Don’t try to go out on your own too soon — I think a lot of the times, things can look really easy so we think “why am I working for someone else when I can just do this myself” when in reality, it is a lot more work than you thought. There were a few times where I tried to take things into my own hands and wish that I would have just sat back and realized that I didn’t know what I didn’t know!
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 Melinda Jackson.
North Carolina native, Melinda Jackson is the founder and owner of Melinda Jackson Public Relations. With over 10 years of experience, Melinda takes an untraditional approach to Public Relations, Social Media, Branding, and Influencer Marketing. Having worked on GRAMMY & PRSA Award-winning campaigns, Melinda has a proven track record of helping clients grow their businesses and careers. MJPR not only services traditional PR clients but also Music and Entertainment, as well. When not on the clock Melinda enjoys spending time with her nephews and attending as many Foo Fighters concerts as she can fit into her schedule.
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 came into PR by accident. As a college freshman, a few of my fellow cheerleaders with Communications majors. It seemed WAY more fun than my boring History major so I changed. Through this, I had a vague idea of what PR was. I thought I wanted to go into marketing but later discovered what I actually wanted to do was public relations. I loved journalism but also loved helping people/brands tell their stories in more organic ways.
After graduating from college, I moved to Los Angeles to start my career as an entertainment publicist, even though I really had no clue what that was. Over the years, I hustled to learn as much as I could, as fast as I could. Ten years in PR later, I think I finally have a good grasp of things. PR truly feels like my calling.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
While I don’t have a story that I feel like I could publicly share (client confidentiality!), I will say that since starting MJPR over a year ago, I have been able to travel the world! Earlier in my career, I never had the time or resources. But now, as long as I have my computer and no in-person meetings, I can take a trip at the drop of a hat! It has been incredibly rewarding and expansive for me to be able to travel like this and I am always meeting new connections everywhere I go — be it in Nashville, Los Angeles, or the highlands of Scotland. So at the end of the day, my jet-setting is a win/win for both myself and my clients.
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?
When I first started in PR, I had just moved to Los Angeles and thought of myself as overly important. I had no clue what I was doing! Sometimes I find old emails I sent and I want to crawl in a hole, they are so embarrassing! I was also really bad for CC’ing people I was supposed to BCC. Epic fail!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Right now in a time of COVID-19, I am having a really wonderful time helping my clients pivot their businesses and messages to be one that serves as a resource. It’s so rewarding to me that through my clients, I am able to help the world feel a little bit better in uncertain times. Additionally, after 3 years off, I am diving back into music PR, which is my favorite niche by far.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
1. Don’t be afraid to ask for more money — Consistently throughout my career, I was grossly underpaid and never said a word. I just thought that if they felt I needed the money, they would give it to me.
2. Don’t get too comfortable — Early in my career, I thought loyalty to my workplace trumped my own wellbeing. I was offered positions that would have been a much better fit with more money and my ideal clients. However, I was of the belief that if you work somewhere, you work there forever.
3. Find a mentor — much of my early career, I felt like I was on an island by myself. I can’t help but think that if I would have had a career mentor, things would have been a little easier and I wouldn’t have made the mistakes that I did.
4. Don’t try to go out on your own too soon — I think a lot of the times, things can look really easy so we think “why am I working for someone else when I can just do this myself” when in reality, it is a lot more work than you thought. There were a few times where I tried to take things into my own hands and wish that I would have just sat back and realized that I didn’t know what I didn’t know!
5. Your career doesn’t define you — I spent way too much time thinking that a publicist was my identity. When it wasn’t. I was an amazing human being who was a million awesome things, besides just a publicist.
You are known as a master networker. Can you share some tips on great networking?
My friends and I joke that I collect people anywhere I go! My top tip for networking is to realize that the person is a human, first and foremost. Connecting on a human level goes a lot further than just connecting because of what they do for a career. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with any and everyone. You never know who someone is or who they can connect you with.
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?
Networking and word of mouth have been the greatest lead generation I could ask for. I think if you produce quality work and truly connect with your clients, your business will sell itself. I am very lucky in that so far, I have rarely had to pitch new business. People come to me asking about my services because they see how my clients are growing thanks to the strategies we have put in place.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
I really love listening to Rebecca Jarvis’s podcast No Limits. The amazing females she has on have inspired me like no other! Additionally, there is an “Entrepreneur Of The Week” portion of each podcast that is incredibly expansive for me. I also really love Lacy Phillip’s To Be Magnetic podcast, which helps me learn to get out of my own way when I can be sabotaging my own success.
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 think kindness can go a long way! The great Harry Styles always says, “treat people with kindness”. I always try to remind myself of this when I am in a frustrating situation. It’s also important to remember to loop yourself into the “people” category. Be kind to yourself and be kind to others.
This was really meaningful! Thank you so much for your time.