Is Your Career at a Crossroads?
Discover the PR lessons that will put you on the fast track to your ideal life
(All backed by a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee)

The Smart PR Inner Circle is celebrating its 10-year anniversary! Over the past decade, we’ve developed a tight-knit, supportive group of PR superstars eager to make more leaps forward — together. Below you’ll learn some of their best tips. 

This is the single best place to hone your media relations skills AND — more importantly — integrate them with content, social, SEO and even paid strategies. And it’s guaranteed to transform your career.


*Enroll during the webinar 
for Throwback Pricing ($29)
on your first month

*Enroll TODAY, Wednesday, Nov 6, to get free access to the first module of Michael's online pitching course, Crafting the Perfect Pitch
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*Enrollment closes on Friday, November 15 at 5pm Pacific
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Pitching the New York Times
How to get clients on the TODAY show
Land feature stories in the Wall Street Journal
Score TV spots for your spokespeople on CNN
Land coverage in The Washington Post
Join Inner Circle members like these: 
Smart PR Inner Circle member testimonial
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Smart PR Inner Circle member testimonial
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Smart PR Inner Circle member testimonial
Smart PR Inner Circle member testimonial
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Smart PR Inner Circle member testimonial
Smart PR Inner Circle member testimonial
Where will your career take you by November 2029?
With the pace of change we’ve experienced in recent years, thinking ahead that far seems almost mind-boggling, doesn’t it?

The specifics are no doubt fuzzy. But you definitely know the most important things you want:
  • Rewarding work
  • Coworkers or clients you enjoy
  • ​Autonomy to do your best work
  • ​The compensation or fulfillment you deserve (or both!)
  • ​Or perhaps . . . no work at all?
And I’m 100% certain I know how to help you get there.

How can I be so sure?

Because of the crazy story that’s resulted from a blissfully ignorant leap I took 10 years ago this month.
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Is media pitching dead?
It was November 2009.
Photo: NBC News

We were in the teeth of the worst recession since the Great Depression.

That month the unemployment rate was 10 percent! When my wife and I would drive around our community, we saw a newly abandoned house nearly every day — another neighbor had walked away from a mortgage that was now underwater. 
Why did I pick that time to launch the first monthly membership group coaching program for PR pros?

I have no earthly idea. 

I honestly don’t remember thinking about the economy — if I had, the last 10 years probably would have been very different for me.

The Inner Circle was something I’d been thinking about for a while.
Despite the recession, my consulting business working with large organizations like Four Seasons and Aflac was still growing. And I saw the Inner Circle as a way I could make my strategies accessible by scrappy individuals who didn’t yet have the resources of those big companies.

I finally decided to take action.

I sent out ONE email to my followers . . .
A new approach to PR and media relations
. . . and explained the concept via a brief sales page,

with a PayPal button at the end. 😆
The first step to media relations success
(I remember being really proud of myself for figuring out enough HTML to get the button to look right on the page.)

Thank heavens for that first group of nine trusting PR pros.
If they hadn’t responded, I probably would have moved on. 

But they did.

So I started delivering monthly training and coaching for them. Knowing how much the Inner Circle has grown since then, it’s pretty crazy to think about those first few months.
# # #
One of our first guest experts was a CBS morning show producer who I persuaded to come on.

I was pinching nickels back then so we used FreeConferenceCall.com. The members were pumped, they were all on the line early. And then the producer didn’t dial in! I called her on her cell, and she casually said, "I thought it didn’t start for another hour . . ."

I didn’t trust that she’d navigate the dial-in so I kept her on the line and literally typed in all nine members’ phone numbers, one at a time, into my iPhone 3 and merged the call! After the late start, it turned out great. 
The Early Show on CBS
I learned my lesson — we’ve never had a guest show up late again.

And the Inner Circle has grown tremendously, both in numbers and sophistication.
Members began emailing me links to their media placements in the New York Times and on Today. In a few years, those placements included new media like Buzzfeed and Cheddar. And more recently, they’ve shared their successes promoting owned content. And boosting their sites’ domain authority. And even supplementing their earned media with strategically chosen sponsored content and paid influencer relations. 

But my favorite member success stories don’t have anything to do with tactical successes. 

The emails and phone calls that motivate me to do what I do are all about life successes:
  • Promotions.
  • Raises.
  • ​Starting new businesses.
  • ​Working from home four days a week.
  • ​Scaling back hours.
As hopeful as I was back in ‘09, I never foresaw results like that.
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Where are those pros now?
Shockingly, I’m still in contact with four of those original nine members and have watched their careers grow over the past decade. Here’s what they (and a few other long-time members) have to say about how the Inner Circle impacted them and their growth over the past 10 years:
Inner Circle Member - Devin Knighton

Devin Knighton

  • Climbed the ladder at three tech companies
  • Helped IPO the third, saw his stock options rise to $1.4 million
  • Retired early, got a Ph.D.
  • Now at dream job: teaches PR at his alma mater
What's the most important PR/communications lesson you've learned over the last 10 years?
How I approach communications problem-solving. I used to look for the perfect formula. But a wise executive taught that executives tend to fail at a new job because they try to replicate in their new role what made them successful in their previous position. This approach doesn't work because many things are different. The market is different, the company culture is different, and the customers' experience with the product or service is different. For the executive to succeed, she or he must dig into the context and work together with others to design a solution. In my case, I've learned the best strategies are co-created and developed in collaboration with others. So, I now try to not rely solely on formulas but instead to understand the particular challenge facing the organization and to co-create the solution. 

What's the biggest change you think communicators/PR people need to make to thrive in the next 10 years?
The crucial change that communicators will need to make in the coming years is to become more computational. Algorithms are increasingly running the digital world and the systems underneath them. Marketers know this and are actively seeking to use big data to target messages to customers at the optimal time in order to influence the purchase of a product or service. However, communicators will need to be part of that conversation and help the organization tell the bigger story that transcends the customer data and links to the stories in the industry. Until now, communicators have tended to view computational tools as a way to create or disseminate content. But with the growth of big data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, communications professionals need to know how to analyze and interpret data. For example, a communications pro needs to know how to use data to recommend stories that appeal to different types of stakeholders, not just the customer. 
What insight or mindset did you learn from the Inner Circle that made the biggest impact on you?
I recommended Michael Smart and his Inner Circle to new and seasoned professionals because it causes everyone to check their assumptions, challenge their perspectives, and gain motivation to become better at their craft. The biggest difference that the Inner Circle made for me in the past ten years was to get me to stop reacting and to start being intentional about what I was doing. Although the Inner Circle provides many useful suggestions on how to be a better communications professional, I have found that the discussions on priorities, decision-making, and focus have been the most valuable to me. I have seen how the communications industry has evolved, and at times I have felt overwhelmed to know how to keep up with it all. But the process Michael describes has helped me to be more effective because I have learned how to focus on what needs to be done now to make the greatest contribution I possibly can. 

