Q&A with ex Manhattan PR concierge Amy Johansson

After our interview with PR expert Amy Johansson a lot of our readers have reached out with questions around PR. So, we thought we’d catch up with Amy again to shed some light on these questions:

Hi Amy!

Many of our readers are wondering - How do you become a publicist?

“Hi Digital Mic Drop! Great question! Back when I started in 1998, being a good publicist consisted of these five things:

  1. Telling people meaningful, timely stories based on fact.
  2. Building relationships with the press based on TRUST. And when I say trust, I mean both on them trusting you to have unique access to people/stories AND that you are a reliable entity. Flakes are a dime a dozen in this industry and they give the rest of us a bad name.
  3. Having insider access to something or someone unique. Don’t have that but still want to be a publicist? That’s where #1 comes in- storytelling plus spinning.
  4. The ability to spin and angle facts so that they still remain facts, but through another lens.
  5. The ability to be gracious and diplomatic and put people at ease. Gentle humor helps. Some flacks build their reputations on fear and snobbishness. Jackie O and Carolyn Bessette were always my icons. Polite discretion and killing people with kindness. I can be mean, but you have to really deserve it, because being vicious rips my soul a bit.”

“If you lack graciousness offline/IRL, you are not long for the PR world. You are just spam.”

“To be a publicist these days, a sufficiently popular blog/social media following probably means that you have mastered storytelling and of creating unique content that generates followers. I’m not sold though that these days these social media mavens are masters of #4 and #5 on that list. If you lack graciousness offline/IRL, you are not long for the PR world. You are just spam.”

You had the coolest most exciting job? Why did you leave the PR industry?

“I just fell into PR and blindly went up the ladder, always knowing that my professional soul was elsewhere. Having children and losing 2 close family members made me want to find meaning in my professional life. And being an educator makes me feel rewarded every day. Every other kind of work pales in comparison after I started teaching. It’s what I was put on Earth this time around to do.”

Stay tuned for more PR insights, tips and stories from Amy!