Insights from Jessica Malfatto, Co-founder of Disclosers, Investor, Educator, and Author

15 mins read

Welcome to a new series of exclusive interviews by PRNEWS.IO, where we shine a spotlight on remarkable women shaping the landscape of PR. As the industry witnesses a surge in female leadership, we’re excited to introduce you to these influential figures driving innovation and change. Today, we’re privileged to feature Jessica Malfatto, Co-founder of Disclosers and a multifaceted force in PR, investing, education, and literature.

In this insightful conversation, Jessica delves into her extensive journey, sharing invaluable lessons, strategic insights, and the impactful campaigns that have defined her career. Join us as she unveils her vision for the future of PR and the pivotal role women play in shaping its trajectory.

An Exclusive Interview with Jessica Malfatto

PR Unraveled: An Interview with Jessica Malfatto

PRNEWS.IO: Could you please introduce yourself and provide a brief overview of your background and experience in the fields of PR, digital PR, media relations, and public relations?

Jessica Malfatto: My journey began in 2008, with some journalistic collaborations (both as an external collaborator and in the editorial office), before coming to PR in 2012 (I worked in a start-up). Subsequently, I worked as a freelancer for a few years (always as a PR specialist) and in 2019, together with my partner, I founded Disclosers, a boutique PR and Media Relations firm, which currently has a team of 28 people. 

Another fundamental aspect for me is that we started out independently and we still are independent today: it is an invaluable strength for us, right now. Our future objectives, in addition to stronger and increasingly valuable growth, obviously, also relate to the foreign market, which we have been turning towards in recent months.

PRNEWS.IO: As a co-founder of Disclosers and an expert in PR, how do you see the role of traditional PR evolving in the digital age, and what strategies do you employ to adapt to these changes?

Jessica Malfatto: Staying within the boundaries of media relations, I think that with the expansion of the media landscape (newsletters, podcasts, informative social media pages, but not only: also the personal channels of journalists, etc.) there will be more and more attention towards the tendency to bring out the individual key people within organisations. 

What is their point of view regarding a scenario that may be undergoing change? What are the puzzle pieces that have enabled a greater impact in a given area? Everything, but supported by numbers and data.

I believe that the path to true development (perhaps taking a few steps back in terms of seeking out mere news) can be one of the central aspects, including by laying out new visions on the table. 

Speaking of technological evolutions, moreover, we cannot fail to take the development of artificial intelligence into account. 

Disclosers team.

This being an area in which the interpersonal component is very powerful, the impact of artificial intelligence should not be considered as acute as it is for other sectors. It can be a useful support in our field, but it cannot replace the human element, which remains and will continue to remain fundamental in PR. The ability to listen in a genuine way and establish an empathic connection is crucial to the success of a public relations project. Let’s imagine, for example, the subtle nuances that emerge during an interview that will then lead us to build a statement: understanding the interviewee requires true empathy and an ability to be in tune with them on a deeper level, qualities that go beyond the capabilities of a digital tool.

With regard to integration, in our field artificial intelligence represents a valid support for collecting, analysing and summarising large amounts of data. This mechanism can undoubtedly help identify relevant elements to be included in communications, for example.

(We might think, for instance, of having to construct a paragraph for a press release in which we have to outline an industry scenario. By gathering together some reports and asking an AI tool to extrapolate the most significant data, we can speed up this process).

Beyond Boundaries: Exploring PR with Jessica Malfatto

PRNEWS.IO: Your book “Digital PR Strategies for Startups” is widely recognized. Could you share some key principles you believe are crucial for a successful digital PR strategy, particularly for startups?

Jessica Malfatto: The basis of a good strategy is a method of “breaking down the company”, which allows you to work on the creation of a strategy even in the absence of news (bringing out the less self-referential aspects). 

Starting from the objectives once again, the organization is “broken down”, the individual media-valid corners are identified and a roadmap that can distribute press releases, media alerts, and media pitches effectively is drawn up, in order to obtain relevant and constant media coverage (without saturating the individual media spheres). 

This approach is very important for a startup because they are companies that often do not have news to announce continuously.

Trailblazing in PR: Jessica Malfatto's Journey and Vision

PRNEWS.IO: Having worked extensively with media relations, what are some effective techniques you recommend for building and maintaining strong relationships with journalists and media outlets?

