Monday, April 25, 2011

Learn the In and Outs of P.R. and Marketing

As a public relations executive in an industry where the media landscape continues to change, you must stay ahead of the trends. I read industry magazines, online blogs, and tons of newspapers each and every day to stay on top of shifts and changes. I also continue to keep nurturing my relationships with media contacts on a regular basis. They are always looking for a story, and you’ve got to be the person ready to supply them with one. However, you can’t waste anyone’s time. Each time you contact a TV or radio producer, TV anchor or news reporter, you must have a pitch ready that will really capture their attention. That’s the most difficult part of my job when you work in cause-related marketing because sometimes the media isn’t always looking for a feel good story. They’re looking for information that is sometimes sensational. The story that might interest them would include a celebrity mention and involvement, or just anything they might feel their readership, viewers or listeners would be interested in knowing.

When I first got in this field over 20 years ago, keeping professional memberships current was easy. However, as a veteran P.R. professional, mother of multiples, wife and businesswoman, keeping up with those memberships have become pretty hard. I have many hats to where and not enough time to where them. Therefore, I must pick and choose what associations to join that will provide the best benefits to me because I have to stay ahead of the trends in order to offer the best services to my clients or employers.

I always create a P.R. and marketing strategy uniquely tailor made for each client or employer I work with in order to appropriately promote them. One client might need to boost their presence on Facebook initially and later start building their presence on additional online sites such as Twitter, YouTube, and their very own Web site. Another client might need to sell tickets to a concert, which would require gathering all music lists deadline dates to make sure your clients events are included. Well-timed articles in various newspapers and magazines will also build brand recognition, so a good P.R. professional should always be thinking about how to get their clients best achievements into great pitch letters and/or press releases that will hopefully turn into newspaper articles, TV and radio interviews or numerous magazine exposure. You might even be asked to write the articles for some small magazines, and small newspapers sometimes use your press release word for word. The more P.R. skills you have means top notched promotional campaigns. Clients and employers rely on you to get the word out utilizing multiple skills while you work on various projects that might involve social media as well as writing speeches, releases, articles, white papers, and many marketing materials.

Upon taking on a new client, you should always do a thorough inventory of all marketing materials as well as P.R. hits in the past to ascertain the clients true needs as well as perception out in the marketplace. Perception can be more powerful than reality, so you need to understand what you’ll be dealing with prior to getting started. When reviewing marketing materials you have to ask yourself if a consistent message is present. If not, you need to overhaul all materials and get the client up to speed on brand messaging and consistent designs starting with the company logo. Is the company logo working or does it need to be redesigned? What marketing materials do they really need? How many marketing pieces should you create? Answers those questions and move on accordingly. As far as P.R., as I said above you need to know what the current perception of a company is prior to writing any releases, speeches, articles or pitch letters. I am a firm believer in plenty of research to know what the objections to your pitch might be. If you’re prepared you’ll be ready to respond appropriately in order to secure the right media hits for your clients or employer. I could go on, but I can’t give away all my trade secrets. However, if you’re interested in learning more about my services and how K.T. Communications can help you build awareness and build your brand, please contact me at so we can discuss your P.R. and Marketing needs.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Looking into eyes so crystal clear
Seeing deep within your soul
I know your feelings of fear
But don't despair, for my love is here
Here, deep within the cobwebs of my heart

Sometimes I may carry on
Make you think my love is gone
But here it is flourishing everyday
Here it is taking your blues away

Really I care, really I do
Really I know all the pain you've been through
But I've had my ups and downs
Don't want to be made out a clown
Just trying to look out for myself
Just wanting us to hang on
Keep trying real hard to make our love strong

Now and then I may throw a funk
But really I just want what I want
To be loved by you and only you
To be respected, not neglected
Really I care, really I do
Really there's no one quite like you

Sunday, April 10, 2011

My Journey of Friendships, Career, Marriage and Aging Gracefully

I've always been a size 4 or 6, but never really fit or toned. Keeping my weight down without exercising was easy in my youth. I’ve never been an emotional eater or indulged in snacking on potato chips, but I’ve also never been a consistent exerciser. I’ve only been able to lose about five pounds in my entire life, and that was due to just not eating very much. In short, I basically half starved myself, which isn’t healthy. Now, however, I need to lose about 20 pounds to stay in my current clothes and age gracefully. I’ll be 45-years-old in five months, and I want to shed some weight, continue to grow my business as a P.R. professional and freelance writer while also juggling the next big full-time career opportunity. At the same time, I need to keep nurturing my 17-year marriage and raising my soon-to-be 8-year-old twins. I know I have a full plate filled with many blessings. As full as it is though, I just don’t think God would have put all of this before me if I wasn’t suppose to learn how to handle it; therefore, I will.

One big tip I can share in maintaining my 17-year marriage is the importance of communication. No matter how painful a conversation may be with my husband, we keep talking and spending time together — even when we’re mad. Frankly, the key to any relationship is honest communication and a deep desire to keep working it out and trying to understand one another. You also need to keep the “punching below the belt” comments and actions to a minimum or not at all. I’ll explain “punching below the belt” comments and actions in another article. As I said, communication is the key. Frankly, communication is also the key to understanding yourself. I’ve consistently kept a journal for over 26 years. Honest reflection of your decision-making through journaling and poetry will definitely yield a deeper understanding of your motivations and life choices. My life is a testament to that.

