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Michael Zahn. Michael Zahn. Featured


From start-up to industry leader

WHEN former Western Sydney student Michael Zahn launched his own public relations agency at the tender age of 23, he quickly attracted some of the largest businesses and brands in Australia as clients.

In 2012 ZMM Group was judged the third fastest growing public relations agency in Australia according to the independent “2012 PR Report”.

In 2014 its client Club Plus Super, a leading superannuation industry fund, became a finalist with ZMM Group in the “Excellence in PR” category of the prestigious ASFA Marketing Communications Forum & Awards.

One of ZMM Group’s clients, Pierre Wakim, Partner at leading Western Sydney Accountancy firm YCG, said of Michael and his team: “Michael thinks differently: he sets large goals and then he and his team work hard towards achieving them.

“To have a successful business these days you really have to stand out from the crowd and ensure your brand and value proposition is well promoted. Michael is an expert at doing that for businesses.”

Western Sydney Business Access editor Michael Walls spoke with Michael Zahn about how public relations is harnessed by organisations to enhance their media profiles.

WSBA: If a business owner came to you wanting to increase their media profile, how would you recommend they get started?

MZ: The first thing anyone wishing to enhance their media profile needs to do is to ask themselves – why? What am I trying to achieve specifically? And what do I need to do to achieve that? You wouldn’t start a business without a business plan, and it’s the same when starting a media campaign. I always start by taking out pen and paper and defining what exactly my desired business outcome is. Clarifying this will help identify your target audience and what your first steps will be, such as to be featured in a paper which reaches a specific demographic, or even to have your business featured on the front page of a particular magazine.

WSBA: How important is it to get to know local journalists?

MZ: This is vital for anyone trying to enhance their media profile. Face-to-face meetings, such as a quick chat over coffee, will greatly increase your chances of having your emails opened when you start to send out media releases. Journalists receive hundreds of emails daily, so it can be pretty easy for them to overlook your email among all the rest. Once they begin to recognise your name, however, that’s your “in” for becoming a regular source or interesting, story-generating information.

WSBA: So would you recommend focusing on only local journalists then?

MZ: Absolutely not. A general way to look at things might be the more well known the media outlet, the bigger the audience, and therefore the more potential customers you might reach. Every business has a story to tell; its just about finding the right story and working out which media outlet it might be suitable for. If you have a big story to tell, or interesting insights into a particular market, they will definitely be happy to speak with you. And who knows, maybe next time they need some information they’ll be the one calling you. My business ZMM group takes great pride when we manage to place a client’s story on the front page of a newspaper, on television or radio – especially when the client’s phone starts ringing off the hook and we know we have played an important part in helping them reach their business goals.

WSBA: You mentioned media releases before – how important are these for telling your story?

MZ: Media releases really are your public relations bread and butter; they’re the primary vehicle through which companies communicate with the media and, therefore, the public at large. If you haven’t learnt how to write one yet, invest some time researching how it’s done and then get practicing, or look to appoint an external PR Agency to write them for you. As a general rule, if you can catch the reader’s eye in the title and first few paragraphs, and have included a few interesting quotes from key people, you’ve won half the battle. While there are no guarantees that media releases will get picked up by media, if they do, you can potentially reach audiences in excess of a hundred thousand people. All with aone page document that subtly promotes your business.  

WSBA: Any other tips for those aspiring to enhance their media profiles?

MZ: Stick with it, and don’t be afraid to seek professional help when kicking off. Becoming a media release pro and cultivating relationships with journalists can take considerable time, effort and skill, and progress can be slow at the beginning.


Michael Walls
0407 783 413

Access News is a print and digital media publisher established over 15 years and based in Western Sydney, Australia. Our newspaper titles include the flagship publication, Western Sydney Express, which is a trusted source of information and for hundreds of thousands of decision makers, businesspeople and residents looking for insights into the people, projects, opportunities and networks that shape Australia's fastest growing region - Greater Western Sydney.