On a Quest for PR Success :: Test Drive My Job Sakita Holley
Web House of Success
Mopwater: Describe your path to PR: How did you wind up in this field? SH: In retrospect, I would describe my path to PR as a natural progression, because growing up I always participated in activities and displayed certain characteristics that are usually attributed to PR people. But, I didn’t know how to articulate PR as an actual career path until I started seeing the field depicted in movies and on TV shows. Once I knew what PR was, I made the library my second home. I read every book I could get my hands on about PR, media relations, PR writing, etc. I wanted to know what I was getting into.
When I got to Howard University in Washington, DC, I was originally a pre-med major and a PR minor (my goal was to be an ob-gyn that gets quoted in all of the major magazines). But that was a short-lived notion because by my second semester I completely gave in to PR, which I think is my true calling. By that time I had already secured a summer PR internship at Jade Dressler Communications in NYC and switched my major to PR with a minor in entrepreneurship because I knew I wanted to own my own firm.
From Jade Dressler Communications, I would go on to work various roles at celebrity PR firms, a global PR powerhouse, a national non-profit organization, eventually landing in the corporate communications world at Prudential Financial. From there I would leave to launch my lifestyle brand relations firm House of Success.
Mopwater: Describe a pivotal moment in your career. Did you have a mentor or internship that really solidified your interest or helped you hone in on a specific focus area? SH: The two most pivotal moments of my career so far was when I earned my first two media hits during my first PR internship in the NY Daily News and Black Enterprise magazine and the other pivotal moment was when I won my first client account after launching House of Success. That moment was confirmation that I’m on the right track.
I have several mentors, but they’ve only enhanced my love of the PR industry. I was lucky to know exactly what I wanted to do early.
Mopwater: Describe your workday including your office place and/or work setting and work hours. What do you do all day? What is a typical day like? SH: There are no typical days in PR and that’s probably one of the things I love most about my work; each day is different. On most days, my alarm is set for 6am. I currently work from my home office, so my commute is very short. My day begins with me scanning the websites of all the major dailies, NY papers, industry trades and blogs. Next, I do some media monitoring for our clients, while simultaneously checking in on Twitter and sharing any interesting links I found that morning or the night before.
Emails come next, followed by check-in calls or meetings with my associates to get the scoop on our progress with some of the projects we’re working on. The rest of the day is generally reserved for corresponding with clients, meeting and pitching journalists, a venue walk-through if we’re planning an event, drafting blog posts for SakitaHolley.com, and much more.
Because this is still a fairly new business, the hours are very long because on any given day I’m juggling so many different balls: client work, biz development, HR, event planning, networking, etc. It can be exhausting, but I love what I do so it’s worth it.
Mopwater: What is your favorite thing about this job/role and do you think you’ll be in this position in 5 years? SH: Two of my favorite things about PR: placing stories for clients and pitching and winning new business. In five years, I pray that I’ll still be running a successful PR firm and that we’ll be positioned for continuous growth.
Mopwater: What aspect of the industry are you most excited about? SH: I’m most excited about what’s happening in the digital space with all of the technological advancements, content creation, etc. It’s a really exciting time to work in PR.
Mopwater: If you could work on any dream project of your choosing, what would it be? SH: One of my dream projects would be for House of Success to play a pivotal role in shaping the brands and changing some of the negative perceptions about star athletes and/or to represent an international boutique hotel brand.
Mopwater: What are your favorite and least favorite PR/marketing/SM tasks and why? SH: I think I mentioned earlier, that I love pitching and placing news stories for clients and creating strategies to win new business. Once we’ve won the business, the creative process of taking a strategy from the ideation to implementation stage is also high on my favorites list.
My least favorite task is working with people who don’t understand or appreciate how PR works and think that they can do it themselves. Luckily, I’m in a position now where I get to choose who I work with because, I learned pretty quickly that some battles aren’t worth fighting.
Mopwater: Who are some of your company’s clients, and what kind of projects do you take on for these clients? SH: We work with lifestyle brands that fall within what we’ve deemed the five key lifestyle zones: live, work, play, travel & indulge. Our clients are individuals or organizations looking to enhance their visibility and influence. And we help them do that through strategic media placements, brand management and influencer outreach to create deliberate experiences around their brand.
Mopwater: What if anything would you have done differently in your career up to this point? SH: Is there anything I would have done differently in my career? I have no regrets, but I often think about what the outcome would have been if I had done a particular internship in college instead of staying for summer school one year (I was on a quest to graduate early and turned down a position with someone whom I admire tremendously).
Mopwater: What advice would you give someone who is trying to break into the field?
SH: My advice to anyone looking to get into PR is to read heavily, be passionately curious, set clear goals and network to build lifelong connections instead of temporary stepping-stones.
I believe that it’s very hard to be a great PR professional if you’re not well informed or passionately curious. The best PR strategists are well informed, which has a positive impact on every aspect of their work. Reading newspapers, magazines and books about your/your client’s industry will help you identify hot topics or trends that come in handy when pitching stories. Reading heavily also helps you develop a deep well of knowledge about various subjects that can assist you when you’re tasked with developing strategies for brands.
Setting clear goals is important because the PR industry has an unlimited amount of career options. Knowing what you want to do early (or as soon as possible) can help you be more strategic when you’re looking for internships, jobs or freelance work.
Networking to build lifelong connections instead of temporary stepping-stones is also very important in PR because who you know and who knows you is one determinant of how successful you will be.
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