Let’s Talk PR with Keema & Elliot
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. I am excited to share a conversation between my industry big brother and I, Elliot Carlyle, President and a Founding Partner of Weston Carlyle Inclusive, LLC, servicing individuals and brands in the areas of public relations, event management, marketing, creative direction and media.
Elliot is highly sought after in the public relations & entertainment industry where he has worked with a number of a-list entertainment clients, multi-millionaire business executives, fashion events and brands. In complement to producing his own shows, Elliot has worked with renowned fashion week events including Atlanta International Fashion Week, Baker Motor Company Charleston Fashion Week, Charlotte Fashion Week (Passport for Fashion), Carolina Style Week produced by the North Carolina Fashion Association (NCFA) and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York (IMG/CFDA).
In addition to being a Fashion PR guru, he is often booked as a keynote speaker, a workshop clinician, professional panelist for many platforms and events across the country. And as multi-faceted entrepreneur, he is also President and Founder of the Kingdom Technology Institutes, LLC, which exists as a multi-faceted platform to position faith-based businesses and brands for influence in world systems.
Keema: With a background in fashion and art, how did you know that fashion was going to be your area of specialty?
Elliot: (paraphrased) Many people don’t know this but my background before fashion was in music. I sang and played the piano for years and first went to school on a musical theatre scholarship. And then looking at my future and where I saw myself, I didn’t want to go the American Idol or Broadway route which is the trajectory that I was on at that time. I decided that I wanted to be a business man.
I always saw myself in boardrooms and holding conferences and that wasn’t really connecting with where I was in music … Fashion was something that was always interesting to me but I didn’t really know anything about it so I booked a ticket to New York Fashion Week. Really it was there that I saw the movement of the industry just by observation. Of course, I didn’t have access to the tents but I saw all of these people walking around in black and I thought “what do they do … they look important”. So, I talked to one of them and she just happened to be a publicist. She started explaining to me about the career and it spoke to me and connected with me and it was I decided to do. When I came back home I educated myself on it until I just decided to become that and move into it. It was easy to decide on Fashion because it is such a vast industry and there are so many different opportunities to connect. But it also connected with the personal vision that I had for my life which is to build people and everything that I do is all about people.
I like the PR aspect because of the way that we are able to connect and engage people, even the people that are behind the concepts, the brands and ideas. It becomes a very personal engagement that we have and somewhat empowering and even inspirational voices that we have to be to our clientele.
K: Fashion allows for a lot of creativity where some industries may not but there is still “that line”. What do you consider some of the Do’s and Don’ts of Fashion PR as it pertains to pitching potential clients or even media outlets?
E: You have to approach it from the standpoint of there are no rules but there are etiquettes. I know that sounds rough but fashion changes every day all day. It is one of the most rapidly changing industries, if not the top next to technology. Even in PR the scope of the industry has changed from what it was 5 years ago to where it is now the whole engagement of the career are different.
When it comes to the Do’s and Don’ts of creativity the lines are so blurred. The reason why I came from the standpoint of ethics is because you have to have elements of originality, truth and reality. Those are foundational standpoints or models or pillars that you have to stand on when it comes to engaging.
Now a days we see people hiring publicists and publicists taking on clients who are not even in a position to need PR. Do you even have a brand – talking about a Do and a Don’t – you can’t be publicly releasing anything and you don’t have a brand built and established and can you support the attention that a publicist will bring to you? Do you have the supply to meet the demand?
K: Backtracking to your experience with NYFW – for someone looking to get into the fashion industry but not necessarily wanting to be a publicist, what advice would you give them? What would be a good starting point?