Inner Circle Member - Desirae Mills

Desirae Mills

  • Took over PR for world’s largest franchise company
  • Managed 10 brands and three PR agencies
  • Left and co-founded a marketing comms firm
What's the most important PR/communications lesson you've learned over the last 10 years?
I have said it a hundred times – one of the best decisions I ever made as a Communications Manager was to invest in the Inner Circle. And I’m not saying that because I feel obligated to do so. The skills I gained by joining were directly correlated to earning my promotion to Director of Communications and PR for the largest international franchise organization in the world. I still tell friends who are in the PR and Comm industry that joining IC made a huge difference in my media relations approach and they would be remiss to miss the opportunity to join. It changed the direction of my career and I will be forever grateful. The lesson (I swear, there is one!) is that you have to invest in yourself, in your growth and in continuing to develop your skillset. Not only does it make you better at what you do, it gives you the confidence to ask for that raise or promotion, to reach out to that elusive media outlet, to take a risk and start your own company.

What's the biggest change you think communicators/PR people need to make to thrive in the next 10 years?
Since leaving my role as a Director of PR and Communications, I have seen a shift that has been coming for years but now seems to be going at superspeed. As natural communicators, we understand the impact good content can make and the value of proving ROI. Content marketing is such a significant piece of the marketing mix, PR and Comm pros should be embracing all aspects of the discipline and own the tactic. It’s a natural fit with all of the other tactics associated with our role, this is something that PR pros should be fighting to take ownership over. Content and inbound marketing drive higher conversions (when done right) which will allow PR pros the opportunity to statistically prove out the value of their efforts, which is always a struggle.
What insight or mindset did you learn from the Inner Circle that made the biggest impact on you?
I learned that there isn’t a magic bullet to achieving incredibly valuable placements. It’s a constant effort to learn, develop your skills and continue improving your approach. Having and entire group of people who are there supporting you, offering their feedback and wanting you to succeed is paramount. They get your elation at landing a a placement you’ve been working on for months. They understand your fears and joys. It’s such an incredible group of like-minded people that it’s hard to find elsewhere. Plus, having access to Michael’s personal advice, input and brilliant suggestions was invaluable. It helped shape an entirely new mindset for me – one of confidence and persistence and improvement. Like I said, I’m forever grateful to Michael Smart and the Inner Circle.
Inner Circle Member - Maureen Carrig

Maureen Carrig

  • Left Fortune 500 role, started her own consultancy
  • Scored a WSJ placement on the front page
  • Enjoys a personal network of journalists in DC and New York who meet her in person whenever she’s in town
What's the most important PR/communications lesson you've learned over the last 10 years?
To have a lot more confidence ... because I learned so much over 10 years. I got laid off from a job/industry I loved in 2009, and in 2019, I left my full-time job to go out on my own.
What's the biggest change you think communicators/PR people need to make to thrive in the next 10 years?
Building human relationships vs. just having email interactions. Comms pros will need to be able to put together a full story for journalists, thinking ahead to always support journalists no matter what they need. For example, a journalist you know is changing jobs or looking for new work. How are you going to help?
What insight or mindset did you learn from the Inner Circle that made the biggest impact on you?
When you are the primary media relations person in your job (and not a lot of others do the same work or understand all that goes into it), it can sometimes be a bit isolating and lonely. The Inner Circle has been a game-changer in making me feel like part of a much bigger and supportive community. As I've shifted into working for myself, I've tapped others for advice to get started. Everyone I asked was more than willing to spend time with me and offer advice. The group is really terrific. The “Best Pitch of the Year” contest always has big learnings and takeaways for me. 
Inner Circle Member - Ken Li

Ken Li

  • PR Director for an integrated agency in Chicago
  • Built up a track record of success ...
  • ​... earned trust to work 4 days a week at home
  • Bought the farm! Moved to the family's dream property out in the country
How do you think you've changed the most as a communications professional since 2009? 
Over the past decade, I’ve grown more confident — both in my own abilities and who I am as a person. I’ve become more confident in my PR skills by learning best practices and honing and teaching those skills every day at work. Fortunately, and ever so slowly, I’ve become better at responding in challenging situations by constantly working on my mindset. 
What's the biggest change you think communicators/PR people need to make to thrive in the next 10 years?
We need to remember that as the ‘periphery’ of PR changes, the core principles remain the same. While we should embrace and adapt to change, we shouldn’t blindly accept it. As trusted advisors, we shouldn’t chase the next shiny tactic, just because our client asks us to do it, or because it’s the latest fad. Does creating an Instagram account really make sense for that client and their program? Instead of thinking tactics first, strategy should always be the foundation. What are the clients’ goals and who are they trying to influence? Figuring out the "how” comes second. Be willing to question everything. We also can’t be satisfied with just landing a placement. How do we increase the value of that placement by amplifying it via earned, paid, shared, and owned channels? Doing so ensures we’re properly leveraging the incredible value of our placement — that is, the credibility that comes from earned media — and also helps to ensure that your client recognizes the value of what you do. 
What insight or mindset did you learn from the Inner Circle that made the biggest impact on you?
It was with the Inner Circle’s help over the years that I was able to develop the courage to work from home, gradually moving from one day a week to two to four, and subsequently, move away from the city and have some property, which was my wife’s dream.

