Nikkia McClain: “Never look at others and compare their journey to yours”

Never look at others and compare their journey to yours, your purpose is your purpose, and if you are too busy worrying about someone else you will never know or understand what is meant for you. As a part of my series about the things you need to know to excel in the modern PR industry, […]

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Never look at others and compare their journey to yours, your purpose is your purpose, and if you are too busy worrying about someone else you will never know or understand what is meant for you.

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 Nikkia McClain.

Nikkia McClain, in her former career, worked as a very successful real estate agent in which she managed million-dollar properties. After several years of helping clients realize their real estate dreams, Nikkia wanted to explore other opportunities aligned to her personal goals to pursue a career in marketing and public relations — a very bold decision given Nikkia had no background in the two fields. She established her marketing and public relations firm, TENÉ NÍCOLE, and she put her knowledge and creative skills to work immediately, carving out her path to becoming successful.

Since pursuing her dream of building her very own well-known, recognized brand, she has experienced tremendous success. Black Enterprise Magazine touted her as a PR maven. Her firm has represented a roster of past and current clients including Fortune 500 and Inc 5000 companies and notable multi-million dollar brands.

Nikkia is a powerhouse in her own right and executes public relations initiatives at the highest capacity. She’s strategic, creative, savvy, generous, and extremely resourceful. She has successfully leveraged her expertise and network to produce top-notch campaigns and practical projects for her clients. Additionally, Nikkia is a public relations maven; her clients have been featured on The Wendy Williams Show, The Real, NBC, ABC, FOX, TMZ, BOLD TV, Sister Circle TV, The Steve Harvey Show; The Breakfast Club, Hot 97; and numerous print/digital outlets including ESSENCE, OK!, Life and Style, Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Forbes, to name a few.

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?

It was faith that led me down my career path. I had no background nor experience in the industry, but I knew it was my purpose. I’m happy to say I have been doing PR for almost a decade.

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

I think the most interesting story was a photo moment with Beyonce I facilitated for a client.

As for any fan, the opportunity to meet Queen B herself is a once and a lifetime opportunity. The client was at a gala and told me she wanted to meet Beyonce, and in the back of my mind, I was like “You’re kidding me right?” The publicist that I am had to make this happen for my client! Thanks to another amazing publicist rockstar and friend, Dora, she waved the magic wand and it happened! The photo of my client and Beyonce went viral on social media.

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?

The funniest mistake was pitching to an editor that covered cars and not beauty. Sometimes people can be so brutally honest, and although we may not want to hear it, the truth is so needed. The editor emailed me back to the tune of “get it together, you are in public relations and it’s key to know who you are pitching to, you not only do your client a disservice you will have people like me looking at you sideways!” I was like damn, lol! Big mistake, but I learned from it.

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

The most interesting project is my #DIYPR (Do It Yourself Public Relations) platform that I’m launching at the top of 2021. I’m excited to present PR tools, tips, and tricks to entrepreneurs, small business owners, and individuals. Due to COVID-19, we have shifted our clients’ events online.

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

  1. Don’t sweat the small things, I learned over time small things can turn into big things.
  2. It’s okay to lose your first and future clients (I cried during the loss of my first client and took it personally)
  3. So with that said, never take things personally, it’s business.
  4. Never look at others and compare their journey to yours, your purpose is your purpose, and if you are too busy worrying about someone else you will never know or understand what is meant for you.
  5. It’s not all bells and whistles, there will be highs and lows, I had many lows but so many highs and would trade them in for anything else!

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

My biggest tip is to be yourself. If you are awkward, be awkward, if you are quirky, be quirky. Just be you, and go in with the best intentions. When you are yourself, people truly get a sense of authenticity. Lastly, network to build relationships and not something you can just gain from that person you met. Lately, make sure you follow up after meeting someone!

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?

I’m happy to say all of our leads have come by word of mouth and people observing the amazing work the TENE NICOLE team has executed over the years. I would tell people to remain consistent, which will lead to clients.

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

My book #DIYPR book! I want to emphasize that I had no background in PR, so I went back to school and earned a Master’s from George Washington University in Strategic Public Relations. Educating myself has helped me in my career and now I’m back in school working towards my Ph.D.

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. 🙂

Support is big for me, and that’s one of the reasons I created a movement called #SupportYourGirlfriends, a platform for women who are growing personally and professionally. I believe support brings the most amount of good. The network allows us to be ourselves and support without judgment or prejudices.

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

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