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Why a Publicist is invaluable to your business by Joy, a multi-award winning PR & Digital Marketing Specialist

By Joy A. Kennelly

What people may not realize about me since they see me smiling and joking around all the time and tweeting out silly tweets, is when it comes to business and getting paid, I'm dead serious. I don't take myself seriously, but business? Dead serious.

If someone doesn't pay me on time or in full, it used to cause me to become white-hot angry and react in a rage because it felt like such a violation against me, all my hard work and efforts on behalf of previous clients, but now, I'm more measured about it.

It's why I like the new Rhianna song so much. I feel you gurl!:)

It is one of the main reasons I got out of PR. When you're a sole proprietor and your business is in building people's reputations and brands, they often don't recognize the intangible components behind what helps build their company, nor do they realize their payment helps make or break you staying in business or not.

A publicist gives someone a veneer of credibility because if a publicist says someone is of value, then that usually means the client is newsworthy otherwise, why waste your time repping them? There are some unscrupulous publicists who will just take anyone's money even if they know it won't go anywhere, and some clients I took on thinking they were newsworthy which the media said, no, not interested, but for the most part, the newsworthy value of whatever you will be repping for the next few months is something you look closely at before signing someone up. 

PR is also sales and if you can't sell them, then your reputation is affected too.

You don't want the client to be mad at you, nor do you want to be mad at yourself for not getting any media hits, or opportunities. It still happens and publicists acknowledge that news cycles, interest levels, trends, and major news happening all play a part in why something doesn't get picked up, but rarely do clients because they don't understand media cycles, or that they're just not right at the moment.

I worked with a co-author team on a screenplay book they had written and pitched my heart out for them. We didn't get much during the time we worked together because it's such a niche topic, but then six months later a radio show I had pitched who does book reviews called and wanted to speak to my clients. I passed along the information and felt vindicated because I had felt that media outlet was perfect for them, it just wasn't the right time.

I also lived in NYC during the time John F. Kennedy Jr. was killed in the plane crash with his wife. Imagine having an event on the same night as his funeral! His death threw out the window all the hard work myself and the top indie entertainment publicity company I was freelancing for at the time had done because no one in the media or general public cared, it was all about JFK Jr's death and the crash.

And we had HUGE media outlets attached to come too. But our event was the same night as a moment in history and there was no way we could compete.

Stuff happens.

Art is so subjective, it's one of the reasons I quit representing artists too. I may think something is amazing, they might have had a huge following in the past, but times and interests and taste changes. It doesn't matter how many celebrity friends you have who bought your art in the past, if art critics aren't interested now, they're just not interested and it won't change their minds.

The other reason I dislike doing PR is people didn't value my connections or what I brought to the table through who I know and am connected to.

I'm a Native of California, grew up in the South Bay, have lived in Santa Monica and Hollywood almost my entire life, leaving for school in Montana and Seattle, again for work in New York City; and new experiences in Atlanta and startup goals in Vegas. I've also worked on the production of an event for Acura in New Orleans, and thrown numerous travel and entertainment events in New Mexico, Las Vegas, Atlanta, and numerous Los Angeles events in entertainment, technology, fashion and for clients since high school. 

As a result, my reach is broad, diverse and nation-wide. I can connect with anyone I've worked with in the past and ask for advice, referrals, recommendations and more because I have a good, solid reputation of doing good work, working hard and getting things accomplished. I work with similar caliber people and have collaborated with numerous friends and colleagues on projects, clients, events and more over the past 10 years as well.

That's why, when I build someone's brand, they're not just sitting in a vacuum where no one cares about what they're doing, people are curious because I'm involved. They know I work on projects, companies, brands and individuals I believe in.

I'm connected to over 5,000 people on Linkedin and that's in all industries, all levels of business, and across the nation. Linkedin used to list what that computed to, but I can't find it right now, but if memory holds true, if I post something as a status update, then it reaches approximately a million people by virtue of the network and inter-relationships of everyone I'm connected to.

When I was working for the JW Marriott I used to post a weekly blog I wrote about the Marriott on my Linkedin profile and the sales department saw an immediate upshot of over $1,000,000 in new business a month by virtue of being on the radar of the people I know. They didn't realize the correlation, but I know it because they'd not reached that sales goal prior to my publicity efforts.

That's why when someone thinks, oh you just took copy we provided you and posted it, there's no value in that, it makes me realize they don't understand my value and it's time to re-educate them. Any monkey can post copy. It's the style, the way it's placed, it's the grammatical correctness and everything else that goes into a presentation that makes something work or not. It's the images, the connections, the brand overall.

It's where the finished product is presented, to whom and by whom...

That goes across anything you're doing, but especially in business because people judge you on your online presence more now than ever.