Having Michael’s “insider” industry knowledge at my disposal has endowed me (and our team) with a sense of confidence that I’m an expert across a wide range of PR topics, even if I’ve never personally been exposed to those topics. Clients trust us in large part because Michael has our backs. This is not intended to sound like a sales pitch for Michael Smart’s Inner Circle, but due to the rapid changes in the communications field, and the busy nature of most PR professionals, we need an expert resource that can consistently separate signal from noise. It’s also helpful that the Inner Circle comes with a built-in community of talented, hugely helpful, non-judgmental PR professionals to ask your thorniest questions.
Inner Circle Member - Shirley Johnson

Shirley Johnson

  • ​​Former Edelman VP, healthcare group
  • ​Built a strong network, became a solopreneur
  • ​Does PR for healthcare, pharma, biotech and non-profits
How do you think you've changed the most as a communications professional since 2009? 
I have become more confident and know that continuous learning is the key to growing. That was why I decided to invest in becoming a member of the Inner Circle. I have met so many smart folks through this Circle who are so generous in their advice. Being able to adapt to change is very important and the only way to do that is to learn new techniques to old tricks.
What's the biggest change you think communicators/PR people need to make to thrive in the next 10 years?
To be able to help their clients target the right audience through various avenues. Media is important but finding other ways to get the message out is equally important, such as targeting corporate outlets if they accept external contributions.
What insight or mindset did you learn from the Inner Circle that made the biggest impact on you?
Every lesson is important and I appreciate having access to a library of gold nuggets. One that comes to mind is that how to pull stronger pitches that are of value to the reporter. I have learned it’s not important to sell my story but, rather, to show how to be part of the story that the news outlet wants.
Inner Circle Member - Judy Kalvin

Judy Kalvin

  • Raised her rates
  • ​Won new business with expanded service lineup
  • Established business-sharing relationship with a PR agency
  • Scores major-market broadcast coverage for clients
What's the most important PR/communications lesson you've learned over the last 10 years?
To elevate my offering to that of consultant rather than media specialist. That’s given me the ability to provide counsel to my clients on their positioning, how they stack up against their competitors and become a strategic partner rather than a vendor. I’ve also put a more concerted effort into building stronger relationships with key media in my space. 
What's the biggest change you think communicators/PR people need to make to thrive in the next 10 years?
Find new ways to provide ROI for what we do. And find new and unique ways to reach journalists and get their attention. 
What insight or mindset did you learn from the Inner Circle that made the biggest impact on you?
I learned different ways to provide value to my clients, and new ways to customize and streamline pitches for better outcomes. 
Inner Circle Member - Raleigh Miller

Raleigh Miller

  • Named Employee of the Year at a 10,000-person company
  • ​​Grew from AAE to managing big budgets and leading media relations
  • Has successes both in-house and at a global PR firm on Fortune 500 accounts
What's the most important PR/communications lesson you've learned over the last 10 years?
Coming out of school as a general business major, I had to put in the extra blood, sweat and tears required to become a communications expert. The more time I spend in the field, the more I appreciate the importance of understanding the full picture. Organizations and bosses seem to want people who are not only good at their specific function – whether it’s media relations, digital, or content creation – but also a healthy understanding of how these pieces work together to create results for the organization.
What's the biggest change you think communicators/PR people need to make to thrive in the next 10 years?
I personally believe that the last decade is proof that while platforms, tools and approaches continue to evolve, good PR practitioners – people who can consistently deliver great earned media placements, and also those who have strategic mastery in leveraging the full communications mix – will be in demand well into the future. We all need to continue embracing the changes that will continue to unfold, but at the same time not lose sight of the fact that we’re basically in the business of communicating information and ideas to other people, whatever the medium.
What insight or mindset did you learn from the Inner Circle that made the biggest impact on you?
Three things:

#1. You can trust Michael’s advice — it works. 

#2. Spend the time to find the right set of media targets for your specific pitch. Really look at what they’re focused on and ensure that your story will play. Pitch via email first, and follow up the first email with a second email that’s identical. Then unapologetically call them until you can reach them and pitch them via phone.

#3. Pitching will always be a little scary, but if it’s what you’ve chosen to do for work or somehow find yourself being paid to do it, then choose not to shrink away from pitching rejection out of fear. Your media results will be worth it!

Inner Circle Member - Jon Bacon

Jon Bacon

  • Helped grow a company until it was acquired
  • ​​Appointed Marketing VP at a cellular tech company
  • Writes for Forbes Communications Council
How do you think you've changed the most as a communications professional since 2009? 
​When the Inner Circle launched, I had just started a new job crossing over from PR agency life to in-house, working as the Marketing Manager for a manufacturer of consumer electronics. At the time, my efforts and skills were focused on PR. Today, I oversee all marketing functions for my employer, and PR is still a huge aspect of my everyday life. However, I look at PR for how it applies to overall awareness growth, influence in key markets and, perhaps most importantly for the small company I work for, how it helps us compete against much larger competition. PR actually helps us level the playing field. Because of that, it has a key role in our marketing efforts. Even if I'm not pitching on a day-to-day basis or in media interviews (I like assigning that out to the appropriate party :-), I'm still deeply involved in PR. It applies when evaluating advertising opportunities, events and online marketing efforts. SEO is critical and the links from press hits are very valuable.
What's the biggest change you think communicators/PR people need to make to thrive in the next 10 years?
​Outside of PR recognizing its role in search/online marketing, from content to backlinks through media relations, another key element is making sure the the PR team or agency can clearly identify cost per lead or cost per acquisition. Measurement in an online world is light years ahead of where it was when the papers, magazines, TV and billboards were your only main advertising tools. Now, everyone knows how much it costs to bring a customer to your site and how that translates to sales. PR professionals need a clear and uniform way to communicate this value as more and more marketing leaders who oversee these efforts will downplay the benefit of this crucial art. 
What insight or mindset did you learn from the Inner Circle that made the biggest impact on you?
For me, the Inner Circle opened my mind to other ways of doing things. Another way to attack a similar problem. Reviewing case studies from other industries for ideas to apply to my efforts. Also, I learned the importance of staying current on new developments in PR and other marketing efforts. Anecdotally, it makes me better equipped to work with my PR agency as I can make recommendations on pitches and planning of all types. 
Inner Circle Member - Kathryn Mason

