October 6, 2023
We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Andrea McKinnon. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Andrea below.
Andrea, looking forward to learning from your journey. You’ve got an amazing story and before we dive into that, let’s start with an important building block. Where do you get your work ethic from? Work ethic – for some this might be a subjective term and there is a broad spectrum of what one may consider a “good” or “bad” work ethic. I have to credit my awareness of and dedication to a “good” work ethic to how I was raised, my parents & teachers, as well as the mentors I had in my early career opportunities. I was fortunate to have had bosses who were inspirational, supportive, and constructive teachers who really wanted to help me grow and succeed. I also experienced truly awful and emotionally abusive bosses who had an equally strong impact on figuring out the type of businesswoman and manager I wanted to become.
Appreciate the insights and wisdom. Before we dig deeper and ask you about the skills that matter and more, maybe you can tell our readers about yourself? With 30+ years of experience in PR, both as an independent contractor and in-house executive, and working with a really diverse clientele, I am super honed in on the who, what, and why of clients I’ll work with now. I had the great fortune to start my career in Chicago working with up and coming talent, some of who are now superstars – Halle Barre, Timothy Meadows, Lawrence Zarian – to name just a few. I took a chance and moved to LA where I eventually landed at NBC network television during the illustrious “Must See TV” 90s. That was the best foundation one could ever hope for to build a career. I really feel that publicity/PR is the best job in “the biz.” It can be challenging for sure, but it allows me to be creative, collaborative, and exercise skills I really enjoy – writing, editing, negotiating, networking, and so on. I now only work with people and projects that align with my work ethic and based on mutual respect and professional understanding. They can span entertainment (TV/film), entrepreneurism, consumer products, or books & authors. I won’t ever take a project “just for the money” if it isn’t a good fit. All of my clients come to me as referrals and the majority have had bad experiences with PR agencies or publicists in the past. What I love most is disproving that negative stigma, often very well deserved. I’m proud that the referrals keep coming and truly do love what I do!
Looking back, what do you think were the three qualities, skills, or areas of knowledge that were most impactful in your journey? What advice do you have for folks who are early in their journey in terms of how they can best develop or improve on these?
2. Balance – manage your time, stay organized
3. Believe in yourself & the job
The foundation of a good work ethic is integrity. Harkening back to one boss I had, in my earliest days in the entertainment industry, who told me: “leave your morals at home!” This has stuck with me for 30+ years. At that moment, I remember thinking – if this is what it takes to get ahead in this business, I may have to forego those big executive titles or what most consider success.
My advice, stick to your morals and integrity! Integrity means being responsible, working hard & well, being honest, being a good teammate, showing humility, taking criticism, and learning from one’s mistakes!
Balance – I never wanted to sacrifice a happy marriage or becoming a mother for my career. I did/do have it all – and don’t feel that I missed anything in the process. I chose to compartmentalize work & private life very early on; not always easy in “Hollywood.” For anyone to have a partner, hobbies, outside interests, friends, whatever is important to them – you must find balance. Structure/manage your time – on AND off the clock.
Believe in yourself & the job – you can always sell/accomplish something best if you believe in it. If you don’t 100% of the time, believe in your ability to do the best you can with the tools you are given. Confidence and perseverance go a long way.
How can folks who want to work with you connect? The nature of my business is relationship building (including maintaining those relationships) and networking. Therefore, I am always looking to collaborate or connect with other likeminded people. I’ve always believed that one should never burn bridges, and have tried to mentor with that philosophy. You never know when you are going to run into, work with, need, or meet someone you’ve crossed paths with in the past. This is especially true in the entertainment industry and when you make it a priority when networking. Being able to share knowledge, make introductions, and help others is one of the most fulfilling feelings I get from my work community. Often a client isn’t right for me and I need to recommend another PR specialist; sometimes a friend or colleague is looking to connect with someone in an area of expertise that a client I worked with is in; or sometimes you just know when two people will benefit from knowing each other! I’m always looking to grow and expand and learn so encourage anyone to reach out via my website or social media channels (LinkedIn, IG or Facebook).