Industry Tips and Insights

  • Public Relations Myth - You Don't Need a Publicist, You Can Do it Yourself

    Let's get right to the point. 

    Myth: Celebrities don't need publicists. And neither do real people or brands.  Angelina Jolie doesn't and she is handing the Brad Pitt "break up" crisis like a pro. This is the one example that is ALWAYS used.    

    Fact: She hired Judy Smith. A fixer who is a publicist, brand strategist and pseudo lawyer in one. For those that don't know, Olivia Pope is based on Judy Smith.    


  • Considering Head Shots?

    Today I was contacted by a potential client to take their headshots.  Fortunately...this happens often! But a lot of times, I may never hear from that person again or regular contact turns to radio silence. Not because of my prices or because of my work, but I do believe the process of taking headshots can be quite intimidating.  

    I have found that most times I close the deal and the client decides to move forward when we take the conversation to the next step in the process like location, hours, creative direction and the like. But when clients only inquire about costs, I find they fold and move on from believing they need head shots or can actually execute them.  But we all need brand boosters as this could be a piece that could ultimately elevate our profile and brand.  

    So lets put it out there.  Here is what the process looks like and what you should be getting from your shots. Hopefully this removes any unnecessary fears and helps you jumpstart your next set of goals.

    1 - find a photographer who has a voice and eye similar to the vision that you have for your images.

    2 - contact about 2-3 photographers that line up with your vision, understanding that you would love to work with ANY of them.  ***be sure to get referrals as well***

    3 - choose one based off of costs, schedule, number of looks included, creative direction and their ability to deliver the photos in the time you need them. ***note*** looks are the number of outfit changes you will make during the shoot. 

    4 - ask them to send you an estimate.  you do NOT have to work with them because they sent you an estimate. It is a part of our business development to share and send costs.  

    5 - if timing, costs and vision continue to line up, consider moving forward with the right photog.  

    6 - BUT FIRST - how do you work? do you need your hand held during the process? Will they send you a set of tips to prepare? Can they send you a shot list of looks you are trying to achieve? Are they open to you sharing your make up, hair and wardrobe ideas? will you have time on set to do your hair and make up? Be sure their work ethic lines up with yours as well.  You don't want to be rushed during this rare opportunity. Find out if you will receive high resolution photos or low resolution photos? Are you ok with either? You will need high resolution photos if they will be blown up in size and low resolution for the likes of the web or digital purposes.    

    7 - sign off on an estimate you are comfortable with.  

    8 - choose a location 

    9 - schedule your shoot date 

    10 - schedule a time to talk beforehand 

    11 - share images that you want to achieve and agree to them. be sure the photog can achieve the looks.  

    12 - prepare hair, makeup and wardrobe (if you are not prepared, it is NOT the fault of the photographer or retoucher). keep in mind EVERYONE needs makeup.  light and flashes will dig right through your natural and beautiful skin tone.  

    13 - SHOOT

    14 - ask your photog the day you will be able to see images understanding this should have been agreed upon in a signed off estimate.

    15 - receive your images.  

    16 - choose the best 3-5 images.

    17 - have your images retouched.  make sure they look how you want them to.  are you looking for natural? editorial style? more touched up images? be sure to let the photographer know before they are shot and retouched.  

    18 - receive your final images in the agreed upon resolution, format and timing. 

    19 - and now SOAR AND FLY! 

    More questions? Just shoot me a message.  and you can check out my samples on my site under the collections tab.  xo, mj.   


  • Success in Event Public Relations (Short Term Project)

    This past month we worked with Torrey Barrett on publicizing his annual fundraising gala for the KLEO Center.  With so many nonprofits fighting for broadcast and other media space, here are 3 reasons why the KLEO Center found success in PR for this project:

    1. The Product - the event is held in October. October is Domestic Violence Month. The KLEO Center was founded after KLEO Barrett lost her life to domestic violence.  It is brave and critical that the KLEO Center continue to celebrate her legacy and raise funds during this month.

    2. The Representative - Torrey Barrett lives and breathes the mission of the KLEO Center.  He was always prepared at moments notice across multiple platforms and could perform on radio for 30min or on TV for 3min, always drilling in the message no matter the outlet.  

    3. The Story - PR is about storytelling.  Can you tell your client's story....quickly and in an important way? What is your relationship with the story? Is the story timely? And are you pitching the story to the right contacts? 

    The right product at the right time with the right contact will always land the placement.  But what is the down side? The more stories you place, the more likely other outlets will not want your story.  This happens to even the biggest celebrities and stories. Torrey Barrett was on mutiple broadcast outlets while others begin cancelling because of the multiple placements and of course because the Cubs were in the World Series.  #PublicRelations

  • Photo Taking Tip

    If you are over 25, smile. Not sure if everyone in this pic (including myself here - LOL), is over 25, but clearly they get smiling gets you a better chance at a great shot.  Nice spread and great event thanks to an amazing planner (Nicole Pittmon) and luxury publication.  

    (Chicago Social, Oct 16 at Nazr Mohammed's Annual Fundraiser) 

  • How do you tell the story of your clients in a crowded space that was once clear....Pivot!

    Two years ago, COMMON hosted an amazing festival.  The runway was clear.  Kanye was hungry and the surprise guest, and the Chicago market was thirsty to hear music that grounded them and felt nostalgic.

    Fast forward 2 years, the market is crowded, music is everywhere, festivals are in abundance and the community needs all the peace and hope it can get that only the best music artists can create.  So how do we get our AAHH! Fest story told today? 

    In 2014, it was simple, create a music fest with hot artists. In 2016, there is a lot of heat.  So today, we are creating nugget stories with voices in our environment (Common visits the Gordon Parks exhibit at the Art Institute with WGN), perform on TV just because you feel it in the moment (COMMON raps Black America Again for the first time on Windy City Live), and lean on the talent to tell your story of music + community (Host Deon Cole is up for an EMMY for his role on Blackish)....serendipty!  We take this content and feed it to our social, promo and marketing channels. This is our STORY and our plan to get it heard.  Shhh! Dont tell our secrets.   

    The game has changed, so the strategy must. And neither can fall flat.  

    Would you agree?