Born in Miami, and raised in Atlanta, Kitchen began her journey with entertainment as a dancer and actress, which she pursued professionally. Her love of performing carried her to further study her craft at East Carolina University, and then onward to London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, before settling in New York City in 2005. She was one of twelve individuals to sign with M.S.A, a leading dance agency that had just opened its New York branch. In 2009 she relocated to Los Angeles to further pursue opportunities in film and television; however, a year later, decided to change course.
As one who has always had a fascination with the science behind human behavior, Kitchen, with the referral of a retired FBI agent, came very close to a career with the bureau as a communications liaison for the Behavior Analysis Unit. Needless to say, her calling to the world of entertainment couldn’t be ignored, making her once again return to where it all began for her. However, this time in public relations.
Prior to founding Marque, Kitchen served as a Senior Account Executive at Advantage PR, ICON PR, East 2 West Collective, and Pinnacle Public Relations, spearheading campaigns for a myriad of talent across the realms of film and television. Through forward-thinking and the utilization of creative narratives, Kitchen has achieved great success for her clients in the acquisition of press, spanning print and digital publications, radio, and broadcast interviews, and furthering that success into the space of branding. She aspires to go beyond traditional PR by implementing an artistic strategy that is uniquely catered to each individual client, with the ultimate goal of furthering their craft as artists while also maintaining longevity and relevancy in their careers — traits that are most vital in today’s vastly changing industry.
Kitchen additionally serves as Director of Publicity for The Cameron Boyce Foundation, and sits upon its Board of Directors. She is based in Los Angeles.
Tell us something about yourself–What does your work entail?
I grew up in Atlanta, GA, where I spent the majority of my youth training in a dance studio, which led to a short professional career. Leaving the dance world and a life as a performer was challenging, but I’m grateful for the life lessons, as well as the skillset I became equipped with; the ability to think on my feet, to be creative, and to know how to pivot when necessary. After working for a few different agencies in Los Angeles, I decided to start my own company, Marque PR, which launched in May of this year. At Marque, we specialize in personal publicity for talent (actors, musicians, and other multi-hyphenates), as well as PR for brands and non-profit organizations. We also have a branding and social media division spearheaded by Lindsay Luv, a celebrity DJ and branding agent, who works to help shape our clients’ digital footprint, while also bringing forth compensated partnerships.
I know if you’re reading this you may think I’m nuts for starting a business in the middle of a pandemic, but sometimes you just have to trust your instincts and let your intuition guide you—something I haven’t always done, but when I do, I find that it usually leads to something very rewarding.
Why and how have you chosen PR as your career?
I fell into PR by accident… After moving to LA, and walking away from the life I had known, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I knew I was good with people, and that I wanted to help others somehow. At the time, we were in the middle of the housing crisis. My dad is a builder, so he was immediately faced with having to find a way to keep his business going without building houses. I built a website for his company, and helped him with some marketing so he could shift gears and cater to those who would be in need of remodeling since it wasn’t a good time to sell a house. It was then that a friend mentioned to me that I should consider PR, so I gave it some thought, and I went back to school. Upon graduating I started out in lifestyle PR, but ended up feeling the pull back into the world of entertainment. The rest is history.
What type of ‘news’ might interest startups? How is it possible to end up in well-known media outlets, such as Bloomberg, BBC, The Guardian and others?
For any business (inclusive of those who are individuals promoting a skill or service), you have to really know your brand, and build that out. You do that by honing in on who your audience is, setting goals for your business, and finding a way to craft a narrative that resonates with people. Social media is also key in today’s world. I highly recommend having someone on your team that is skilled with this as it goes far beyond simple posts. So much of our news is online these days, so you really have to work at creating a strong digital footprint in conjunction with a strategy that is unique to what you offer, that will propel you forward. With time, as well as a good PR and social media team, those types of outlets become much more attainable.
What advice do you have for businesses to get through COVID-19?
Stay the course. This has been an extremely challenging time for so many of us, but I do believe we will all come out stronger on the other side. Across the globe we are slowly beginning to re-open, so try to find ways to pivot and cater to the new needs of your consumers. Many are still afraid to venture out, so with that, find ways to function virtually, if possible, as well as face-to-face. If you’re a restaurant, perhaps offer cooking classes and wine/mixology courses. Think outside of the box, and don’t feel like you have to have all of the answers overnight. We are all adjusting, but if we really listen to each other, we’ll all have much more clarity when it comes to what steps we should take.
Which challenges did you face during your journey? How did you overcome them?
Wow… ladies, pour a glass and stay a while! There are so many obstacles that presented themselves along the way. If I recounted all of them, you’d be reading this into next year, but one of the biggest challenges, aside from our current pandemic, was navigating a messy divorce while simultaneously trying to balance a very demanding and time-consuming career. So many things had happened to me, that I began to wonder if something terrible was coming that God needed me to be ready for. Over time I’ve realized that I became stronger with each challenge; every set back shaped my character. Because of those setbacks I’ve also learned the importance of gratitude, and I make an effort to be thankful for everything and everyone in my life. There’s a saying that the only difference between coal and a diamond is the amount of pressure it has endured. Let’s just say I’m feeling really shiny.
What advice would you offer someone considering this career?
If you’re in school, find a good agency to complete an internship with. Real world experience is so helpful, and the relationships that you’ll develop will be essential to your advancement. If you’re not in school, find an agency that is in need of an assistant and work your way up. A good attitude, a strong work ethic, and the ability to encourage and inspire others around you is extremely important in finding a successful career in PR.
What is a common misconception people have about what you do?
That publicists are mean! Just the phrase, “I’m a publicist,” has almost sent people running as if I look at them they’ll turn to stone! Most publicists are not mean—but for those that are, they’re probably in need of a long vacation. Most of us are under a lot of pressure, and work very long hours—especially when accompanying our clients for press or events. We always do our best to protect the client, and ensure they’re putting their best foot forward at all times.
What advice do you have for the busy business woman when it comes to dating?
Understand the importance of balance. Anything and anyone worth having is worth carving out time for. Some people are a little intimidated by successful women, but own who you are and do your best to support and uplift your significant other—no matter what they do for a living. It’s important to really listen to one another. When I told the last guy I was dating that I was starting my own company he was unenthused, and concerned for the amount of time it would take away from him. He’s no longer in the picture, but for those that have been supportive I’ve paid attention. Listen to your male friends too—they have a good sense of who’s worth having around. My friend Kevin has told me to run from a few, and most of the time he’s been right. So, ladies (and gents), don’t settle. If they’re really into you and worth having around, they’ll move mountains to get to you.
How would you describe your leadership style and what has made it so effective?
I lead by lifting. Creating a positive work environment where your team feels supported and appreciated is vital to a company’s success. I also make an effort to be approachable, and I provide constructive feedback when necessary. It’s important to help your employees learn and grow, but it must also be in a way where they are encouraged. Listen to their ideas, and reward them for success. Also, if you have a mentor, continue to seek their advice. There are many talented publicists in my industry whom I look up to, and whose feedback is so appreciated. Technically we’re all competing against one another, but in truth, no one gets what you do like someone else in your field, and I truly value their friendship and guidance. No one is too experienced to stop learning.
Share some tips for women who are in doubt of leaving their secure job and starting their own business.
Trust your instincts. If you feel the pull to do something different really pay attention to that. Just about everyone in history who has achieved great success has done so with some sort of risk, so don’t be afraid. Listen to people around you that you trust, and do your research. Most importantly, know your worth and have confidence in what you bring to the table. Once you make that choice, don’t look back! Keep going, and stay strong. You’ve got this.