Kathryn Mason

  • Spent first chapter of career in-house
  • F​ounded MASONRY, a PR firm in Dublin, Ireland
  • Selected as exclusive AOR when a company "broke up" with one of the big agencies
How do you think you've changed the most as a communications professional since 2009? 
No longer can I rely on the media to like what my clients are doing. I need to keep engaging with them on personal and professional levels across social too. It's a challenge feeling being "always on," but I have finally found that balance and while I am engaging. I'm also doing something other PR pros are missing ... going to meet media! I've made it my weekly priority to arrange a coffee with at least one contact each week. I can't believe how well they react and also how much we get to discuss in a relaxed, non-pushy way. Very few of our colleagues are making time to meet face to face and getting the balance of on- and offline time has been the biggest change I've seen without doubt.
What's the biggest change you think communicators/PR people need to make to thrive in the next 10 years?
Stop hiding behind an email service! One thing I've learnt from the Inner Circle is that while the subject line will be a major influence on getting your mail opened, the media seeing "ah that's an email from XXX" will become more important. They miss emails every day but that name popping in will always make a difference. We are hiding and we need to stop being keyboard warriors. The Inner Circle has helped my phone and in-person pitches to cutting out the fluff, getting lands and most importantly creating genuine media relationships.
What insight or mindset did you learn from the Inner Circle that made the biggest impact on you?
I've looked at other mentorships but for me the focus and specific nature of what Michael works on is why I am an advocate. There is no fluff, this is real and amazing insights month after month. The value I get each month from such a reasonable investment in the Inner Circle is unbelievable. Even when monies were tight at the start of moving my business to the next level, the one thing that was non-negotiable was my membership. If you are in PR, no matter where in the world you are, you will not once regret membership. I re-read transcripts and re-listen to recordings regularly. The biggest difference for MASONRY is we have a framework we turn to regularly to keep our pitching game strong! 
So I ask again:

Where could  your career take you in the next 10 years?
Accelerate your trajectory with wide perspectives and deep experience.
Media Pitching Pro - Michael Smart
Hey, Michael here again. As I worked with the Inner Circle members you just heard from, I continued training and coaching PR teams large and small. They've reached out for guidance on scoring more media placements and coordinating earned media outreach with content marketing and social media.
Additionally, I enjoy speaking regularly about integrating media relations efforts with content marketing, social media and even paid tactics at our industry’s top conferences:
PR Industry Conferences
It's been my pleasure to work with pros from:
Agencies
PR Training for Agencies
Brands
PR Training for Brands
Non-Profits
PR Training for Non-Profits
And to welcome Inner Circle members from:
If you refer a member from New Mexico or the Dakotas, I promise I'll make it worth your while  😉
As an Inner Circle member, you'll benefit from global perspectives and cross-industry experience, conveniently concentrated in a single group.

Join, and open yourself to a world beyond your current organization and network.
What members say:
Anne Milo-Shanahan, Account Supervisor, Global Results Communications, Orange County, California

I joined Michael's Inner Circle because there is a tremendous shift in public relations and journalism and I wanted to ensure that I was on the forefront of the industry. Through this program, I have strengthened my media relations skills and have taken control over my own professional development. Empowered by the resources provided by Michael Smart and the Inner Circle members, I have achieved top-tier placements on NPR, the Wall Street Journal (multiple times), LA Times, The Kelly Clarkson Show, magazine covers and countless local and trade hits, making me an invaluable part of my team and trusted partner for clients. Not only am I able to secure placements myself, but I'm able to mentor and teach my colleagues on how to approach media relations differently and effectively. Thanks to this group, I have not only met like-minded, driven and kind professionals, but people that I am proud to have in my network. Being in the Inner Circle has truly transformed the way I do my job and how I move through this fast-paced, ever-evolving world of public relations.

Anne Milo-Shanahan, Account Supervisor, Global Results Communications, Orange County, CA
Andrew Mees, Assistant Director of Media Relations, Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ

Wanted to pass along an Inner Circle triumph — I've just completed the 8-week Quick Start of the Inner Circle, and already have a top-tier national placement based on using solely the strategies within the Quick Start. It’s in The Atlantic, it made their daily newsletter, and I'll be reaching out to a few high-profile outlets to keep the momentum going. The efficiency with which these principles allow you to work turned a 100-person media list into 20, and a month of spraying-and-praying into 2 hours of focused pitching and the biggest placement of my career. If someone is serious about truly mastering their craft, those results simply cannot be denied. I know this wouldn't have been possible without joining the Inner Circle, so a big thank you for all that you do.  

Andrew Mees, Assistant Director of Media Relations, Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ
Heather Farr Edwards, PR & Communications Manager, Reverb, Chicago

"The Inner Circle is the most realistic PR training I've ever experienced — it's less pie in the sky and more 'here's what you can do NOW.' It’s obvious that the tips are based on experience and that the speakers/Michael are up with the times. PR changes from week to week it seems and this program is right there with it. I try to attend every monthly training session and read every email that comes as part of my Inner Circle membership. I can't say that about any other option out there for continuing education."

Heather Farr Edwards, PR & Communications Manager, Reverb, Chicago
Matthew Grant, University of Waterloo, Ontario

My placement rate has gone up, conservatively, by 70% since I started with Michael’s program a year ago. Some of that is because I was not pitching very smart (pardon the pun), and the majority of that is I found that his system gave me the confidence and roadmap to pitch more often. I followed Michael’s direct advice and landed a story in WIRED that my administrators really wanted national media for. Then I used that to place the same story in Canada’s largest magazine. My relationships with media are also way better thanks to following Michael’s specific system. 

Matthew Grant, University of Waterloo, Ontario
Marie Gillcrist, PR & Marketing Coordinator, Shackleton Group, Denver

I noticed an increase in responses after utilizing Michael's methods. I have changed almost all of my pitches, really targeting my pitches more than ever before when I was working for bigger chain companies. I have loved being able to utilize these tips! I have gotten much more interest: I have a bylined article secured and am getting interest from a Forbes writer and many other good outlets! This differs because it actually gives me teach-back moments that I can implement and see results immediately.

