Michael is the PR Manager at Birdroom. Follow him on Twitter @itsmichaelsols.
Michael Sols is no newbie when it comes to the media and PR industry. He has years of experience ranging from copywriting to media specialist and now his current role as the PR Manager at Bidroom. He is an expert in building relationships and has fostered these connections to over 14 countries. In addition to his PR duties, he also aids in sales by securing publications in markets and industries of relevance.
Based in Amsterdam, Bidroom is an online travel community that allows adventurers to find the lowest rates on hotels in over 128 countries under a membership. With an international reach, Bidroom grew to 85 employees of different nationalities since its birth in 2014.
1. What is daily life like for you as a PR professional working at Bidroom?
I plot a lot to get us famous :) As it's a very sympathetic environment, I start my day with high-energy and try to use every minute to get us published. 20% of the time I spy on our competitor's news cycle, decoding the stories that work for their journalist buddies. I ask myself: "How can I be more useful?" to produce Bidroom's stories.
Then, I pitch 40% of my workday until I forget the body is there. Most of our successes come from our efforts to start a natural conversation. If we receive news about the domination of commission-based booking platforms that overcharge hoteliers, I'm there to say to the journalists "But hey, they should find better business partners - Bidroom doesn't charge commissions."
There's the next 10% of me lunching. Usually with my gang from work. Nothing else matters then. That narrow focus on eating "natural" for that 30 min window helps me clear my mind so I can stay productive.
As the sun fades, I use 28% of the time left to strategize for the future. I joke around with media people for bonding. I catch-up with industry trends to spot new opportunities for content. And I use the last 2% bit to figure out what not to do to earn the time for all of this!
2. What has been the best moment of your PR career so far? Is there more than 1?
There were many - life's good in PR. But with all the life-long NDAs, allow me to highlight one. I had a chance to work with Liberland, a self-proclaimed libertarian micronation. There was a considerable wave of international media recognition for the project after we launched an architectural design competition with an "impossible" twist. Publications appeared in Fast Company, BBC, Inhabitat, The Washington Post, and Grist.
Liberland's government was looking for urban planning for a 7km2 no man's land they claimed as their own... where they wanted to settle down +30,000 people. Do the math - it seems crazy. But we invited major studios to play, and the results blew us away.
Designers produced vertical cities stacked as habitable rings that would reach multiple floors. No cars. Green walls. Monorails. Fast lifts. Low carbon footprint. All social areas within 15 minutes from the center. Somebody even managed to squeeze in a small airport. RAW-NYC Architects, a well-known US/UAE studio submitted this stellar, algae-powered urban project:
3. If you could be a publicist for your favorite brand, who would it be and what would be your first order or business?
Now that's a cool question I'd rather expect from Craigy Ferguson - nice! I'd be the fixer for the Deftones, a majestic melodic-metal band from Sacramento. Firstly, I'd try to convince Chino to get me on backup vocals so that I can get to know them. I can't sing well if you're wondering, but you gotta show all clients that you're determined!
My plan would be to produce a cross-collaboration LP with similar great bands like Tomahawk, Sky Valley Mistress, or HEALTH. The media would go crazy, just as any fan would. Then, we'd challenge people to produce choreography to any song to win a private Deftones session for them, friends, and family. Next, we turn the LP into a dark-electro-dance album for Frank Delegado's (their keyboardist/turntablist) Boiler Room session... And then a metal cooking show for YouTube with guests like Patton and Juliette Lewis. Then, we pack a huge sample pack for Death Grips - they'll use anything, I've heard. Deftones would probably have to forcibly send me for vacation - I love their sound so much.
4. What’s the best story you’ve ever pitched?
It would be that one unexpected publication about Bidroom in Vanity Fair Italia. The majority of my experience is in B2B PR. So when I started out with Bidroom, I easily overlooked entertainment and lifestyle titles, focusing most on tourism media. But then I saw this lady on LinkedIn writing for Vanity Fair, and thought "It would be funny if we could connect - let me try". We clicked! I sent her a brief and friendly "Did you know?" email about how her readers could book hotels worldwide with up to 25% discounts for the summer of 2018. Even though I believe the story was cool, I think that my casually respectful approach helped a lot - it's perhaps refreshing to journalists to get an easygoing message about them during their stressful workday.
5. One of your most favorite journalists to work with was...?
Before I'll get into an "uh-oh" situation, I'd like to stress that I equally respect all people who work with me. Here, I'd like to name two journalists whose characters stood out. Shoutout to Charlotte Jee from MIT Technology Review, who is kind, engaging, and understanding. The last time, she asked a couple of in-depth questions to nail the story. It often happens that many people don't investigate. And there's Sean O'Neill from Skift - very friendly with a lot of patience for my "spam", showing equal dedication to producing a well-written story just as me. Seems to like dumplings as well - I always give bonus respect points for that.
6.What do you wish journalists could understand more about PR professionals?
That we're not the enemy. There's a huge divide between a good publicist and a bad one. The ones that journalists like show high empathy - their focus is to suggest a highly relevant story in the most friendly matter. Now, the PR pros that the media despises simply lack social skills and work experience. And I was bad at PR for a year and a half, but I've put the effort into studying what journalists expect from us.
7. If you could change one thing about the relationship between PR professionals and media what would it be?
I believe that journalists shouldn't get emotional about Publicists so often. Whatever they're doing - it's not personal. If it really, really seems to be, then go ahead and teach them good manners.
Our next Publicists We Love feature is right around the corner. Read about more Publicists, and Journalists, we LOVE in our recent blog Publicists and Journalists Who Like Each Other on the OnePitch blog.
Subscribe to receive monthly updates, access to new blogs, Taylor's top Tips and more.