Choose wisely who you work with. There are incredible, intelligent, smart, kind and loving people in this industry. And they’re the most fun to surround yourself with.
As a part of our series about Inspirational Women In Hollywood, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Kaytee Long.
Kaytee Long is the owner and founder of DIY PR, INC. in Los Angeles. As a publicist for 10+ years, she works with the top up-and-coming musicians, A-list celebrities, the hottest must-have products and top of mind influencers. In addition to full-service PR and coaching independent artists, she has worked with many major recording artists and award shows such as the GRAMMYS®, Billboard Music Awards and the American Music Awards.
Kaytee also speaks internationally for industry organizations such as The Berklee College of Music, CD Baby, and Icon Collective.
As the daughter of a musician (and a hobbyist piano player and singer), Kaytee has been raised with a passion for art, the creator, and providing musicians with the education needed to take their careers to the next level. Follow her on Instagram at @kayteelong and @diymusicpr.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up in Minneapolis, MN and was raised by my rockstar single mother, who also happened to be an exceptionally talented actress and singer. I spent all my evenings at the dinner theater where my mom was the resident leading lady in Chanhassen, surrounded by my pseudo-family of artists. I fell in love with the arts and the people working their asses off to make a living doing what they love.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I changed my major seven times in college. It started with a major in musical theater and eventually ended up with PR — and I knew I wanted to make it entertainment-focused. I found a company called Spin PR who worked with indie artists and was located right off of the beach in Santa Monica, CA. I begged the owner (Kim Koury) to let me do an internship from Denver (this was when remote work was taboo). She offered me a job once I graduated and I moved my ass to Los Angeles within the month. From there, I’ve worked in film and television, on Oscar® and Emmy® campaigns, with Paramount Studios, Twentieth Century Fox, the GRAMMYS®, American Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards and so on. One of my favorite jobs in my career was working for a man named Murray Weissman. At the time, Murray was 84 and still came into the office everyday, because he loved what he did. Murray was one of the first publicists in Hollywood. I mean, he worked with Marilyn Monroe. Of course, he loved his job!
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Being on the red carpet with Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill while promoting The Wolf of Wall Street was exciting. However, I’d have to say the intimate moments I’ve spent with artists at the GRAMMYS® take the cake. One that comes to mind is the year I was working with Meghan Trainor, who is so delightful and a powerhouse of a woman, which I love. She was doing a tribute to Aretha Franklin (in front of Diana Ross) and as soon as she came off stage ran over to her mom and I, locked elbows with us and asked me if she did okay. She was so nervous because she was so honored to pay tribute to such an icon. And yes, she absolutely nailed the performance.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
That’s tough because any time someone in entertainment PR makes a mistake, you get nailed to a cross.
I had a really shitty boss when I was 25. He was a film producer on Sunset Blvd. He’d pick me up in his Porsche and we’d dine at SoHo House. It looked glamorous from afar but he wanted me to work for pennies and threatened to fire me when I told him I needed to let my dog out after being at the office for ten hours. He talked down to me in front of employees and made me pick up coffee every morning at Hustler’s coffee shop. (Yes, Hustler has a coffee shop.) So, my mornings began with a catwalk of dildos and lingerie, then I returned to the office to be chastised.
The mistake was going against my gut, as I knew this wasn’t a good fit from the start. I lasted 30 days.
I look back at it now and laugh. My exit was one worth of a scene in The Mindy Project. I gave him a piece of my mind, unlike I had ever done in my life. It was liberating. And absurd. And I’ll never put myself in that situation again. Bottom line, I stood up for myself, which I hadn’t done in my career thus far.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I credit my mother for being the best role model I could have asked for. It’s because of her I feel so strongly about the importance of equal rights and why it’s important to be a strong woman, particularly when you’re in an industry known for sexualizing and taking advantage of the underdog. She lived her life exactly the way she knew was her truth. And she raised a child while doing so.
