There is an old African saying that we’ve all heard: “it takes a village….” . The end to that sentence may change depending on who or what you are talking to or about. But at the end of the day, the principle remains the same: Collective effort is necessary in order to achieve any goal. As any artist could tell you, the entertainment game is no different. The public sees an artist; one person on magazines and CD covers and video shots. But what they don’t see are all the people and moving parts that create, polish, market, promote, represent and manage the product being pushed aka- the artist.
Meet Candice Nicole. Owner and Publicist for Candice Nicole Public Relations. For those of you who frequent DC hip-hop and fashion events, you’ve probably seen her around. If you are a local artist, chances are that you may have performed at a venue or function that she was working PR for. If you are a serious artist or entrepreneur, you may have even tried to woo her into representing you. In this article, the first in a series of articles designed to give readers a little insight into the power players behind the serious DMV music scene and exactly what they do, I had a chance to sit down and talk with Candice about her background, what a publicist does and she even outlines a few basic artist no-no’s along the way..
LA: How did you get your start in this industry?
CN: I started getting my feet wet volunteering for the BET awards in 06. Then in 07, I started working for BET in the traffic (commercials) department.
LA: How did you first get involved in PR?
CN: I always knew that I wanted to be in entertainment, but just didn’t know exactly in what capacity. I’ve always loved music and I have always wanted to be the center of attention, the one that people have to go to in order to make things happen. I also went to Morgan State and have a degree in Communications with a concentration in Public Relations. So i guess it just kinda happened naturally. But this life is not for everybody. You really have to know how to balance family and friends. And they need to know how to be supportive of you in your endeavors. It’s a lot of sacrifice in this business.
LA: Are there a lot of women in PR?
CN: As far as the entertainment industry is concerned there are a lot of women. But most of the people that you interact with, club owners, managers and such are males. But actual PR, yes there are a lot of women. Thank God, I’ve never had to deal with any cattiness and I am always willing to work with other females. It’s all about networking.
LA: What about women of color?
CN:Recently I’ve been meeting a lot of women of color in PR on twitter.
LA: What is the biggest hurdle that you’ve had to overcome?
CN: (laughs) Being a woman, a lot of times you run into males that aren’t too sure about you. I’ve had to step into certain situations and take control because folks didn’t have their stuff together. And you get resistance from males, until they realize, “oh, she knows what she’s talking about!” Aside from that the biggest problem I run into is folks not wanting to pay. But other than that, I haven’t had too many real hurdles. It also helps that I am good at keeping relationships in tact and I don’t burn bridges.Your network becomes your net-worth, so if you’re trying to start something, go to the next one. You’re not gonna break me.
LA: Who is on your client roster?
CN: Right now, I am working with the Dazzle Cartel (the DC Glam Squad), plushteal.com, Hip-Hop Artist Greenspan, Lil SoSo Productions and recently with the direct drive record pool.
LA: What’s been your greatest triumph so far?
CN: DMV Helps Haiti. Hands down. The Master of the Mix viewing parties that I’ve been working on with Lil SoSo Productions is second.
LA: At what point is an artist ready for a publicist?
CN: I am so happy you asked that question! First of all please research exactly what it is that a publicist does. If you don’t know what they do then you don’t need one. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten emails from random people saying “i want to work with you”, and then in the next sentence they say “so what exactly do you do?” (Oh yeah, side note. Candice asked me to please include this brief PSA: Learn email etiquette!! Don’t be disrespectful, and remember that no one has to do anything for you). Second of all and definitely one of the most important things, you need to have a product READY. Your PR person is not there to develop you. They are there to work with the media and other outlets to publicize your art, and market what you bring to them. You should a have your own polished, unique product. Last of all, you need to evaluate whether or not you can afford to invest in a publicist. People have come to me with all kinds of wild numbers trying to pay something like $100 a month…Do you know how much time and effort goes into just a one night event? and you think only $100 for the whole month is good?! I quit my day job to do this full time, so that’s not gonna work. If you can ask to do something for free, then you can do it yourself.
LA: I definitely feel you on that! What do you think an artist should think about when they are considering a publicist?
CN: Well, first of all the stuff i just said and you also need to examine your product. What makes your product different and unique? Lebron will never be MJ, but he’s great at what he does. Be great at what you do but do you. You need to consider your product in relation to the publicist’s style that you are considering. You also need to have a clear vision of why you doing this (music) and what your goals are. Do you wanna go mainstream, or do you wanna stay underground? Things like that.
LA: What are some of the tools and resources available to folks who may be interested in going into PR work?
CN: The internet! It is so easy to just jump onto Google to see exactly what it is that a publicist does. And this field is all about networking. Social media outlets, like Facebook and Twitter are great. You can do a search just to see what PR folks and media outlets are talking about. Start asking around and going to networking events. You can also go to school for PR. You have to just completely immerse yourself into it.
LA: Are there any other aspects of the industry that you one day hope to focus on?
CN: I would love to get into film and sports. Still doing PR, but just in those industries.I’d like to do more fashion too.
LA: Candice thank you so much, I do appreciate it!
CN: No problem it was my pleasure!
Keep up with Candice on twitter! @candicenicolepr