Hello! What’s your background and what services you or your agency provide?
Prior to dropping out for awhile from Howard University, I was actually a public relations major there before switching majors and having the dreaded realization that there was no money in
truthtelling (read: journalism). Professionally, I have a background in hotels and hospitality and previous to that, film production and music.
Fiat Lux | NYC is a boutique agency that represents “the working creative” industries on the small business scale. In actuality, it’s a vehicle to promote businesses in the fields I have the most interest such as film, hospitality, and real estate. The firm provides public relations, brand management, social media (and whenever possible) event production for our clientele.
What motivated you to working in the PR profession? What’s your typical work week like?
My entry into the industry is essentially a journey resumed after what basically resulted into being an extended detour. Initially I interned at Bozell Sawyer Miller Group in Washington, DC I then decided to work in the film industry. And so after working on a couple films that all bombed, I went into DJ-ing. I DJ-ed in New York City back when DJs only spun vinyl records and in doing those gigs, I realized the very dirty secret of the DJ game: what separated those itinerant DJs from those who became “names” was some had public relations backing them and the ones who fell by the wayside did not. This ultimately led me back to having to study public relations techniques.
The name of my company actually came from a French record label whose records I used to play in my sets (I’m hoping I don’t receive some kind of international cease-and-desist order as a result of this interview!)
I do not have typical “weeks” per se. Sometimes, I am not certain where the demarcation between separate “weeks” are much of the time, despite what my phone tells me. To be perfectly honest, I am assuming I am an outlier because I do not have “a process”. In a way, I’ve kept some of my dilettante ways except I am tasked to put them to use more often and I’ve been very very fortunate to make a living and be asked to lead others not really changing much of who I am and the particular style in which I do things. I pitch selectively, but I am always working on pitches sometimes ten at a time.
So much of my work I do while in motion, while the rest of the team is otherwise situated in their home offices or in office when the level of work demands we have one.
How have you attracted new clients and grown your business?
I’ve been very fortunate in this age of constant online interactivity to have garnered the bulk of my work through word-of-mouth referrals. It also helps that I like to help others in the fields I’m most interested vis-a-vis this space.
What are your favorite PR tools that you cannot live without?
Here it comes, the shameless plugs for promotion! (I laugh). I use three tools. Obviously, I am a fan of Anewstip. It is actually the tool I use the most and delivers to my company the most leads for my pitches. The second, is something called PitchEngine. They format my pitches very professionally at a highly cost-effective rate. Definitely I suggest using them for companies operating at a lean to small budget. Lastly, I use Help A Reporter Out (HARO). HARO is a subsidiary of Csion, I love how they directly connect you to reporters seeking specific contributions to their stories.
Have you found anything particularly helpful in getting a placement on a top tier outlet?
Obviously, you’re going to have to get to know people at that echelon of outlets. What works for me is doing the research in terms of the social media profiles of whom you’re trying to pitch and figuring out which events and associations they’re most likely to join and attend and start from there in terms of your networking. PR, I hate to state the obvious, is mostly about networking.
How do you stay on top of current events and trends?
Just getting out there! There is always a story. In New York City, merely walking in the city, browsing at the throngs of people on (let’s say, Broadway) do you find so many openings you can play with. Everyone, every shop, every brick-and-mortar business has a story, a set of unfulfilled expectations you should envision making manifest. You have to walk the streets here in New York City. The streets is where the action is at. Look around, be observant, employ your eye and ear hustle.
I also stay ahead of the curve when it comes to trends by simply watching YouTube and keeping track of their recommendations. I know on the surface, it sounds very banal and a plea for a better use of my free time but YouTube at this point has replaced television and to a large extent, cable, as the medium of conversation. Instagram does the same thing for me at a slightly less robust scale.
What’s a client story that you’re most proud of?
It’s the work we’ve done for a skin lasering clinic in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. Again, we were referred to them strictly by word-of-mouth. This was a typical small business story where the owner had reached a kind of glass ceiling in terms of growing the business and saw their competition pulling away seemingly without a cause. And it’s a modest operation. It wasn’t super chic like the Equinox near Lincoln Center but they did (and still do) excellent work. The owner had everything she needed not to need my services; she did miraculous dermatological work, clientele consisted of a lot of models and actors (some very, very high-profile) the business had a great location close to transportation―and yet, she wasn’t an explosive success.
After a lot of tense back-and-forth with the original designer, we razed and redesigned their website. And that tension had to be there, because the owner, Marta, was running her business on sheer passion and she had been let down by PR people before. Then we set about refurbishing her brand and its positioning within (unbeknownst to me at the time) a highly saturated and competitive market.
Now, Skin Laser Studios is a thriving business in a coveted niche in Marta’s industry. It also helps that she is a great person possessed of a deep passion and compassion for her clients, that gives us the impetus to go that extra mile for her.
What’s your advice for PR pros who are just starting out or entrepreneurs doing PR on their own?
It’s simple, but it’s not. Consider to whom you are writing. Consider your audience. Have you heard members of that audience speak? Are there phrases that do not ordinarily taste normal to your experience? That’s the key: how should your audience speak?
It’s going to sound very cliche but honestly you have to be in touch with the things that move you―it’s what works for me.
What are your goals for the future?
I got into the PR biz as an outlet for my fictive capability so eventually, I’d like to evolve into something of a director. I can entertain a reverie about being a commercial director in addition to being a writer. I can even go so far as to be a documentary director. That would be fun.
Where can we learn more about your work or life as a PR pro?
I keep my operation very lean as an aesthetic and a sort-of homage to my beginnings. Every once in a while, I take an office for awhile if I feel the workload and the cachet of our clientele demanded it but I like working out of restaurants and bars because it keeps me connected to my city. It keeps me connected to the creativity and the inspiration for the stories we must weave for the money.
That being said, I should blog more than just my Yelp profile.