By: Nikkia Adolphe, Account Director

I had the pleasure of interviewing Nikkia Adolphe. Nikkia is PR Director at Media Frenzy Global, an integrated marketing and public relations agency with offices in Atlanta, Georgia and London. A passionate public relations and marketing professional, Nikkia has spent the last decade developing and implementing creative PR and communication strategies for bright and innovative brands.

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

There were two women in my life who were very influential to my professional journey. The late legendary Amanda Davis of Fox 5 News in Atlanta caught my attention at the age of six. I was drawn to her elegant presence and tone; she ultimately sparked my interest in media. Upon entering college, I decided I wanted to become a news anchor and initially majored in Broadcast Journalism, however, along the way though, I became more interested in what was happening behind the camera. How were stories making their way on air? Who or what was behind the process? I’ve always been interested in writing and a love for language, so whether in front or behind the camera, a career in the realm of media was where I knew I could utilize my talents.

My mother also played a pivotal role in my career choice. She was a positive influence in my life, always speaking positive affirmations to me and my siblings. Anyone in PR or media will agree that positive affirmations or similar instruments are a necessity to succeed — as both industries can be demanding and cutthroat. Having both Amanda and my mother as role models played an important and significant role in my life.

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

The greatest experience I’ve had so far was participating in SXSW (South by Southwest) in Austin with one of our clients. I led their on-site media relations efforts along with the activation of their new immersive augmented reality technology. The experience inspired a level of creativity you can’t always muster when you’re back at the office behind a desk, something I believe we often fall victim to as PR professionals.

During SXSW, I was also able to listen to thoughtful conversations that impacts multiple industries. As a woman of color, topics like diversity and inclusion especially resonated with me. In this industry, these aren’t just buzzwords; they’re a necessary, ongoing conversation. Everyone should have an opportunity to be their best self at work and in life — and to be recognized as such too. I was really moved by the different discussions being had and the spectacular experiences that were happening around me. It allowed me to bring fresh perspectives and new ideas back to my team, and we’re steadily integrating those into our PR efforts across our business as well as our clients’ business.

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?

I recently spoke with a group of students at Clark Atlanta University about this very topic. The biggest mistake I made, during my time in college, was failing to take advantage of internships that could have propelled me further and faster in my career. I took the road “more traveled” because I was a “worker bee.” I was raised to have a “hustle hard” frame of mind, so I was constantly head down — went to college while maintaining a full-time job to provide for myself. As a commuter student, I lived off campus and was solely focused on going to class, turning my work in on time and getting to work on time. In hindsight, I’ve realized that you have to be open to opportunities that will create the foundation of a career. If I could do it all over again, I would take advantage of every internship possible, and I would have a plan in place to balance school, work, and prepare for my future.

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

Our team at Media Frenzy Global helped launch the world’s first Holographic Press Release™ in October 2018 with VR/AR influencer Cathy Hackl and the immersive tech company You are Here Labs. The first press release was issued in 1906 (a century ago!), and unfortunately, not much has changed. We want to disrupt the industry and I believe the Holographic Press Release™ is a starting point. I truly believe creating content in this way is the next era of storytelling for brands and PR professionals.

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

Do the hard work up front. Make sure this career is a right fit for you. As I said earlier, and I’m saying it to inform and encourage rather than discourage: this career is not for the faint of heart. PR is not a typical 9-to-5 job, it’s a lifestyle. I’ve spoken with people and have even had interns who believe it’s a ‘glitz and glamour’ role, and all PR professionals are ‘talking heads’ and attend or manage exclusive events. That is a small percentage of the job. You have to be ready to dig deep for information and ideas, pound out engaging content and always have a ‘pitching’ state of mind. You have to be ready to have your ideas rejected and copied, take it with a smile on your face, and have new ideas ready to share.

Be prepared to take risks. You have to learn how to NOT adopt standard practices. You have to be an “out of the box” thinker to get attention and adapt to change. Taking risks may mean traveling more, moving to a different city, visiting different events for fun AND research. I often go to events that align with my interests, however, while I’m there, I’m looking at activations, how the event is run, the interactions that are occurring and what’s happening as its associated social media. I am forever a student of the craft. If you’re looking to excel in this industry you have to be willing to learn, explore and try new things.