Marie Gillcrist, PR & Marketing Coordinator, Shackleton Group, Denver
Chris Cline, Media Relations Specialist, Veterans United, Missouri

"As a former newspaper reporter, a communications director for two state agencies and now a media relations specialist for a mortgage lender whose main objective is to get earned media, I thought I knew it all. Then I attended Michael Smart’s pitching boot camp and quickly realized Michael could take my skillset to a whole new level. The knowledge I learned from him at that boot camp helped me score a holy grail placement in the Washington Post along with a link back to our company’s website. This year I joined the Inner Circle and achieved immediate results. I took advantage of one of his 'Ask Michael Anything' sessions to get specific feedback on a pitch I was working on. The revised version helped me finally get coverage in the San Antonio Express-News, a key market I had been trying to get in for 2.5 years! Because of what I have learned from Michael, I have earned placements in media outlets such as the Houston Chronicle, the Arizona Republic, The Oregonian, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Albuquerque Journal and National Mortgage News. Putting his Quick Start plan into play led to more than 200 media placements last year and nearly 70 SEO links for my company."

Chris Cline, Media Relations Specialist, Veterans United, Missouri
Ready to supercharge your career?

*Enroll during the webinar 
for Throwback Pricing ($29)
on your first month

*Enroll TODAY, Wednesday, Nov 6, to get free access to the first module of Michael's online pitching course, Crafting the Perfect Pitch
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*The Inner Circle closes to new members on Friday, November 15 at 5pm Pacific
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What You Get
Quick-Start Course on Pitching
I designed The Pitch Transformation Quick Start as an 8-part course to rapidly bring new Inner Circle members up to speed. Whether you're a new PR pro learning these skills for the first time or a seasoned veteran honing your experience, you'll reach a new level of PR achievement and feel ready to roll alongside your new associates in about 60 days.
  • Part 1: Mastering the Media that Matter Most
  • Part 2: Accomplishing More with Less — The 80/20 Approach
  • Part 3: Getting Noticed, Even When You've Been Ignored for Years
  •  Part 4: Liberating Yourself from the Tyranny of 'Always On'
  • Part 5: Making Even "Boring" Bits Newsworthy
  • Part 6: Email Secrets: The Anatomy of a Perfect Pitch
  • Part 7: Non-Annoying Follow-Up Methods that Work
  • Part 8: Reporting & Measurement to Prove Your Worth
Media Pitching Online Course - Quick Start Pitching Transformation
This course alone could sell for the cost of a full year in the Inner Circle! But as a new member, you'll start it on Day 1. It's part of me doing what I can to help you rapidly get a return on investing in yourself.
PR Training Master Classes
Monthly Master Classes
Along with occasional guest experts, I share new techniques for pitching and establishing great media relationships every month. These webinars often include specific email pitches that landed positive coverage. You ask your questions about the topics. When I host journalists and bloggers, they are available to evaluate your pitch live on the webinar. If you miss a session or want to catch the details again, you can. Webinars are recorded and transcribed for you to view at any time.

Exclusive Community Forum
Inner Circle Members are some of the sharpest PR pros out there. As a member, you’ll have access to that brain trust via the private Community Forum. You can ask questions, submit a pitch for review, celebrate a big win, get help filling positions and contract assignments and more.

Community Forum for PR Pros
Get personal support for your media pitches during monthly AMAs
Monthly AMAs
Each month, Inner Circle Premium Members get to ask me questions in advance of the live "Ask Michael Anything" session. It’s first come, first served. The AMA is an effective way to get personalized advice for yourself and, even when you don't have a question, to eavesdrop on advice for other PR pros facing challenges that you may have now, or will soon. Many members submit a pitch for me to review before sending it to a key media contact.

Training Vault Access 24/7
Membership also includes access to the entire Inner Circle Training Vault, including 5 years of trainings I have delivered to successful PR pros around the country and in some places around the world. You have access to the entire vault immediately upon enrollment.

Online PR Training Vault - 5 years of master classes
Get personal support for your media pitches during monthly AMAs
Best Pitch of the Year Awards
This is the ONLY media or PR award series where YOU get paid when you win, instead of paying to apply!

Inner Circle members submit their best pitches and results. I choose the winners, and you then benefit from their experience as I share the top, replicable lessons during a special webinar each year, just for Inner Circle members.
The 30-Day, 100% Satisfaction or 
Your Money Back, No-Risk Guarantee
PR Training Group - Satisfaction Guarantee


If at any point during your first 30 days you are unsatisfied for any reason, just email my staff and we will process a prompt and courteous refund of every penny paid.

This means there is no risk to joining.

You get all the upside to increase your placements and advance your career.
Join the Smart PR Inner Circle

The current membership fee is $129/mo, and you can cancel anytime without obligation.

Your investment is protected by a 100% money-back guarantee within the first 30 days.

The Inner Circle is designed for PR pros who have a unique blend of mindset, skills and goals.

We look forward to seeing you on the inside!


Smart PR Inner Circle for Media Relations Pros
Memberships are for individuals. To enroll 3 or more members at your organization, contact us about group rates.
Mary Record, Director of Communications, New York Hall of Science

"I wanted to say thanks — I used the Media Relations Master's Pitch Checklist to craft a pitch right after you shared it with us in the Inner Circle. And I just secured a feature for our CFO in the Wall Street Journal! Those are the kind of results that have helped me earn a 40 percent pay increase since I joined your Inner Circle."

Ginny Walker, Public Relations Manager, Asset Management at KBS Realty, Orange County, CA
Natalia Lima, Publicist, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Tampa

"When I first signed up for your newsletter I was inspired and looked forward to your nugget of wisdom each week. During those first six months I tried to convince my boss to sign me up for the Inner Circle. Eventually I bit the bullet and took the cost on myself. After a year, we were clearly getting results we had not seen before. I felt more confident pitching my ideas and successes to internal decision makers. This past month, my employer signed me up for the Inner Circle paying for the entire year up front. WOW! 

"Three weeks later, an unexpected organizational shift and all of a sudden they finally made the commitment to a software tool I had been vouching for since my arrival four years ago. I honestly don't think I could have gotten the company to invest in any of these PR resources had I not trusted you and signed up for the Inner Circle myself. 

"So thank you. Thank you for supporting my career. Thank you for keeping me on my PR toes and introducing me to PR superstars around the country with your monthly master classes. But mostly, thank you for providing me with the foundation to execute my job with confidence knowing that I am pitching at a level in line with the best in the industry."

