It’s that time of year again. For the third year in a row, HelloBeautiful presents our annual “25 Women To Know” list. This year we are highlighting dynamic women who are influencing the world of media. On this list you’ll find women from every facet of the business: super publicists, digital divas, rising television stars and more. The women were selected based on rising star power, business momentum and industry buzz. This year’s ’25′ are truly changing the industry with their innovative thinking, creative branding and fearless leadership. Congratulations to the 2013 “25 Women To Know” Honorees!
Check out these five media mavens making moves in public relations.
In this DIY age, everyone thinks they’re a publicist but a lot don’t deliver. That isn’t the case with Tasha Stoute, who has a history of working with revered industry vets like Yvette Noel-Schure as an intern in college, and Chris Chambers at Interscope Records, and again at the Chamber Group, which is her current home career base. She also holds down her own company, Strong Arm Media.
Stoute has done some pretty cool stuff over the course of her career, like helping to organize and publicise Essence’s Black Women in Hollywood luncheon, helping Lecrae make history as the first rapper to win a Grammy in the Best Gospel category, and she has worked with artists like The-Dream and Chrisette Michele.
“All these highlights are special to me but the one standout is the opportunity I had to help to save the life of 11 year-old Tiffany Glasgow who was in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant,” says Stoute. “By working with Delete Blood Cancer-DKMS, one of the largest bone marrow donor centers’ in the world, I helped raise awareness for her situation and that contributed to Tiffany finding a donor.”
Versatility is something Stoute learned a long time ago but she’s still not done crossing goals off her to do list .
“There are so many things that I still want to do. I still want to be Yvette Noel-Schure,” she says with a laugh. “She really left a big impression on me [and] to this day every time I see her I let her know it.”
When it comes to public relations, Simone Smalls’ name is synonymous with merit and distinction. Let’s put things into perspective, Smalls’ PR genius helped launch Justin Bieber’s career. She has worked with The View’s Sherri Shepherd, Prince, Talib Kweli Britney Spears, Ne-Yo; she served as James Brown’s last publicist and has done so much more from event planning to marketing and branding.
In 2007 she was recognized as Publicity and Media Relations Executive of The Year at the 2007 NABFEME conference, and before launching her own company in 2008, she became the first African-American Senior Vice President of a New York based music and lifestyle publicity agency, leading the company’s music and entertainment division and becoming instrumental in propelling the company’s growth and client roster.
Smalls has had more professional highlights than most people could ever dream of but says her one of her biggest rewards was going into business for herself as PR and marketing strategist, CEO and owner of Simone Smalls PR, Inc.
“Continuing to build my business and work with diverse clients,” she tells Hello Beautiful. “I’m also working on starting a non-profit to mentor young people.”
While busy working, Simone Smalls continues to live by her personal mantra, “lead with excellence, lead by example,” which means there’s definitely more good stuff to come.
Lisa Sorensen’s client list is nothing to sneeze at. She works with Venus Williams, Beverly Bond, Malinda Williams, Hill Harper, American Black Film Festival and many more but her success didn’t come without faith and sacrifice. The public relations vet left a paying job in advertising for a major company after realizing that it wasn’t for her, took an unpaid internship wit PR powerhouse BWR in Los Angeles, and the rest is history.
Today, Sorensen is the owner of her own eponymous PR boutique and currently working on a variety of projects in film, TV, fashion and events. For anyone wondering how they work toward entrepreneurial success, Sorensen says this: “It’s fun for sure, but you pay for the fun. There are no formal hours to this job. Sometimes I work twice as long, twice as hard, on two computers with two phones ringing! If you sign up to be an independent publicist, be prepared to play hard and work even harder.”
Shante and Saptosa
Shante Bacon and Saptosa Foster took different paths in media on their way to success but the end collaborative result is the 135th Street Agency, a highly successful strategic marketing, public relations and event design firm that boasts clients like Paramount, Essence, Interscope Records, TNT and More.
Bacon, who is the company’s communications strategist and Founder started out in the sales department at Def Jam. It was a position that Kevin Liles, who was so impressed with Bacon as an intern, held for seven months so that she cold take the reigns after she graduated college. One of her biggest milestones at Def Jam was working as the product manager for Kanye West’s College Drop Out.
Foster began her career in print media and has contributed to magazines like Seventeen, XXL and more. Eventually, the ladies got acquainted since they worked in similar industries and their friendship-turned-partnership was formed.
“A few years into my role at Def Jam, I kept getting calls from people who wanted me to create advertising and marketing plans for them. These opportunities were creating an entirely new revenue stream for me,” says Bacon. “Those very early clients knew that I had the skills and connections needed to put their brands in the forefront and they helped build my confidence. That’s when I decided to start the 135th Street Agency.”
Bacon’s company was born as a side hustle in 2002 but eventually her workload got so overwhelming that she realized she needed help, which is how Foster came on as managing partner. In 2005, the 135th street agency became a full-fledged LLC and in 2010 it won an American Advertising Federation Mosaic Award. The ladies are still putting in work eight years later, with additional clients like OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network (Tyler Perry’s new shows), The Weinstein Company, BET and Jermaine Dupri.
According to Foster, one key ingredient has helped them get this far, “Our success has been and it’s very simple: out-working the competition and having an unmatched standard of excellence is what has helped us survive and thrive!”