HRTS Member Profile: Cheryl J. Kagan
Cheryl J. Kagan is the founder and president of her eponymous Public Relations company. I recently had a chance to interview Cheryl to discuss clients, Roone Arledge and superstars on YouTube.
Q: Can you tell us about your background and what made you want to work in entertainment?
-my brother Glenn, who has been the Contestant Coordinator at "Jeopardy" for 25 years, and I both got our "showbiz" genes from our mother Blossom who was a model and dancer at the famed Copacabana nightclub in New York. I began my career in the entertainment business as a tour guide at NBC-TV in New York. I learned a great deal about the network through this process. We were asked lots of questions during our tours - great experience for a future press agent! I became a production assistant for WNBC-TV news and booked celebrities for our entertainment segments. I discovered that I really loved entertainment and became Manager of Casting and Talent for prime time and late night for NBC, discovering new talent, working with "Saturday Night Live", Made- for-TV movies, etc. My career has always been diversified.
Next step was ABC-TV News and Sports and the legendary Roone Arledge. I loved client relations and coordinated events for the Olympics, Monday Night Football, boxing, the Kentucky Derby, baseball and news conventions. I had the great fortune of meeting Warren Cowan and Henry Rogers, and Warren invited me to move to the West Coast and join the prestigious PR agency Rogers & Cowan. I stayed with the company for 17 years and was Executive VP of Entertainment, heading a division that represented celebrities, TV projects, events, authors, performers, etc.
Cheryl J. Kagan PR was founded 14 years ago and our team loves working with clients who we are passionate about. We are a multi-faceted company dealing with actors/performers/producer/events and we produce concerts nationwide. Check out our site at www.cherylkagan.com for more information.
Q: How did you first get involved with the HRTS?
-we got involved with the HRTS when we represented the classic TV series "Moonlighting" starring Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis. We contacted Ollie Crawford, a wonderful gentleman who headed the HRTS, and asked about creating a special evening honoring "Moonlighting". Cybill and Bruce had a lot of fun and it was a big hit. I have been a member of HRTS for many years and look forward to every luncheon. Each one is informative, entertaining, unique and a wonderful opportunity to network with others in the Hollywood community.
Q: How are publicity and PR different today than in the past?
-several years ago you had to pitch a client to the Big Three networks, isolated cable shows and print, then hope that there was interest. Fans would read about their favorite stars weekly in tabloid magazines or something newsworthy might appear in newspapers. Today, there are so many more outlets to pitch and news is immediate. You have the opportunity to work with hundreds of networks, a plethora of cable shows, online programs, internet radio, etc. The client landscape has also grown. There are an abundance of reality shows and a new breed of "stars" are born. PR and publicity is a field that is constantly changing, and you must always create new, innovative ideas to promote your clients.
Q: How will publicity change as a result of the transmedia landscape?
-news is immediate these days. Social networking rules. You can start a rumor, stop a rumor, create news, do damage control, download videos, find the next superstar on YouTube within a matter of seconds. Celebrities and fans are much closer these days...they blog, tweet and keep in touch. A publicist needs to use all of these tools to get the word out and promote their client throughout all media avenues.
Q: What is your decision-making process when you consider a client?
-owning your company makes it easier to decide on who you want to represent. You need to ask yourself if you believe in this potential client. Can you spend a good deal of time together to develop strategies, attend tapings, interviews and events, go on the road together and respect each other? You don't just sign a client but rather a team that comes with that client and so it's important that you can work effortlessly together. I have always been a very ethical person and I believe that your name and reputation are everything.
Q: How is your company similar to or different than Rogers & Cowan?
-I learned a great deal during my days at R&C: how to communicate effectively with media, studios, networks, how to represent clients and deal with fans, etc. I believe that R&C still has that great work ethic and professionalism in everything they do. Warren Cowan was a giant in the PR industry and so many of us had the pleasure of working with him. He taught us to respect our clients and ourselves and that PR is all about image and perception. R&C is a large company and we are a boutique entertainment PR agency. We spend a great deal of time with our clients; personally and professionally, nurturing relationships. We are not a typical PR company. We enjoy working in publicity and our multi-faceted background has allowed us to produce concerts and events nationwide for charities including: Shriners' Hospitals for Children, American Airlines/USO, Snowball Express, etc. We love developing new relationships and are available whenever our clients need our expertise.
Q: What is the one thing you wish you had known when you were first starting out as a publicist?
-there is no such thing as a Monday-Friday job when you are a publicist!
Q: Anything you would like to add?
-we represented Kenny Rogers for 15 years and his philosophy says it all: "if you find a job that you love you will never work a day in your life". It's my honor and pleasure to work in a business that I still love so much!