Media News

Qwoted 100 Q&A: Inkhouse’s Rachael Durant takes her learnings to the head of the class

October 10, 2022

Posted by Lou Carlozzo

Rachael Durant

[Editor’s Note: In cooperation with our sister website Qwoted, Talking Biz News is pleased to present the Qwoted 100 series, which spotlights standout PR professionals. Look for new installments every week.] 

The Qwoted 100 series (also running for the first time in our sister publication, Talking Biz News) has spent the past few months highlighting some of the superstars of PR: folks who not only help reporters keep their deadlines, but excel at the art of long-term relationship building. To kick off October, I’m please to present to you Rachael Durant, Director of Integrated PR Strategy at Inkhouse. In her role, Durant  … well, let’s say she’s still learning. Proudly, too. “My greatest strength is my passion for learning, which I exercise every day in the Communications industry,” she says.

“I love discovering new, creative ways to tell stories and deliver content in an industry that is constantly evolving.” Based in the Boston area, Durant sat down with Qwoted to share her observations on where PR and media are headed, and the secrets of her success she’s happy to share with her colleagues.  

Qwoted: What do you see as the future of PR—technologically, strategically, or in any category you’re passionate about?
Rachael Durant: PR and earned media are not synonymous, and I think the future of PR is recognizing how to use a strong mix of media and other communications channels to best tell your story to the right audience on the right channel that will share a key message or promote an important action.

PR now and in the future is about storytelling and goes back to a similar question: how do I communicate Z message to X audience in a way that promotes Y action? This mindset breaks organizations out of cookie-cutter tactics or vanity metrics and shifts the focus to the strategies behind distributing the story to specific audiences so that it’s seen, heard and acted upon.

Qwoted: You have some sharp views on data and the role PRs have to play. Share those with us.
Durant: I sometimes joke that I went into communication because I am bad at math, but data-driven strategy and decision-making is vital for PR professionals. Knowing how to collect, read, analyze and interpret data is one of the most important to building truly strategic and effective plans. Each campaign should be measured against metrics that align with the larger picture of what your client or organization is looking for. One of the best superpowers you can have in PR is the ability to critically listen, and this extends to understanding what matters most to your client or company.

Coupling data analysis with a keen understanding of what your client or organization’s larger goals and needs will allow your measurement metrics to better match to company KPIs and support the ROI on PR/marketing as a whole.

Qwoted: What do you think you do that other PRs could learn from?
Durant: I view my role as a facilitator and connector, which helps me be a stronger media relations professional, content strategist and PR pro overall. With media, I am facilitating conversations and making connections that help the journalist do their job and help my client communicate a message.

On the content distribution side, I am facilitating the distribution of content that connects key audiences with resources that help solve a problem or educate that audience while helping to move forward a goal for my client. Basing your role there helps make everything more natural and authentic, and less forced or sales-y.

If you work at an agency, my best advice is to think about your role from the facilitator and connector angle with your clients too. Clients come to us for media relations support and many have the same wishlist for coverage (you know the big, tier one publications I am talking about). But is that really the coverage they need? It depends on what the larger goal or motivation for coverage is. You may have to coach your client into the media relations strategy that aligns with what they need, as opposed to what they want. If lead gen is a strong focus, for example, maybe transition plans to focus on owned content like social or a paid influencer strategy instead of traditional earned alone.

Qwoted: What’s your toughest challenge with reporters?
Durant: Reporters today are working extremely hard to contend with many outside factors, including shrinking newsrooms and resources. It is a challenge to break through, but not insurmountable. I go back to the mantra that my job is to help, facilitate and connect. Taking media relations from that POV has long helped me gain coverage for clients, build relationships and support journalists who are doing important work.

Qwoted: How do you approach breaking through the noise floor to get effective coverage?
Durant: It all goes back to viewing your role in media relations as fundamentally about facilitating and connecting reporters with resources to tell an important story.

Ask yourself two questions: 1.) Why is this story relevant to the publication, reporter, beat and industry/world? 2.) Why is it important to tell that story *now*? From there, it’s necessary to put yourself in a reporter’s shoes to think through how the coverage/story comes together. Direct and to-the-point pitches that outline how your client supports a story of interest, and offering additional resources you may have to support the reporting is the key to breaking through. One example is data, a really powerful tool that helps our journalist friends. Commissioning surveys, studies or data reports is one way to approach this, but not the only one. Can you find analyst reports that support your storyline? Are there peer reviewed studies that flesh out the story?

Qwoted: How does PR in 2022 square with the future of journalism?
Durant: In 2022 and beyond, journalism is facing crises with monetization, resources and newsroom structure. This may mean reporters taking on more work or expanded beats. With the fast news cycle and what we have seen over the last two years especially, getting media attention is going to continue to be a challenge. Quality coverage that supports a client or business is key, as opposed to quantity. Research into the audience of a publication and beat of the reporter will support targeted, strategic pitches for coverage that moves the needle. I also believe that as an industry, we need to acknowledge that PR is not synonymous with media relations and press releases, and there are many avenues for us to tell stories that support the businesses or clients that we work for/with.

Qwoted: What advice would you give to those seeking to find an effective PR person?
Durant: Be curious, ask questions and never stop learning. Amassing this knowledge provides the opportunity to find unique, interesting story angles and make connections that can help produce important stories.

Qwoted: What is your golden rule of PR?
Durant: Working with integrity and authenticity shores up your reputation, your most valuable resource.

Qwoted: Anything else to add?
Durant: There has never been a more exciting time to work in public relations. With so many important tasks under our purview, you have a lot of opportunities to build a path and role that suit your skillset and talents. At the end of the day, our job is to tell effective, meaningful stories – the how, when, where and what is up to us.

Rachel Durant is the Director of Integrated PR Strategy, Inkhouse. To reach her, email or connect on LinkedIn.

Lou Carlozo is Qwoted’s editor in chief and the editor and publisher of Talking Biz News. To reach him, email or connect on LinkedIn.

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