On Thursday, June 22, the Black Public Relations Society (BPRS) D.C. Chapter held their anticipated panel discussion, “Entertainment PR Unfiltered” featuring four PR Powerhouses – Priscilla Clarke, Gwendolyn Quinn, Candice Nicole, and Lisa Fager. I may be not be a PR professional, but something told me as someone looking to pursue a career in the industry, I needed to hear what these women had to say. Many of the lessons and stories they shared related to anyone who wants to work behind the scenes for an artist or entertainment company. A few gems:
Everything that glitters is not gold. If you’re going into the biz for the glitz and the glam, you may need to reassess your plans immediately. Life in entertainment means long hours, odd hours, and a lot of hard work. Priscilla Clarke told us about one a-list event during award season, where much to others’ surprise, she choose to skip out and instead sit outside the venue after a long afternoon getting her clients through red carpet interviews.
Publicist or Therapist? Gwendolyn Quinn had stories for days – I would love to take her to dinner to hear about her many experiences in the industry over the years. She dropped many gems, but one she stressed in particular is that as a PR professional, you have to be prepared to be the voice of reason for your client, and that can take many forms. Sometimes it’s boosting them up. Sometimes it helping them see their best selling point, and sometimes it can even be an ego check. A PR professional is a jack of all trades!
You can sleep before you die, but it may be at 3pm. Candice Nicole talked about her unorthodox approach to sleep – because the entertainment industry runs on both the East coast and the West coast, work as a PR professional can mean staying up until 3a to ensure a client has everything they needs while attending an event in L.A., or early mornings to get ahead of the producers and reporters on the Each coast. She was clear about one things, sleep is important, but it may mean having to sleep at different points in the day to make sure you are looking out for both your health and your clients.
Social Media– Foe, Friend, or Frenemy? And of course, we had to talk about the impact of social media. Lisa Fager talked about how much of a game changer it has been for PR professionals. The consensus of everyone on the panel was that it’s not an option to ignore social media – clients should have curated accounts featuring content that can build followers, interactions with reporters need to be managed, and it is always beneficial to have a client go through social media training.