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By Judy Luk-Smit February 22, 2018 Reading time: 5 minutes


“Nail the elevator pitch.”

Mika Stambaugh is an Emmy award winning journalist and dynamic entrepreneur known for her creative strategies in executing media and communication campaigns. She won an Emmy in 2008 as a Field Producer at CBS 2 News Chicago and then became spokesperson for the City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection in 2014 where she spearheaded the communication strategy for several high profile policies such as: house sharing ordinance (Airbnb); rideshare entering the Chicago marketplace (Uber and Lyft); Chicago’s minimum wage increase; amended tobacco and liquor laws; and more than 60 consumer protection campaigns.

Today, Mika runs TMI (The Mas Ink), a boutique PR firm. AirPR sat down with Mika and discussed unique communications strategies, moving from journalism to PR:

AirPR: Tell us about TMI and how you help brands and organizations gain visibility and manage reputation.

Mika: TMI (The MAS Ink) is the name of my new boutique PR firm. I came to the name after incorporating my initials — ‘MAS’ is Spanish for ‘more’ — and ‘ink’ references pen-to-paper; writing your story to build and manage your communications. The name doubly fits, since our job is to manage TMI (“too much information”). We keep things simple. TMI does PR. We focus on working with non-profits, small businesses, women CEOs and business owners. Our plan is to think outside the box for earned media. I believe each client begins at a different point on the PR spectrum … some need to start with blogs, online magazines and trades publications to perfect their narrative before moving to mainstream radio and television media outlets. I build a communications strategy with a multitude of media coverage to engage all demographics because I truly believe in word of mouth success from a great earned media story. I try and imagine friends sitting around a table talking about a story they heard on the radio that made them think of someone that could learn or benefit from the message and ultimately sharing… so I tend to cast a wide range pitch net!

AirPR: You started your career in journalism. How did that translate to PR? How have you seen it evolve?

Mika: I have always been a news junkie … I didn’t play video games or watch cartoons, I wanted to watch ABC 7 News in Chicago. I like to call it curiosity, but some call it a nosey need to have all of the details provides me the elements to tell a great story. I loved bouncing from story to story each day, gathering the details and putting together a story for people at home to enjoy. After 10 years as a journalist I went to the other side … I became a spokesperson for the City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, which allowed me to continue working with the media and tell good stories. It was a natural fit and I knew what the reporter and photographer needed to tell a memorable story as well as what would satisfy their palate when I couldn’t share too much.  One of the ways I have seen PR evolve is pitching used to be only to the assignment desk and now I mainly pitch directly to the reporter.

AirPR: With PR as a focus, you have included marketing and advertising into your agency. How do you see these elements working together and how important is it to integrate your efforts?

Mika: TMI is a PR firm, but I partner with other firms to provide my clients expert consulting on social media, marketing, branding or advertising. I believe in sticking in your lane … yes, I offer strategic advice on marketing and advertising, but there are people and firms out there that own that space and I would rather offer my clients both of our services for the most successful outcome!

AirPR: When business are launching a PR or content marketing campaign, what are the key elements they should focus on?

Mika: Nail the elevator pitch. Both the PR consultant and client should be able to describe the company, brand or product in 30-45 seconds. I encourage my clients to not get lost in the weeds about issues they are dealing with, but to focus on the goal and what they want people to know. I also suggest when sharing earned media content on social media to keep the status short … nobody wants to read several paragraphs to set up a one minute news clip or newspaper mention!

AirPR: How do you see PR & content marketing evolving in 2018?

Mika: PR is a powerful tool that most people don’t respect or understand until they implement PR into their strategy and budget. I see PR becoming a more tangible service with more people opening small firms, working out of their homes and hiring freelancers to be able to offer affordable and focused expertise. As the former spokesperson for businesses and consumers of Chicago I was exposed to some powerful and unforgettable small businesses with great stories to be told, but they that thought they couldn’t afford PR… now they can and that is my favorite client to land!

Communications professionals who focus on Growth PR and content marketing can now capitalize on the seismic shifts in our industry that Mika outlines above. For more on implementing these strategies, you can listen to our on demand webinar with AirPR Co-founder and CEO Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer “Welcome to the Science of Growth PR: Shifting from Traditional PR to Growth PR.