Mitch Grayson (@mitchgrayson) is a communications professional with experience in politics, the private sector and media. He is the Principal at Grayson and Co. A former print and broadcast journalist, Mitch has previously worked for one of Australia’s largest resources companies and was the Senior Media Adviser to a former Queensland Premier. Mitch has earned a strong reputation as a leading media, issues and reputation management specialist, stakeholder and community engagement expert and strategic government relations adviser. Mitch is also a sought after trainer, with experience providing media, issues management, communications and crisis communications training.
Your elevator statement – who are you professionally and personally?
I’m a 30-something-year-old bloke whose experience varies from broadcast media, comms, PR, politics and the corporate world. Work is different every day and that’s why I love my career so much. I’ve been Press Secretary to the Queensland Premier, hosted radio and TV programs and worked in oil and gas…. Yep – I’ve had my challenges.
On a personal note, I’m sure if you were to ask anyone who knows me well, they’ll say I’m fun. To me having fun at work and at home is the key to longevity. I also love fitness and travel.
Tell us about your typical day in communications?
A typical day in communications…. WTF? Really? There’s no such thing.
When did you first know you wanted to work in communications?
At school, kids dreamed of competing at the Olympics, I remember dreaming of being the Bruce McAvaney or Garry Wilkinson of the Olympics… Behind the mic!
From about 15 or 16, I was announcing at small country agricultural shows – I loved it. Then, I was asked to commentate at the Equestrian qualifiers for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games alongside Garry Wilkinson. I was around 21 – I’ll never forget that.
Who’s your communication hero/mentor?
When I was with the ABC, I worked with one of the most talented presenters. Her name was Ingrid Just. She had this amazing ability to tell the most engaging stories, even if the subject was dull. She knew how to listen intently to her callers and talent and give the audience what they wanted. More importantly she was humble and shared her success as a team. Ingrid is now very senior within Qantas’ Corporate Communications team.
Which tools can’t you live without?
This is where I’m meant to say my iPhone or twitter but in reality it would have to be my ears. Shut up and listen to people. Too many people in communications have egos and are all talk. Sit back and listen first. Trust me – it will change your world!
What are the biggest challenges in your role?
Middle management of any organisation.
Tell us about the best campaign you’ve ever worked on?
The best campaign is when you influence a public debate, get people campaigning for your cause, but thinking that it’s their cause. I worked in politics and resources so I might just keep them to myself.
Which campaign do you most admire?
Uber – they’re good!
What’s been the biggest change to communication/marketing/public relations since you began your career?
Obviously social media. Now anyone has a platform to air their voices.
What quality do you look for in your communication team members?
They have to be able to have fun and be humble.
What’s your favourite brand?
Jeep. I don’t drive one but they can sell a message without even showing their product. They’re switched on.
What book/blog do you think every communicator should read?
Legacy by James Kerr. It tells the story of the strong values the All Blacks live by, making them the most successful sporting team in the word.
What tips do you wish you’d known starting out in communications?
Don’t be in a rush to climb the ladder. Enjoy it and everything works out for a reason.
Finish this sentence: ‘Communication is…’
Exciting and never dull. If it becomes dull – move. Life’s too short to work in a dull place.