGN, CBR, GameByte and a host of other really relevant sites – “Great!” I thought. Then IndieWire reported that they’d been contacted by someone who was working on the new Sonic film, Paramount had responded to our commentary and the estimates we’d put out.
In came another wave of mentions and links, from all over the world. Paramount had just admitted how much they’d had to spend getting Sonic to look right. However, some didn’t believe them and others did so it all kicked off with people talking about the costs and if the ‘investment’ was would be worth it.
All of this occurred over 5 days, with 43 links and mentions coming in just 3. Was a mad few days tbh.
This was the first campaign/piece that I put together off my own back. During the Bitcoin boom in 2017, I found a blog on the client’s site by one of the content team and thought I could repurpose it for some outreach. The price of Bitcoins was rocketing and there was quite a bit of chat around them in mainstream publications and tons on niche sites.
I updated the post with some new figures and a few new developments that had occurred in the 9 months since the original blog got published and started pitching it to various mainstream and niche press. From a real punt in the dark, it got close to 20 pick-ups and about 14 links, including some Bitcoin and tech news sites and nationals.
It’s maybe not the most ‘big time’ but was my first “screw it, I want to try this” piece and it worked really nicely if I do say so myself. So, yeah, that has to be in my list.
The UK Wage Chart
This one was a really simple piece and is one of those where you really don’t need anything too fancy to get a big hit. We used some fairly lengthy and dull ONS copy/figure and put it through design to show the average wages in about 270 or so professions
The original outreach did really nicely in industry titles and a few general news outlets, I think it got like 20+ links in the first couple of weeks. It then got picked up by a journalist at iNews – BOOM! – and ended up getting put onto the JPI Media network for its regional titles and editors to work on. The last time I checked this really simple piece had accumulated over 217 links, which is insane.
I really like this one as it went back to basics and just made date easier to read and that was all it needed.
“It was a proper case of that sometimes the data and story are right in front of you, and all you need to do is make it a bit more appealing or easier to digest.”
What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone just starting out in the industry?
Network and chat with people. Honestly, it’s such a vital part of this industry, both for helping your development by picking up tips and tricks and finding likeminded people that actually understand what you do.
“95% of my family and friends still have no idea what my work actually is!”
I’ve worked in professional football where people share occasional tips but overall it’s a very dog eat dog industry. Digital PR really isn’t like that (on the whole) people in the industry are more than happy to have a chat about things, share tips and generally help if you ask. I’m not saying pester people but just chat, use Twitter, Linkedin or even at events (when we can go to them again) and introduce yourself and get talking.
If the learning and support reasons aren’t enough of reason, this one might sound a bit iffy to some, but the network you build can help so much in your progression and when you’re looking a new job/work. People will recommend and want to work with people they know and trust (both personal trust and trust that they’ll do a good job), the more people you know and that trust you the more opportunities will likely come your way over the course of your career.
What are your favourite topics to ideate around? Which (if any) niches do you think are harder/more competitive to build links in?
Gawd, that’s a tough but good question. I’d probably go with personal finance because it can go down so many avenues and cross over with other topics/niches. For me personally, it kind of plays to my strengths, more often than not personal finance will have sort of numerical data element – which is something I enjoy playing with and is one of my strengths (at least I think it is) – so it kind of suits my style.
Banking – like full-on banking – and insurance have tended to hard. It’s often very easy to end up in a battle of wills with the compliance/legal teams that you spend more time trying to satisfy them than being creative and end up with almost branded content that can be a struggle to get placements for.
Finally, what does being a work in progress mean to you?
For me, it’s trying to be better than I was the day, week, month or year(s) before. I am in no way perfect or a finished article and that’s totally cool with me. I’ll take time out to check in and see how I’m feeling and what I want from life.
“My being in progress is acknowledging my wins and losses, mistakes and achievements, and learning from them so I’m more clued up in the future and can deal with situations in a different way, know what I want and actually enjoy life.”
As for my professional progress, it’s trying to learn new things, overcome my weaknesses (or just acknowledge them) and build my skill set. My mind really wanders and I get into groundhog day style routine, so by trying new things and pushing myself into doing more varied parts of my job, I get to kill two birds with one stone; develop my skills and change up my routine to develop a stronger mentality.
As much as I focus in on stuff (okay become obsessed) and am like a dog with a bone when it comes to stuff etc. – Do them right or not at all as someone once told me – I’ll have a few things lined up for once that’s done. I need that variety and long term “next” to keep me moving and progressing…half the reason I’m so inconsistent with my blogs, as I’ll do something then focus on the next thing.
You can keep up with the brilliant Chris on his fantastic blog here, and on Twitter here.