I also credit my fiance, Noah Becker. Noah is the president and co-founder of AdRev and has taught me the importance of leading with love. Life is too short to take part in the manic side of the industry. I choose who I work with carefully and run DIY PR as a kind, compassionate human being. And in my book, that’s the only way to lead.
You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?
- Be kind to yourself. Meditate. This shit is hard, but It’s the only path I’d choose as there’s truly nothing more rewarding than building something from the ground up.
- Choose wisely who you work with. There are incredible, intelligent, smart, kind and loving people in this industry. And they’re the most fun to surround yourself with.
- If you want to start your own business, just do it.
- Be a role model, support the underdog and speak your truth.
What drives you to get up everyday and work in the music industry? What change do you want to see in the industry going forward?
I love my clients. We’re like a big family! I simply love supporting them and their careers and helping them hit that next career milestone.
We need more female executives in both the music industry and in public relations. Women hold about 60–80 percent of jobs in public relations. Yet, internationally women only occupy about 30 percent of the C-Suite positions at PR agencies. (PR News Online)
When it comes to the music industry, I’m not just speaking about the business side. A recent study from USC’s Annenberg Foundation looked at three creative roles in music and found that women comprise 21.7 percent of artists, 12.3 percent of songwriters and merely 2.1 percent of producers. (Forbes)
This needs to change. Not because we are women, because we are human. A woman should be free to create art or run a company without the fear of being sexualized, disrespected or dismissed.
You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?
2021 is going to be the year of Maggie Szabo. Vents Magazine just named her song “I Don’t Need You” as one of the best songs of 2020.
Dallas String Quartet is currently bringing in one million streams per week on Pandora with their well-known covers. We already have a full release schedule for 2021 and I’m very excited to see what happens with the release of their first originals!
Cheryl B. Engelhardt is releasing the choral collaboration of her composition “The Listening”, inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1967 speech “Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break Silence”. It features solos from multiple well-known social justice leaders including Dr. King’s goddaughter, Donzaleigh Abernathy.
We are very interested in looking at diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in the music, film and TV industries? How can that potentially affect our culture and our youth growing up today?
Because people come in all colors, shapes and sizes. But bottom line, we are all people. Growing up in Minneapolis and going to an inner city school, I was surrounded by all sorts of people. Then I moved to Littleton, Colorado and I remember asking my mom, “Why is everyone white?” Children need to be surrounded by diversity for us to make headway for future generations. And, as children are constantly in front of screens at this point (particularly during COVID), diversity in music, film and television is crucial.
What are your “10 things I wish someone told me when I first started”?
- Be kind.
- Don’t seek approval.
- Speak your truth.
- Know your worth, and don’t settle for less. Get paid.
- Badass women are everywhere. Find your tribe.
- The energy you put out, you receive back.
- Working 12 hour days is not sustainable, nor does it optimize productivity.
- Happy employees do better work.
- Take a breath. We’re not saving lives.
- There are more important things in life than your career.
Can you share with our readers any self care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Please share a story for each one if you can.
I love my mornings. I don’t sleep with my phone in my room. As soon as I wake up, I meditate and write in my gratitude journal. Then I enjoy a quality sweat sesh, at least one hour. These are non-negotiables. If I can’t show up for myself, I can’t show up for my family or my clients.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
“You’re never too important to be nice to people.”
You are a person of huge 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?
I want to empower as many people as possible to feel comfortable in their own skin and speak their truth. Living behind a veil is painful and no one should feel like they need to mute themselves. This applies to the artists I work with, minorities, people of the LGBTQ+ community, women, people of color and anyone else who may feel marginalized.
Also, women are made for leadership and it confuses me why men are naturally looked upon as leaders. We’re the ones that control procreation.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
Gabrielle Bernstein. She’s a spiritual leader whom I have many parallels with.
Mindy Kaling. Because she’s my spirit animal.
Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?
This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!