By Michelby Coco Whitehead
A publicist’s job is quite fascinating, especially as it relates to the beauty industry. From your favorite hair care commercials and even the infamous Dove and Shea Moisture ads that made consumers of color say “Girl, bye!” you can bet your good wig that a publicist was involved somewhere in the process. Having a PR expert on your team is an invaluable investment, but before hiring someone, there are several things to consider. Atlanta-based PR pro Deidre Palode shared some insight on what it’s like to work in the industry, as well as what beauty professionals should consider before hiring someone to leverage media coverage for their brand.
How did you get your PR experience?
It was during my college career. I was a dual major in Film/Video and Journalism/PR. I took the classes, but the experience came through Google, internships, outside workshops, shadowing and volunteering for sure.
What made you did you decide that entrepreneurship was the route you should go?
I didn’t decide. God decided for me. I was the type of lady who wanted to climb the corporate ladder and maybe start a business in my mid-thirties or early forties, but God had other plans. He made me very uncomfortable in my 9-5 whether it be budget cuts, position changes, contracts ending, etc. I am not the kind of person you can keep in a box. I like to be creative and do new things and with corporate you kind of have to stick to the rules. I’m so not that person! So, I launched my firm in 2014, and I’ve been holding it down as a full-time entrepreneur since 2015.
What is the biggest misconception people have about your job?
It’s easy and the money is quick. FALSE AND FALSE. Just because you see me working a red carpet doesn’t mean I have that A-lister’s money. Just because you see me out with the news station doesn’t mean I built that relationship overnight. Being a publicist, is to BUILD relationships and WORK HARD! These things take time. Whether you want to be a publicist, or you need one, it takes time, effort and a whole bunch of prayer.
When beauty professionals are searching for a publicist, what do they need to consider before choosing someone?
A budget. Hiring a publicist is way more cost-effective than advertising but you generally need a decent budget to hire a professional who is responsible for your brand’s exposure, and I’m not talking about a couple of hundred dollars. Invest at least $1,000 per month for a publicist. Also, know what’s the “WHY” in your product or service. Out of all the beauty professionals and products that are out there, what makes you desirable and newsworthy.
What is the biggest branding mistake you see people make in the beauty industry?
With the age of social media and the digital space, if you are providing services online, make your services visible. If I’m looking for a stylist on Instagram, why is your page private? We need to see your work and what you can do!
Can you think of a national beauty campaign that you really liked?
I would have to say P&G’s “My Black Is Beautiful” campaign. They have really shifted what it means to promote your own beauty standards and redefine them among Black women. I had the chance to work with this campaign just last year and it’s something I am proud to say I had a hand in.
|Deidre at work|
What advice do you have for a newbie who is embarking on a career in public relations?
Don’t walk into this field thinking it’s all about celebrities, exclusive events and being on social media all day. Expect to do some not-so-great things and be prepared to work long, extensive hours. Make sure you understand what PR really is before you walk into it. We’re not club promoters, babysitters or booking agents. We are responsible for the public image of your brand and highlighting your brand in a positive light.
What qualities make a seasoned PR person?
In my opinion, I believe being truthful and honest first especially with the client and those in the field. Be nice! I can’t stress that enough. You don’t have to be rude and nasty to be successful, I personally don’t believe in that route. Be a great writer; we’re the storytellers! Excellent communication skills. How can you communicate your client’s brand message if you suck at communicating? Whether it be verbal or non-verbal, know how to communicate and what to communicate. MULTI-TASK! Know how to take on numerous things at once and be able to balance them all.
Besides focusing on getting a client media attention, what else does a publicist do?
My job as a publicist is to get you the exposure and that is done through getting the press to talk about you or your brand, planning and publicizing an event, brand management, drafting and distributing press releases, scheduling photo shoots, managing social media and/or your website. We oversee the client’s overall image (hire a stylist or glam squad to make sure their look is up to par), red carpet management and submitting said clients to events for the extra media attention. I mean the list goes on, but in a nutshell we publicize our client’s brand!
Aside from my time and having the freedom to spend it how I like, where I like, and when I like, the most rewarding part for me is when I have a client that has started from ground zero to having packed out events and eating up the press. I mean, I helped build a client’s event from a coffee shop to packed out event venues and to have executed THAT, means so much! I love when the press doesn’t really know my clients and I’ve created and helped build their brand to where they turn around and ask will they be in town for an interview. It makes my heart smile!!!
Have you ever had a PR mess to tackle like Shea Moisture or Dove?
Nope! Thank God! I know how to do crisis PR, but I prefer not to. I’ll outsource in a minute. But seriously, I haven’t had that happen during my career, and thankfully, my clients really listen to me and take my advice.