After giving birth to twins through a c-section, I’ve struggled to maintain my figure as I age. I'm more of a size 8 or 10 right now, but can still wear a tight size 6. I’m not into tight clothes though. My style is for clothes to hang on me, look well put together, but be comfortable. I'm 5'2 and embarrassed to say, 140 pounds. But since I’m happy to be alive having survived a few health issues, I’ll proudly state my weight and size any day. I want to be 120 pounds and slightly muscular in the tummy and legs. I don’t want to wait until I’m obese to start focusing on my health. Losing these 20 pounds is hard enough. My heart goes out to those struggling with obesity because that’s got to be tough. I carried twins and know how uncomfortable extra weight can be. Today, I’m ready to transform myself into a fit working mom juggling all I’ve mentioned above — and winning, as Charlie Sheen would say.

I just read this incredibly well-written article about how some women hate women who are fit, skinny and toned – basically different. It was the most honest article about women and weight I had ever read. It really motivated me to share my story because I do believe there is a link between ambition, weight, and friendship for a lot of women. I believe because I’ve always been skinny, professionally driven to achieve something in life, and not constantly angry with men because of something I allowed them to do to me, some women have found me to be so different and hated me for this. I do believe you train people (particularly men) how to treat you. I never apologized for who I was, and I’m not going to start now. I’m sure some women aren’t happy with the fact that I’m dealing with my weight issues before it becomes a huge problem, but I really don’t care.

I feel proud that I abstained from sex well into my mid-twenties, I got a college degree when most of the women I grew up with were dreaming of getting married. It shocked me that my girlfriends didn’t want to know what they could accomplish in life other than snagging a man. As I secured more P.R./marketing jobs, maintained my weight, never got pregnant, and dated a lot but claimed few men as serious boyfriends, my friendships disappeared. I had a girlfriend I’d known since the age of 10 that point blank asked me why I was so different. She actually said it in an angry tone, and decided to say it around other women I didn’t even know well. That was the day I knew she really wasn’t my friend. She also asked me why people stared at me so much…go figure. I chalked it up to just another stupid question from a person who wasn’t my friend. Today, kids call that type of behavior just haters. She was the only friend bold enough to ask me such questions, except for one other crazy friend. She said she could be jealous of me because I was smart, pretty and drove a jeep (my Dad’s car at the time) but instead she said she’d use those energies to better herself. At the time, I thought her honesty was refreshing and never thought anything of it. But in the end, I stopped being friends with her once she said I’d fail in life because I graduated from Columbia College with a B.A in Broadcast Journalism. She couldn’t figure out what type of job in Communications I could ever get. I became a P.R./Marketing pro, something I’m sure she’d just be jealous about instead of supportive. This field hasn’t been easy, but I love the work. I never stayed in what I considered a “bad relationship” very long with a man or any fake girlfriends. However, misery does love company. To this day, I’ve maintained one friendship for 17 year’s because she’s a cool person who is driven to achieve, attractive and doesn’t have a jealous bone in her body. I treasure our friendship. I’ve had girlfriends off and on, but no other solid friendships except that one. I had no more than three serious boyfriends with my husband being the third. The circle of women I grew up with just thought I was too different for words, and when I become a successful P.R./marketing professional at the director level as well as a happily married woman who was still a size 6, then I lost the last of two girlfriends who could not have ever really been my friends at all anyway.

Friendship shouldn’t be based on your waistline, marital or career status, it should be because you just get along and enjoy each other’s company. My experience is that most women thrive on drama. I did have brunch with my friend of 17 years who had invited a few of her other friends. All of the women around the table were beautiful professional women who shared their journey in their careers while enjoying a delicious breakfast. It was such an inspiring afternoon to be around career-oriented women who were not catty, but kind and conversational. Needless to say, forming new friendships hasn’t come easy to me. And today, my priorities are totally different. I need to put that energy into my marriage, my children, my full-time career, and my side business as a writer and P.R. pro. Other than my 17-year friendship, I have no interest in any other female friends primarily because I have no time and I don’t trust easily. If I think you aren’t a friend, I will leave you alone quickly. I don’t want a bunch of fake girlfriends just to say I’ve got friends in my life. All of it has to be real or not at all.

Yes, I’ve always been different. The experiences of my youth and as I grew into an adult have prepared me for the life I lead. Today, I thrive on those differences and welcome them. I express who I am with confidence and understand that my journey is unique and just as it should be. Yes, the road gets bumpy. My marriage and business are definitely a work in progress, but the journey is made all the more sweet by the struggles I’ve overcome, the loneliness I grew to enjoy during my single years, and the challenges that surprisingly made me stronger as a wife, mother, and professional.

I want to age gracefully, drop 20 pounds by my 45th birthday, secure a senior level position at a University and put an African-American owned college on the map while staying true to family commitments and business relationships. I have faith in God that I’ll do it all with grace and style…at least, that’s the plan.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Old St. Pat's 27th Annual World's Largest Block Party

Join Old St. Pat's Church on Friday, July 15 and Saturday, July 16 for the 27th Annual World’s Largest Block Party, a summer tradition in Chicago. Over 20,000 people will mingle, dance, meet new people, listen to great music, and enjoy delicious food while partying with a purpose from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. each night. Tickets are $40 in advance; $45 at the gate, if the event is not sold-out. There is also a two-night pass available for $70. The price of admission includes five FREE beverages that include a choice of beer, wine, soda or bottled water. Funds from the Block Party support numerous outreach programs on the Old St. Pat’s campus. For more details, go to
Guests will enjoy two stages of live music, two nights filled with fun, and two blocks of great food. Past performances include: Barenaked Ladies, Spoon, Train, Ben Folds, Counting Crows, Collective Soul, Los Lobos, Rusted Root, Gavin DeGraw, and Ben Kweller, plus many other great bands.

The entry gate is located at Madison and Des Plaines in
Chicago’s West Loop.                       

Proceeds support the church and the Center for Social Concerns on the Old St. Pat's campus that houses the following outreach programs:
  • Horizons for Youth; 
  • Career Transitions Ctr of Chicago; 
  • Harmony, Hope and Healing; 
  • Global Alliance for Africa.