Let’s Talk PR with Anje Collins
Let’s Talk PR is a monthly segment on This Needs to be Said Radio. I am very excited to be able to share the interviews with the readers of Urban Tymes Magazine. This month I spoke with Anje Collins, founder of The Luxe PR Group and PR Related – an online resource for publicists. With 30 years of Public Relations experience, Anje is a PR guru and has represented some of the top names and brands in the Entertainment, Fashion and Sports industries. This interview was very dear to me as Anje has been my mentor since I officially entered the PR world 4 years ago; so it was only right for me to bring her with me on this part of my PR journey.
Topic: Are you Ready for PR? This question we looked at from two different views. As an aspiring publicist, do I have what it takes to do PR? As a business owner, am I ready to hire a publicist?
Keema: What do you think are the ideal qualities of a publicist?
Anje: I’m going to answer that in two parts.
Being knowledgeable about the industry is key … whatever the industry or niche they get into. And research is my big thing. I think a lot of times these new publicists don’t do their research anymore. I think they figure that “If it’s not on Instagram or Twitter or even Facebook that I don’t have to go any further than that.”
The second part is having the desire to do PR. Not to get into it just because you think you’re going to meet a bunch of celebrities or get a bunch of free stuff. It’s a desire. It has to be a passion. It has to definitely be something that you want to do.
K: I agree because everyone is not about this life. It’s a lot of late nights, early mornings, travel, research and you have to be ready for it all.
I know for me, I graduated with a degree in Communications but it was about seven years between me graduating and actually putting my knowledge and expertise to work in the field. For someone like myself who’s not coming in the traditional way or maybe they do have a degree but it took them some years to get in … what is something you think they can do to prepare themselves to enter into the industry?
A: A lot of top publicists that I know don’t have a degree … never went to college … I’m not saying don’t go to school I’m not saying that. What I’m saying is that it’s not an industry where textbooks will help you. PR is an industry where it’s about the grind, the know how, having the gift of gab and being a sales person. If you have all of those qualities about you that is what is going to make you a great publicist.
Is it good to have Communications? Yes. If you’re going to go to school I would suggest majoring in communications or journalism – especially journalism because it’s going to teach you how to write. Other than that you can’t really learn PR unless you are out in the world do it.
It’s about having connections – you have to make those connections work … I’m talking about those connections with putting two and two together. Like you know how to reach out to a media person. You know how to connect with a journalist. Or who the line desk editor is at a TV station. Those kind of connections.
And not only that the industry is always changing …
K: What would you suggest to someone who wants to come into the industry and they have a lot of different areas that they think they’ll be great in … how would you suggest that they narrow it down and choose one area of specialty to start out?
A: Well you have to figure out what area you have the most connections in and which one you have the most knowledge about.
Buying media lists is expensive. If you have all of these different categories you’re going up spending $3-4,000 a month on media lists because you have so much going on. If you like beauty do beauty. If you like fashion do fashion – well beauty and fashion go together. But if you like fashion and say I’m going to also do music … well they don’t go together. Now you have two separate entities, with two separate lists and two separate costs. So you have to figure out what do you like to do, what are you interested in and what are you better at. And that’s how you break down the type of PR that you want to do.
K: What advice would you give someone who is actually looking to come into the industry? For me, linking up with an organization like what was then Women in PR, was very instrumental. What would you tell somebody when they are going back and forth as to whether or not they will be a good publicist?
A: I think what’s key and what a lot of young publicists are missing is connecting with other publicists. But when you connect with other publicists you cannot connect and have ulterior motives. I’ve had people work for me and intern for me and no ow they have their own companies. … And what I like about that is I have a network of people that I can work with. If I have a client in LA I have someone I can call in LA to help me out. And I don’t have to worry about them trying to steal my clients because they groomed under me and that is a no-no. (paraphrased)
I hate that I had to end Women in PR because that was a great resource for people. You have to know how to connect with other publicists. You have to make relationships with them and not have them feel that you are going to come behind their back and do x-y-z. And if it’s unfortunate that these young ones don’t understand that. And they are out here doing this and that to make themselves look good but it’s not going to work out for you because at the end of the day you still need connections. You still need that person to help you. You still need a mentor. You still need all of that to be successful.
I am not saying that because I’ve been doing this for a long time that I know everything because I don’t. Because a lot of times I don’t and I will depend on this younger generation to help me. For instance, it took me forever to get on social media because it wasn’t something that I wanted to do but now you can’t keep me off it! (lol) But I had to have someone in that generation bracket to teach me how it goes.
Now for our business owners …
K: How do you know as a business owner that you need PR? What’s the determining step, if there is one, to determine when it’s time to reach out to somebody?
A: I recently hosted Behind Your Brand Workshop in Dallas and one of the young ladies said she feels like she is doing it all and she doesn’t have enough time in the day. When you feel like that … you are running your business, doing your PR, doing your marketing and you can’t handle it then it’s time to look for someone else to help you. The problem is that people don’t want to relinquish control of their business because they’re used to doing it themselves. But when it gets to the point that stuff starts falling through the crack and you’re missing opportunities because you are trying to do it all yourself then it is time to hire somebody.
