Between You and MEdia… with Marc Narducci

As PR professionals, we all know the importance of building meaningful relationships with members of the media – reporters, producers, assignment editors, etc. But how does that happen, and where do you start? 

In this new section of the PPRA blog, PPRA members will share insight, tips and tricks, and fun facts learned from members of the media through informal interviews. You won’t have to wait for our “Media Mingle” or “Editors Panel” to get your tough questions answered and connect with the media. Our goal with this blog section is to continue engagement with our media counterparts in an informative and fun manner. So, between you and me – enjoy!


Marc Narducci has been a Philadelphia Inquirer sportswriter since 1983, offering stories, videos, photos & commentary mainly on the 76ers & Temple football. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic he has shifted some of his reporting to news and The Upside – the Inquirer’s newest section which celebrates good news, good stories and the very best of the Greater Philadelphia region. Marc is a passionate storyteller whose love for his craft and this region shine through in his reporting. Learn from PPRA member Melissa Fordyce on how he got this start, how he likes to be pitched and the favorite story he’s covered. Photos courtesy of Marc Narducci.

Narducci_Marc

How did you get started as a journalist?
I first started out as a reporter for a local newscast in cable TV while I was still in college in 1979. I stayed there for five years, but while there, I realized that I better become a little more versatile so through contacts I was able to do some freelance sports stories for the Courier Post and a few for The Inquirer. When The Philadelphia Inquirer debuted a South Jersey section in 1984, I was hired. It wasn’t full-time but back then there was an unlimited freelance budget, so I was working full-time hours. I didn’t become full-time until 1997.

Who/what inspired you to pursue journalism and what keeps you inspired?
I just always had a love for sports and wanted to report on it whether electronically or for print. Over the years I have done a lot of small cable TV sports stuff such as covering games, sports shows, etc. I just always wanted to have a career where I was covering sports and for the most part that is how it has been. Now due to the coronavirus, I have been also writing news (until the games return) and that has also been interesting. It is not my comfort zone but have met a lot of good people and have done several different types of stories from straight news to features.

What’s your favorite aspect of your job?
The fact that I am covering something I love and get to tell the story. It’s always said that no two days are the same. I wouldn’t go that far, but there is so much different that occurs. Each story presents its own new challenge. I especially like covering a team on a day to day basis, because you become so familiar with the participants and the subject.
 

What’s your favorite story that you’ve worked?
I just finished a 12-part series on the 76ers 12 most memorable playoff games, which is still running now. The reason I enjoyed it was I went back and interviewed players and coaches and learned so much that I didn’t know about many of these famous games. Some of the information I had never read before and that is always good to uncover new information and it was fascinating to see how well people remembered events that in some cases were more than 50 years ago.

Take us through your story process – What elements do you look for?
Where do you start? You always look for a hook. The story we always ask is why should this story be published. What about it makes it worth pursuing. When you are covering a team on a day to day basis, you are often doing the news of the day, although you are always looking for a different slant to a story everybody else is covering. When doing a feature, then you want to really say, what makes this story worth publishing.

We get pitched on a lot of stories with similar themes, so we are always looking for what makes this story stand out. For instance, while working for The Inquirer’s Upside section, we get pitched on so many people doing good things for charity. That should never be discounted, but then we look at what makes this story so unique. Maybe it is something that they are doing different. Maybe it is the individual who has a good and unique story. But we always look beyond just the nuts and bolts of a story and look to see what will make it stand out.

How do you work with PR professionals?
I love working with PR professionals because for the most part, they know what we need. The really good ones know how to pitch a story, know our needs and can deliver us the people we need to talk to. That is the most important thing. Not only getting a good story but getting the people who can talk about it in an interesting way. You know within a few minutes of a phone call or even from reading an email if a PR professional is sharp.

What advice would you give PR professionals looking to pitch you?
Read the product you are pitching to. Don’t pitch me a story that ran in yesterday’s paper. Also have a little idea about the work the reporter you are pitching to does. The more effective pitches come from people who are not just cold calling but have a familiarity with what we do and possibly the type of stories we need.

How many pitches do you get a day from PR folks? Since working for the Upside section, it has increased to probably several a day, but that is fine. The hardest thing is to say no to somebody. One thing I do is I will pitch every story idea I get unless I think it has no chance to succeed. For instance, if we have done a story or even several on a topic I pitch, I will tell the PR person that it isn’t likely that it will be used.  

How do you prefer to be pitched? What is the best way to make a pitch stand out?
I like email. Everything is outlined there and plus you have a record of it. I keep a file of all the stories I am pitched and it is easy to do it that way. Also, I like the people who even if I turn them down, that they come back with more ideas.

Favorite local sports hero – past or present?
Always loved Hank Aaron. I thought he is the most underrated sports superstar and love the way he still carries himself today with so much dignity.

