Having a good publicist is one of the essentials in having a successful career in Gospel music. In some cases, it could make or break your career. If the public doesn’t know who you are, then you could come and go without anyone even knowing you were here!

That’s why I wanted to introduce you to one of the top publicists in the Gospel industry, Jojo Pada. She is the CEO of her own publicity firm “Ignition PR” and she is one of the best in her field. Just ask some of her clients: Melinda Watts, Shirley Caesar, Damita Haddon, Verity Records and more.

Pay very close attention I’m sure you will learn something. I did!!

Tell me what a publicist is not?

Well, that’s a difficult question to answer.  Because there are so many definitions & subtleties to Publicity and Public Relations – and in recent times with the explosion of new media there are even more ways that people publicize things, that I really wouldn’t ever want to say that someone isn’t a publicist.  Like there are some great publicists who focus on event planning or branding their client via red-carpets events and parties – and while that’s not something I do, that doesn’t make them less of a publicist than me.  It’s all relative.  Having received my degree in Public Relations – I probably have a more old-school/ traditional view point.  For me, I define my job as a publicist as someone who helps to shape and communicate someone’s brand, image and vision to the public through press coverage and overall promotions.

What is the most rewarding and most challenging part of your job?

I think the path I’ve chosen in Gospel music is both the most rewarding and the most challenging part of my job all at the same time.  I started out at a high-profile firm in NYC and then went on to do celebrity events.  Most of my career had been on the mainstream entertainment side and after I got to Verity, I found my heart to be with Gospel and Gospel artists.  It’s very rewarding for me to be a part of anything that helps spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.   To see artists get coverage in outlets that they’ve never been in is still one of my favorite things.  It’s challenging because there is still such a big gap between mainstream national press and Gospel artists.

As a publicist how do you handle bad press if it’s one of your clients? And is it true that any press is good press?

If it’s a bad review there isn’t much I can do about that. But if you are talking about how I would handle a crisis, hopefully I can either nip it in the bud before it becomes a big story.  If I know the story is in the media and there are questions about a particular issue, I’d call some trusted friends in the press and find out what is really out there.  After that I would advise clients to answer questions quickly and honestly and only if ASKED. There is no point in divulging info that isn’t asked of you.  It’s important to not become reactionary. Don’t get upset with media or blame the media for asking the questions YOU know they will ask. It’s their job.

I am absolutely not a subscriber to the “Any press is good press” theory.   I don’t think scandal related press is good press.  For example, I saw a press release recently that talked about a lawsuit with one artist pitted against another.   I saw no value in putting that release out – like it didn’t further the person’s album sales or brand. It’s sole goal was to bad mouth another person and to me I find that to be more damaging in Gospel than the alleged law suit itself.   In that instance, I don’t understand how that kind of press is good.

What has been the key to your success?

I still love publicity and really believe I have a great understanding and knowledge of media and because of those things, I’ve been successful.  I recognized by strengths early in my career and chose a certain path that played up those strengths.

What tips do you have for those wanting to go into the PR field?

Choose the area that you think you want to work in (i.e., fashion, music, corporate) and intern.  Sitting under a working publicist is probably the BEST thing one can do for themselves. Practical experience is the best teacher.

Learn how to and hone your writing skills.  It’s so important to be able to write well and quickly.

Be creative.  Finding creative ways to pitch clients and creatively creating story angles is extremely important.