The Adventures of a PR Neophyte

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Check out my Interview on!

Public Relations Rising Star Kayla Calloway Chats with PR Couture about PR, Hip-Hop, and Atlanta Fashion
Kayla Calloway is only 22 but has already made a name for herself in the world of lifestyle and hip-hop public relations. This Atlanta native loves John Coltrane, drawing, and putting her southern charm to good use as a media relations maven. Experienced in lifestyle, fashion & beauty and non-profit PR, Kayla’s true love is hip-hop. Her most notable career move to date was her aggressive two-day media outreach during Warren G ’s promotional visit to Atlanta. Her PR efforts secured radios appearances, exclusive magazine interviews, and placements in all the top hip-hop magazines and websites. Recently Kayla took time out of her crazy life to spend a little time talking about the good stuff - PR, music, and of course, fashion! Keep up with Kayla at her company’s website,, through her PR Blog, The Adventures of a PR Neophyte and on myspace.

PR: What do you do, what have you done, and how did you come to do what you do?
KC: I specialize in hip-hop, lifestyle, fashion & beauty and non-profit PR, but hip-hop is my main sphere of expertise. I’ve performed PR work for Warren G, Miss Black Georgia, B-Rich, A.T.M., Living Room Atlanta, Youth Development & Research Fund, HooD magazine, Clutch magazine
I was first bitten by the PR bug while writing for my university’s newspaper. One day, one of my English professors called me into her office to comment on a student profile I’d written for the paper. She expressed that my writing veered more into a PR style versus the traditional unbiased journalistic style, and because of my strong PR writing skills and personable and adaptable nature, she suggested that I consider a career in public relations. I basically took heed to her message and began researching a career in PR and I found that I loved it!

PR: What connections are there between the hip-hop/underground music scene and the fashion industry?
KC: There are scores of connections. Many of the most prominent hip-hop artists and figures have spearheaded clothing lines. Diddy has even won top fashion honors for Sean John. Basically, hip-hop music is synonymous with fashion and trendsetting. Example: Look at how Jay-Z was able switched it up from throwbacks to button downs a couple of years back and have droves of people follow suit deeming everythingGrown&Sexy.
PR: How can emerging fashion labels get their clothes worn by artists?
KC: I think it’s all in the presentation of the clothing and making it viable for them and the artist.
PR: What is hip hop nationalism?
KC: I associate hip-hop nationalism with hip-hop pioneers, such as Public Enemy, Ice Cube and Ice Tea. In my opinion hip-hop nationalism is when rap artists and figures such as Russell Simmons (HSAN) and Diddy (Vote or Die) evoke social change and self awareness within the hip-hop community.
PR: If you can, describe a typical work day.
KC: There is no typical work day….That’s what I love most about PR. My work day varies from researching, brainstorming, writing, phone calls with clients and/or editors etc.
PR: What do you enjoy the most about your job?
KC: The spontaneity and the results oriented makeup. I like the fact that PR is a labor of love. You see the results of all your efforts and hard work.
PR: You mention that you used to work at both Ogilvy and Edelman. What are some major differences between working for an agency versus working for yourself?
KC: Major differences are you’re able to be way more hands on and you’re able to execute more out-the-box thinking.
PR: What makes you great at what you do?
KC: My stellar work ethic, persistence, confidence, friendliness, adaptable nature, optimism and assertiveness.
PR: What is the most challenging part of your job?
KC: Making clients understand that there are no guarantees in the PR industry.
PR: Who would be a dream client for you?
KC: Well I really want to work with an alternative band like Green Day or Good Charlotte.
PR: What are some of the major challenges facing indie artists? Any tips/tricks for getting publicity?
KC: Obtaining exposure and not getting lost in the masses and creating an appealing movement, i.e. Young Jeezy, because record labels now a days are coming in on the tail end of an artists’ buzz, you have to have a foundation in place to garner the attention of a major label.
As far as tips towards indie artist visibility, the emergence of new media, i.e. myspace, flickr, youtube and etc. have created a great, cost-effective medium of exposure for indie artists. Additionally showcases, Atlanta Club Crucial hosts a showcase on Mondays, and then there’s the Almost Famous Showcase etc.
PR: How important are relationships in your job? How do you work to form and maintain relationships in your career?
KC: Relationships are critical; they are the life blood for a career PR. I maintain relationships through being consistent, genuine and always making sure that my relationships are reciprocal…it’s a give and take.
PR: What is your proudest moment in PR?
KC: Placing my client Win…a relatively unknown producer in XXL’s Production Credit section, and securing Warren G a wide array of ATL media placements in less than 24 hours.
PR: What are the major challenges facing the PR profession? Opportunities?
KC: A constant challenge in PR is making people understand the value of public relations. The emergence of new media has opened up a wealth of opportunity for PR professionals.
PR: At what point does a client need PR? How does PR take clients to the next level?
KC: From the start! PR builds an identity and it generates visibility.
PR: How do you stay on top of the latest industry news? What publications/blogs do you read?
KC: PRWeek, Bulldog Reporter, Target Market News, AJC, New York Post, Allhiphop, Sohh, XXL, Ozone, Down, The Fader, Complex, Source, Vibe, Daily Candy and Sandra Rose.
PR: What inspired you to start a blog?
KC: I wanted to chronicle my progress.
PR: What advice do you have to students considering a career in lifestyle PR?
KC: Learn and absorb as much knowledge as possible through internships and volunteering.
PR: What professional organizations, networking groups if any, do you belong to?
KC: BPRS-Black Public Relations Society
PR: Do you feel a sense of community within PR - why/why not?
KC: Yes I definitely do. There’s a wealth of professional organizations, yahoo groups etc that give PR practitioners a haven to exchange ideas and obtain advice.
PR: Why do you think so many women choose to run their own, one-woman PR type shops?
KC: Well of course the entrepreneurial aspect, but then also it’s the unlimited creative control and the opportunity to be more hands-on with clients.
PR: What is the fashion scene like in Atlanta?
KC: Very assorted…from vintage/retro to high-style to preppy to skateboard and so forth. Fashion is presented on a wide scale in Atlanta.
PR: Where are your favorite places to shop?
KC: Club Monaco, Wish, Tease, Envy, American Apparel, Nordstrom, Off Saks, Urban Outfitters, Target, J Crew, Last Chance Thrift Store, Girlshop and Sephora.