If your IMDB is out-of-date, if you''re not on any of the normal social media platforms, at least one, if your name doesn't come up in search results, if nothing newsworthy is revealed when people search, then they wonder what's wrong with you and your business and if what you say is true about yourself.

But if you have a quality Linkedin profile (in certain industries) then investors take you more seriously and you find the backing you need for your company faster and easier. And if you have people vouching for you, like a publicist or representative who is well-respected, or the media covers you and your brand, even more so when you're not as well-known in certain circles the PR person runs in or the investor is new to your company and industry.

People think I play around by going to parties at night, but what they don't realize it's very strategic. When you're seen in the right circles with celebrities, then you're invited to other events with that caliber of attendees which opens other doors to new opportunities. It also legitimizes your business, your brand and you as an individual for the media, the circle of influence you're in, and in the general public.

It's all part of branding and sales.

I used to work with an actor who had been typecast as a gay character in a popular TV show for five years and couldn't find work because back then, being gay wasn't as popular and how many gay characters does a project normally need? Not that many.

As a result, he hired me and we began working on turning his brand around to that of a bad guy because that was his goal. We worked together for a year and a half and his final audition, they invited him in to audition for a gay character based on his past role that typecast him, but because we had done so much work on rebuilding his image as a bad guy, they hired him to play a bad guy after meeting him.

We did this by attending numerous red carpet, A-list events and getting him out there with beautiful women as beards, attending macho events, and creating an amazing online presence for him using my Page One Google blog and blogging about everything we were doing which raised his SEO and visibility. We used the pictures he got from the red carpet to build more buzz with media we pitched and achieved and also worked on his image for headshots too. I was the stylist on some of those shoots and events which I enjoyed.

Soon the quality of events and opportunities for him professionally became better and better. We even got him a write-up in the Los Angeles Business Journal. An actor, who knew?:)

He had been immensely famous in Italy prior to moving to the states and understood the PR game which is why he was agreeable to hitting two and three events a night just to be photographed on the red carpet as we worked to get him known as a bad guy and as someone who was viable and newsworthy.

We parted when I had a car accident that prevented me from attending future events and repping him due to my injuries which was heart breaking because I really enjoyed our working relationship and felt like I lost a best friend.

But what I've found in these situations is that every time something happens (an injury, a fight over money, or something else) that causes the end of a working relationship, it opens doors to something new and better. Eventually life comes full circle and I re-connect with the person again in a different way and for a different, forward-moving reason.

And with more mutual respect.

This actor has gone on to a tremendously successful career when he added producing and directing to his resume and used the foundation we created to build his brand awareness to launch into that realm faster too.

You may recognize the name, Domiziano Arcangeli...

I know PR & Digital Marketing like the back of my hand. However, I became tired of being disrespected, marginalized, and discounted for my hard work and decided to pursue something else that brought me more satisfaction, building my own travel brand and company.

I will still pick up an occasional freelance client here and there, but try to keep the focus on what I love, building my travel business. Plus, my hands were damaged working for the JW Marriott and I physically can't do all the work involved in that realm without a lot of pain, even a year later. I'm getting closer to finding relief, but for now, it's still an issue. If I do it now, it's with help and I manage it more than do the tedious work.

Time to do something that requires different uses of my expertise, experience and connections!  And my hands.

Like producing, hosting, and phone sales. And building a travel company where women will enjoy participating and expand their lives through the power of travel. I find the connections, experience, reputation and branding I've done in the past comes into play in this realm and also all the event producing I've done over the years as well because you operate out of knowledge, rather than fear and you're doing something at a much higher level and with higher level connections having worked up to it over time.

Reputation, connections, experience aren't built over night. They take time, nurturing, and doing the right thing. However, what's interesting is your reputation and online presence can change overnight though too. It pays to watch yourself very closely as a result. Don't damage what took you years to achieve with one stupid action. Because social media isn't forgiving, and it's immediate.

Actions you might have gotten away with in the past because no one was recording your actions or documenting the activity publicly, is now under a microscope 24/7. Being a celebrity in this day and age I think is even harder because of social media. Yes, it's a great tool to build an online presence, but man can it also damage it. 

And that's all she wrote. Wanted to get this off my chest because it has come up again and needed to vent a little.:)

Onwards and upwards. Living and learning... Always learning and growing.


Kim Rahilly

Joy Kennelly's post on the pleasures and potential pitfalls of a life in the PR biz is honest, illuminating and insightful (I should know!). Glad to hear that she is now focusing on the work in the travel biz that she loves, and using her hard-won PR skills to promote it. Brava,Joy!


Thanks Kim! Long time no see. Glad you agreed with me. It can be a thankless job, only made more thankless when you have to demand payment for honest work.

I must say, I did have some great clients too.:) Hope you're doing well.

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