Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of the SPEAK|pr Podcast
Morry Morgan is an entrepreneur and author who now brands himself on LinkedIn as “The Wisecracking entrepreneur.” The development of Morry’s personal skill set started when he took up microbiology in university. He was in the Australian Army as a member of the Medical Corps and as a microbiologist in that capacity, so there was no way he would have ever imagined that his skill sets would be in training, in China, in stand-up comedy, and in entrepreneurship. He’d use a microbiologist to describe what he’s learned, and that is, “Chance favors the prepared mind.” Louis Pasteur, the French microbiologist coined this, and Morry absolutely agrees. He says the more input you give yourself through life experiences, whether they’re intentional or not, the more ready you are when an opportunity presents itself. He calls himself “wisecracking,” because he likes to consider himself relatively intelligent but with a sense of humor. He sees opportunities where others have not. Currently, Morry has a web series entitled Is This Thing On?, because anyone who grabs hold of a microphone, particularly in comedy, says that especially if they’re a bit unsure of themselves. Only the first two episodes are on YouTube while the entire six episodes will go to Apple TV. Morry says this whole thing is actually a marketing and PR exercise. What is the purpose of this PR and marketing? It is for the stand-up comedy school he founded called the School of Hard Knock Knocks.
The School of Hard Knock Knocks
Morry came up with his stand-up comedy school through a motto that he developed in Shanghai. Go big or go home, he says. When you’re in China, everything’s difficult, and nothing’s impossible. That’s what he thought with the School of Hard Knock Knocks. They only have a few competitors, and in order to differentiate themselves from the market and create a barrier to entry for anyone else thinking about it, he created a TV show. In terms of setting it all up, Morry befriended a director who turns out was an ex-stand-up comedian and was even on a TV show himself. So, when the idea came to Morry to make a show, that friend was the first person that came to mind. He happened to also live about two kilometers from where Morry was living at the time, so he considers it quite serendipitous.
When it comes to his show, Morry says there’s two ways of looking at it. If you’re a small business and you’re thinking, “Oh, this is beyond me,” Morry’s here to give you some numbers. $50,000 AUD was spread out over two years, so it wasn’t a huge chunk of change in one go. The show went through a couple different ideas, but eventually, they settled on a factual show versus one that was scripted. That meant that they were a fly on the wall. They had 10 wannabe stand-up comedians from different backgrounds. They had a couple of people in their 50s, some in their 20s, and then people in their 30s and 40s. They had an equal amount of men and women. Some were from Sydney, some from Adelaide, and some from Melbourne. It was basically a good mix of personality types and backgrounds, and they put them in a room for five days. The activity was to learn stand-up comedy, and they occasionally had a relatively famous guest comedian.
Regarding PR and marketing, Morry has always been a big fan of KOLs or Key Opinion Leaders, so they embedded names like Greg Fleet and Glynn Nicholas, a great Welsh-born Aussie comedian and performer, and they took a day for each of the five nights. Morry’s team filmed them, and what they filmed them doing was quite unusual. For example, on one of the nights, Mayumi Nobetsu, a Japanese-born Australian comedian, took them to do life drawing. That’s nude painting to the layman, but then she told them that everyone had to get naked as well. She forced a group of 10 strangers to strip off except for an apron (so you wouldn’t get paint on you), and that was the second episode. You get to see them learn stand-up comedy, but you also get to see them go through these emotional challenges and rollercoasters. They have a behavioral analyst as well who does hypnosis on one of the people, Steve Mackey, and makes him forget his name. Generally, it’s a bit more organized than just walking into the factory floor and pressing the record button.
What made Morry pick Apple TV
Morry says they actually chose Apple TV by accident. Initially, he thought they would be able to get onto the ABC or the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (or the BBC of Australia). But unfortunately, the timing was wrong. They were going through turmoil, a new CEO, and no one wanted to take a chance on an Australian unknown. So, they looked at alternatives, and Morry reached out to Netflix, Apple TV, YouTube Premium, and he found out through Apple TV that almost anyone can get their own show on Apple TV. You just have to go through a company that augments and brings everything together. They ensure that the quality of the video is great, that any captions are included, and that the format itself is the right format for Apple to stream.
On the School of Hard Knock Knocks website, they use a tool called Proof Factor, which Morry heard about on a podcast, and that led him to start investigating. Proof Factor is a free tool that can be attached to WordPress sites, and it’s a tool Morry recommends. Morry also has Google My Business for three venues around Australia, and he’s got five-star ratings. To get his customers to write reviews, he simply asked them. The School of Hard Knock Knocks is a community, and so for each review, he thanks the customer that wrote it, and that reminds them. Anothing thing to note about his business is they don’t actually have a location. They use the services of venues. They play with the algorithm to be listed within an existing venue, because they’re a service. To get around the technicalities that Google My Business requires, such as a postcard address, every time Morry does a show in a venue, he just gives them a call and says, “Do you mind if we list in your venue?,” and they say they’re perfectly fine with it. This is why they have venues listed in Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney. Their competitors started doing it as well, but they don’t have 65 reviews like Morry does.
With that, hopefully Morry has shared some useful insights and tools that you can use. The idea of making your own TV series which then becomes an infomercial is very powerful, and Morry’s one of the few people that have been able to do that. If you want to find out more about Morry, Is This Thing On?, or the School of Hard Knock Knocks, you can reach Morry on LinkedIn. Just mention that you heard this on SPEAK|pr, and he says he’ll know exactly what you’re talking about. You can also check their website out here.
Cover Photo from Morry Morgan