Director of Public Relations, Brooklyn Museum, New York
- How did you get started in PR and how did you find yourself where you are now?
I had my first introduction to PR via the Multicultural Arts Program sponsored by the Arts and Business Council back in the 90s.
I was placed in the Communications department at the New York Historical Society. A freshman in college, it was my first time seeing that I could have a job that allowed me to write, interact with artists and creatives and work in beautiful spaces like museums and concert halls. I had never heard of P.R! After college, I went to work for a PR firm, from the firm to BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) and from BAM to the Brooklyn Museum. I made a few other stops on the way but I have always had a love for art and performance, and so I never strayed too far away.
- What does your position as Director of Public Relations Brooklyn Museum entail?
I am responsible for the communications strategy. I serve as a senior counsel to the Director, President and curators as well as the creative team, artists, their studios….really, everyone! My team drives awareness to the Brooklyn Museum, its programs, exhibitions and initiatives. We are the second largest museum in the country with an important collection. It includes contemporary work as well as objects that date back more than 500,000 years. We have thousands of school children visit each year and tourist from all over the world. We use traditional “old school” methods like, press briefings, press releases, etc. but I also lead the social media team. We have fun with digital campaigns. Our team developed Art Meme Mondays and it really cracks me up. I do a lot of reading to keep abreast of what’s going on in the world, and in the arts and cultural scene. I do a lot of writing, I try to make sense of complex issues and I try to see things from a visitor’s standpoint. Lots of meetings! My favorite question is “Why?”
- What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on the messaging for all of our upcoming exhibitions and working with my digital communications manager on campaigns that will engage our followers on Instagram. We are excited about the possibility of leveraging digital platforms to reach as many people as possible.
I also joined the museum’s “Happiness Task Force” I am determined to get the whole museum to take a 10 minute dance break at some point. Watch this space… LOL
- What is a recent success you're particularly proud of?
It was awesome to work with the artist Marilyn Minter and to see her receive the attention she deserved. I am really proud of a show that recently closed, Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern. It was an important exhibition that really showed the way the Brooklyn Museum distinguishes itself from other museums. It felt like a homecoming of sorts because Georgia had her first museum show at the Brooklyn Museum in 1927. Its also very gratifying to see people, especially young women of color respond to We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-85. I love seeing young people in the galleries. And of course our Target First Saturdays continue to be a must do experience.
- What is most important in your work?
Art is for everyone and has the power to really open minds. In these crazy times, knowing that the museum is here as a place for solace as well as for collaboration and learning is really gratifying. How do we use art to tell stories that will help people be more empathetic and inspire? I help to shape those messages. It’s also very important to make sure that communities that are usually ignored are brought into the fold and made aware that the Brooklyn Museum is for everyone.
- How would you say the media landscape in your field has changed since you started in PR?
So much has changed in the past 15 years. Most importantly social media! News travels fast! Having a firm grasp of crisis communication tactics is imperative.
- Where are your favorite places for business meetings or drinks with writers/clients?
We have a lovely restaurant in the museum called The Norm. Great cocktails, great ambiance. I also have to shout out Cheryl’s Global Soul, a few blocks away from the museum, perfect for morning meetings, they have a lovely staff and great food. For lunch, there is a great restaurant called Ogliastro, it has a beautiful backyard. The Beekman Hotel Lounge for meetings in the city.
- PR/Communications can be fast-paced and stressful, what is your favorite way of relaxing?
I try to meditate every day. I also remind myself that our work is important but not as important as the work that some of my colleagues are doing in other not for profit areas like domestic violence, homeless shelters, education, etc. My daughter keeps me laughing.
- What are you reading these days?
I am reading three different books.“The Mothers” by Brit Bennett, “Power to the People: The World of the Black Panthers” by Stephen Shames and Bobby Seale and Danielle LaPorte’s “White Hot Truth”.
- What are you listening on repeat these days?
I love Tidal. I listen to the clean version of Jay-Z’s 4:44 at the gym, SZA’s CTRL and at home with my daughter we listen to jazz station WBGO. We are still listening to the Hamilton soundtrack. I am also a huge house music fan. I listen to mixes from DJs like Mark Francis and Ian Friday on mixcloud.
- What is the next event you're the most looking forward to in the next months?
Oh, I wish I could tell you but we have a huge exhibition coming and its really going to be a major draw for folks in NY this summer. I can spill the beans in October. I can’t wait to tell you! Follow me on twitter @empress718 and @brooklynmuseum.