Natalia Lima, Publicist, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Tampa
Stuart McFaul, Founder/President, Spiralgroup, San Francisco

"Michael’s last name should be 'Smarter,' because that is the gift he gives to every participant in the Inner Circle. Using his deep experience as a base, he aggregates the most current and best practices for media relations in a way that is easy to understand and follow. As a result, the guidance from him and the Inner Circle have made my team better focused, more intelligent and productive… and the proof is in the results we get for our clients."

Stuart McFaul, Founder/President, Spiralgroup, San Francisco
Mary Tindall, Founder, Mary Tindall Communications, Orlando

"I'm under a lot of pressure to generate a high volume of placements, and I needed a way to work more strategically and land those outlets that really move the needle for my clients. The first three weeks after joining the Inner Circle in particular helped me see how that was achievable. I love the real, behind-the-scenes pitches and insights from other participants. It feels much more authentic than other courses on the market."

Mary Tindall, Founder, Mary Tindall Communications, Orlando
Kate Lessman, CEO, Think Big Media PR, Boulder

"The most valuable thing about the Inner Circle is that Michael has really developed a roadmap and tools of best practices to help PR people rise to the top of their fields as professionals. It is a really amazing program and I find it extremely helpful! I've run PR for a major ski resort and have also pitched smaller companies - the skills taught in the Inner Circle apply equally to both extremes, and everything in between."

Kate Lessman, CEO, Think Big Media PR, Boulder
Trent Maw, Director of Marketing Communications, Leading2Lean, Ogden, UT

"This is not your average PR training. Michael and his team are up on the latest PR trends, and provide both high level and nuts and bolts type learning and coaching. Their deep vault of resources will provide answers, insights. If you're on the fence, and will spend the time to dig in, it's worth the investment."

Trent Maw, Director of Marketing Communications, Leading2Lean, Ogden, UT
Heather Miller

"The quick start videos are extremely helpful and I've found myself utilizing all of the archived materials on the website. It's definitely been the best resource for me in terms of professional development.The resources have helped me fine-tune a few national pitches in order to better break through the clutter of national media contacts' inboxes. And one of those pitches has opened the door to developing a great relationship with a national broadcast producer. :) "

Heather Miller, PR Leader, Gunpowder, Inc., Greenville, SC
Jordyn Burnell, PR Manager, Milestone Consulting, Buffalo

"This is the best training program I've come across in my PR career - it's not stuffy textbook learning, but rather real-world learning that can be applied right away. To someone on the fence about investing, in a heartbeat I'd say, 'Go for it!' I've become WAY more confident reaching out to reporters. In fact, I changed jobs and didn't want to lose my membership, so I paid for it myself!"

Jordyn Burnell, PR Manager, Milestone Consulting, Buffalo
Matt Stubbs, Senior Manager PR & Communications, Truckstop.com, Boise

"In my first two months in the Inner Circle, I have helped directly place or secure more than 20 original articles including placements with the Wall Street Journal and The Deal, two spots with our local TV station, and multiple pieces across our top tier industry and trade publications. The results went even further, and the increased visibility led to one of our highest weeks of sales as well.

"What's most surprising about this course is that most of the content is common sense. But what's different is the way the course encourages and enables you to put the information in practice. It takes you through the steps a little bit at a time so you are able to build on a foundation week-to-week. It helps you set good habits and break the cycle of never feeling like you have enough time."

Matt Stubbs, Senior Manager PR & Communications, Truckstop.com, Boise
Holly Donato, Content and PR Director, DKY Agency, Minneapolis

"I loved the introductory video series. All the steps were achievable and contained the key kernels for PR success.The Training Vault full of on-demand content helped me personalize my learning, depending on a specific challenge I was facing today. Along with your tips, I appreciate your emphasis on discipline - half the battle is mindset. As PR pros we are susceptible to digital distractions and can so easily rationalize that we're 'monitoring conversation' or 'staying informed.' Thanks for helping us stay focused on what matters."

Holly Donato, Content and PR Director, DKY Agency, Minneapolis
Misty Starks, 3BRG Public Relations

“Since joining the Inner Circle, I’ve landed TWO front page placements in our local daily paper; a front page placement in the business section; and a story in the Washington Post, all within a couple of weeks. I was also quoted in an article by American Express OPEN Forum. Not only does the Inner Circle give great information about the 'how,' it also addresses the 'why.' I feel like I’m being heard, and that Michael has experienced exactly what I’m going through, so I’m confident that his methods are tried and true. I have created relationships with journalists I did not have before, and most importantly, I’ve learned how to make better pitches.”

Misty Starks, President, 3BRG Public Relations, Houston
Brian Wallheimer, Science Writer, Purdue University

"Since joining the Inner Circle, I've gotten a source quoted in the Washington Post and I've got two bites from the New York Times on separate stories. Based on my pitch technique and in learning to track down the right reporters based on their past work, I've gone from these reports being covered in a handful of small agriculture publications to getting coverage in the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, WBEZ - NRP in Chicago, and dozens of other outlets throughout our state and surrounding states. Our clients are ecstatic. Michael’s program gives us a more detailed approach that I've not gotten before. Much of the training I've received has been at conferences and skims the surface. I've gotten much more here, including a training vault that I regularly visit. The forum discussions, where I can interact with peers, is invaluable."

Brian Wallheimer, Science Writer, Purdue University
Jennifer Byrd, Divisional Director of Communications,The Salvation Army, San Francisco

"I’m so glad I signed up to work with you. In some ways, the Inner Circle is my secret weapon!"

Jennifer Byrd, Divisional Director of Communications,The Salvation Army, San Francisco
Søren Dal Rasmussen, Press Secretary, Danish Department of Education

"The skills I learned from the Inner Circle allowed me to forge year-long relationships with reporters at outlets like ProPublica and Washington Post that eventually lead to numerous valuable placements. My organization has dozens of new relationships with reporters and because of a specific approach Michael teaches, a handful of reporters who now see the organization as one of their go-to sources. These connections will importantly outlast me and be valuable to the organization and its cause for years to come. 
 
"I have learned an incredible amount by being part of the Inner Circle and the from coaching Michael have generously offered over the years. It has been an instrumental part of my professional development. It allowed me to take on more of a media-centric role in the organization, which got me promoted to media relations manager after two years. 