And if you are hiring a publicist do your homework. Research them. See who they represent. See if they really represent them.
Look at their social media. For the publicists – please don’t have your PR stuff on the same page as your business – or at least have a business page. That way if someone is researching you they can look at your page and see who you represent or what you do.
K: Other than who a publicist represents, their social media pages … what are some other key characteristics that somebody should look for in a publicist when they are ready to take that next step?
A: Listen closely to what they are saying. Do they sound like they know what they are talking about or do they sound like they know what they are talking about? There is a difference. Someone can talk to you and tell you about that what they think or what they read. And someone can talk to you and really know what they are talking about.
You have to pay attention to what they are saying. If they are telling you they can get you on the cover of Vogue magazine – then they are lying because we all know that only celebrities cover Vogue magazine. If they are telling you their best friend is the works at Rolling Stone Magazine. That’s their best friend that doesn’t mean that they are going to get you in there. You have to listen to the language of what is being said.
I remember a long time ago I got hired to work for Mike Jones and I told him “I don’t know nothing about ‘chopped and screwed’. I know about the music industry but I don’t know anything about that. So if you’re willing to take a chance then I am willing to try.” Always be honest about what you do because sometimes people will rock that boat with you just because.
K: That is very true. I had that situation a few months ago. When it comes back – and the client questions what you can do and what you can’t and if you’re honest, like she said, about what you’re knowledgeable of or what you can’t do but “if you roll with me we can do it together”. So later on if they say you didn’t do x-y-z you can say “Listen I told you in the beginning these were my limitations”. So you have to be upfront and honest. And as a business owner, you also have to be upfront and honest with the person that you are reaching out to be your publicist. Don’t come with one story and then when you sign the contract the story changes.
A: And on that note, if you hire a publicist please give your publicist what they need to work with. Don’t say well I paid you $xxx and you haven’t done x-y-z but you haven’t given your publicist anything to work with. If your publicist ask you to go and get a photoshoot or x-y-z … they need it. If you don’t provide it for them they can’t do anything for you. So you can’t get mad if you haven’t given them anything to work with.
And another thing, pick up your phone. If you don’t pick up your phone – what are they supposed to do … be mind readers? You have to do your part as well when you are hiring a publicist.
K: Absolutely. Unless you have a separate contract your publicist is not your personal assistant. There are things that they are not going to be able to do unless they speak with you. There are limitations to the game.
Last question for the business owners …. And this come up quite frequently …
How much should they already have available … how much should they be willing to invest when they reach out to the publicist?
A: There is a saying that you pay for what you get. If you are paying $300 or $500 then you are going to get $300 or $500 worth of work. You should expect to pay $1000 up to 10,000 a month based on the expertise of the publicist. You should budget for at least six months of retainer fees. Don’t start something you know you can’t finish. Just like you budget for your marketing or inventory, you need to budget for your publicist.
People want to ask why do I need to do that? Why do I need a publicist? We are not miracle workers. We are not social workers. Our job is to bring awareness to your brand. We’re not assistants. We’re not managers. Our job is to bring awareness to your brand. Period.
K: One thing that you also make sure you do is know your industry. Like she said earlier, beauty and fashion they are kind of the same but they are different. I spoke with someone a few years ago and she had a hair care line. Well, someone had her convinced that her hair care line was fashion and I was like “Oh … wait a minute … you can’t wear your hair care line”. She wanted it to be used behind the scene in fashion shows, which is great, but a hair care line is not fashion. You have to know your industry. It’s like Anje said, do they sound like they know what they are talking or do they know what they are talking about.
You have to make sure that you’re not being taken advantage of because somebody wants the contract. You have to use your intuition as well when it comes to connecting with the publicist and doing the interview. We’re going to do a consultation. We’re going to make sure there is a connection there and if there is no connection there is no love lost. Because at the end of the day we want things to run smoothly. We don’t want to be in a tug of war with want you want and what we want to get to the end goal. We have to be able to work together
A: It’s a marriage! You get it bed together. You have to able to work with the person you get in bed with or you’ll end up in divorce court.
And let me also say – if you got burnt by another publicist don’t try to “Jew down” the next publicist because you got burnt by somebody else because you didn’t do your homework and find out if that person did what they were really supposed to do.
If you paid $2500 to publicist A and then publicist B tells you their fees are $2750, don’t say you only want to pay $1200. You can’t go to McDonalds and say I want that Big Mac, Fries and Coke but I only want to 0.99 for it. It’s not happening for you so don’t do us like that either.
Follow Anje Collins on Social Media
IG & Twitter: @anjemiami FB: Anje Collins
IG: @luxeprgroup Twitter: @luxeprgroup FB: The Luxe PR Group
IG: @prrelated1 Twitter: @prrelated FB: PR Related
Keema Bouyer is the founder of The Queen’s English PR (www.queensenglishpr.com ). The Charlotte, NC based agency specializes in branding and public relations for Beauty and Lifestyle Brands and Non-Profit Organizations. Let’s Talk PR airs every 2nd Wednesday at 230pm EST on This Needs to Be Said (www.blogtalkradio.com/thisneedstobesaid).
Follow Keema Bouyer on Social Media
IG, Twitter & Periscope: @queensenglishpr