D'Shonda Brown: Millennial Publicist
Name: D'Shonda Brown
Hometown: Brooklyn, New York
How did you figure out that public relations and artist/celebrity management was your calling?
DB: I actually figured it out by assessing what I ultimately didn't want to do. I came into Spelman [College] as a Biochemistry major and my heart, like, completely and utterly set on becoming an animal research scientist. But, after my first few science classes, I realized I hated STEM, but then it kind of put me in a bad spot because I felt as though all of the hard work I put into being a beast scientist was wasted. I had a sit down talk with my parents at Buffalo Wild Wings during my Christmas break of freshman year, and my parents were actually the ones who suggested I venture into writing, journalism and communications. I did journalism for a few years, and had a few internships, but I didn't really have a strong enough passion for it even though I really enjoyed it. I had an internship with Reinchild Public Relations during the summer of my freshman year and I was like, "Oh my God, it combines writing and entertainment and behind-the-scenes work and event planning. Where has this career been all my life?"!
What has been your most interesting experience in your field thus far?
DB: Dang, I have to pick one? Hmmm, if I had to choose the most interesting experience, it would probably be my current work assisting with New York Fashion Week. It's completely out of my comfort zone, and sometimes I do catch myself getting a complete headache, but I've always wanted to work in fashion and beauty. Now that I've gotten my wish, I'm not letting this go. I won't be on the runway, but when you see everything unfold at the shows I'm working on, just know that I had a hand in that.
So you’re self-employed. How do you navigate that? What do you do exactly?
DB: Being self-employed is not easy navigation. It's not like I clock-in at 8 a.m., go to lunch at 1 p.m., and leave by 5:30. I have plenty of late nights and early mornings where I run on maybe 3-4 hours of sleep per night and I forget to eat. Even though I am looking to expand the team within the next year or so, it is just me right now. I can't go minutes without checking my email or calling someone for a follow-up on a client feature. I wear a lot of hats, too. I do publicity, brand and reputation management, social media, marketing strategies...and I do it for over ten people. I make sure that since I am an entrepreneur that when people see me, they see the Gold Blooded brand as well.
Why do you pick working for yourself over being a part of a PR firm or brand marketing company?
DB: It's funny because I didn't pick this life, this life chose me. I wanted to work at a Weber-Shandwick, Edelman, Porter Novelli, and the list continues, but life didn't exactly pan out that way. I've applied to almost every company in communications that you could think of, like they probably still have my resume on file (laughs). I applied for part-time, full-time, temp agencies, fellowships, internships and nothing would bite. I remember watching a YouTube video that my cousin, Kelley Green, made about distractions and she had mentioned that even you could be a distraction to yourself. That's when, on January 8th, 2017, I decided that I was going to get out of my own way, stop waiting for opportunity to come around and create my own.
What is one of the hardest things about being self-employed?
DB: Balance. By far, balance. Separating work from pleasure is definitely harder than separating pleasure from work, if that makes any sense. I have no issue pushing back plans for an event, a deadline or a meeting, but I have gotten complaints about bringing my work into my personal life. I've gotten complaints from guys that I'm "not in it" because I'll forget to text them back four days ago because I've been stuck to a computer working on a campaign. But, that's when I have to step back and be like, "Shonda, you're still young so live your best life while you can". So, right now, I'm literally forcing myself to learn how to relax whether it's going out to eat, binge watching Bad Girls Club, or just FaceTiming a friend.
Who has been your favorite celebrity to work with thus far?
DB: This may be cliche, but I don't have a favorite. They all have completely different personalities and aesthetics that wouldn't exactly be fair to place one over the other. Working with Marcylis is different from working with 2 Crucial, who's different form working with Miss Mulatto (even though they've collaborated in the past). They've all given me those moments where I wanted to scream, but it's kind of like a parenthood. It's frustrating sometimes - like if they don't answer your call, show up to an interview on time, etc. - but I wouldn't trade in what I do for the world. And 90% of my clients are millennials so it's like they're friends and family to me. Being in the music industry is hard, and it sucks sometimes, but it makes it all worth it when you work with people who don't suck (laughs).
Where do you see yourself in the next year? What are some plans that you have for your business? How do you plan to get there?
DB: Gold Blooded Communications will be that household name, and so will D'Shonda Brown. Anyone who knows me knows that I completely look up to Diddy, Pharrell and Karen Civil. I love them so much because they're not just people, they're brands. If Diddy would've just stopped at working with Biggy when he was Puffy, he wouldn't have been able to build Combs Enterprises, or had REVOLT or Ciroc. Pharrell is a music tycoon, and he doesn't even have to show his face in the media or be in the middle of some type of scandal for you to know who he is and how big of an impact he's had in the music industry. Karen Civil is an entrepreneur, a boss, a business, a brand, a journalist, an inspirer. I plan on making it to the top to the point where Karen Civil won't want to interview me, but she'll want to work and collaborate with me. And, I plan on getting there by being open to opportunity, expanding my network and learning more about myself as I go along. I'm still young so there's only room for growth and expansion.
Last question, if you could give our readers a piece of advice on how to build their brand and maintain their image, what would it be?
DB: Maintaining your image is everything, and people often think that you have to be famous to have an image. You could be anyone in the world and have an image because you never know who's watching you. Carry yourself how you want to be remembered. When I was in school, I could've been known as "Shonda, the girl who was wildin' out," or "Shonda, the party animal", but while I did party and hang out with my friends, I wanted people to know me for my work first. People knew me as "Shonda, that girl with the radio show", or "Shonda, the girl who's gonna go places". You never know who's watching. You only give people a chance to tarnish your name if you don't find a way to create your image first. Beat them to it. Don't let anyone tell you who you are. Your daddy's sister's cousin's friend's auntie three times removed, I don't care. Be the best you, take risks and come full force.