Meet the Marketing Master at Storytelling: Rakia Reynolds

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Rakia ReynoldsEven though every business, brand, public person should have one, many people are still confused by what a public relations person does. Well, they plan, direct, or organize undertakings that will create and/or maintain a positive public image and/or raise issue awareness for their organization or client. And publicists have various ways of doing this.

Public relations guru Rakia Reynolds’ gift is storytelling. She tells the stories of her clients in such an effective and unique way that the world has taken note. As owner of Skai Blue Media, Reynolds has gained global attention for her work.

Reynolds, who studied business at Temple’s Fox School of Communications, actually didn’t start out in public relations. She worked in the television industry for five years before launching Skai Blue Media. And when she started Skai Blue she knew she was entering an already crowded field of public relations firms. So she had to stand out from the PR pack. “I knew one of my strengths was storytelling and I wanted to use this talent to tell the stories of my clients,” says Reynolds. “And the art of storytelling is very versatile, especially when you use a multimedia approach.”

Realizing she could create a niche with storytelling, she decided to take a risk on entrepreneurship. “I don’t think there were many other companies taking the multimedia approach I was taking, I wanted to tell stories through an integrated approach–it’s much more visual and memorable,” she explains.

Reynolds’ work has become so impressive she was tapped to appear in an advertisement and video for Dell targeting small business. “The ad appeared in Forbes for a program Dell has called  #WeLoveYourWork where they highlight different small businesses. And it was so cool the ad was turned into a mural in Brooklyn; I was really proud of that,” says Reynolds, who adds, “We have been working with Dell for one to three years. They brought my agency on board to do digital storytelling and since then we have done a number of projects for them.  For one, we did storytelling in real time. It’s been fun.”

Reynolds also appears regularly on HSN as Serena Williams’ brand representative, a role that happened out of the blue. Williams’ manager has seen Reynolds’ unique storytelling talent in action and asked her to come onboard to represent her clothing line. “I met with Serena and I have been working with her for three years now, again my storytelling got me in this position.”

So, how does she juggle it all? “I am super transparent about it,” she explains. “I look at it as if I am jugging bowling pins, a pin that a mother, a wife, an entrepreneur, a leader, and community leader is holding. One pin is going to drop every single day, but you have to be alright with this. You can not beat yourself up. The other day, the mom pin dropped because I missed back-to-school night but I had to be okay with dropping that pin. Still, I am transparent with my kids and family. They know what I am doing.”

When asked about the “lean in” concept for African-American businesswomen, Reynolds says, “I can’t lean in anymore. I had to look at what my strengths are and what my weaknesses are and realize I can’t focus in on everything. Plus, the opportunities for me as a woman of color in my business are not as open–there are some threats or barriers to my entry.”

Over the years, she says one of her biggest lessons has been picking the right people for her team. “Very early on in my career I was not great at hiring people. I was hiring personalities. Then someone told me that within the first seven minutes you should be able to tell if the person would be a good fit. Now, I don’t get emotionally attached.”

But once she’s in, she’s in to win. And Reynolds says one of the keys to here success is her belief in Intrapreneurship. “I have focused on the human capacity of my team, building a great staff, and a great team. I think great leaders help to mold people around them to be great leaders and I want everyone working with me and for the company to have the capacity to step in, because sometimes my entrepreneur pin drops.”