By: Adam White, @FOSAdam
Front Office Sports is proud to have sat down with Natalie Mikolich, President of NPM | PR. An eight-year sports business veteran, Natalie is an alumna of the University of Miami where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Communication double majoring in Public Relations and Psychology. Along with owning her own PR firm, Natalie co-hosts #SBWeek Miami with Darren Heitner and was named as one of the top 40 under 40 in 2014 for Boca Life Magazine. Deemed an “incredible and dedicated publicist” by CEO and Creative Director for Benamor Benjamin Linero, Natalie was gracious enough to offer up her insight into what 21st century PR is like, what steps you can take as a student to experience professional success and why being proactive can be the key to long term success.
How did your previous positions help you get to where you are today? What have you taken with you from those positions?
Chuckling, Natalie answered, “My path to where I am now is a little bit different than others who work in sports.” This may seem uncommon to many, but in the world of sports there are many gateways to enter through. Natalie explained that it was a different path, because in “PR people usually work for a firm then start their own business, where I just started my own firm right after getting out of school.”
She credited the fact that her journey has “been a constant learning path along the way and my internship gave me tremendous experience and practical implications of my learning in school.” In what may seem like an ordinary progression to many on the outside, Natalie took the right steps, made her own luck and was able to circumvent spending years working for someone else and instead built her own PR firm that was successful from day one.
How do you maintain and balance relationships with people that have different wants and needs?
She made it clear that to succeed in PR, you have to “under promise and over deliver, because you want to be optimistic but you don’t want to absolutely guarantee getting clients lots of media coverage.” Although it seems redundant and cliché, in PR there is nothing more important than honesty; Natalie said she still believes that “Honesty is the best policy when it comes to dealing with clients and the media.”
Sports have become a 24/7 industry. What do you do to make sure you have a good work/life balance?
Natalie touched on a common theme by saying, “Its hard to detach fully nowadays, especially with social media being a driving force in the 24 hour news cycle.” Like many of us, she finds her self constantly wanting to learn and for her, “Its hard to not want to be the first to every story and every opportunity.”
She suggests that students and young professionals “find time to take vacations and to find a hobby or something that you can do during the week that takes your mind off of work.”
In your opinion, what is one thing a student should do to set his or her self apart from other graduates?
Even though she graduated in 07’, she made it clear that there was a common factor in being successful and that is experience. “You have to intern somewhere and sometime, there is just no way around it. Once you get those opportunities you need to make the most of those chances.” She would also go on to stress how important adding value to a company is by saying, “If you can add value to a company you can separate yourself. Show them why they need you.”
What is a normal day like for you? What are some of your daily challenges?
Like other careers in sports, PR is very similar because, “You never know what the day is going to bring you, what news is going to break or what your clients are going to need.” It is one of the reasons why many want to work in sports and why the ever changing landscape, “makes the sports industry so exciting.” Although, she gets to do “pretty fun stuff” she realizes it is a true grind saying, “the challenges can be managing everything from pitching your clients, speaking with media outlets, sending out press releases and phone interviews. There are a plethora of things that can occur in just one day. It takes a lot of work.”
What traits does the ideal candidate need to have to succeed in today’s sports industry?
She was very clear in her expectations of today’s students and young professionals saying, “I want someone who is proactive, has attention to detail, can communicate well and who will follow up.” She stressed the importance of these, because “You can’t be sitting around waiting for someone to tell you to do something, you have to make sure what you send out is correct, you have to establish rapport with clients and media outlets and most importantly you have to do your due diligence.” She also stressed, that it "takes a lot of work and the ability to multitask a lot of different moving pieces at one time."
If you could have dinner with one person in the world today, who would it be and why?
With admiration in her voice, you could tell that her choice was heartfelt and sincere when she said, “I would have to say, Andy Roddick’s former agent Ken Meyerson. He was my mentor and helped bring me into this industry and sadly he just passed away from a heart attack at 46. He helped me get my foot in the door and was such an inspiration that being able to have one more dinner with him would be a dream come true.”
“PR is tough, but if you don’t burn bridges, create honest relationships with the media and your clients and are able to proactively seek out exposure and opportunities for the people you work for you WILL succeed.”