Favorite game or sports story you’ve covered?
IMG_5140The Eagles 41-33 win over New England in Super Bowl LII. I was in Minnesota the entire week doing pre-game stories and it was exciting to be part of our coverage. I normally don’t do this, but after the game and long after I had filed my story, I went down on the field and had my photo taken there. Normally I remain neutral. I don’t root for teams, I root for no injuries and a good storyline, but the fact that it was the Eagles first Super Bowl title and to be part of it was pretty special.

Favorite spot to think through a story?
My kitchen. That is where I do most of my work. I take phone calls, write the stories right here. The only problem is when my wife runs the microwave, then it gets a little hard to hear, but other than that, it’s my spot.

The best way to reach Marc: mnarducci@inquirer.com

Discussing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Public Relations and Beyond

PPRA DEI Event

PHOTO: Queen Muse during PPRA’s DE&I webinar on June 30.

 

On Tuesday, June 30, David W. Brown, Diversity Advisor to the Office of the Dean at Temple University, led a discussion with Queen Muse, Digital Contributor for Philadelphia Magazine, and Sabrina Ram, Founder and President of Blu Lotus, about the meaning of “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” (DE&I) in the workplace.

The discussion builds on ongoing conversations around companies’ responsibility to be advocates for diverse communities. Queen and Sabrina emphasized the undeniable value of diversity and offered the following actionable tips to help PR professionals integrate DE&I into their lives, corporate culture, and counsel.

Be authentic and actionable, not performative.

When crafting statements, leaders should strive for authenticity by speaking about what they know to avoid hollow messaging. The statement should be transparent, noting any past missteps or shortcomings the company may have had—even if they make them look bad—as reflecting on the past is necessary to mapping out the path forward. Calling out injustice or inequity should become second nature for companies that are truly looking to evolve.

Educate yourself.

It’s impossible for white individuals to truly understand what people of color have withstood, but it is possible for them to educate themselves on their plights, interests, opinions, and more by reading their stories, listening to Ted Talks, and studying history. Queen stressed that education is key to understanding diversity, and it will inherently guide authentic messaging.

Make sacrifices to make room.

Organizations must invite diverse talent into the room and offer them a seat at the executives’ table. Majority leaders should willingly step aside and invite a person of color to fill their position to broaden the company’s perspective and deliver impactful messages to their diverse audiences—especially in a city as diverse as Philadelphia. Hiring managers should look outside of their immediate circle by consulting organizations that cultivate pools of brilliant, diverse talent, and those without hiring power should be willing to speak up and ask what the company is doing to increase diversity.                                

Amplify diverse voices.

Hiring people of color to positions of power fosters diversity, but diversity is not enough. They should be empowered to speak and drive decision making so that their voices, perspectives, and creativity can be heard and can trickle down throughout the company. Sabrina noted that to keep the momentum going, we should highlight companies that are doing DE&I right so that others can learn from them.

Hold yourself accountable.

The conversation surrounding DE&I has been bubbling to the surface for decades, but 2020 is the time for change. Ambiguous statements are no longer acceptable. All of us need to set goals to foster DE&I however we are able, and we need to hold ourselves, and our companies, accountable by pairing each goal with a deadline, routinely evaluating progress, and seeing each goal to the finish line.

Look out for more PPRA programming around these important issues as the discussion continues to evolve, because this is not the end of the conversation, but rather the beginning of long-lasting change.

-By PPRA member Jamie Shore

#PPRAMemberMonday – Brianna M. Taylor

Brianna M. Taylor

Brianna M. Taylor is the Director of Public Relations for Garfield Group. She has been a member of PPRA since 2013.

Twitter: @garfieldgroup

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GarfieldGroup/

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/garfield-group

Brianna M. Taylor leads the public relations practice at Garfield Group, an integrated marketing and communications agency in Old City. Prior to Garfield Group, she spent five years at Devine + Partners.

Brianna has significant experience developing and executing public relations campaigns on behalf of clients, but her real passion is in understanding clients’ businesses and goals, and developing effective strategies to help them achieve those objectives. 

During her career, Brianna has worked on campaigns for financial service firms, emerging technology companies, and some of Philadelphia’s most well-known cultural sites. Brianna received an M.B.A. in strategic management from Villanova University and a B.A. in political science from Haverford College.

PPRA: Who are your clients and/or what are you working on right now?

BT: Most of our clients are B2B brands with a focus in technology. 

PPRA: What is your favorite part of your job?

BT: Working with clients across industries and providing insights and strategies that move them closer to their goals. From finding a compelling media hook to developing a spark of an idea into a strategy – it’s a beautiful process! 

PPRA: What one piece of advice would you give to your fellow PR pros?

