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The REEL deal about Publicists. A Conversation with Founder/PR Director, Valerie Harris, of Creative Public Relations

Updated: Feb 27




Valerie Harris - PR Director - Creative Public Relations

Atlanta Film and TV: Can you share about who you are, and can you share about the clients you have worked for as a publicist?

 

Valerie Harris: “I’m Valerie Harris, and I have been a public relations strategist for more than 20 years. Through my company, Creative Public Relations (formerly The Kinsey Group), I have worked with some amazing clients, including HBO, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Disney On Ice, and a slew of documentary films. I was honored to handle JOHN LEWIS: GOOD TROUBLE and LUTHER: NEVER TOO MUCH – two giants in their respective fields.”


Atlanta Film and TV: Can you talk about the scope of your job as a publicist?

 

Valerie Harris: Publicity is a small component of public relations. For my clients, I generally set their overall strategic directions and creative platforms, all designed to keep them connected to their various audiences. When an event or property is gearing up for ‘release’, I handle publicity for various activations. For instance, if I’m working on a film, it usually includes select premieres and various media appearances. Also, there could be a social impact component. As an example, a Pew Research poll found the African American voter turnout was the lowest in 20 years during the 2016 Presidential Election. So, during my work on JOHN LEWIS: GOOD TROUBLE, I partnered with HBCU Heroes to launch a voter registration and participation campaign with the film as a backdrop. Given Congressman Lewis’ tireless fight for voting rights, it was a natural alignment to honor him with deliberate efforts to drive people to the polls.”


 

Atlanta Film and TV: ​​Can you describe your experience working with entertainment clients, and what strategies have you found most effective in promoting their products or brands?

 

Valerie Harris: “I love entertainment clients. I go to work starting from the point of bringing joy to people. That is pretty awesome. And yes, flexibility is key. No two projects are the same; no two days are the same; sometimes, no two minutes are the same. The most important thing is to remain agile and listen closely to the client’s desires. This allows me to professionally counsel them on the best options. It sometimes involves tough conversations about what should/shouldn’t be done. I imagine many industries are this way, but definitely with entertainment, there can’t be a one-size fits all approach. Strategically, campaigns and outreach designed to engage consumers is the ultimate goal.


Atlanta Film and TV: How will someone working in the entertainment industry know when they are ready for a publicist?

 

Valerie Harris: “Again, it depends. I have worked with clients who know from inception that they want to have a publicist at the table. Others consider it when their projects are starting to gain traction. There is no hard and fast rule to when it happens. Generally, I think it’s more important to have a mindset of what public relations is and a thorough understanding of its role in the overall marketing mix. Once someone understands the value of PR, it’s time to get to work.”


Atlanta Film and TV: How will someone benefit by having a publicist?

 

 Valerie Harris: “Public relations manages relationships with various audiences and drives strategy. It is a continuous process that can rapidly change. Sometimes, the focus is on the reputation, other times it means managing a crisis. I’ve found the industry is often misunderstood—but having competent public relations counsel is an invaluable addition to a team. We are nimble puppeteers who always operate in the best interest of our clients – ALWAYS.”


Atlanta Film and TV: How do you build and maintain relationships with media outlets, journalists, and influencers to secure coverage? 


Valerie Harris: “The publicist-reporter relationship is the bedrock of our work. Public relations cannot exist without it. One of the most important aspects of this dance is to respect a journalist’s time. They are extremely busy and often on a deadline. The last thing they need is to spend an exorbitant amount of time on a story that doesn’t materialize. It is also vital to stay abreast of their beats and the type of stories they cover. Pitching a beauty story to a political reporter—BIG No No.”


 Atlanta Film and TV:How do you tailor your publicity strategies for different types of entertainment projects, such as films, television shows, music releases, or live events?



 Valerie Harris: “My experience includes franchise entities such as HBO’s GAME OF THRONES and TRUE BLOOD, live shows including Disney On Ice and Monster Jam, and documentaries. I also worked with Terance Mathis (former Atlanta Falcons) when he was exploring NASCAR, among many other entertainment and sports properties. Live entertainment tends to be fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants fluid, as things are often happening in real-time. Plans change much more rapidly and the ability to quickly switch gears is paramount. Television and films can offer an opportunity for long-lead coverage that can build momentum over time. Overall, the specific brand and client goals are typically what drive the strategy.”


Atlanta Film and TV: Can you discuss when you had to navigate challenges or obstacles in a publicity campaign? How did you overcome them to achieve your goals?


Valerie Harris: “One of the top attributes a public relations professional must possess is the ability to maintain confidence. I am often privy to shows and films before they are released. To that end, I can’t provide a specific challenge without divulging proprietary information. I have had crises occur in the middle of a campaign. All in all, it’s important to remain calm, regardless of what is happening—and immediately pivot to a workable solution.”


Atlanta Film and TV: What do you believe sets apart exceptional publicists in the entertainment industry, and how do you embody those qualities in your work?

 

Valerie Harris: “Even in today’s digital society, being an accomplished writer is one of the top skills an exceptional publicist needs. They must also build and maintain relationships, remain professional around executives and celebrities, and execute strategically. It is also important to be creative and think outside-of-the-box. I approach everything not from a ‘Can this be done?’, but ‘How can it be done?’ To sum it up, here is my social media post on National Publicist Day (October 30) To all my comrades who hold it down, prop it up, tight rope it, back flip it, and pull rabbits out of hats to make it happen: Happy National Publicist Day!”


 

Atlanta Film and TV: Is there anything else you would like to share?


Valerie Harris: “I am an accomplished PR professional who will do whatever it takes to get the job done – legally, I mean (smile).”

 

Atlanta Film and TV: How can people connect with you?


Valerie Harris:

 Instagram: @creativepubrel

X (Twitter): @creativepubrel






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