Of course, my blog is primarily about the entertainment industry. I know that public relations plays a very important role. We are all familiar with controversies revolving around a celebrity or a movie. That is where public relations (PR) comes in to pave over the rough spots. My dear friend Maryellen Nugent-Lee is Co-founder and Creative Director of the public relations firm 2PR Chicks LLC. Read on as she explains in detail what a PR firm does.
I sent Maryellen a list of questions and I received her response on July 3, 2017.
Alan: What exactly is “public relations”?
Maryellen: According to Webster, public relations is “the professional maintenance of a favorable public image by a company or other organization or a famous person.” However, over the years it has evolved into a practice of strategic communications, managing influence among key constituents, thought-leaders and the media. Where public relations once operated in a silo completely separate from advertising and marketing, in many cases you will find now that all three are integrated (along with social media) for maximum benefit.
A: How did you decide to get into this business?
M: Personally, I didn’t “decide” — I was kinda thrust into it after graduating with a degree in journalism. At that time, I wanted to be a sportswriter. It was a difficult career for a woman to pursue, so after struggling as a stringer for UPI, I eagerly jumped at the chance to be the Public Relations Director for a junior hockey league in the New York area. Little did I know that it would give me exposure to many different industries, from Wall Street to Hollywood. I’ve worked hard and leveraged those opportunities, and it’s made me a well-rounded publicist.
A: Tell us about 2PR Chicks.
M: 2PR Chicks is a marketing and communications enterprise with a strategic consulting focus and proven tactical results, originally started by myself and Camille Scifo. Camille and I met at Burson-Marsteller and formed an unbreakable bond. Camille is one of the most creative people in public relations today; she has a strong background in women’s interests and issues, having worked with Avon, Coach, Monet Jewelry, Gilda’s Club, Estee Lauder and many more. Now 2PR Chicks includes a few more “chicks,” including an Events Manager and Social Media Director, so we can provide our clients with a well-rounded spectrum of services and capabilities.
A: Do you seek clients from any particular discipline (e.g., private industry, celebrities, politicians)?
M: Most of our clients come from referrals, either through our personal interests or past experience. Currently we work mainly with home goods and independent filmmakers. That’s kind of a crazy combination, but it works for us.
A: Do you take on clients just starting out in a business or long-running businesses?
M: Both. As long as it’s a project that has integrity, interests us, and for which we are comfortable we can demonstrate success, we’ll go for it. It’s all about relationships, really. If we can’t believe in the project or there’s no mutual trust, then we won’t take it on, no matter how much it pays. We’ve gotten stung by empty promises and micro-managers with wild expectations. It’s caused unnecessary friction and prevented us from getting good results. On the other hand, we have worked for years with clients who are collaborators, and we are able to deliver strong ROI [Return on Investment] for them. Those are the most satisfying relationships.
A: What are some of the methodologies you use? What is your opinion on using social media for PR?
M: Good public relations depends on effective, interesting storytelling. The vehicle will depend on how best to reach the target audience. For some it could be a news story on television or in a daily newspaper. But for a business-to-business client, a home run might be a feature in an industry trade.
To us, social media is “citizen journalism” — a mix of interpersonal and mass communication, where everyone has an opportunity to report on what’s important in their world and share their opinions widely — so it is an extremely valuable PR tool. It’s revolutionized the way people communicate and socialize, and it’s had a tremendous impact on our culture, in business, on our personal well-being and even our behavior. It would take a whole conversation to elaborate on how social media has changed public relations — and how PR has changed social media!
A: What are you doing to promote your company and keep its name out there?
M: We’re twitter fans! We mostly use twitter to keep in touch and spread the word about our work. We also attend film festivals and various events around town. Those activities seem to work best for us.
A: What is next for Maryellen Nugent-Lee?
M: I love what I’m doing and I hope to continue for a long time. I especially enjoy supporting independent filmmakers and seeing them catch their next break.
A: What do you want to tell our readers?
M: I love to read and am particularly fond of writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald, J.D. Salinger, Anne Morrow Lindbergh and Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway reportedly said, “I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” He’s right. I think listening is a fantastic hobby as well as an imperative business skill.
A: How can people get in touch with you?
M: Email is best (firstname.lastname@example.org) or follow me on twitter @mnugentlee or @2prchicks
A favorable public image is necessary in many fields. Maryellen’s statements above have provided me with a better understanding of the PR business.
By the way, Maryellen is a HUGE supporter of Indie films! #SupportIndieFilm (but that is a subject for another post)
Do you have any questions for Maryellen? Have you used PR? Please provide your thoughts and questions in the comments. I would really enjoy hearing from you. If you have a topic in mind you would like me to cover, please let me know.
Disclaimer: Mention of any company or its product does not imply an endorsement by the author of this post. The author is not being compensated by any company.
Originally published July 21, 2017. Updated August 19, 2020 to adjust category assignments.