BT: Pick up the phone! Relationships aren’t built over email.

PPRA: What book or movie could you read or watch again and again?

BT: Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers and James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time

PPRA: What’s your favorite spot in Philly?

BT: Fairmount Park – There is so much green space to explore.

PPRA: Favorite Philly Food?

BT: Ramen from Neighborhood Ramen. It’s the perfect combination – great food, low-key, good people.

#PPRAMemberMonday – Natalie Lewis

#PPRAMember Monday_Lewis
Natalie Lewis is the
Communications Manager for The Philadelphia Orchestra. She has been a member of PPRA for one year.

Twitter: @nataliefizbo

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/natalie.f.lewis.5/

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/natalie-lewis💡-46638887

The greatest campaign of my life was my career pivot. After seven years as a professional French horn player with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, I moved back to the United States to see what else life had in store. Leaning into my musical background, I began my second career as a publicity assistant for a record label and distributor in Nashville, TN. After six months in press, I transitioned into the digital space managing the label’s in-house classical playlist brand, working closely with Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, and other streaming platforms, brand management, and all aspects of digital marketing. When The Philadelphia Orchestra had an opening for a communications manager, I was able to leverage my in-depth knowledge of classical music with my newly minted press and marketing skills.

PPRA: Who are your clients and/or what are you working on right now?

NL: As communications manager for The Philadelphia Orchestra, I am responsible for implementing communications strategies internally and externally as well managing the Orchestra’s social media profiles and presence. We are currently working on finding new ways to reach our patrons as the world continues to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, and taking this time as an opportunity to reach a broader, global audience as we expand our Virtual Philadelphia Orchestra offerings. Social media has become more important than ever before as we continue to inform our patrons and communicate new offerings in the digital space.

PPRA: What is your favorite part of your job?

NL: Creative strategy and implementation. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say the music! 

PPRA: What was your latest & greatest accomplishment at your job?

NL: I ran a Mean Girls campaign for the Orchestra’s Free College Concert, which was on October 3rd. So fetch, right?  

PPRA: What one piece of advice would you give to your fellow PR pros?

NL: Don’t be afraid to try something new! There’s no such thing as a failed campaign. You either win or you learn.

PPRA: What book or movie could you read or watch again and again?

NL: Waiting for Guffman is my favorite movie of all time. It never gets old and I discover some new subtlety or nuance every time. I mostly read nonfiction, and for those I would have to recommend Carol Dweck’s Mindset and Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. You can always find me thumbing through a Lonely Planet, dreaming about my next big trip!

PPRA: What’s your favorite spot in Philly?

NL: Spruce Street Harbor Park, Race Street Pier, and along the Delaware Riverfront.

PPRA: If you weren’t in PR, what profession do you see yourself in and why?

NL: I spend a lot of time researching and implementing all things related to health, wellness, fitness, and nutrition, so I would have to say that I would probably be a functional medicine practitioner, health coach, or physical therapist. I strongly believe that food can be used as medicine, and on that note, I would love to lobby against the big food companies to overhaul our healthcare system and approach to nutrition!

PPRA: Favorite Philly Food?

NL: La Colombe’s Black & Oat, or a classic hot fudge sundae from Franklin Fountain. Their hot fudge is the BEST.

Video from Home: Top Videography Tips from a Pro

On Thursday, May 28, PPRA members were treated to a master class on videography.   Ricky Haldis founded Wise Owl Multimedia, a photography and videography company, in 2015. A proud Philadelphia native and storyteller at heart, Ricky has worked with PPRA and many of its members to craft visuals that resonate. He graduated from Holy Family University in 2016 with a bachelor’s in Digital Communication and Media/Multimedia.

Haldis, a friend of PPRA, shared best practices designed to help clients look their best on camera and, most importantly, achieve their communication goals

Prepare people to be as simple as possible”

It all comes down to simplicity. A concept that should be quite familiar to public relations professionals who exist to help a client’s message shine through, not to show the world how many fancy words they know. Ricky believes the same is true when it comes to video. 

The fundamentals count”

Keeping three concepts front of mind will lead you to success: how the video is shot (pick a small, quiet room with a simple background), how the video is lit (soft light is preferred – avoid direct sunlight and backlighting), and how the video sounds (to achieve best sound quality use a lapel mic. Furniture, carpet, and wall coverings dampen sound to prevent echo). 

Video is entirely psychological”

All video producers are ultimately seeking the “the brain’s approval.” Planning carefully, ensuring the message is on brand and putting the end goal in writing helps the client win the ever-elusive audience “approval.”

Genuine, organic and natural”

Ricky ended the webinar by empowering attendees to create professional looking videos on their own. With a modest investment of time and money, quality videos that present our clients well and help connect with audiences are within reach.

– By PPRA member Jill Flanagan