“If you’re dope, we’ll find you,” is the mantra Kiki Ayers’ public relations agency Ayers Publicity abides by. It’s follow-up tag-line “Shine Brighter” is a testament to her work and ironically, alludes to her own journey in the business.
Initially it’s easy to be drawn into Ayers’ aura, even over the phone. She posses a friendly tone and infectious laugh making her a breeze to talk to. However, what keeps you engaged and sets her apart, is her unique way of sharing her testimony of strong will and her rapid fire delivery when sharing her broad knowledge of the PR landscape.
Ayers, a first generation college student, proves that through hard work, avid research, and by putting your clients first, the journey to success, while unpredictable, is in fact, inevitable.
How did your upbringing shape who you are and your career?
Everything about it. My family and I are all very close and very supportive of each other. We never had time to dwell on negative things. We focused on putting ourselves in a better situation. I didn’t have everything I wanted growing up but I never got sad or cried over things I didn’t have because my mindset was, “Okay, how can I work hard to get out of this. What can I do to get to the next step. What’s the best plan of action with what we have.”
My whole life is based off of that notion. Taking what you have and making the most out of it. Taking a bad situation and turning that into positive energy. Then in turn taking that energy and turning it into motivation.
I also have a very, very strong Trinidadian mother who didn’t baby us.She believed we were capable of certain responsibilities at a young age.
I feel like I am the same person then as I am now in regards to how I go about life. The only difference is, as I get older I’m faced with different test.
With the mindset I had growing up I understood early on that if there is anything that I want to do I can do it.
For example, when I got to Howard I didn’t know anything about public relations, marketing, or branding. I used Google for a lot of things I didn’t know. I love Google and I feel like everything is on it so I used that as my mentor.
Speaking of research, today, the role of the pr agencies/ publicist are becoming common knowledge, however many people still don’t quite understand what it means to be a fully functioning pr agency/publicist. What are some misconceptions about the job?
I think people mix up PR and management. People ask me about brand partnerships and getting close to record labels. I tell them that those are the roles of a manager. Managers get 20% of the major deals they close but PR has a set rate. I also think people are sometimes unrealistic in their goals at first. There are levels to everything and you can’t skip the work. People will propose a dollar amount to get published in big publications but I don’t believe that’s real journalism. Everything has to make sense. You can’t take someone who is set to put out their first EP and try to get them published in Forbes. Everything has to make sense at the end of the day.
That’s a great point. For budding models, musicians, actors, or social influencers who don’t have a budget for PR, what are some practices that can be implemented for their brand?
Managing social media is huge. A lot of people like to post everything on Instagram, but that’s what you have your Insta-story and Snapchat for. You really have to start training yourself as a brand. The only thing I really post on social media is my PR work or my entertainment reporting. Every now and then I’ll also post a professional picture. It’s all about the look of things. You don’t want people to come to your page, especially as an artist, and not know that you’re an artist because you have pictures of the shrimp you at last night. You have to really be focused when posting. You should know what someone does as soon as you go to their page.
Also people like to follow millions of people. You don’t have to follow 20 people to appear a certain way either. But, if you’re following thousands of people but don’t have thousands following you, it’s obvious you’re following people to get your numbers up.
Also, never stop working for yourself. People think because they have a manager or a publicist they don’t have to do anything. However, PR is not working unless you work. If you have nothing to promote, I can’t do PR for you. If you’re not doing anything there is nothing newsworthy about your brand.
Don’t get too comfortable with fame and attention. So many people fall off that way because they don’t realize there are so many things involved in the business. You have to be involved with everything that’s going on.
Also you shouldn’t ask for PR or management if you haven’t worked yourself up to the point where people are interested in representing you. When you have people coming at you, then you should consider PR.
Publicity is the key for entertainers. A good example of this is the press the Kardashians get for their every move. I have to give props where they are due, they have their PR on lock and the media is on their side. There are so many times where I don’t want to see them but I don’t have a choice.
There are so many dope people that are working on great things but people don’t support if because they don’t have press.
Those two points are gems that a lot of budding talent can learn from. You have a lot of wisdom which prompts me to my final question. If you could use two words to define your career up to this point, what would they be and why?
“Mixed blessings.” I say that because there are a lot of things that I went through, from working in corporate, the situations I was put through while there, being sexually harassed by the CEO and overcoming that. I learned from those situations and became better. I learned my worth through knowledge. I was working red carpets for publications that would pay me $75. After working for myself, learning, and growing, I became an independent contractor and began selling content and providing access to people and made thousands of dollars to report using the skills that I have.
My journey has taken me from living in a roof-top loft overlooking other rooftops to living in a hotel bathroom lobby.
What pulled me through is asking myself what skills can I use to get to where I want to be?
Had I not been for my low I would not be a successful entrepreneur and I wouldn’t have the clients that I have now or the recognition that I’m getting had it not been for learning from those experiences.