Kel Murray will perhaps be most familiar to those in the business of professional audio as the ex-editor of trade publication TPi, where she served the production and entertainment technology sectors for several years. Now, in tandem with her business partner Michael Nicholson, she is leaving the world of journalism behind for a new career in comms in the form of Output Communications, a PR operation aimed at servicing the market she previously reported on. The company’s current client roster already includes the likes of Funktion-One, Production Services Ireland and Britannia Row Productions.
Here, PSNEurope editor Daniel Gumble catches up with her to find out why now was the right time to make the switch from journo to PR and what her new venture has to offer the industry...
After several years as editor of TPi, you’ve now decided to embark on a new career in PR. What can you tell us about your new role?
Well, it’s quickly become my favourite ever job. I had dabbled in PR previously and there’s still a lot of things about PR and marketing that really fascinate me. I love seeing how content is consumed and how stories are re-told. I also wanted to work for myself again (I was a freelance music journalist for the national music press prior to TPi). I’m incredibly lucky to have gone into business with one of my closest friends, Michael Nicholson. He has also been a magazine editor, which is how we met. (He was my mentor back in the day, although he’ll probably laugh that I've said that)!
Everything fell into place. It happened very organically at a point when I wanted to move direction, and some pretty amazing and humbling opportunities couldn’t be resisted. I think it’s important to take what you’ve learnt and evolve with it. By its very nature, this industry doesn’t stand still for very long, and I suppose I’m similar in that way. I’m really enjoying project-based work, while being welcomed into these ‘families’. With our new clients, I feel more part of the production/entertainment tech industry than ever before. We’ve got so much respect for them, and I relish having conversations about how they’re moving the industry forward.
What will your years of experience as a journalist in the live events production market bring to the new business?
I think truly understanding how the production/ entertainment technology industry works is key, but having relationships built on trust is vital, and I have a lot of solid relationships that have been nurtured over time, as does Michael. Authenticity should not be underestimated.
What are the biggest challenges you face in establishing a new PR operation in this industry? How will you overcome them?
When we set out to do this, we decided to work with people and companies that we feel are pioneering technology and touring etiquette within the industry. I’d say my biggest challenge is absorbing all there is to learn from some of the greatest thinkers and undoubted legends this ‘world’ has benefitted from. Although, these challenges don’t seem so big when you’re working in a supportive and encouraging environment.
PSNEurope understands you’ve also been doing some work in the name of mental health training for touring professionals. What can you tell us about that?
Absolutely, this is something I’m very passionate about, and having the time to undertake charity work was a big driver in this new venture. Output is really proud to be working with Music Support and the Production Services Association’s (PSA) Welfare & Benevolent Fund, Stage Hand. The PSA turns 21 this year and I’m humbled to say they’ve recently let me join the committee as a Trustee. (I believe I’m the first female to do so, too). These are two brilliant charities that were set up by the industry, for the industry, and I would encourage everyone to join up or get involved. I’ve recently completed Music Support’s Safe Hub training for this year’s festival season, and the industry’s Mental Health First Aid course, which the PSA is also striving forward with. There’s so much incredible work going on behind the scenes for road crews and I think it’s imperative to get on board and be part of the positive change. The industry wouldn’t and absolutely couldn’t exist without touring professionals; we have to take care of them as best we can. Their jobs are so demanding and the results can be very complicated to deal with.
Sign up to the PSA here and find Music Support’s free, 24-hour helpline here: 0800 030 6789
What are your plans and ambitions for the rest of 2019 and beyond?
To progress as much as possible... and to make a clear impact for the companies we represent and the industry as a whole. Michael and I are very similar in that we’re programmed to get results, and we care about the longevity and health of the industry. To be able to do that in what we feel is not only one of the most intelligent and creative industries in the world, but also one of the most hard-working career sectors, is an absolute pleasure.