“To live is the rarest thing in the world, most people just exist.” Oscar Wilde
Born and raised in the DMV (Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia area), Ciara Brooks is the founder of Brooks PR Solutions, a boutique public relations and special events firm based in Silver Spring, Maryland.
The lifestyle publicist and event producer is also the Vice President of the National Black Public Relations Society’s Washington, D.C. chapter.
The Clark Atlanta University graduate says looking ahead; she would like to continue her work with the public relations organization and increase her client based in the beauty and fashion industries. She is also looking forward to completing her certification as a Digital Marketing Specialist.
Brooks would like people to know that she’s humble and transparent. “Sugar coating the truth can become extremely distorted from the original message,” she says. “I love to build a relationship with my clients and colleagues that I can count on and provide the same benefits so I can elevate to my fullest potential.”
Gwendolyn Quinn: How was it growing up Bowie and Silver Spring, Maryland? Tell us about that experience?
Ciara Brooks: I grew up in a co-parenting household living with my mother in Bowie, MD and visiting my father in Silver Spring, MD. As a child, you don’t understand the importance of co-parenting. As I matured, I was blessed to learn the love of both parents were equal and not a competition.
GQ: When did you become interested in publicity/public relations?
CB: I became interested in public relations once my mother suggested it during my years in high school. She observed my interest in working behind-the-scenes and pushed me to pursue an industry I was passionate about.
GQ: What do you love about publicity/public relations?
CB: What I love most about public relations are the results. I like to measure the hard work that I’ve put into an organization or company that assisted in my growth and development as a PR professional.
GQ: What do you love about event planning?
CB: What I love most about event planning are the results. The full execution of the client’s vision becoming a reality. I’m passionate about elevating the client to their next level.
GQ: In your opinion, tell us the difference between publicity/public relations and social media marketing?
CB: The blurred lines imply that publicity and social media marketing are the same. Both are imperative but different on multiple levels. Though social media and publicity compliments each other in today’s society, we must remember the traditions of public relations drive social media marketing to its fullest potential. A publicist utilizes the relationships built over the years versus social media marketers who increase their followers for an influenced based impact.
GQ: In your opinion, tell us the difference between publicity/public relations and event planning?
CB: Public Relations and event planning often compliment each other because both professions look to protect their client’s reputation directly and indirectly. However, event planning is one tactic to execute the goals and objectives of the client.
GQ: As a PR professional, please describe your day-to-day duties and responsibilities.
CB: My daily duties consist of research on my client’s goals and objectives as well as creating strategies to build brand awareness.
GQ: Before starting your PR firm, what other positions did you have in PR, communications or marketing? What was your title(s)?
CB: Before starting my PR firm, I’ve interned with American Federation of Government Employees, BET, CBS Radio, non-profit organizations, and more. My duties have ranged from customer service to protest rallies to press conferences.
GQ: Tell us about the special events projects you produced on behalf of the National Black Public Relations Society’s Washington, D.C. Chapter.
CB: I help produce the Executive Meet and Greet, which is an annual event that prepares members of the National Black Public Relations Society’s Washington, D.C.’s chapter to network with leading personalities in the Washington, D.C area.
I also work on Blogging and PR Decoded, which we recently held our inaugural chapter event. Members and guests had an opportunity to collaborate with Black Bloggers United. The webinar focused on navigating the relationship between public relations and blogging.
I recently co-produced the Ofield Dukes Excellence in Public Relations Awards ceremony, which highlighted the late American historian Mr. Ofield Dukes for his services in entertainment, politics, and community. During the event, veteran and millennial PR professionals were honored with the excellence award in public relations.
GQ: Of all the special events projects you produced on behalf of the National Black Public Relations Society’s Washington, D.C. chapter, which event are you most proud of and why?
CB: I am most proud of the Blogging and PR Decoded event because it was the first webinar produced in the Washington, D.C. chapter of the National Black Public Relations Society.
GQ: Tell us about Cocktails with Claire featuring Ty Hunter. What is the concept and purpose behind that event?
CB: The concept of the event was to bring the nationally known event to Washington, D.C. and make it a memorable experience. The purpose behind the event was to remain true to yourself and to take care of yourself in the midst of pursuing your dreams and passion. During the event, Claire Sulmers broke down in tears and confessed what drives her to keep going. Click here to view recap.
GQ: Of all the special events you created and produced to date, which one of your events you are most proud of?
