PR as an Art Form: Anthony Mora’s Story

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Posted: April 17, 2014, 10:55 a.m.
by Devon Landman.

A lot of people involved in the public relations field like to read, follow and post PR-related blogs to engage with other communicators. Being one of those PR-crazed people, I had been following Anthony Mora’s blogs for quite some time. His website, prforartists.com, contains blogs about roles as an artist, and the responsibility to understand that more work needs to be done in order for your artwork to reach your target audience.

That’s where PR steps in. According to his website, Mora believes, “Creating the work is step one, marketing it is a whole other story. But if you realize that creating a successful PR campaign for your work is an art form in itself, you can begin to look at it with new eyes.” Mora’s words of PR wisdom captivated me, and I’ve been a fan ever since.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Mora, after pitching him content for his site. He accepted my blog to be published on his site, and was very kind in helping me with the edits. I wanted to know and share his story even more after talking with him.

Question: Where did you attend college and what did you study?

Mora: I went to Santa Monica College and then started at UCLA. I was a literature major, but was offered a writing job and left school to pursue journalism. Eventually, I went on to write for such publications as Us, Playboy and Rolling Stone, which lead to me working as the editor-in-chief of Impresión, an English language, Latino-oriented publication, and Excel, a lifestyle-oriented publication.

Question: How did you first become interested in PR?

Mora: Whereas fiction remains my first love, and I’m currently working on another novel, I realized that adding other forms of writing to my repertoire would make sense from a career perspective. While running my company (we’re now in our 24th year), I’ve been lucky enough to have a novel published and five plays produced, so I never had to abandon fiction.

Effective storytelling is the basic tenant of PR, so I didn’t drift that far afield. I also soon came to realize that, in a very real sense, perspective creates our reality. Running a PR firm is not unlike working as the editor of a magazine. You’re simultaneously working on a number of different stories, but instead of concentrating on one publication, your focus is on the entire media landscape.

Question: What internships and jobs have been important stepping stones for where you are now?

Mora: Strangely enough, I never worked for a PR firm. It was my experience on the journalistic side that taught me what I know about PR. I think that experience served me well because I was able to look at public relations from the media’s perspective. As a PR consultant, your primary goal has to be to meet the media’s needs. If you are not able to achieve that goal, you will never meet your client’s needs.

Question: What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur and PR practitioner?

Mora: The freedom to choose my clients and work with people I truly enjoy working with who share a common vision. PR is not about smoke and mirrors or about selling; it’s about telling a compelling story. The biggest fallacy I’ve ever heard is that any PR is good PR. There is plenty of bad PR. Evocative public relations is a science but also an art.

It is more ephemeral than other forms of marketing. Unlike advertising, where you can buy ad space in a certain magazine on a specific date, or social media marketing, where you control the message that is being sent out, PR is a completely different animal. It’s unique in that it offers the validation of a third-party verification.

Question: What is your clientele like?

Mora: We’re an eclectic firm. We represent filmmakers, authors and fine artists, but we also represent style, fashion and medical clients. I don’t like focusing solely on one arena. I find that gets boring. Also, to keep your PR muscles well developed, it’s important to deal with different clients, which in turn has you work with different journals, producers and editors.

Question: What is the easiest aspect and the toughest aspect of owning a PR firm?

Mora: I’m still trying to figure out the easiest aspect. The toughest is managing client expectations. Most clients don’t fully understand the process and believe that you can simply call a journalist, pitch a story and that journalist is going to love the story every bit as much as the client. That is seldom the case. There are no easy PR campaigns. Most campaigns build slowly. Actually, the best campaign have a slow cumulative build.

A few years back, when Oprah still had her network show, we were able to place a client on the show within a few weeks of her signing. At that time Oprah was the PR jewel. It was the placement everyone was hoping for. So the upside was we hit a home run in the first two weeks. The downside was, from the client’s perspective, we had no place to go but down from there. It was a bit of a learning curve, but the client eventually understood, that although Oprah was a big step, it was but one step in a very successful campaign. Most savvy clients understand that it’s a cumulative process and that media begets media and then no one placement defines a PR campaign.

Mora’s experiences with journalism and PR have prepared him with profound knowledge about the industry. He is living proof that with hard work, an open-mind, and the willingness to expand your horizons, you can become one of the major players in your field.

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