"As I am writing this, I am getting ready for the next part in my journey: I recently landed my dream job as a Press Secretary at the Danish Department of Education. I am mindful that many people have contributed to positioning me for that. But I feel comfortable saying that the experiences, lessons, and member feedback from the Inner Circle played as big of a role as anything in getting me to where I am today. 
 
"I couldn't recommend the program highly enough. The value is second to none. And on a personal note, you will rarely find a person as thoughtful and friendly as Michael. I hope that I can repay him with Danish treats and a tour of Copenhagen soon."

Søren Dal Rasmussen, Press Secretary, Danish Department of Education
Todd McMahon, Media Relations Manager, O’Connor Connective, Wisconsin

The past 18 months as an Inner Circle member has given me the proper tools and direction to go out and make a significant splash for our clients. I’ll forever be grateful to Michael for your friendship and support of O’Connor Connective and for allowing us to become part of the extremely valuable Smart PR Inner Circle.

Todd McMahon, Media Relations Manager, O’Connor Connective, Wisconsin
Carolina Alduey, Carolina Alduey PR, New York

"I love the inner circle because the monthly trainings ALWAYS provide practical and useful advice on challenges that I face as a PR professional everyday. For a fairly low fee, I get tons of key tips that I was able to implement immediately. I literally saw improvement and growth in my results right away."

Carolina Alduey, Carolina Alduey PR, New York
Paloma Concordia, Owner, The PapaLoDown Agency, San Francisco

"Through applying what I learned in the Inner Circle Quick Start, I achieved a ton of placements with local news outlets, on TV, radio, and print. Although I've been fostering relationships with most of these contacts in the past, going through the training helped me tighten up my systems and boost my confidence in making things happen! The program is 100% worth it. It keeps you motivated, as well as informed, and builds up your confidence. I also appreciate that the videos are not dry and boring - I like Michael's humor and teaching style!"

Paloma Concordia, Owner, The PapaLoDown Agency, San Francisco
Adam Dvorin, Media Director

"When I joined the Inner Circle ten years ago, we were all pitching very differently. Now I’m getting journalists’ attention on Twitter and using content to make their jobs easier, both approaches I’ve learned from the Inner Circle. It’s the best way to get the outside intelligence I need to do my job more effectively. Bouncing a 'pitch in progress' off Michael helped me land a USA Today feature story that wowed our client. Separately, I applied a technique I learned on an Inner Circle webinar that led to a Bloomberg Businessweek placement for one client and an ABCNews.com placement for another."

Adam Dvorin, Media Director, Winning Strategies, Newark, NJ
Mary Oakey, PR Specialist, Nemetschek Group, Washington, DC

"For me, this course was so different and provided a different way of approaching common issues that PR professionals often encounter. The program could be used by someone just starting out, or someone who has been in the industry for years. It also reinforces points that many of us forget about over time. This program takes a more strategic approach that is so simple, but so effective. The Inner Circle has been so helpful for me!"

Mary Oakey, PR Specialist, Nemetschek Group, Washington, DC
Mary Record, Director of Communications, New York Hall of Science

“I love all the real-world pitch examples – that’s an amazing difference between the Inner Circle and other professional development conferences and videos I’ve experienced. I’ve never really seen pitches that were done right, so it’s great to suddenly have a bunch of real-world examples to learn from. I’ve followed Michael’s advice about changing my work day to focus more on higher-value tasks, and my coworkers are supporting me. I’m getting more placements, even on our harder-sell stories, and my supervisor and our fundraisers are happy :)”

Mary Record, Director of Communications, New York Hall of Science, NYC

*Enroll during the webinar 
for Throwback Pricing ($29)
on your first month

*Enroll TODAY, Wednesday, Nov 6, to get free access to the first module of Michael's online pitching course, Crafting the Perfect Pitch
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Cassandra Novy, Media Relations Specialist, St. Lukes Hospital, St. Louis

"I'm sure you hear this all the time, but I get more out of the Inner Circle and your materials than any other luncheon, conference or professional development seminar I've attended in the last few years. That's why I continue to pay for my membership out of my own pocket!"

Cassandra Novy, Media Relations Specialist, St. Lukes Hospital, St. Louis 
Elaine Iandoli, Media Relations Manager, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, NYC

"The Inner Circle has given me inspiration and many mental boosts over the past few years. I've learned so much, which recently helped me land a placement in the WSJ. My leadership team loved the piece. And the reporter has asked that we send her all news releases (even though she doesn't typically cover our type of news). I'm planning a new pitch for her in about six months. I continue to learn every time I get Michael's emails or participate in a webinar. I am thankful for all he does for us!"

Elaine Iandoli, Media Relations Manager, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, NYC
Christina Cardenas, Comms Specialist, Cal State Fullerton

"It's fantastic! I thought I knew everything because I used to be a reporter. Turns out, I didn't! There is a lot more nuance than I imagined, and while I can write a stellar press release, my pitching skills have improved a lot through this program. I always hated follow-up, but the way Michael teaches it makes it a lot easier and less anxious."

Christina Cardenas, Comms Specialist, Cal State Fullerton
Katrina Crocker, Comms & Marketing Specialist, Central NY Community Foundation, Syracuse, NY

"The lessons and tips learned here are incredibly practical and useful and can be implemented immediately. I paused one of the videos halfway through and acted on the tip I'd just learned, and the editor called me before the video had ended. The next week he published a story in large part copied from my news release, and we've since discussed future story pitches he'd like to receive from us. I also used the same technique to place our spokesperson on a popular local television show that gave her about 4 minutes to speak about a topic that is of our highest priority to communicate in our strategic plan. As I've implemented Michael's recommendations on adjusting daily workflow, I definitely have felt more focused and relaxed as a result."

Katrina Crocker, Comms & Marketing Specialist, Central NY Community Foundation, Syracuse
Barbara Fornasiero, Founder, EAFocus PR, Detroit

"The Inner Circle is an absolutely terrific program and an excellent value. I'm more confident in my pitching follow-up and in the role I play as a resource for media. The value to me is the inspiration I receive in continuing to do a job that I love and was born to do. I'm a big fan!"

