She does one Kell of a job promoting brands
Kelly Cutrone wears many hats. She’s the star of Bravo’s “Kell on Earth” (whose season premiere ends airs on Monday), appears on MTV’s “The City” and recently authored a how-to entitled “If You Have to Cry, Go Outside.” But first and foremost, Cutrone, 44, is a dedicated publicist, founder of her own firm, People’s Revolution. She spoke to amNewYork about the industry.
How did you first get involved in PR?
I didn’t know what PR was when I moved to New York. My first job was at Susan Blond, and I was her assistant. It was 1987, and I was making $150 a week, working 9 a.m. to 2 or 3 a.m., six days a week. We worked a lot of music events.
I thought, wow, I’m really in the game. I was babysitting Michael Jackson for the evening, walking him through clubs.
Your company has a lot of fashion clients. What attracted you to that type of PR?
I never really wanted to work with talent. I found it boring and laborious. Celebrity publicists are highly underpaid. They do dinner reservations, tickets, everything. It’s a real full-time job, but you’re not getting the percentages the way a manager does.
The way fashion works for me is really beautiful — you’re part of the creative team and are in the creative process. It all goes into the birthing of the collection. I love doing fashion shows. There’s a lot of care and thought that goes into that.
What’s the most important role a PR person?
You have to be able to manage client expectations. You have to understand strategy, priority and new media. You also have to be honest too and have integrity.
How would you recommend getting started?
You can’t get out of college and get a job as publicist. There’s a skill set you need to learn. You have to be an assistant. For PR, I think a degree is totally meaningless.
We always take assistants out of the intern pool, and we start them at $28,500-$32,000 a year. That’ll be for about 12 months, then it goes to $34,000-$42,000. After another year and a half you’re probably at $50,000 and then you’ll stay at $60-$70,000 for your first five years as a publicist.
What are some of the downsides?
Most clients don’t take responsibility for their mistakes. You’ll always get blamed.
Take my Yigal Azrouel situation. I had gotten all the money to throw his fashion show, gotten Mercedes-Benz sponsorship. Ashley Dupre comes to the show and I get fired. That was ridiculous. It’s not a two-way street. I’m fine with it and I’m not mad about it, but if that’s the kind of thing that’s going to devastate you, it’s not a good industry for you.
And you have to take care of everything. Once we did a cocktail party for Agent Provocateur and had the “AP” logo on all these little cakes. All of a sudden I see a magazine editor whose teeth are totally black. Everybody’s teeth were stained black! Now, it’s no black icing. That’s why people get alpha, crazy. People just want to keep the client. Most clients don’t take responsibility for their mistakes. You’ll always get blamed.
What are some perks?
Publicists travel— usually business— stay at nice hotels, and eat at good restaurants. We go to great parties all over the world and get really beautiful clothes. Swag and hospitality are the perks. You also learn how to communicate and get a lot of self-confidence.
Who would make a good publicist?
A good publicist is someone who likes people and likes to talk. You should enjoy being part of a team, and working in a collaborative environment. You should be creative and self-motivated. And you need to have a good balance between listening and speaking.
What would most people be surprised to know?
How hard publicists work and devoted they are. I think most people think of some chick with three names, having lunch at Cipriani. Like the Kim Catrall character on “Sex and the City.”
What’s the strangest thing you’ve had to do for a client?
They’ve asked me to hire prostitutes, secure drugs, Help pick out a coffin lining for their relatives. I’m not saying I said yes to any of those things.
Your book is called “If You Have to Cry, Go Outside.” Do you ever cry over work?
I cry about 4 times a year, twice from gratitude and twice from frustration. It’s not a PC environment.
Is reality TV the best PR of all?
No, it really depends on how you look at it. Has being on TV made me famous? yes it has. Have I been able to take some of my clients with me who would never have had that publicity, absf---lutely.
But still, celebrity is a very fickle thing. People’s Revolution is steady freddy. I’m not turning my back on it.