PR: How would you describe your personal style?
KC: Very versatile. I love to mix pieces, for instance I might pair a Sole Munki hoodie with a Burberry scarf, skinny jeans and ballet flats or pumps….it just depends….or I may channel inspiration from Charlotte York and go girly….it varies on my mood. I’m a real bargain shopper, only splurging on designer handbags in basic colors, fly shoes, scarves and sunglasses. I love Missoni sunglasses, because I love some of the cool retro/funkadelic prints.
PR: What are three things every PR Professional should keep in mind when dealing with clients. What about the media?
KC: Clients: Professionalism, Communication, and Positivism
Media: Timing, Straightforwardness, Preparation
PR: What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
KC: The way you think shapes your reality.
PR: What are 10 of your favorite things?
KC:Hip-HopPink Sugar by Aquolina
Penta Water
My Hot Pink Prada Robot bag
MD Formulations Skincare
Gingham/Houndstooth print
Algebra Blessett’s music
Joyce Carol Oates books
BET’s American Gangster Series
To a T-Shirt Culture…Cute or Couture? Exhibit
PR: What are some of your goals for 2007?
KC: To continually evolve and unremittingly keep away from contentment.
Thanks PR Couture!!!
Leave Kayla a comment here on PR Couture and/or get in touch with her directly at Kayla [at] kaylacallowaypr [dot] com

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Blank Tape: Recorded Hip-Hop Opinions

I wouldn’t completely say that Hip-Hop is dead, but it has become stagnant and diminutive of visionaries and trendsetters. Hip-hop was once an edgy art form that cultivated and spun creativity, originality, excitement and non-conformity, but now that’s all changed….Hip-Hop has become too predictable. Originality is now far and few in between…..After the end of the Golden era of hip-hop and the immediate preceding of bling…hip-hop lost its edge. Since the post-golden era, hip-hop has had spurts of innovation from artist such as Nelly, Eminem, Ludacris, Kanye West and Lil Jon.....and even Dem Franchize Boyz, but the emergence of Crunk and Snap music, further halted hip-hop's lack of creativity and individuality….. The current snap frenzy is a movement of easily crafted production, and stylistically…. many of the artists within the genre are undistinguishable. If you fall back and analyze our hip-hop lineage...our greats were and are in categories of their own…….Now their arts and swags are commonly imitated as well, but the difference is……Their arts are not imitated EFFECTIVELY….…….You would NEVER deem Run DMC, LL Cool J, A Tribe Called Quest, Nice & Smooth, Biggie Smalls, Tupac, Jay-Z, Nas, Busta Rhymes, Redman, Wu Tang Clan or Outkast as undistinguishable, because they've constantly pushed the envelope and strayed from conventionality. With the direction hip-hop is going in right now…Any and everybody thinks they can rap….. As soon as someone heralds in something fresh, it's staled by bandwagoners. Within the new pool of emcees, originality is damn near void.