CB: I am most proud of Cocktails with Claire featuring Ty Hunter.
GQ: What public relations, media, and communications organizations are you affiliated with and participate with regularly?
CB: I am a member of the National Black Public Relations Society’s D.C. chapter and ColorComm.
GQ: What advice do you have for young people who would like to pursue a career in publicity and public relations?
CB: Remain single in your quest to find yourself. It’s best to learn who you are before becoming consumed and distracted with loving someone else and caring for their needs. Focus on you. Lastly, intern as much as you can for the underestimated hands-on experience. It might be free, but the long term benefits will last you a lifetime.
GQ: What was your first publicity, public relations, or communications position or project?
CB: My first public relations position was as an intern with the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), which is the largest federal employee union representing over 700,000 federal and Washington, D.C. government workers nationwide and overseas.
While in the Communications Department at the American Federation of Government Employees, I learned and understood the importance of keeping abreast of the daily news cycle. Thanks to my supervisor, Enid Doggett, my first press release with the company brought change to local laws to protect D.C. government social workers while serving in the community.
GQ: Tell me about volunteerism and community work?
CB: My mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis more than ten years ago. As I grew older, I better understand the nature of the disease, I became a dedicated volunteer and fundraising partner with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society since 2013.
GQ: Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
CB: In the next five years, I see Brooks PR Solutions growing into a multi-city firm continuing to strive for excellence and exceeding the needs of our clientele.
GQ: What are some of your favorite travel destinations and why?
CB: I love Cape Town, South Africa; Egypt, and Cabo, Mexico.
GQ: What do you like to do in your spare time?
CB: In my spare time, I love to support my son’s Amateur Athletic Union basketball and football games since I’m his number one cheerleader. He travels often with his team, and I’m not always able to attend. However, when I’m there, I’m always amazed at the superstar he has become. I also love to brunch with my girls in my spare time because there’s nothing like regrouping with those that know you best. Lastly, I have a passion for art, and though I’m no Basquiat or Picasso, I love to visit art museums and attend sip and paint classes.
GQ: What was the most important and profound lessons you learned from your parents?
CB: The most important lesson I learned from my parents were to work hard, create a savings account that will benefit future generations, travel, and live your best life.
GQ: Who are your mentor(s) and what are some of the most valuable lessons you have learned from them?
CB: My mentor is Barbara Holt Streeter, the CEO of Mrs. PRProtocol and Associates. The most valuable lesson I’ve learned from Mrs. Barbara is presentation is everything from apparel to work ethic.
GQ: What is the best advice (professional and personal), you have received and from who?
CB: The best advice I received was to be professional, and be stubborn about your goals and flexible about your methods.
GQ: What is your favorite Bible scripture, quote or catch phrase?
CB: “Nothing will work unless you do” by Maya Angelou and “In the end; we only regret the chances we didn’t take,” by unknown author.
GQ: What keeps you spiritually centered and grounded?
CB: My family and friends keep me centered and grounded. I like to call them “framily” because they all hold a special place in my heart and continue to believe in my dreams and aspirations in life.
GQ: What inspires you?
CB: My daily inspiration is my son. It’s just the two of us, and I want him to know what a strong black woman not only looks like but understands who she is at heart. I strive to provide him with his hearts desires and expose him to cultures outside of the United States so he can be the change I’d like to see in the world.
GQ: What are some of your pop culture’s must haves (music, film, television)?
CB: For music, I love everything Beyoncé, Sabrina Claudio, Jhene, Drake, Ty Dolla Sign, and Dru Hill. For television, I love Issa Rae’s “Insecure;” and Omari Hardwick “Power.” My favorite films are “Sex and the City,” “Selena,” and “This Christmas.”
GQ: What is your dream project?
CB: My dream project consist of working on the executive public relations teams for Art Basel, Essence and Paris Fashion Week.
Gwendolyn Quinn is an award-winning media strategist and consultant with a career spanning more than 25 years. She is a contributor with NBCNews.com/NBCBLK.com, BlackEnterprise.com, HuffPost, and EURWEB.com, among others. Quinn is also a contributor to Souls Revealed and Handle Your Entertainment Business.
Antonice Jackson is the President of the National Black Public Relations Society’s Washington, D.C. Chapter. She partnered with Gwendolyn Quinn to produce “The Top African American PR Millennials for 2017” series. Jackson is also a contributor with AllHipHop.com.