For a person of color in the workforce, more often than not, it might seem hard to get a position that offers a seat at the decision making table, and once there, maintaining a confident, strong voice can be hard.
Gloria Jones went from a 1999 Bowie State University graduate to television and film industry public relations guru, and while it was trying, she said her success has been rooted in her constant hard work, hunger and assurance that she deserved a seat at every table.
“It can be overwhelming. It can be daunting, but it’s definitely doable. You sort of always have to know that you belong in that room and you belong at that table,” Jones told the AFRO. “And sometimes when you’re at the table, and when you’re the only person of color at that table, even more reason for you to be verbal, for you to vocalize your thoughts, for you to know that there’s a value that you bring. And not necessarily questioning why you’re at that table, but knowing there’s a reason why you’re at that table.”
As director of publicity and promotion at Allied Global Marketing, Jones has a major seat at the table, yet her trajectory has been long. Prior to starting at Allied in 2007, Jones worked in television for companies, including the Warner Bros. station in Washington, D.C., and MTV in New York. She’s also worked her way up to the director level from where she started at Allied over 11 years ago.
While the world of public relations is large, she explained what she’s currently doing at Allied, which is a company that works in conjunction with major film studios for promotions, tours, screenings and the like.
“A lot of what we do, because we do handle major studios, is basically being the eyes and ears and the feet on the ground for those studios,” she said.
As director, Jones’ job gets a bit more complicated.
“[Directors] oversee the entire Washington, D.C., office,” Jones explained. “So no longer was it just exclusively the film industry that I was working on. I’m now in charge of managing and overseeing a team of 16-17 publicists, junior publicists, coordinators and all that good stuff. That means maintaining our clients on both a local and national level. We oversee all things productions.”
The publicity expert explained that it’s not just what she knew, but who she knew that has kept her in the business and helped her fine tune her ultimate goals in the large industry.
“Listen, you can do PR for Staples, McDonald’s or Warner Bros. Pictures. You have to figure out PR, in that huge spectrum, because it is a big umbrella, what it means for you. And I was the person who started to latch myself on to people, even in my sophomore year, in my junior year, in my senior year, knowing that relationships are basically what counts, because once you graduate it’s going to be you and about 5,000 people out there looking for a job. So the idea is, ‘What separates you?’ What truly separates you out there is relationships. Every job that I’ve had was based on some sort of a relationship.
The 41-year-old explained that throughout college she attended conferences, sometimes the only young person in the room, and latched herself to those who were already in the public relations field.
She suggests that young people hoping to emerge in the public relations field formulate relationships, and moreover remember the value of hard work.
“You got to be honestly really hungry and you can’t be lackluster about what it’s going to take to make it,” she told the AFRO. “It’s not going to come to you. You literally have to fight for it.”
As someone who makes large events and campaigns happen all the time, Jones knows her value and major contribution to the industry. She encourages those who have big dreams in the entertainment world to consider the possible positions beyond simply being the star.
“You don’t always have to be Beyoncé. There’s a lot of great people behind Beyoncé that are killing the game,” Jones said.
The people behind the scenes such as the publicists, planners and coordinators, are just as important as the star, Jones explained.
“Who gets her [Beyoncé] here? Who’s making sure that she’s got her schedule together? Who’s actually putting the plans on what interviews she’s doing? Those are people, too. And it is a machine. And that machine requires a lot of amazing people that are wallpaper — that are in the background — but you don’t know how much they do to make Beyoncé, Beyoncé.” — (AFRO)