Monday, April 11, 2011

The Underground Chronicles: Big Krit in the CHI!!!

This episode of THE UNDERGROUND CHRONICLES include an interview with Southern Rapper and Def Jam representer BIG KRIT. He is someone I admire as far as artist hustle is concerned and has my time consumed with his newest mixtape RETURN OF FOREVER. Here he talks about artists branding themselves, his current hit and his upcoming album! ENJOY and KEEP IT HIP HOP!

                                                         BIG KRIT AT AKIN SHOE STORE CHICAGO

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Public Relations: The Ultimate Customer Service Experience

I still consider myself a "PR NEWBIE" and continue to grow as a professional in this field. This profession has become my passion and when I discovered it I became embedded in its essence. I meet so many aspiring PR professionals who look to find the key to establishing a successful PR career and become shocked when I tell them the core of the profession. In order to obtain a successful PR career you must remember that PR pros bridge the gap between the brand and the audience.

I worked in customer service years prior to establishing my own PR/Branding firm and ironically the practices I utilize to meet quotas apply to my practices for company goals. In a field where PRs are considered the "go to person," you must be available and knowledgeable about your clientele brands as well as how your new relationships can benefit from your clients services. Whether it is B2B or B2C interaction you must show that your client can add comfort to the consumers life.

I worked at New York and Company and as a Sales Associate one of our duties was to promote and accumulate a certain amount of store credit card sales. I worked very hard to establish relationships with customers and won their trust so their friends could become my customers. This method should be applied to how Publicists work with clientele. The key to a successful PR career is ensuring that your work speaks for you! 

Publicists do more than write a press release and establish placements in media. To run an effective public relations program you must establish healthy relationships in media and your genre of expertise. Can you get your client into prominent venues? Can you partner your client with brands than can propel their image? If you cannot provide these services then you must look at how you can expect to win your clients trust and assurance as well as grow your business.

I have experienced so many trials and errors in this field that at one point I was reconsidering my career, but you must understand who you are and how you can relate to your clients as well as their audiences. Key thing to remember is that as a PR pro you are always on! Image is key to our career and that ranges from conversation, appearance and in my hip hop voice "swag." 

Therefore to all my aspiring Publicists and Brandistas, research the markets you wish to enhance and expose! Know the audience and become one with them so you can win their trust as well as assure potential clients that you can advance propel their brand. I suggest all PR pros that suffer from "people don't like me" syndrome to smile more and embrace the theory of being a social butterfly. Allow those wings to flap and watch your career soar!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Does It Make SENSE?: Sensory Branding and How It Can Propel a Brand

I love to shop and stores such as Victoria Secret's and H&M make this past time even more pleasing! I love that when I walk into Vicky Secrets I see pink, frilly lingerie, cute panties and girlie things. H&M allows me to channel my inner fashionista to replicate the hottest looks of the season with their hot layouts and fab employees.  What are these major clothing brands doing that causes me to be a loyal customer? They have invaded my senses.

Sensory branding is a method many brands utilize in order to attract the consumer by using their five senses to lure them as followers. For example, Abercrombie and Fitch having a strong cologne scent in their store in order to "romance" buyers in their stores. Sensory branding is a tactic that is easy for brand such as McDonalds and Popeyes, since customers who ride pass their establishments become enticed by the scent of their goodies coming from their restaurant.

Brands that utilize sensory branding are often advocates of engaging customers. Customers who are engaged feel involved and unknowingly recruit "brandbuddies" for brands. My favorite brand is Louis Vuitton and I admire how this luxury brand used sensory branding to launch a successful campaign for their Louis Vuitton Monogram color campaign. The color of the infamous LV sign was eye candy, appeal to consumers as well as caused all to talk about the colorful delight. Many women who purchased a LV color logo bag seen a friend or an associate with it, at least I did!

Charrise Renee of Charrise Renee Devolping and Consultant and I both were discussing Hollister and Abercrombie and Fitch. I think Abercrombie is becoming more urban with it being accepted by more rappers, urban audiences etc. while Charrise stands in the position that Hollister is more urban. I look at the entire presentation of Holister when I enter the store and I think tanning, surfing, Orange County, Laguna Beach. Was this what the brand wanted me to feel as I entered the store? Of course! They tackled my senses to identify their mission and cause me to want to feel like I am in Malibu, CA. Chris Brown took this method and also found success.

Right before the release of his number 1 album F.A.M.E Chris Brown joined Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe as a member of the blonde hair club. During promotion of his album he was seen everywhere in his most sought after F.A.M.E t shirts/hoodies as well as noticed for his golden locks. He even unleashed his artistic side with photos being released of his graffiti artwork, his videos displaying artistic and rocker like images, his infamous saying "Letgo" and the introduction of Chris Brown the Rapper, It is not surprising that his F.A.M.E album is the number album in the country after he made sure his hair was our guiding light!

