PR Profile: Martin Palin, Managing Director of Palin Communications
Could you tell me about yourself and your role at Palin Communications?
Palin Communications is a specialist health PR agency established by me and my wife Gab 25 years ago. Our clients are pharmaceutical companies, biotechs and not-for-profit players in the health and welfare space. We also do a little pet health because our team love pets and we’re all just big mammals after all.
What is your career background, and how did you get started?
I was a health promotion guy running campaigns for the State and Federal Health Departments. I ran QUIT in NSW for a while and was involved in road safety and alcohol education. My friends working in ad agencies and PR agencies in the private sector had expense accounts and looked like they were having much more fun.
What are some of the highlights of your career so far?
Winning awards for big disease awareness campaigns is very satisfying. If you’re going to commit your working life to comms, you might as well do it in an area where you can feel good about the outcomes.
What advice would you give someone trying to develop in their PR/Comms career?
Do a good job at whatever you are asked to do. If you’re asked to do a targeted media list, make sure you’re the best media list builder there ever was. If you do that on the basic tasks, you’ll get invited to do the more interesting stuff soon enough.
What are you most proud of in the work that you do?
I’m most proud of seeing direct personal evidence of good things coming from our work. Charities that have raised money and people who have learnt about new treatments because they read about it in a news story or saw it on TV or came across some social content. Good stories delivered consistently and great content can trigger very positive health behaviours.
What's the most valuable lesson/advice you've learnt about work in the PR/Comms industry?
I saw the Australian author Peter Carey accept a literary award once and the host chided him that he thought the book was a bit long. Peter Carey was a bit offended but replied “From now on, I’ll aspire to brevity”. Good advice I reckon and I’ve carried it with me ever since.
Could you tell me a bit about a recent campaign or project you have worked on that has been particularly interesting/successful?
We’re helping to raise awareness of shingles with our friends at GSK and that is going really well. It’s got all kinds of ambassadors and external experts involved and it’s really getting some traction targeting people aged 50+. Shingles is an awful, painful disease and around 1 in 3 people will get shingles in their lifetime. My first ever health PR campaign in the mid-1990s was to launch a new treatment for shingles. So the topic has a special place in my heart.
What is something about your work or yourself that you think people would be surprised to learn?
Nothing too interesting really. My family came to Australia as “ten-pound poms” back in the early 1960s. I grew up in Fairfield with all the other immigrants in the South Western suburbs of Sydney. Everyone was from somewhere - and that’s a great and diverse start to life. My mum has passed away now but she was very proud of us for starting our own business. She would ring the office and when someone would say “Hello, Palin Communications” she would reply “Well hello, it’s MRS PALIN here….” She loved doing that.