Jessica Malfatto: I believe that the main value is that of information: to inform people in the best possible way, increasingly valuable collaborations are also built between PR and journalists. The company has the task of conveying informative content (based on data, integrating elements from external and non-promotional sources), and must demonstrate a willingness to collaborate with the journalist (helping them, for example, to find data and information). From my point of view, difficulties arise when there is no real will to collaborate and when we lose focus on constructing content with a strong informative value. Sometimes those who work in PR can be led to create very, very self-referential content. But in the long run this approach alienates journalists (and rightly so). 

In addition to this dynamic, there is the element of personalizing the media pitch, along with the ability to alternate between news and more informative content.

PRNEWS.IO: As a lecturer in PR and digital strategy, what are the most common misconceptions you encounter about these fields, and how do you address them in your teaching?

Jessica Malfatto: In this sector, there is a risk of assigning excessive importance to contacts alone, neglecting or detracting from the central value of the content. In addition, there can be a tendency to focus rigidly on the concept of “news”, without exploring other editorial opportunities that can emerge, including in the absence of news. Finally, we may be driven to identify measurement metrics that are not really reliable and significant in the context of PR (in order to find a measurement method to be considered absolute at all costs): but this dynamic can prove to be a stretch.

These are points that can really make a difference, and for this reason it is essential to address them immediately, also in training courses.

Unveiling PR Strategies: Insights from Jessica Malfatto

PRNEWS.IO: With your experience as a journalist and contributor for various media groups, how does your background influence your approach to PR and media relations today?

Jessica Malfatto: I’ll tell you about a significant episode. When I worked in the editorial office of a free press agency, in 2011, the director often repeated to me: “Every time you write a piece, imagine having to create a living room in which different points of view must always be present.” Reasoning in this way, you “travel” in the direction of wanting to offer the best possible information for those who are reading, listening or watching. And I think this approach can also be valid for those who work in PR: we must always try to be supportive of the journalist and, consequently, of the information, distancing ourselves from communication that is too focused on a “promotional” sphere, in order to get closer and closer to the role of an “authoritative source” and therefore that of a supplier of truly useful resources. 

PRNEWS.IO: As a woman in PR, have you faced any unique challenges or opportunities in your career, and how do you think the industry can better support the advancement of women in PR roles?

Jessica Malfatto: Looking at the sector (especially in the markets in which I operate: Italy and Europe), I have the feeling that there is ample room for career advancement and authoritative positions for women. I do not encounter particular difficulties in this mechanism with regard to the world of PR (both in agencies and in companies).

Innovations in PR: A Dialogue with Jessica Malfatto

PRNEWS.IO: What advice would you give to young women aspiring to pursue a career in PR, especially in male-dominated sectors or leadership positions?

Jessica Malfatto: Combining verticality (in the discipline: that of PR), also developing analytical skills, with a strong horizontality (at the level of sectors covered). This union leads to a power that is never trivial.

PRNEWS.IO: In your experience, how do you balance the demands of being a co-founder and CEO of Disclosers with your roles as an author and lecturer?

Jessica Malfatto: I try to communicate the three worlds in a very fluid way, because they overlap with each other: I teach (or rather, I prefer to say “I tell a story”) what I experience in the agency, and while I am giving a lesson, I learn. When I write, however, I can take the time to go deep into everything I learn, and then transfer it to the agency. These are infinite work and learning flows that are completely connected to each other.

PRNEWS.IO: What are the key factors you look for when considering investment opportunities in startups, particularly in the PR or communications space?

Jessica Malfatto: The focus is first and foremost on people. I have to face entrepreneurs who have built a really strong team that is capable of going in-depth and with maximum attention to people. Without these prerequisites, you can’t even read the numbers. In addition, another aspect concerns the project’s level of newsworthiness (we also carry out PR actions for some of the companies in which I have invested).

For now, I have invested in a VC (Moonstone), in a startup in the biotech sector, in another VC (which has been taking shape in recent months) and I am finalising two small investments (in the e-commerce and wine sectors).

Pioneering PR: A Conversation with Jessica Malfatto

PRNEWS.IO: Your latest book, “PR and Media Relations for Small and Medium Enterprises,” highlights strategies tailored for smaller businesses. Could you share some insights on how smaller companies can compete effectively in today’s crowded media landscape?

Jessica Malfatto: For a small and medium-sized company, in order to obtain relevant and constant publications it is essential to develop a strategy that is capable of developing three lines of communication: corporate, informative, and with a focus on the key figures in the company.

These are three different strands that allow for the creation of very diverse content that can catch hold of media that are also very different from each other (both in terms of topic and format).

In this way, there are no overlaps: journalists will always have non-inflated materials to work on and, in addition, the organisation’s top figures will emerge.

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