Sensory branding is one of many tactics that could be used to make your brand enhance and expand (two of my companies focus points). It should be utilized once you know who you are as brand, who your audience are and how you wish to expand. I think it would have been cool if Chris Brown came out with F.A.M.E brownies so we can even eat like we're #1! ^_^

                                                 CHRIS BROWN "BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE"

Sunday, March 27, 2011


New York City is the mecca of Hip Hop and home of the rap cliques. Housing groups such as G UNIT, Wu Tang Clan and Def Squad, NYC gave aspiring rappers the blueprint on how to combine hot artists to create the ultiate rap team.  I have been a a DIPSET fan for a long time, but the love of their style and music has this New York Rap clique standing out to me more than any other artists.

DIPSET brought uniqueness to the game with their lineup of artists that gives a certain flavor to the group which only made them appeal to the masses. Camron came as the laid back, flamboyant member of the group that showed the world it's cool to be different by wearing pink and purple. Jim Jones kept the balance by having the hood live on through his honesty and hardcore approach. Juelz Santana serves as the ladies man with bars that makes ladies giggle and swivel. Freaky Zeky is the cherry on top as the wild man that gets the crowd amped and excited with his fun, outrageous behavior. These ingredients baked a cake that gave DIPSET reign as being a strong street based company and as one of Hip Hop's powerhouses.

DIPSET was Rocafella's most successful branch offs with on going number one hits with continued  success well after the separation and dissolving of Rocafella Records. Now that the reuniting for the DIPSET REUNION is in full affect the group continues to wow fans and recruit new ones. Fans not only get the DIPSET gang, but has the chance to meet each members own cliques. Juelz Santana's Skull Gang for the fresh and hip, Jim Jones 730 Diplomats for the OGs and Camron's UN (Us Now) family which houses Interscope's Vado.

Only success continues to be the result for Harlem's finest as they continue to individually and collectively brand themselves as the ultimate hustlers where corners aren't needed. I had the pleasure of personally interviewing DIPSET and their affiliates while the DIPSET REUNION TOUR stopped in Chicago. Check out the videos!!!

                                         DIPSET TALKS BRANDING WITH PR IN THE CITY


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Underground Remedy: How Hip Hop is Reviving Through Social Media

When did I fall in love with hip hop? I was a little girl and my cousins and I would get amped when LL Cool J's "Mama Said Knock You Out" would come on the video channel The Box. Back then MCs lyrics meant something and spoke from the soul, influencing generations to get with a cultural that stood for "spitting knowledge." However, somewhere along the line hip hop began to incorporate "stereotypes" and figures into its brand. It became watered down and the hip hop that we knew died as a result of suicide.

How did we allow our source of expressing ourselves die? New Orleans Rapper Currensy stated in an interview with HARDKNOCK TV that "Rap is fucked up. It's not what it was when I was a kid and if I was a child I wouldn't want to be a Rapper right now cause I don't even hear nothing that would make me want to go and do shit. I am inspired by old shit." Currensy speaks for myself and others on the current state of Hip Hop. Today we have CLUB MUSIC and these songs displays no real substance nor do they speak fro the soul. Honestly what is considered Hip Hop today wouldn't have even made it pass the A&R stage 20 years ago. With Hip Hop being at risk of being completely erased, hope relies on the now emerging underground scene.

Back in the day Hip Hop's brand was underground and was kept pure with it being a genre within genres. Acts such as Do or Die, UGK and 8Ball & MJG kept us feeling pimpish while NWA, Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre reminded us of being "Gs." The diversity of hip hop and the feeling gave people has turned into negativity with today's mainstream artists, but over the years the underground has began to make noise with the help of social media.

Artists have taken social media and used it as awareness to revive Hip Hop and to give it the true essence it once possesed. Thanks to social media outlets such YOU TUBE and Twitter underground artists has began to bring back the Hip Hop that Common once rap he use to love. One of my favorite underground artist who has taken the social media approached to propel their brand to the next level is Currensy.

Currensy has utilized Twitter to start his new movement called the #JETLIFE and encourages his followers and potential followers to "aim and stay high." It was via Twitter that I discovered that Currensy (who was once a member of Lil Wayne's Young Money)  had emerged once again into the rap game. However, Currensy came with an appeal that reminded me of a De La Soul/A Tribe Quest appeal....You know REAL HIP HOP. Today he is making noise as one of the most sought after MCs in the game and his social media approach may have helped with his deal with Warner Brothers.

