Dr Mumbo

How PR really works

It’s always unfortunate when a PR agency accidentally emails its client work in progress document to a journalist by mistake. Even more so when they pass it along to Mumbrella.

Not least when the client is Woolworths Insurance and the story being promoted by the agency – in this case Fuel Communications – is “three in a bed”. Dr Mumbo’s guess is that this will turn out to be some sort of PR-friendly survey for Woolworth’s Petsure brand that demonstrates how many people share a bed with their dog.

In truth, the document makes Dr Mumbo feel a little sad about the soul-crushing elements of working in PR. For instance:

Brisbane Times: Fuel spoke to relationship columnist and urban lifestyle reporter Katharine Feeney, sounding out her interest in our three in a bed story. Katharine was enthusiatic (sic) about the story theme, however was not sure if it was a column piece or a short news brief item. She is going to review her upcoming column topics and get back to us later this week.”

Translation: “Katharine politely listened to our junior PR and didn’t openly laugh at the idea.”


Adelaide Advertiser: Fuel spoke to reporter Jessica Evans, who is interested in receiving our finalised three in a bed release, and are keen to find their own case study to use alongside our statistics.”

Translation: “Jessica politely listened to our junior PR and didn’t openly laugh at the idea.”


“Sunday Times WA: Fuel spoke to Fleur Bainger, features/ lifestyle reporter in regard to our latest release. She believes it would be a perfect Sunday story, however advised a case study would be needed. Fleur believes she may be able to find a case study herself, and would keep us in the loop on story opportunities for the future.”

Translation: “Fleur politely listened to our junior PR and didn’t openly laugh at the idea.”

Dr Mumbo can hear the conversations in his head that led up to these notes, and it makes him feel sad.

fuel woolworths wip

As one of the recipients of the document tells Dr Mumbo: “Nice to see all the journos listed seemed to be treating the stories with skepticism.”

And what are the  key performance indicators for the agency?


By the looks of it, it’s ten pieces of coverage a month with 40 per cent “tier 1” media, 15 per cent broadcast and a highly optimistic goal of 90 per cent positive media coverage.

Dr Mumbo isn’t sure whether this item counts as positive. Just to help: Dr Mumbo thinks Woolworths Insurance sounds really, really good. There. You can chalk this one up as a positive mention now guys. Don’t forget to put it in next month’s WIP.


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