Back in the day, I associated VH1 with artists like Amy Grant and Michael Bolton. I would sometimes flip to VH1 to watch Phil Collins, Bruce Springstein, Billy Joel and Paul Simon videos, but I relied on Video Vibrations, Video Soul, Rap City and Yo MTV Raps and Fade the Black on Sundays for my dosage of hip-hop and R&B imagery…..Every year I would watch the 4th of July A-Z countdown on VH1….I would sit patiently waiting for them to land on the letter J (for Michael and Janet Jackson videos) and H for (Whitney Houston videos). With that being said, I must say that VH1 has changed tremendously. Thinking back, VH1’s progression towards hip-hop was completely unforeseen, yet seamless.....Somewhere in between a Russell Simmons, Snoop, or Notorious B.I.G Behind the Music, VH1 got hip-hop, but I just can’t pinpoint it……………..

Saturday, October 28, 2006

“Blessed, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed 'bout her business and 'bout that mail”

Blessed, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed 'bout her business and 'bout that mail”…That’s how Dasun Allah described me. I met Dasun in November of 2005 at The Source. I was working for a small entertainment publicity firm and had been tasked with generating media exposure for an independent rap artist out of Mississippi………..So while I was in NY for Island Def Jam artist Chrisette Michele’s signing party (By the way she’s so dope!!!), I decided to go and hand deliver the MS rapper’s press kits to NY hip-hop pubs for two days straight…. XXL, Scratch, Blow, Vibe, The Source and etc….As I was leaving the Source……..this guy who I’d noticed pacing back and forth, asked me, What are you soliciting? and I responded ….I’m not soliciting, I’m just doing my job, no better yet I’m just creating awareness. He smirked and took a long look at me and said, You’re Seminole Indian……….and I laughed aloud, because my maternal grandmother is Seminole Indian, but I never really bring it up. I was rather stunned that he’d picked that up immediately. I exclaimed, How did you know that?……..He replied, I know my people when I see them. The conversation didn’t end there, as I was getting on the elevator he hopped on too, and we exchanged biz cards, and interestingly he turned out to be the Editor-in-Chief of the Source. The next day I was right back at the Source, because the then music editor Michael “Ice Blue” Harris had requested additional info on the Mississippi artist. As I was leaving from dropping off the package to Ice Blue, my phone rang and it was Dasun and he was like… Yo the security guard said you were just here, we were just talking about you this morning………He then proceeded to invite me to an event that night, but I repealed and instead asked him to come out to Chrisette Michele’s signing party at Club Exit… surprised was I that he showed…….and I swear that damn Dasun Allah is quite the complex and unpredictable individual…..We were having a conversation on the dance floor when all of sudden he started jumping up and down when the DJ played the LOX…..I was like OMGchill out………and he’s like, but Kayla, it’s the muthafucking LOX…….I walked off…., but anyhow, long after I left NY, he maintained contact with me…..throughout his dismissal from the Source, the cancellation of the Star and BucWild morning show and even his jail sentence, he kept in touch and I admired his strength and perseverance, he seemed to be taking his trio of disappointments in stride. He never really told me why he had gotten in trouble with the law, but as I read articles on and etc., I soon found out why…..I was at a lost………………..his actions were stemming from a place that I just couldn’t understand…………Through the midst of his troubles and him keeping in touch with me, he even asked me to be his publicist, but things never really materialized, but my homie the Hip-Hop Journalist was interested in interviewing him, so I did set up an interview with her and Dasun, the interview ran on Soon after he went to jail, He was sentenced to six months, but got released early and called me when he got out; he was so detached………He was eager for me to brief him on outside happenings. He called me about two other times after that, but he just wasn’t himself…..About a week later, I was reading, and read the following headline……Editor is One-Man Crime Wave, I clicked on the story…………..Dasun had landed in jail once again, apparently for attacking three random people on the streets of Harlem………………….What???????........ Dasun is in my prayers and I hope that he gets well, because he truly is a talented writer and has the ability to go down in the history books…for his writing …………I thought of him today… I realized, I haven’t been to NY in almost a year, and I remembered his words, so I decided to write down my recollections of that dude……God bless him
Until then………“Blessed, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed 'bout her business and 'bout that mail” is signing off……………….

