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Publicist Rockstars: “Know who your friends and enemies are”

Know who your friends and enemies are — In this competitive field you have to learn to trust your own gut and judgement and try to make as many friends as you can but people are people so you will also inadvertently make enemies and you have to know who your friends and enemies are so that […]


Know who your friends and enemies are — In this competitive field you have to learn to trust your own gut and judgement and try to make as many friends as you can but people are people so you will also inadvertently make enemies and you have to know who your friends and enemies are so that you know how to navigate through the system.


I had the pleasure of interviewing:Nikoleta Morales. Nikoleta Morales is an award-winning writer, journalist, publicist and a photographer based in Chicago with passion for entertainment, hiking and travel. She was the Managing Editor of Extra Newspaper in Chicago for 2012–14. She has written for several publications in the US and abroad, such as CelebrityXO, Cypher News, BG Voice, the Daily Herald, Extra, FF2 Media, Lawndale News, Chicago Tribune, among others. Currently, Nikoleta Morales works as an independent celebrity publicist and a Senior Associate Writer for FF2 Media.

As a publicist she has represented celebrities like Yelyna De Leon (“Will and Grace”), Luis Iga (“Murder in the Woods”), “Murder in the Woods” Film and Cast, Jennifer Hill (Singer), Alejandro Andrade Pease (“Cuernavaca”), Well-Known Father’s Rights Attorney Joffrey Leving, Kade Wise (“Empire”), Chelsea Rendon (“Vida”), Fashion Designer Cori Davis, among others.

Nikoleta’s niche is entertainment. As a journalist she has interviewed people from all walks of life from the local communities to politicians to celebrities like Paul Chavez (Cesar Chavez son), Martin Luther King III, Sasha Pfeiffer (award-winning journalist Boston Globe), Eva Longoria, Gabriel Iglesias, Marlon Wayans, Marc Anthony, Ana Ortiz, Jaime Camil, Il Volo, Rob Schneider, Chris Kattan, Mario Lopez, Anna Faris, Kellan Lutz, Mike Tyson, Messi, Carolina Herrera, Holly Holm, Jason Derulo, Paula Abdul, Blondie, Hector Elizondo and photographed Mayor Rahm Emanuel and president Barack Obama on Air Force One.


Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I have always loved entertainment — from music to film. In my teenage years I acted and I was doing theater and dance in high school and college, and I have also appeared on a few movies as extra later in life. I have always been drawn to the entertainment field. I wanted to continue my career path in the same direction so I have followed the trace of entertainment journalism for about 10 years now. I also married a rock musician but later divorced (laughs). I found my passion in entertainment journalism where I made connections and a name for myself so a lot of the celebrities started looking for me and asking me to represent them. Emerged in as a publicist, I found I was good at getting media placements for them and working on the opposite side of journalism so I continued on that path working for myself as my own boss and independent brand. I have been officially doing it for about an year now. I love celebrities and they love me back! (laughs)

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

I would say doing the PR for the film “Murder in the Woods” at the Latino Film Festival in Chicago. I loved working with the cast as they were all a great bunch of people and fun to be around. I enjoyed showing them around Chicago as well. We did so well that we sold out all three screenings of the film at the Festival and since a lot of the directors at the festival didn’t have representation they didn’t see the same results as us. When they saw the huge crowds and attention “Murder in the Woods” received from the PR campaign I did for them, they were amazed. That’s how I was approached by Alejandro Andrade Pease, the director of “Cuernavaca”. He came from Mexico and he really wanted the same attention for his film so he begged me to do his PR. I had two days to pull it off. He also saw the audience number increase thanks to my PR and I had a lot of fun working under stress to pull the PR campaign off for two films — both “Cuernavaca” and “Murder in the Woods.”

Nikoleta Morales and Singer Jennifer Hill at SWAN Day Conference, Milwaukee, WI (Credit: Nikoleta Morales)

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?

My first big client and what got me the push in the PR industry fresh out of college was well-known fathers’ rights attorney Joffrey Leving from Chicago. I learned a lot from him. I remember asking him a lot of silly questions because I was nervous when I first started out about Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Marketing, etc but he taught me how to be proactive, patient and find the answers on my own and despite my silly questions he gave me the push and confidence I needed to branch out on my own later on as he believed in me and my talent. Fast forward to now, I have proven results, guaranteed placements in TV, radio, print and online, including working with a lot of well-known influencers, variety of PR campaigns, and I am always exceeding results and expectations.

