Diana Bassett: “You never know what opportunities are out there if you don’t reach out”

Your fellow PR industry colleagues will be your best support system and their words of encouragement will make any tough moment feel manageable. As a part of my series about the things you need to know to excel in the modern PR industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Diana Bassett. Diana began her career, […]

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Your fellow PR industry colleagues will be your best support system and their words of encouragement will make any tough moment feel manageable.

As a part of my series about the things you need to know to excel in the modern PR industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Diana Bassett.

Diana began her career, working as a production assistant, in the film industry on multiple independent film productions. From there, she transitioned to Public Relations where through the years, she honed her writing, media relations and branding skills, as well as her social media and event production strategies.

Working with numerous media outlets has given Diana the opportunity to create and brand large, well-attended events and shown her capability of developing innovative strategies to keep her clients one step ahead of the ever-changing PR landscape. Moreover, Diana has shown herself to be successful in assisting clients with navigating the convergence between traditional media and social media while providing creative support that is pivotal when launching lifestyle and hospitality brands, restaurants, and high profile events.

Her experience includes brand management, media relations and placements, press materials, pitches, client relations, event planning, and executing and social media.

During the 2020 Covid-19 Pandemic Diana launched her own company, Diana Bassett Public Relations, concentrating on the entertainment industry, with a focus on public figures including actors, influencers, and athletes. During the pandemic, Diana has been volunteering her services to any small businesses struggling to stay connected with consumers and stakeholders, helping them stay afloat until things are able to return to normal.

Diana holds a Bachelor of Arts in Film Production and a Master of Arts in Public Relations from Hofstra University.

Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I always knew I would end up in the entertainment industry in some capacity. As a little girl, people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up and always said the same thing, “a star.” As I got older, I discovered that I wanted to work behind the scenes, rather than in front of the audience. After studying Film Production in college, I began my career by working as a PA on independent film sets and was determined to work my way up in the industry. The switch to PR happened quite unexpectedly. While having drinks with a group of people, a friend of a friend decided that I had the personality for PR, and was hiring me for a company he was starting. Even though I wasn’t quite sure what PR entailed, it sounded fun. I never looked back.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?

Since the launch of DBPR, I have been lucky enough to connect with people whose names I’ve known all my life. One particular moment that stands out to me is connecting with Scott Hamilton, the Olympic gold medalist figure skater, who was an icon in my house growing up. After admiring him for so many years, I have now communicated with him professionally, to book him for a client’s podcast. Never being one to normally ‘fangirl,’ I had to admit to being impressed that my career had taken me to a place where this was now my normal.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

Without sounding too corny, every project has been so exciting since the launch of DBPR. A recent project I worked on was the campaign surrounding my client, Nikki Blonsky, coming out. Being such a huge part of not only a client’s brand, but also personal life was an amazing experience, especially when I was able to first-hand witness fans reaching out to let Nikki know how her coming out inspired them to do the same, and how happy they were to be themselves. It made every late night worth it.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

I probably expected this one from past experiences, but the amount of people who you have not heard from in a very long time that comes out of the woodwork to ask for free work is amazing. I will always offer advice to those because you never know what could eventually turn into a long term client, although many just want to “pick your brain.”

This one I never saw coming. You will work 22 hour days and weekends, not because someone is forcing you to, but because you are passionate about it and want to get it done. If you don’t do it, no one else will. It’s an amazing sense of pride to put in those hours and see the outcome and know it’s because you did it. It makes you work harder while loving every moment of it.

The hardest task you will ever have to do is relinquish responsibilities to someone else. Of course, you will have to hire people you trust and believe you can rely on, but learning to actually allow yourself to do so is very hard. Your company is your baby, and although you may feel no one understands your dream the way you do, the industry is full of extremely talented people who you can depend on. In order to be successful and have a work/life balance, you will need to let others take over on projects and you must learn to trust them.

Your grandma will want daily updates and will not understand why things sound the same as they did the day before when you know in reality so much has happened but there is just no way to explain what you actually do every single day.

Your fellow PR industry colleagues will be your best support system and their words of encouragement will make any tough moment feel manageable.

You are known as a master networker. Can you share some tips on great networking?

The best advice I can give to anyone in any industry, not just public relations, is to talk to everyone! The biggest catalyst to your career could come out of nowhere at any time. I am only where I am today because I was hired by someone that had I stayed home that day, I would have never met. I have made some of the best contacts of my career in the most unexpected areas; media contacts out at a club, clients at nonprofit events, even at the gym.

You can also meet some of your best mentors that way. Any time I am invited to any type of networking event, I always go. Sometimes it can help further my career, and sometimes I can help further someone else’s; you never know what opportunities are out there if you don’t reach out.

Lead generation is one of the most important aspects of any business. Can you share some of the strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?

There is no formula for generating leads. What works for one company won’t necessarily work for another. Often trial and error are the best way to figure out what works best for you. DPBR has been lucky enough to generate leads organically, strictly by word of mouth. However, word of mouth must have something to back it up. Creating buzz about your company is important, especially in terms of Search Engine. I treat my company in a similar manner to my clients. If I can’t create a brand for myself I have no business doing it for my clients. So this interview right here, this is me working on my lead generation. Now that you have read about me, you know me, and hopefully, my interview will stay with you when you are looking to hire your next publicist.

Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?

I haven’t listened to too many podcasts, as I am more of a visual than the audible learner, I do tend to read as often as possible. This might sound silly but something that has stuck with me for years is the Devil Wears Prada (the book, not the movie, although that movie is a classic, and nothing can convince me otherwise). It taught me what to never do as a boss, as an employee, or a co-worker. I use it as a blueprint, to make sure anyone reporting to me can see me more as a mentor than as a ‘devil.’ I always hoped I would never work for a Miranda Priestly, but I think at some point in everyone’s career, there is always at least one. They can ruin your love of your industry, and even hinder careers. I never want to be a Miranda. I had some amazing mentors and bosses that I know is the only reason I am where I am now. I will always look back on them fondly and I can still come to them for advice. If I can leave one legacy, that is who I try to be.

Because of the role you play, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I strongly believe everyone at some point in their life should work in some form of the service industry, whether it’s in retail, waiting tables or at a customer service call center. After you spend time there, you have a whole new level of respect and patience for those assisting you. In addition, it teaches a set of skills that are transferable to any and every other industry, setting you up for success.

This was really meaningful! Thank you so much for your time.

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