Friday, October 20, 2006

About a month or so ago, I was at CNN, and a security guard approached me and said “You look just like Judy Pace”, he then proceeded to ask a couple of guys around us and they all enthusiastically agreed. As I looked around at these dudes nodding in agreement, I thought who the hell is Judy Pace???? I then called to ask my mother, and before I could even get it out, she was like you kind of look like her!! So you know I had to google her! Here’s what I found out…Judy Pace is a beautiful ebony-skinned actress from the late sixties, early seventies. Judy was once an Ebony Fashion Fair model, and for all you old heads, she was in the movie Cotton Comes to Harlem, and a slew of other films and short-lived television series. Pace never really catapulted like she should have, because realistically there isn’t a huge dark-skin actress presence in Hollywood, well black presence period for that matter. When I saw her I instantly became intrigued by her, because of her tenacity and defiance of stereotypes. I oftentimes get complimented for being a pretty dark-skinned girl, in fact I can’t really think of instance where I was just called pretty. When I was in college, I remember a member of the basketball team said to me…”You’re pretty to be dark-skinned, and that’s rare”….WTF. To each his own. I admire Judy Pace because she pushed the envelope of Hollywood’s ideation of beauty.

Intro/The Rambler

Welcome, Welcome, Welcome, this blog is an exploration of my many adventures and mishaps LOL! as a PR neophyte. This blog is also a reflection of my multi-faceted self; I’m quite the Renaissance woman. I oftentimes wish I could have experienced the Harlem Renaissance firsthand. I love John Coltrane (My favorites are Giant Steps and Central Park West) I enjoy drawing and reading (My favorite book is the Native Son, by Richard Wright). I am extremely creative, imaginative and innovative, but like Nas….I believe that no idea is original. I soak inspiration from a medley of things…history, people, places, past experiences and etc., but before, I go on and on and on, because I can! Let me give you a little info about my PR background. I began my independent foray into PR in early 2006 and I’m going strong into 2007. I’ve worked at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide and Edelman, and I am well-versed in a multitude of PR sectors; everything from entertainment to heathcare and life sciences, but my niche and the bulk of my client roster is synonymous with hip-hop. I specialize in bridging the gap between mainstream and the hip-hop generation….I am a true hip-hop head. I’m also a southern belle; an Atlanta native to be exact, which means I grew up surrounded by bass or as we sometimes called it “booty shake” music. Prior to Outkast and GooDie Mob, Atlanta was all about Rahiem the Dream, Kilo, Playa Poncho, and etc., but I always delved into music from outside regions, I yearned for Rap City; it was my connection to other realms of hip-hop. Even though I was only 11 years old, I can’t express how refreshing it was for me, when Outkast came onto the scene. They are my all-time favorite! I love how they continually evolve with each album, I also have a great love for GooDie Mob….Cee-lo is my first cousin and he, my grandmother, aunt and I all lived together when I was 12, right as Soul Food was coming out. I know Soul Food like the back of my hand; like I wrote it. I looked up to Cee-lo, I can remember being quite the hustler/peddler too, selling Soul Food CDs with Cee-lo’s autograph to my middle school classmates. LOL! Shout to Cee-lo! Back to my nationwide affinity for rap music, I say nationwide, because hip-hop as a whole is so regionalized, but I love it all!….well most of it anyway. Back then, my musical tastes were always deemed as different or lame as they say in ATL. I loved Wu Tang Clan, Jeru the Damaja, Souls of Mischief, Black Moon, Smith & Wessun, Ice Cube, MC Eiht, Spice 1, DJ Quik, Coolio (sike naw…I'm still mad he won the Grammy over Pac in 1996) AZ, Cormega , Mic Geronimo, Craig Mack and Keith Murray, then of course I loved Nas, Biggie Smalls, Jay-Z, Pac, Junior Mafia, Bone Thugs & Harmony, Snoop, Dogg Pound, Dre and etc., and having two older sisters 6 and 10 years my senior put me on to the ol skool, i.e. Mc Lyte, Big Daddy Kane, Run DMC, Public Enemy (pre Flav exploitation) LL Cool J, Kurtis Blow, Kid ‘N’ Play, Roxanne Shante, Queen Latifah, JJ Fad, Hammer (don’t hate), Special Ed, Whodini, Salt & Pepa (I once told my father to get his dirty mind out the gutta), Slick Rick, Brand Nubian, 3rd Bass, Nice and Smooth, EPMD, and etc. as a very young child, and OMG…I almost forgot Da Brat. Me and my 6th grade crew used to wear our hair (Actually I fluctuated between Brat braids and Lady of Rage afro puffs) like Da Brat and even formed a rap group called the JawBreakers. We were highly influenced by the Da Brat’s Funkdafied album and Warren G’s Regulate...G Funk Era. I won’t name names, because my 6th grade crew would kill me if they read this. Damn this was supposed to be my intro, but this was very worthwhile and enjoyable to write, I’m done rambling for now, but check back for my next rambler, I think I'm on to something....I’ll be dissecting and contrasting today’s reality show driven pop culture, compared to the pop culture of the 80’s and 90’s. Until then………………....