By: Kendall Lasseter
We had the pleasure of hearing from the owner of Nashville’s Choice Media & Communications, Heather Adams, this past Tuesday at our meeting. She explained how she arrived at the place where she is today and also provided PRSSA members with insight into the entertainment industry.
She extended advice to the members of what she has learned throughout her successful career and walked us through her career path after she graduated from Grady. Here are the three main points that Heather covered in her presentation:
1. From Grady to Choice Media & Communications
Heather was extremely involved in organizations during her time at the University of Georgia. She did not start out in a public relations job. In fact, Heather’s first job out of college was in human resources. She explained that she was in this place where she said “I just have to have a job!”
She also said, “what it really taught me was that you are not necessarily going to get the perfect job right out of school, but it can be an opportunity to get the perfect job down the road.”
Her HR job led to a communications job and she “soaked up everything” that she could during her time there. She eventually parted ways with her communications job and landed a job as Chief Marketing Officer for a nonprofit in Atlanta.
After the funding was pulled for this nonprofit, Heather and several of her coworkers were laid off. She searched for jobs without any luck until she decided to start teaching.
After two years, she and her husband moved to Nashville where she started working as a publicist for a publishing company. Heather worked at this company for 10 years and worked her way up to running the publicity department.
She learned a lot about how to pitch to media outlets. She took her publicity team to New York to pitch clients and secured a place for an author on USA Today and another author in PEOPLE.
When she returned from New York, she was laid off again that next week. She was immediately offered another job and worked for them for the next 4 years.
During this time, Heather reconnected with a Grady graduate who needed help on a project. As they worked together, they decided to start a company of their own. They named it, Choice Media & Communications. Heather just recently bought her partner out and is now the sole owner of Choice
2. Choice Media & Communications
Heather gave us an overview of her business and shared what is important to her. Starting with Choice’s tagline which is ‘We Make You Known’, she stressed the importance that Choice believes that the clients’ voices matter.What exactly does Choice do? Choice is a publicity agency for authors, and there are three reasons why clients seek out Choice specifically:
- Looking for clarity?
The client does not know how to explain their business in a concise way.
- Looking for exposure?
Choice provides access to media outlets
- Looking for an audience?
The client might have a platform, but they want to expand it to an audience that might not know them
3. Entertainment PR
There are a lot of categories within entertainment PR. What Heather loves about her industry is that actors, athletes, politicians and various other professions publish books. In this way, there are a lot of other industries that feed into the book publishing industry. Heather explained a basis of entertainment PR:
- Branding—Branding is an overall picture or glimpse of that businessperson or organization.
She used a few examples:
“If I am cleaning out my ears I am using?” A Q-Tip.
“If I drink a soft drink then I drink?” A coke.
She said branding is your logo; it is your consistent imagery. Branding is what people think of you. It is the thoughts, feelings and adjectives that come to mind when you think of someone or a company
- Strategic partnerships—An example would be an athlete wearing Nike.
- Events—Red carpet events, she explained, are not all glitz and glam. They are a lot of hard work.
- Content development—Any sort of content that gets pushed out, like social media posts, photos and written materials.
- Crisis communications—How will you uphold your client’s reputation and help them work through times of crisis?
Finally, some parting advice from Heather:
“My best advice to ya’ll, as you are leaving Grady, is to write.”
- Take ‘no’ gracefully and often. You hear ‘no’ a lot. If you have thin skin, then this is not the industry for you.
- Always be a consumer. If you are not watching or reading things, or if you do not know what is trending, then you will not serve your client well.
- Find a mentor. Do everything that you can do to soak up what they say.
- The AP Style book is our bible.
- Get an internship. Keep in mind that people will hire someone who has experience rather than straight A’s.
- Your relationships matter significantly to your success in this field.