Nikoleta Morales and Alejandro Andrade Pease (credit: Nikoleta Morales)

How did you scale your business to profitability? How long did it take? Please share the steps you took.

I am still scaling (laughs). It is not easy to make lots of money when you are starting out but since I had already made a name for myself as an entertainment journalist and I had shown proven results, I am able to make an OK living. I am still building my brand, learning more about the new and current trends in the PR field. It has been an year now and I do charge based on my clients’ budgets so I am able to work something out in order for my clients to get the exposure they need.

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

Right now I am working with Jennifer Hill (known as Murderous Chanteuse) to get her exposed a bit more outside of CT. She is very-well known in CT as she is not only an award-winning singer but also a SWAN Day organizer and she has reached her publicity in CT. She wants to go National so I am working on that project with her and placing her in publications, such as the Rolling Stone Magazine, and others. I am also representing Yelyna De Leon who played Blanca in “Will and Grace” and we are working on not only getting her exposed but trying to bring back her character back for another season on the show. I will also be organizing and representing SWAN Day Chicago in 2019.

Based on your personal experience, what advice would you give to young people considering a career in PR?

I would say read a lot! Read on what is currently trending in the news, know your audience and your target, your client, and always strive for more. In my experience, I have learned that more is better so the more you push the better results you will get. Try to make as many connections as possible as connections are gold in this field and always do your best because your name will follow you everywhere you go and you want to make sure that it is associated with success, integrity and loyalty and not the opposite.

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

Attend as many networking events as possible. Talk to people, connect online. It is so easy nowadays to connect on Social Media. I have gotten great connections from LinkedIn. I love LinkedIn as you can connect with anyone from anywhere and it makes it easy to start a conversation and go from there. If you love socializing then attend as many outings and events as you can and make sure to talk to people and tell them what you do, give them your business card or information and always follow up afterwards. I have gotten jobs and gigs just by talking to people at events and following up after.

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

I am honestly not a big fan or listener of podcasts but this is just me and my personal preference. The best method for me to learn has been by doing and observing others. I have followed the advice of publicists and marketing gurus in the industry and learned from them, by mistake, as well as success and advice I was given. I also got my Masters in marketing and communications so I had my initial knowledge from there. There are a lot of great books about the PR industry and being a great publicist and I would recommend them all but most of all I would recommend learning from the professionals who have made it and try to get internships, jobs, contract positions so that you can feel and learn, get your feet wet on the job. That has been my best way of learning about the industry — getting my feet wet!

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 am all about positive change and movement! I am a very down to earth and nature loving person, with a kind heart, so if I can inspire people to just be people and not be artificial intelligence/technology based robots I would be so happy! I see many people losing themselves to fake identities, technology, materialism, vanity, plastic surgeries, and it is unfortunately all inspired by the media. I am in the entertainment field but what I find is that most of the celebrities I have worked with and interviewed have a very down to earth, soul based identity and they love their families, which keeps tham ground and that’s what I love about them — they are not as superficial as they appear to be though they are in a superficial field. I would like to inspire the #bereal movement where natural beauty, human kindness, your true inner self, family and the simple things in life are cherished more than money, technology, external beauty and materialism.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. It is a hustle game — I wish I really knew how much work and hustle is put into the PR field in order to really make it, not just work in it. You have to always be on your toes and keep your skills and knowledge trendy and up to date and hustle for placements, exposure, etc, and sometimes it gets to you. I always go above and beyond for my clients but sometimes I get so drained and exhausted I just need time for myself.
  2. Know who your friends and enemies are — In this competitive field you have to learn to trust your own gut and judgement and try to make as many friends as you can but people are people so you will also inadvertently make enemies and you have to know who your friends and enemies are so that you know how to navigate through the system.
  3. You will fail before you succeed — I have failed many times before I have succeeded and at first that shocked me as at school we are taught that we will have to succeed first but in reality it is the opposite. I have also learned that many successful people have gone that route as well. The important thing is once you fail you learn, pick yourself up and keep going and don’t stop until you get what you want and get to where you have to be. That’s the true formula for success.
  4. You will not make a lot of money right away — Unless you win a mega million or get a huge client at first (laughs). It is a slow process and at first it’s important to build your name and brand and the money will follow.
  5. Being diplomatic is key — I learned this form one of my PR influencers and bosses. She always taught me how in the journalism field you are the aggressor, asking for interviews, questions, but in the PR field you are the diplomat trying to “massage” both the client and the media and being neutral, not direct and aggressive, is key. That is something I am still practicing, mastering and learning (laughs).

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I can be found on Social Media:

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

LinkedIn

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