All upcoming artists should use social media to introduce and market their brands. Whether you are on #JETS or  in your Chucks with the #TAYLORGANG social media is the best place to gather your audience, engage them and build your brand. Today's underground scene has an opportunity that Wu Tang Clan and others didn't have the privelege to use over 20 years ago. Utilize this growing communications outlet to revive Hip Hop! I use to love H.I.M

                                               Mac Miller DONALD TRUMP


Monday, March 7, 2011

The New High: Charlie Sheen and his "WINNING" Brand

We all can agree that Charlie Sheen has completely lost his mind...... or has he really? I interrupted my weekly fix of the BET television series THE GAME to watch this special that placed Hollywood veteran Charlie Sheen under ABC's microscope to examine his forever questioned life. I watched my Twitter and Facebook timeline EXPLODE with various responses regarding Charlie Sheen's weird antics. The younger generation praised him for his"goddesses" (the women he has living with him that serves as his girlfriends) and his carefree attitudes while the older crowd seen someone who needed intervention.  As I sat and watched the world praise a man who is in jeopardy of his career taking a wrong turn I looked at the bright side of things. CHARLIE SHEEN IS "WINNING".

According to TVBYTHENUMBERS.COM Charlie Sheen's 20/20 special accumulated 9.3 million viewers with it standing as the highest rated newsmagazine telecast without the benefit of a sports lead in in more than two years. The following day Charlie Sheen created his Twitter account reaching 1 million followers in 24 hours which gave him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. He is even now paid to tweet! Charlie Sheen fired his PR team prior to his now historical 20/20 interview. The question is does he really need someone to handle his public relations?

I look at Charlie Sheen and sees someone who has had longevity in Hollywood despite the change of times. He has seen so many come and go in the matter of minutes. Either he is having a midlife crisis or has woke up and want the world to REALLY KNOW Charlie Sheen.

His outrageous behavior resembles that of Joaquin Phoenix when he shocked the world with his David Letterman interview two years ago. However, Charlie Sheen antics has helped shape him into more of a cultural icon. The younger generation thinks his flamboyant and straight to the point punch lines are cool while the older generation pity him. This only means media coverage for all generations and his brand being able to appeal to all whether it be good or bad. Hollywood haven't had its traditional "bad boy" in years and Charlie Sheen has filled that space.

However, being bad doesn't means longevity. I would suggest that Charlie uses this image to his advantage to keep his name HOT. It would be interesting to see him and his Goddesses on a reality show to document their abnormal lifestyle. Charlie should even consider when he will end this race and get to the finish line so he can say he won because sooner or later he will end up losing. Intervention and brand recovery will be needed to restore him out of the spotlight as the "crazy, drugged out A Lister."

In this scenario I can't fully say I am solely #TEAMCHARLIE because I worry about his future after this current high he possess. I hope he doesn't search for a new high to keep him lifted in his career. If your brand staying relevant in Hollywood means starting to use CHARLIE SHEEN then I suggest all aspiring brands avoid using this medication. It will come with side affects and may work for a moment, but eventually your brand will become ill again. I am Charlie Sheen Free!

                                      Charlie Sheen and his Goddesses

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Social Media Manners: The Professional's Dilemma

Twitter is the center of fiasco and shenanigans, hence the Rihanna and Ciara dispute.  However, I question if individuals think about their "professionalism" that they must display in public including social media. I think that all PR pros and Brand Mangers would agree on stressing the importance of keeping a "clean image" (Clean image means that your brand reflects what your target audience expects of it).

As Professionals we look at our personal brands and we assume that they're "clean,"  but are they really clean? Do we project the appropriate images in which we should project? These questions are things that professionals should look at when incorporating ways to advance professionally with strong emphasis on Publicists and Brand Managers.

As a young PR pro I have encountered a few Rihanna-Ciara scenarios via social media that may have lost me that awesome business relationship or has caused my colleagues to look at me in another light. One thing I must stress is that to be a Professional you must be mature. Social Media can be a mixture of fun and entertainment, but some subjects should be left to discuss amongst your close friends. If you utilize social media for recreational purposes as well as business the key is to find that common ground so you are satisfying both purposes.

The key to professionalism via social media is to talk about things via your career field, interact with your followers with networking approaches and to participate in social media platforms that allow you to research and educate yourself.  I love the chats that take place via Twitter such as #BrandChat #PR20Chat #U30Pro and #IMCChat and utilize those platforms as a mean to network, learn and express.

