Lessons from the UK’s top media and public relations blogger
Marcel Klebba was named media and public relations blogger of the year at the Vuelio blog awards on Friday at a glitzy ceremony in London.
He beat well-known bloggers including Neville Hobson, Rich Leigh, Sarah Stimson, and myself.
The inspirational public relations graduate started blogging in September 2016 as a final year student at Westminster University. Here’s his first blog post.
Marcel’s energy and fresh point of view quickly earned him attention. He sought out practitioners, reported on events, and wrote about student life.
The role of the old is to inspire the young. I tell every student I meet to start a blog and build a network.
It’s the advice that I gave Marcel when we first met in the summer of 2016. He took note. Not many students do.
We caught up again after the ceremony on Friday to talk about his blogging journey. I wanted to share his inspiration story with fellow practitioners and students.
Why did you start blogging?
The main goal when I first started MK was to sharpen my writing skills. I’m not a native English speaker and I never wanted it to prevent me from getting what I wanted. In my second and third year of the public relations course I was already quite proactive, but there was something missing.
I grabbed a coffee with one of my favourite PR people - David Gallagher. He told me that I was doing everything right, but I should start writing. A couple of weeks later, I had a lunch with another practitioner I admire - Stephen Waddington himself. Stephen echoed David’s advice.
I knew I had to do something about it.
How do you build a blog?
MK used to be much more organised. I was posting three times a week. Mondays were for my mumblings. On Wednesdays I posted Four PR Questions (#4PRQs) interview series, which turned out to be a huge success. On Fridays I posted a round-up of my favourite things I’ve came across. The name of this series makes me cringe a little to this day. I called it #6ofMarcel.
I’m now much busier and decided to post once a week. I try to keep it varied. Interviews, tips, events, book reviews, and generally anything that I have in mind and feel like sharing. But I’m not afraid to skip a week if I don’t feel like writing or when I hit the writing block.
Where do you find inspiration for content?
I take inspiration from my surroundings. I try to read as much as I can, and try not to limit myself to my favourite publications. I read newspapers, magazines, blogs, listen to podcasts. I wake up to Today programme that might not always inspire me to write a blog post, but surely does widen my horizons.
Weekly Tate Modern visits are a must, too. I’m not artsy. Frankly, I don’t really get art. But I always find that one piece of work that inspires me and makes me think.
What’s your writing habit?
I head to the Tate Modern’s members room, overlooking the river Thames. The Tate is my favourite place in London. I order a cake (I eat too much sugar) and an earl grey with skimmed milk. I sometimes get a flat white (depending on how confident I feel my cardiac muscle will handle the caffeine intake). I also listen to my writing playlist on Spotify — it ranges from Mozart, Radio 4 theme song, M83 songs, to some modern instrumentals and film soundtracks.
If I struggle with the structure of a post, I tend to write things down. I love stationery. Moleskine notebooks are my favourite. Though pricey, they’re beautiful. I use either Palomino pencils, or my Paul Smith pen (that I got as a graduation gift from my amazing team).
What have the benefits of blogging been?
Where do I start? First and foremost, I met some of the most brilliant and clever people. My blog was always a fabulous excuse to drop someone a note and ask for a chat over a cup a coffee. Four PR Questions series enabled me to speak to and learn from some of the brightest PR minds.
I also managed to get to a lot of events. I was granted access to a couple of early versions of books, too.
What’s more, my job hunt was made so much easier. My blog helped me in exploring the industry and getting a better understanding of the market. I didn’t have to blindly apply for hundreds of positions. I knew where I wanted to end up. I landed my dream job before I even graduated.
What’s your one tip for a student wanting to start a blog?
Don’t overthink it.
Just start a blog and keep writing. Write from the student perspective and don’t worry about your lack of knowledge. Stay curious. Also, don’t think you need to be as knowledgeable as senior practitioners to write good content. No-one expects you to know everything.
What’s next for your blog?
As much as I’d love to say that I’m now on the mission to transform the industry and will hugely impact how we do our jobs, I won’t suddenly put hat of an expert. I’m not going to write astute pieces about strategy, metrics, or stakeholder relations. Not just yet. I don’t know much about these things. I’ll, however, continue doing what I’m doing. I’ll keep documenting my public relations adventure, trying to bring value to those starting out. I want my blog to grow with me.