The public relations game can swallow you if you don’t have the passion to make things exceptional, particularly for your clientele. But when your first major client is Aretha Franklin, it’s safe to say that you’re on the path to success.
Gwendolyn Quinn has been in the entertainment industry for over 25 years and continues to lead with passion. She had previously launched the platform Global Communicator, which featured various behind-the-scenes communications professionals who would otherwise not be acknowledged. Now with the changes in the world taking place, Quinn felt it was time to relaunch the brand to showcase those who are continuously working for the good of their companies and clients.
Quinn spoke to BLACK ENTERPRISE about the purpose of her work.
What has changed for you and your approach to continue to carry the passion to do the work you do?
I’ve been in the entertainment industry for more than 25 years. In 2001, I started GQ Media and Public Relations, now renamed Gwendolyn Quinn Public Relations.
The majority of my clientele was made up of recording artists. The recording industry started its shift to more advanced digital technology, which eventually led to a decline in record sales.
In 2002, my first marquee client was Aretha Franklin, who I worked with at Arista Records. I was fortunate that I had already started building relationships beyond the music and entertainment industries.
As a result of the diverse list of clients and projects that I obtained, my media contacts expanded outside of entertainment, which presented opportunities for our clients.
I hope to continue to take on projects that I am passionate about and expand my client’s media presence. I still get excited when I see my clients secure earned and unexpected media.
You’ve just relaunched Global Communicator magazine. What led you to relaunch the brand and what should we anticipate with the current edition?
In 2004, I launched Global Communicator. The publication was a brand extension of the African American Public Relations Collection (AAPRC), a former community of Black PR professionals across various professions.
I relaunched the premiere issue on June 17. The e-publication features publicists, journalists, marketing and advertising executives, and content creators. We will continue to highlight professionals in the areas of social justice, race relations, criminal justice reform, healthcare, and the upcoming elections.
There is a powerful group of Black PR professionals in a wide range of fields including politics, corporate, education, entertainment, sports, performing arts, fine/visual arts, book and magazine publishing, fashion and beauty, community relations/public affairs, healthcare, government, non-profit, faith-based, and special events.
When I looked back on what I helped to create more than 15 years ago, I realized that not much has changed regarding the state of Black PR professionals. Though many PR representatives’ careers have grown, we are still not considered for key jobs and projects across a wide range of professions.
My purpose for relaunching Global Communicator is to document our stories. Many of us have known each other for decades, and then there are others who only have a peripheral viewpoint of each other. I want people to read about the top communications experts, and learn from them, and be inspired. Legacy matters.
With the current state of the world, how has the surrounding atmosphere affected the way you do business?
I have been working from my home office since I closed my doors in New York nearly 10 years ago, so not much has changed in the way I conduct day-to-day business. I love my work-at-home set up because I can set my schedule accordingly. And though there are changes in how business and events are conducted due to the pandemic, the news cycle never stops.
The resurgence of racial relations and the #BlackLivesMatter movement has brought civil rights and social justice issues front and center. It’s good to witness how many corporations want to seek change and are making an effort toward equity, diversity, and inclusion, but only time will reveal the outcome.
What suggestions and advice would you give to anyone who wants to become a successful entrepreneur?
I often said I should write a book for entrepreneurs on “What Not to Do When Starting a Business.” Starting a business is one of the best things that has happened to me, I never saw myself as an entrepreneur. After I formed my company in 2001, the first seven years, I said countless times, “I can’t do this. I need to find a job.”
Though starting my company was daunting at times, I did like the freedom of having control of my time. I had the freedom to explore and pursue creative ideas with my clients that I probably would have never been able to pursue if I was still in a structured corporate environment. As an independent firm, we secured several book deals, marketing opportunities and corporate partnership deals, and concert tours for our clients.
I do, however, recommend that potential entrepreneurs read books on how to start a business, and read Black Enterprise and other business publications; and attend business conferences and seek out mentors.