Interview With Gospel Publicist JoJo Pada

With 15 years of publicity experience in the entertainment industry, Jojo Pada knows a thing or two about publicity in the Gospel world. As a follow up to her three-part series "Confessions of a Gospel Publicist", GOSPELflava.com thought it would be interesting to speak with her about her experiences.

GOSPELflava.com: JoJo, how did you end up in the public relations field?

JoJo Pada: Long story short is that I went to college at the University of Southern California and got into their Journalism school. I was most drawn to their PR Courses - and found out that it was a real thing that you had to learn about and it was something that I just seemed to have a knack for - understanding a story and being able to articulate it both in writing and in speech. USC offered great interactive and hand-on opportunities for PR students to get learning experience in the field. Being in LA, most of the internships and volunteer opportunities were at entertainment companies and PR Firms, so very early on I was involved in entertainment and basically never left.

JoJo Pada GOSPELflava.com: As you look back on your life, what things now seem like an obvious set-up leading you to your present activity?

JoJo Pada: I LOVE this question because I always say that every single job (I've really only had 3 in my career) I've had has led me to where I am today. I wouldn't have had any of the jobs that I've had if it weren't for the one preceding it.

Each one was a stepping stone to where and each one taught me something very different about PR that helped give me an overall set of skills that make me one of the best! But the biggest thing was probably my first job with [renowned publicist] Terrie Williams.

Starting with Terrie Williams was like boot camp... She really teaches you lessons on how to survive in the entertainment world as a publicist, as a woman, as a minority. TWO things stand-out during my time: She forced me to be in charge of the company media database. I was responsible for updating it DAILY, verifying contact information and sending each senior member a copy once a week. I thought it was grunt work - paper work that nobody else had to. It gave me the opportunity to learn and memorize key media people and phone numbers. For a while, I could recite the fax numbers to all the news desks in NYC (a huge skill for any publicist doing events in NY). To this day I shockingly have a crazy database of media information in my head.

She also MADE me sit outside at every event and handle VIP and Media check-in. I hated it, at the time I thought I was being punished because I wanted to be inside with the celebrities. Press people, photographers and celebrities had to meet me and talk to me, and (because of the way I look) I stood out to them and was memorable. This was insanely useful for my next job at the Motown Café.

GOSPELflava.com: How did you end up working in the genre of gospel music and how has this work influenced your faith?

JoJo Pada: It was something that was totally destined! When I think about it... it's just so amazing. The Motown Café closed in 1999 and I was unemployed for about 3 months. I was going through my rolodex (yes I'm old and I still have it. I love to spin it around still) and got to the J's and reached out to Jazzy Jordan, who was at that time, the VP of Black Music at Jive Records. Jazzy & I had met a year ago when I did two events for him at the Motown Café - a Backstreet Boys press event and the launch for the now wildly successful WOW Gospel album. We sat down in May 1999 and he asked me to come on temporarily to fill in at Verity Records (still somewhat of a fledgling gospel label). I knew nothing about gospel music wasn't saved and was like, ...ummm ...Gospel? He assured me that it would be temporary and he'd find me a spot on the R&B side (which at the time I had more experience and contacts). Well, the rest is I guess history or God's pre-ordering my steps. I obviously never left Verity to go over to the R&B / rap side of Jive Records. I was able to get Gospel artists media coverage which at the time was unprecedented. I feel I was a part of Verity's explosion into what it is today and am proud of the work I did there.

That same year I also met a pastor and a new signee to Verity named Donnie McClurkin. Donnie took a liking to me and we became friends. He would always invite me to his new church that he was starting in Long Island... it wasn't any pressure or any kind of forced thing. He wanted me to check out the church. He led me to my relationship with the Lord, taught me about who Christ is and having a true relationship with God -- and I got saved in 2001 and ended up joining the Perfecting Faith Church later that year.

GOSPELflava.com: Do you have a campaign or client that you feel you had ultimate success?

JoJo Pada: I have recently been successful with my work for new artist Melinda Watts. PR strategies are different and harder when you are working for a completely new artist. It's about building name and a brand that people will remember. I was able to capitalize on her success as the winner of the Gospel Dream Competition in 2008 and garnered great mainstream press for her and most importantly solidify her name in the Gospel media. Understanding the reallocate in media and media coverage, I made sure she was effectively promoted and talked about on the Web through social networking sites, blogs, Gospel music sites, etc. I do believe it was the most successful set up for a new artist to head into her sophomore project.

GOSPELflava.com: In the world of PR, are there factors or things that have to be handled differently for gospel/faith-based clients.

JoJo Pada: I think that people should understand that it is ministry. That at the end of the day, you should approach it as though you are helping spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ (and not just looking at it as how many CDs you can sell). I think it's helpful if you understand the vision and ministry of who you're promoting. It goes a long way in your success. You have to be careful in how you portray your client to the outside world and that your behavior - they way you act and react to media - is representative of your client. I think Gospel/ faith-based publicists must know their audience. Know who you are pitching to and dealing with. Some in the Christian media world a bit more serious than others - you should take that into consideration in your pitches to them. For example, if you are pitching to TBN, understand how they are and how they communicate. Also be prepared, things that wouldn't be a big story in the mainstream world might be a story in the Gospel world and you have to know how to deal with it within the context of professionalism and from a Christian perspective.

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interview by Melanie Clark and Stan North

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