How did you get the opportunity to work with Chrisette Michele?
Working with Chrisette Michelle came out of the blue. I am the publicist for Saving Our Daughters; a national nonprofit organization. I received a call on a Monday, November 2014 from the founder; Curtis Benjamin about doing an event that Chrisette was hosting called Imported Peach for celebrity make-up Shenelle Mays- Smith who just happened to be Chrisette’s make-up artist and friend. The catch was that the event was that Thursday of the same week which gave me 4 days to pull it off. Needless to say it was very successful and both ladies were impressed.
In March 2015, I got a call from Chrisette’s management team about an opportunity to work as a Publicist for Chrisette’s Pose N’ Post Symposium tour. I jumped at the opportunity and it was a complete success. As a result of 2 great events, a stellar work ethic and being myself I am now her official publicist and a permanent part of the RichHipster Team (Chrisette’s brand and record label).
Can you share some tips with us on managing celebrity clientele?
Working with celebrity clientele can be very rewarding but stressful. It’s all about your energy, attitude, work ethic and demeanor. Most people would agree that I am an Alpha female in business and life. These are traits that my clients respect and appreciate.
I have worked with celebrities that are very nasty, rude to others and have huge egos.
But I don’t believe just because you have a couple more zeros in your account balance that you have the right to be disrespectful. I am known to fire a client without any hesitation. I treat working at a celebrity event the same as I would work any other event. I am extremely detailed. I have been called a pitbull in a yorkies body and I wear that with pride.
Although celebrities are public figures, most of them are very sensitive and concerned about what people say and think about them. It’s my responsibility to make sure their brand has a positive image in the public eye and that it remains that way. I never accept “no.â€ The answer is always “yes,â€ you just have to find a way that it works for both parties involved. And make sure everyone is comfortable at the end of it all.
Making it in the entertainment industry (especially dealing with celebrities) isn’t always a walk in the park – it takes a lot of time, endurance and hard work.
What are four lessons have you learned from working in the entertainment industry?
1. Never compromise who you are or what you stand for to secure a client.
2. Know you worth and know your job (the worse thing to do is act as if you know how to do something and you don’t). Never be afraid to say you don’t know something–but be willing to find out how to do it or find someone who does. Keeping your client happy and making things happen for them is very important. Always be open to learning because this business is ever evolving.
3. Be flexible. There are many times when you will wear a thousand hats. At any given time you can your client’s publicist, mentor, assistant, stylist, photographer, etc., PR is not a 9-5 job so there is a piece of your life that gets neglected. (make sure that it is not your family) Make sure you have balance and stay grounded throughout your journey.
4. Never do dirty business. Your name and reputation is all you have. The entertainment industry is very small. A simple tarnish on your name can ruin your career in this business.
What is the most difficult struggle you’ve faced during your entrepreneurial journey?
Money and time. In the first 2-3 years you may find yourself financially not where you want to be. You’ll begin to doubt yourself about whether you made the right choice to be your own boss. I always say to myself “Sheena this is what you prayed for and it’s coming in due time.â€ You have to realize whether you are in your do season or due season. Your do season is when you are doing what’s necessary to be prepared during your du season.
What advice would you give an aspiring PR professional?
Find an amazing mentor and soak up all the knowledge you can. Even with a mentor you have to decipher what will work for you. I have a great mentor David Morris of Sirrom Consultants and my mom Jeanell O’neal. Public Relations can be a very thankless job at times but if this is truly your passion you have to keep hustling and making your mark.
I’m always willing to mentor young aspiring publicist and plan on starting a mentor program at the top of 2016. In the meantime I can always be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org for advice and I have no issues in giving my 2 cents.
Follow Sheena on Instagram and Twitter @prprimasinc (Twitter and Instagram).