However, I do not recommend a ROBOTIC, UN-HUMAN LIKE representation via social media. That approach makes you more prone to being unapproachable and unrealistic which may harm networking opportunities. Your "social media self" should be presented just like when you are dating; You shouldn't give too much of yourself, but enough to let others know you as a person. Post pictures of trips, talk about your favorite cat, share what books you are reading! I think my Twitter followers understand my obsession with music and love for fashion just by my tweets on Twitter.

Your language plays a role as well on social media. I come from a neighborhood in the inner city of Chicago called Englewood and I often fall victim to my speech reflecting the inner city jargon. Honestly, sometimes just being who you are gets you places. I was discussing hip hop via Twitter and began utilizing the language of my neighborhood I once lived as a child. I gained a relationship with a major media outlet's Editor who told me my "Chitown slang is dope."
Just like Mommy taught you to say "Thank you" and "Excuse Me," social media comes with its guidelines for professionals. If you wouldn't talk about your wild sex life on the microphone at church during testimony service then why would you blast it on Twitter amongst your fellow professionals? Yeah, the dilemma of being the ideal professional.....

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Don't Disrespect My Gangster: The Miseducation of the Clientele

Have you ever met individuals that let out the red carpet for PR professionals? Yeah, me neither. As a young PR pro I have encountered many individuals that doesn't take my colleagues and I career field seriously or give us the credit we deserve. This is where I wonder: "Are we giving out the right message about Publicists in which our positions are consisted?"

Before I meet with a potential client I ask them my ELLAquestions to understand their business, who they are as a brand and how I can help with their branding to obtain the appropriate media exposure. However, if the client is CLUELESS or possess false theories on public relations the relationship is doomed at the beginning.

The key to an effective Public Relations campaign is communicating what you actually do to your clientele. Most clients confuses public relations with promotions and rely on us to help the name advance. I personally feel that promotions is a SMALL aspect of public relations and that branding should be incorporated into your PR plans. How can you get media if the brand isn't developed?

I met a certain Comedian (He who I shall not name) and his management and talked to them about utilizing my services. His management responded that Twitter was his Publicist (If you have the same WHAT THE HELL face I accumulated don't worry I know that was a bonehead statement).  In our day and age SOCIAL MEDIA has become a source that just about everyone rely on for news, jobs, gossip etc. which makes it very difficult for anyone to understand how social media is a "prop" for careers dealing with PR, branding and  marketing to name a few. If social media was PR then who will pitch and shape your brand to the necessary audiences? It takes more than reaching to achieving!

If Social Media was PR how can connections and pitches be made for brand endorsements? How can you effectively merge markets? These are questions that I suggest you ask your clientele before they think you should Tweet or Facebook their name a million times.

So to my fellow PR pros and to the bidding PR pros let's come together and let individuals know who we are and that PR isn't just some easy task or Twitter itself. We have sleepless nights doing what we love and it takes time, patience and a few lattes to get those pitches delivered and those brand exposed. I consider PR Pros a mafia of Godfathers so the next time someone insults our field let's respond by saying DON'T DISRESPECT MY GANGSTER ^_^

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Urban Branding: The Beginning of a Revolution

America has been slowly reeling in branding tactics for the urban community. This urban branding has been occurring for years as an effort to make images appeal to audiences outside of a brand's target group.
Although the picture is about four years old, Fendi paying Kanye West $10,000 to use his picture of his infamous FENDI logo haircut is proof of how and why urban ideas are crucial to attracting, maintaining and convincing.

I think that urban branding is something that all brands should implement into their brand management plan (BMP) in order to be able to concur all areas in the market. I am a firm believer that any brand can reach and affect any genre of people. If the brand focus on the needs and wants of an audience and find a connection to that brand, it is impossible for the brand to fail. The problem is that because society have preconceived views on various groups a BMP usually lacks, excludes or overlook urban branding into their formats. However, urban branding really works!

One of the most clever urban branding tactics is when NSYNC, highly recognized pop sensation, took a turn down R&B road when they emerge with a hit R&B hit "GONE" off their award winning CELEBRITY album. Initially the group focus was pop music, but that track made them appeal to their already reached pop fans and attracted more of the urban crowd with their R&B compabilities having their video for GONE being retired from BET's 106 and Park.

To grasp the urban audience is the most influential form of marketing and branding. Imagine if the House of Chanel emerged with a posh urban line called CoCo Chanel. Everyone would flock to wear the infamous C's on their jean pockets and even tune them into the couture of the infamous brand.

I suggest all Publicists, Brand Managers and Marketers began using my BMP system that includes urban branding for their clients. Not only will it help with your client's brand to become an eclectic source, but it will cause create attraction for the brand. If Fendi became cool when Kanye cut the infamous F's in his head then let me create some exclusive Christan Dior hair weave ^_^.

Kanye's $10,000 Haircut