Right before she joined our Zoom video interview, Taylor Webster was on another call, doling out advice to her 22-year-old mentee.
“I’m so proud of her,” Webster beamed at me about the burgeoning careerist. “I remember how hard it was to get through the door as a Black woman in PR. I want to make it easy for her.”
As a publicist, this is Webster’s professional North Star—making people’s lives easier. The New Jersey native originally set her sights on broadcast journalism, breaking important news stories in her college town but pivoted when she discovered the power of effective strategic communications.
While still a student, she interned for major PR firms including MWW in New York City, where she helped brands like Marshalls and Deloitte with corporate comms. Eventually, she landed at Metro Public Relations, an award-winning strategic communications agency that represents clients like Afr0Tech, iHeartMedia, HartBeat, and LionsGate among a litany of other entertainment and tech entities.
Webster supported a myriad of brands across various verticals, but it wasn’t until she was able help a musical artist did she realize where her true passion lied.
“Before landing at Metro, I worked at Berk Communications where they represented music clients, and I kept finding myself wanting to work closely with them,” she tells ESSENCE. “It was so intriguing because you get to be there from the ground and help them build a campaign. You’re literally down in the gutter. And even emerging artists, in particular, being in the studio with them and just seeing the passion and then being able to amplify their story to the masses, it’s incredible.”
First-generation Jamaican, Webster found herself being drawn to diasporic artists that showcased their culture through artistry. Her first Afrobeats client was Afro B, a British DJ, singer and songwriter known for his hit song “Drogba (Joanna). She worked closely with him to garner international media exposure opportunities to help people get to know the artist behind the powerhouse hit.
“What’s incredible is that I worked with him, and I didn’t even have a full grasp of what Afrobeats was,” she said of the genre that melds Nigerian music styles with jazz and funk. “Upon listening to it, I realized the sounds were reminiscent of the grassroots reggae I grew up on. I also so many other elements that I knew people from all walks of like could hear themselves in. I instantly fell in love.”
While working to amplify Afro B’s profile, she said she noticed the a deep chasm between diasporic artists and media.
“Sometimes they feel like their words are being twisted, so they’re scared to speak to press,” she explained. “With that, I really wanted to focus on media trainings and continued relationship building with respected journalists who’ve demonstrated their appreciation for the genre to instill assurance. The media and the artists truly need each other.”
Over the past two years, she has been instrumental in establishing and growing MetroPR’s music department. After earning a stellar reputation for her diligent work with Afro B, she went on to be tapped to work with other artists like Techno Miles, Asake, Fireboy DML, Uncle Waffles and Tiwa Savage among others. Webster says one of her biggest achievements was helping secure Asake’s first-ever broadcast interview on ABC Prime Playlist.
“It’s incredible that not only are these artists receiving international acclaim they deserve, but they also are helping to bring new light to their home country.”
Most recently, she worked to promote diversity in notoriously homogenous space with her involvement with Dope Africans, an initiative that aims to bolster create spaces for African industry stakeholders, and its takeover during Paris Fashion Week in June.
“These endeavors serve as platforms for cultural exchange and unity,” she said. “I really enjoy telling stories of underrepresented artists.”
But along with the glitz and glam, she wants those interested in entertainment PR to understand the incredible sacrifice it takes to share the stories of others.
“It takes a lot of work and honestly, PR is about so much more than emailing pitches and attending events,” she said. “Always aspire to build genuine relationships with people. Support writers’ work. Consider their time and always conduct your research before reaching out.”
She adds: “Honestly, you have to want to be a good person. You can’t have an ego in this line of work. Sometimes you’ll be on bended knee tying a client’s shoe. Other times you’ll be sitting at the best seat at a brand dinner. You should show up the same way in both situations. And I think also building relationships genuinely, it’s really interesting. At the end of it all, it’s about championing the deserving, and telling important stories. And what better story can be told than of those who are creating the music that’s making the whole world move?”
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