Diversity your skillset. PR professionals need to continually learn more to do more, particularly as PR, media, digital/traditional marketing and social media become more integrated. PR professionals must take heed. When I was in between jobs and agency life, there came a time when I realized I had to expand my skillset beyond writing a press release and developing content. So, I taught myself how to build websites and took training courses to learn how to design logos. Freelancing ended up becoming a significant secondary income for me. I think we get stuck “pigeonholing” our skillset and we fail to realize how many opportunities are available to us if we just practice and add new skills under our belt. The industry is competitive: either evolve or get left behind.

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

I believe that there is a right and a wrong way to network. A key to effective networking is sourcing opportunities that are congruent to your passions. For example, I have always been passionate about writing and public speaking, so I joined Toastmasters to enhance my speaking skills. Toastmasters attracts likeminded individuals with similar goals, so it’s easy to have an authentic conversation and connect with people when you are together for the same reason.

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

As someone always on the go, I’ve become an avid podcast listener. Here are a few of my favorites:

SheQuality Podcast by The PR Council.This podcast is dedicated to the gender-specific challenges faced by women in the workplace. I tune in for a weekly “girl power” check. When women support one another, we are powerful. This podcast supports that sentiment.

PR Week Review — PR professionals have to stay abreast of news within our clients’ industries and our own. This podcast is informational and well-produced.

Still Processing — This podcast is produced by the New York Times and the hosts are journalists, Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris. As extremely talented, inspiring, authentic, and smart storytellers, Jenna and Wesley take a unique deep dive on social issues and pop culture. I highly recommend this listen.

‘On One’ with Angela Rye — It’s important to stay abreast of what’s happening in our current political climate. Angela is smart, and she means business. She’s my kind of woman.

Yes, Girl Podcast — I love the sense of community Essence has provided for women of color, and this podcast is an extension of that. The hosts give great interviews and their authenticity is unparalleled.

The Friend Zone — This podcast a daily dose of mental health and wellness with a twist. The hosts are cultured, educated and engaging.

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. 🙂

If I could inspire a movement, it would be industry focused. I would like for PR professionals to get better at embracing change by taking risks. When I look away from PR at other communications roles like marketing, advertising and social media, I’m seeing much more risk-taking and innovation happening. We should embrace more creativity, take risks, explore, implement immersive technologies and find new ways to tell great stories. I am passionate about giving my team the tools they need to take risks and spark big idea thinking. As PR professionals, taking risks is needed to survive in an ever-changing digital media landscape.

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

Patience is Key — With patience comes commitment and consistency. You can’t grow if you put in half the effort and none of the time. When I first started off in this industry, I was antsy for success and I wanted to be great right away. While this is great quality for anyone to have, or strive for, what I now know for sure, is that success takes time. You have to be patient with your journey.

Don’t be Hard on Yourself — Making mistakes is natural and imminent. It will happen. Mistakes allow for innovation and new ideas to emerge. They help you build character and thrive. So, give yourself grace. If you’re stumped on a PR campaign strategy, for example, don’t internalize your struggle. Speak up and ask for help or guidance to get you out of your creative slump.

Have Fun — When you are following your passion, you build your happiness. I’ve had experiences where I’ve worked with colleagues who have taken their jobs so serious, to the point that it was problematic not only for the people who they collaborated with, but it also complicated things for themselves and sometimes the client. But by approaching the scenario with a positive perspective and attitude, the dynamic of the working relationship completely shifted — both between ourselves and clients we interacted with on a daily basis. I think that shift was able to happen because we were able to let our guards down, work together and really be our authentic selves. PR can be competitive, but it can also be fun and full of excitement.

Embrace Change — Seek out new experiences. Cultivating fresh outlooks on places, people or topics allows you to bring fresh creativity and new ideas to your team. For me, getting out of my comfort zone and moving away from my hometown of Atlanta to Miami and New York City allowed me to appreciate other regional cultures, and ultimately helped to expand my creativity. Everyone loves a great new idea.

Seek a Mentor — Seek out at least one mentor early on in your career. A mentor will help you navigate the course of your career and share the wisdom of their personal experiences. For me, I was able to gain a mentor right after graduating and they motivated me in such a way that gave me the direction I needed to pursue further opportunities in my career. They were also pivotal in getting me my very first PR and marketing gig right out of college. A great mentor will hold you accountable and open doors for you that otherwise may have been hard to open.

Originally published in Thrive Global here.