E: The easiest starting place that I would say for anyone would be to volunteer and internships. Going back to my experience at NYFW and my conversation with the young lady (publicist), I asked her how to get in the tents. I was there in February and she said I should plan to come back in September and volunteer or get an internship and that would give me an inside look of what goes on. Me being totally green, I wanted to get her information so she could show me how to get on and she did. When I get to NY as a volunteer to be in the tents, I was actually hired my first day. I was on set for two hours and they fired a production captain and ended up hiring me as a production captain. The reason why I was able to do that is that they looked at my resume and I had event planning experience from college – I was the only one on set that had event planning experience. I actually turned it down initially because I hadn’t done it before and didn’t know that much about fashion and didn’t feel qualified. But they said “No. We are going to hire you and we’ll pay you and train you”, so then I was like “Ok, where do I sign up?” That’s how I learned. The more that I networked and was able to be backstage and see behind the scenes to see what all goes into a fashion production and all of the components … to see the role of the stylists, publicists, creative director, models and all of the elements … when you’re on the outside looking in you don’t get to see all of those components. We just see the glitz and the glamour, the show lasts 7-10 minutes and then we are out of there. But the amount of work – the 2 hours to setup before and the 6 months leading up to the show – it’s incredible and seeing all of the components come together is incredible. Always believe in learning on the front line.
I know there is a distaste in a lot of people’s mouth for internships but you get to learn at someone else’s experience… so I say go for it!
K: Moving on to Elliot Carlyle the brand. I see now that you have Elliot Carlyle – The brand. The voice. and Weston Carlyle the agency. How difficult or maybe easy was it brand yourself separately – Elliot the brand versus Elliot the publicist? How are your components different?
E: Well they really do go hand in hand. I’ll use just this example – there’s Vogue and then there’s Anna Wintour. In being a publicist, what I found most true to my brand, is that people would come to me just to talk. Not necessarily to do their PR but to be a voice or just to consult. It was a large part of my brand that was behind the scenes. I found myself being this consultant. I’ve had a lot of other publicist that I’ve consulted with, trained and mentored. Even in that, it was always behind the guise of my regular PR operation. About 2013, people started coming to me saying that I should start pulling that out separately and speak more and talk more.
So it is separate from PR but it’s not separate in the stance that they really go together because it’s the same thing that I do for my clients. I’m just taking out the execution of the pitching, writing and phone calls. It’s more of the empowerment and motivation, teaching and training elements. That’s what Elliot Carlyle – The brand. The Voice has become but it’s no different persona. It’s just the free part of me – the one you don’t have to have a retainer for.
I will say it wasn’t easy it was very difficult. Only because it was a lot of reservations and insecurities that I had to get over. That was easy for me to do on a one on one basis but to now sit in front of unlimited audience and just be online and not knowing who I am talking to – it really did take a lot for me to step into that seat. But I am glad that I did and it is really blessing a lot of people. It is very humbling … I am honored and very humble.
K: On that same line of sharing information, your personality is huge. Some people might be a little intimidated but some people might be like he’s very nice ad giving. I can just go to him and he’ll do it. With that, how do you determine what projects you will take on?
E: That’s a very heavy question for me. The best answer I can give you is – if I don’t believe in it, if it doesn’t speak to me at initial conversation that I don’t engage in it. It has to connect with my own passion. One of the things that I do not do – and my father taught me this when I was first going into business. He told me “Elliot whatever you doing, don’t go into business for money but go into it because it’s what you are passionate about”. When he said that to me, I thought he was crazy… I was trying to be a baller. He said “… people who do things solely for money they never have enough”. Being 19, I didn’t understand where he was coming from but that was one of the best piece of advice that I ever could have listened to and taken on. That is something that I live by. If it’s not something that I am passionate about – I don’t care how big the retainer is. I don’t care how big the client brand awareness maybe. If it’s not something that I can engage in with full passion then I don’t want to engage in it.
I find that people who are in a place of discouragement and even being in a place of depression in their business and engagements where they feel unfulfilled – I believe that the only thing that can fulfill you is your purpose. I believe that when you are doing things with no purpose or its not connected to your diving purpose it really is a waste of time.
As publicists, we have to keep in mind that not only do we represent clients but clients also represent us. If it’s not in line with your vision, your purpose or the trajectory for your destiny for your life then it’s not something that you have to engage in. And there not going to miss out because there is somebody out there who it is for. I want people to be connected with who is for them. I know that I am not for everybody and everybody is not for me.
Connect with Elliot
Instagram & Twitter: @westoncarlyle
FB Live: Elliot Carlyle Monday-Friday 10pm EST
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).
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