In a first for the Qwoted 100 PR superstar roll call, we bring you a public relations professional based in Cape Town, South Africa: Isabel Ludick of Pangolia. But the story of what makes her special hardly ends there. Her degree in psychology from South Africa’s North-West University adds an extra dimension to her critical thinking and problem-solving skills. It’s also translated to a neat slant on the pet industry, as Pangolia strives to become “the most helpful pet company in the world” through its e-commerce and online publishing efforts.
We talked to Ludick about the importance of relationships in driving her work, the future of PR in a tech-driven world, and the supreme value of patience when things don’t go your way.
Qwoted: What do you see as the future of PR—technologically, strategically, or in any category you’re passionate about?
Isabel Ludick: Strategically, relationship-building, personalization and relevancy will become more important than ever. Mass outreach and impersonal, irrelevant pitches are a thing of the past. You’re unlikely to get success with any type of shotgun approach. Spend your time finding the right journalists for the publication you’re looking to get attention from; do your research on them; make sure your product, service, or information falls within their beats and interests; and manually create a pitch tailored to them and them alone. Spending two hours crafting five highly relevant, well-researched personal pitches and getting responses from them all — or even just one — could be more beneficial than wasting 30 minutes sending 100 cookie-cutter emails and hearing nothing back from anyone because you were archived faster than they could say “Spammy McSpamBurger.” Quality over quantity should be your daily mantra.
Qwoted: What do you think you do that other PRs could learn from?
Ludick: Be patient and understand you’re going to go through many silent droughts before the first rain. In PR, you need lots of patience and a thick skin. It’s hard not to take rejection personally but in most cases it’s just not the right fit, time, email or journalist. Keep knocking at that door and never stop learning and improving.
Qwoted: What’s your toughest challenge with reporters?
Ludick: Timing. Everyone in PR knows timing is probably the most crucial element of them all. You could have the right journalists, email, and a rock-solid pitch. But if the timing is off and they aren’t covering your niche at this moment, you’re going to hit a dead-end. Monitor your ideal journalists and publications daily to see what they write about. Keep up to date on the news and internet trends to use that to your advantage.
Qwoted: How do you approach breaking through the noise floor to get effective coverage?
Ludick: Depending on your niche, it can be hard to stand out from the crowd. A rising global, digital and content marketing trend (for good reason) is attention to user experience. The digital world is all about making things easier, better and faster for users. Try to mimic that notion and be more relevant, thorough and quicker than your competitors at delivering expert info, product pitches, general commentary. Also, old but gold: Consistency is key. Even if you fail 100 times, keep trying until you land that mention!
Qwoted: How does PR in 2023 square with the future of journalism?
Ludick: The world of journalism is facing many difficulties and radical changes right now due to the rise and progression of advanced technology and A.I. PR professionals should aim to support journalists and writers who are trying to keep their heads above industry waters now even more than ever. PR doesn’t exist without journalism. By improving our PR systems, turnover time and communication lines, we not only help enhance authority and credibility with expert insight/perfect products, but we also support their art so they can continue doing what they do best: report and inform, human to human.
Qwoted: What advice would you give to those seeking an effective PR person?
Ludick: Look for people or agencies that value integrity and respect in the workplace. PR has gotten a bad rep in some corners of the professional world due to some people parading incorrect, fake and potentially harmful information/products/services as expert insight, life-changing trends or instant solutions to problems. Journalists must sift through so many imposters, spammers and link-hungry people who wrongfully act in the name of public pelations that they simply start to ignore or skip the real brands and PR professionals trying to offer something valuable — regardless of getting immediate gratification in return. Look for a person who’s working in PR for nothing other than to be the crucial connection between expert sources, and brilliant brands and people of the world. Integrity and respect must be the number one requirement.
Other important things to look for include superior attention to detail, Sherlock Holmes-style research skills and the patience/diligence of a preschool teacher.
Qwoted: What is your golden rule of PR?
Ludick: Read the brief, twice, then read it again. Does it answer the question or meet the requirements? It does? Great! Now read the brief again and get started. No? Read the brief again, give yourself a minute to mourn and move on. In other words: You’re wasting everyone’s time if you try to force a pitch that doesn’t meet the brief. They cannot add your yoga mat to The Christmas Gifts for Dads That Love Fishing round-up guide no matter how much you try to make it make sense. Read and obey the brief.
Qwoted: Anything else to add?
Ludick: Qwoted is a really great tool for PR professionals. It makes building relationships with relevant journalists effortless and navigating different queries, beats and publications has never been this easy. 10/10 would recommend.