Public Relations Rising Star Kayla Calloway Chats with PR Couture about PR, Hip-Hop, and Atlanta Fashion

kayla.jpgKayla 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, KaylaCallowaypr.com, 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 everything
Grown&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, Nordstrom, Off Fifth, 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-Hop
Pink Sugar by Aquolina
Penta Water
My Hot Pink Prada Robot bag
MD Formulations products
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

Interested in interviewing with PR Couture? Send us an email!

About This Author

Known as the “fashion publicist’s most powerful accessory,” (San Diego Union-Tribune) and the “West Coast ‘It’ girl of fashion PR,” (YFS Magazine) Crosby Noricks put fashion public relations on the digital map when she launched PR Couture in 2006. She is the author of Ready to Launch: The PR Couture Guide to Breaking into Fashion PR, available on Amazon. Crosby spends her time managing PR Couture and mentoring fashion publicists through PRISM and Instappable, as well as the biannual NYC workshop, Fashion PR Confidential. Occasionally, she opens up limited consulting spots for emerging brands through her signature offering, The Brand Elixir.