Barbara Fornasiero, Founder, EAFocus PR, Detroit
Leona Long, PIO, University of Alaska, Fairbanks

“I pay for the Inner Circle and the online course out of pocket and am not reimbursed by my employer. This is the BEST investment I have ever made in myself. I was good before the Inner Circle, but now my media results have skyrocketed. Its worth going without a shopping trip or a fancy meal out with my husband to invest in the IC and enjoy these results. It’s also the reason that despite $16-32 million cuts to my university system each year for the past three years (and again this year) that I have kept my job and received raises and a promotion that I never applied for. Thank you Michael and my Inner Circle Colleagues, I am proud to be a part of the Inner Circle.”

Leona Long, PIO, University of Alaska, Fairbanks
Deborah Lohse, Asst Director, Media & Internal Comms, Santa Clara University

"The Inner Circle is far and away better than most PR professional development courses. WAY more practical, including outlet ideas and extremely concrete suggestions. I've gotten much more systematic in approaching outreach to journalists and refreshed my zeal for the job. Being in Michael's Inner Circle is like having a new valuable team member."

Deborah Lohse, Asst Director, Media & Internal Comms, Santa Clara University
Heather Jones, Heather Jones Consulting, Portland, OR

"As a solo freelancer, it's a challenge for me to stay in the loop on the latest methods for being effective with today's journalists. The Inner Circle has inspired me, refocused my workflow, and also reassured me in many cases that 'I'm doing it right.' AND, it was definitely great to be reminded that I should not think of myself as a pest!"

Heather Jones, Heather Jones Consulting, Portland
Jen Bemisderfer, Managing Director, R&H Strategic Communications

“In more than 15 years in the PR business, I’ve never come across anyone as generous with his knowledge as Michael Smart. He genuinely wants us to be more successful at media pitching and it shows. When I look at where to spend my professional development time and money, I see Michael’s Inner Circle as an amazing investment. I’m continually learning and it pays off for me and my clients. Using Michael’s techniques, I’ve secured coverage for clients with the Associated Press, NBC News and Politico.”

Jen Bemisderfer, Managing Director, R&H Strategic Communications, Washington DC
Alysa Reich, PR Senior Manager, NACE International, Washington, DC

“The Inner Circle has been a big help, even more than I expected. Michael always provides solid strategic guidance and he keeps me up-to-date on the latest trends impacting my media outreach efforts. And the online forum has been a wonderful community to receive useful feedback from Michael and other professionals and to follow conversations and learn new ideas from my peers.”

Alysa Reich, PR Senior Manager, NACE International, Washington, DC
Brian Wallheimer

“Your Inner Circle has been a constant source of valuable professional development that I apply to my job on a daily basis. Your insights and actionable tips are some of the best advice I’ve ever received in my professional life. What’s more, I’m being asked to train some marketing team members in the ways of PR, and your free webinars are the first thing I point them to watch, and your emails are the first thing I have them sign up for. They love you too! As the sole PR practitioner at my company, I rely on the Inner Circle to be my source for mentorship, best practices, and fresh ideas.

“Thanks for continuing to deliver these insanely valuable classes! I used the simple tip you shared on the last one to great success lately. One landed a spotlight profile for my CEO in a regional business magazine, and another follow up email (after a highly targeted pitch, of course) also sparked dialogue with a WSJ reporter who said he’s monitoring the issue I had pitched about – will keep working it.” 

Carol Vieira, Senior PR Manager, Ryan, Providence, RI
Steve Jensen, PR at NetSuite, EMC Mozy, VitalSmarts, Symantec, SnappConner and MX, Utah

"Michael Smart is simply the best media pitcher in the business. Period. And I’m convinced that the Inner Circle is the best-kept secret among the vast pool of PR people needing to improve their pitching skills. Michael’s tips have proven successful in my day-to-day job over and over again. After eight years of experience in the Bay Area I was feeling fairly confident in my media pitching skills. Little did I realize how much more I would learn by being involved in Michael’s biweekly Inner Circle calls. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my career."

Steve Jensen, PR at NetSuite, EMC Mozy, VitalSmarts, Symantec, SnappConner and MX, Utah
Christine Patterson, Account Director, Larson Communications, Chicago

“Without a doubt Michael’s Inner Circle is the best professional development out there. Conferences that cost $1,500 where you don’t learn a thing vs. an expert like Michael and access to other PR pros? No brainer! I can’t tell you how valuable the experience is – Michael is a truly gifted teacher. Also, I love the online forum, and having access to all the previous webinars is so helpful.”

Christine Patterson, Account Director, Larson Communications, Chicago
Candace Rotolo, At The Table PR, Tampa

"I’m always learning new ways to work with reporters (even though I counted myself among them for more than a decade!) My Inner Circle subscription has already paid for itself in the media coverage I’ve recently been able to secure using Michael’s advice, including an network morning appearance."

Candace Rotolo, At The Table PR, Tampa
Laura Kane, VP Corporate Communications, Aflac

"I love working with Michael because, aside from being smart and innovative and really clear, he doesn’t have an agenda. He’s not trying to push some greater service, he’s not looking to get you an award, he’s just looking to figure out the angle that’s going to get the best press and tell your story most effectively."

Laura Kane, VP Corporate Communications, Aflac 2003-2014
Jasmine Powers

"I wanted to share with you that the Inner Circle was everything I needed to boost my confidence in pitching because I had only been using a media database and placed articles through existing relationships with media. Your free material was EVERYTHING and it was what convinced me to join the Inner Circle. Although it wasn't really in my budget, it was the best investment I've made in my business. Thank you for this wonderful resource!"

Jasmine Powers, J Powers Marketing & Publicity, Murrieta, CA
Misty Starks, 3BRG Public Relations

"This is far and away the best PR training program I've done. I'd recommend to any PR pro who wants to improve their efficiency, pitches, relationships or mentality. I've used what I learned to secure interviews with three of the top trade outlets in our space. This isn't a ton, but it's a massive improvement over what we usually secure for our client, so my team is thrilled. I've put almost everything into action! I've been engaging with reporters (NYT, VICE, to name a few) and laying the groundwork for future opps. I've also reduced the number of times I check email throughout the day - and experienced noticeable improvements."

Brian Hayes, Account Exec at LEWIS Global Comms, San Diego
Questions? Email [email protected] or call us at (435) 612-0156.
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