Celeb Interviewer, Journalist, Publicist & Social Media Boss Lady Desirae Benson, Reaches Higher Heights!
Not only is Desirae Benson educated and beautiful! But she is a bodacious boss lady mogul with years of PR experience and the clients to prove it! She is living proof that dreams can come true. As a 5-Star Rated Publicist, Journalist, Celeb Interviewer, Social Media influencer, and Forbes BLK member, she is moving mountains and achieving great things. Desirae began writing as a child and has now developed a thriving career helping some of the world's most high-profile individuals. In catching up with her, I learned about her journey in public relations. She shared this with me.
Good morning, Desirae; how are you doing today? I am fantastic and incredibly excited about this interview with the Indie Post magazine.
Awesome! Me too. I am grateful for the opportunity to interview you. My sincere thanks go out to you, Gina.
My pleasure. So, tell me, Desirae, where are you from, and where do you live now? A lot of people may not know this about me, but I was born in Seoul, Korea. That's right, Korea. I lived there for four years prior to moving to the United States. My father was there, stationed in the army, and we traveled all over the world. Then, we moved to Arizona, where I currently live.
Between those times, I’ve lived all over the place, in different States and countries, including Japan and Virginia. I'm currently in Arizona, and I love it. It's as hot as I don't know what out here, but it's close to everything. I'm close to California and Mexico, so I'm in a good spot.
Do tell me, do you speak Korean? I do not speak Korean, but I love, love, love, Korean food.
Awesome! What are your favorite Korean foods? Among my favorite Korean foods are kimchi, bulgogi, and kabli stew. Choosing a favorite would be impossible because I adore them all. Since we lived in Korea, my mom cooked Korean food for us, and I still love it here in the U.S.
That's awesome! Koren food is also one of my favorites. It's delicious. Desirae, what does life as a publicist look like, and what is your daily routine? That is a great question, and it has a very detailed answer. Therefore, I'm going to keep my answer simple. Whether it is public relations or publicity related to the media, we are here to assist our clients. Our day consists of being on the phone, sending emails, and pitching on behalf of our clients. We aim to create and maintain a positive image for our clients by creating awareness about them and increasing their visibility. Making sure the media understands how great they are and being able to leverage their whole brand with the media takes work.
It's a constant stream of communication. We are either on the phone, e-mailing, conducting in-person meetings, or talking about our clients and their brand. Our ability to manage their entire persona, as well as crises, is crucial. Many things happen behind the scenes that affect our clients, and that's where we come in.
So, we're constantly communicating, so my voice goes out quite often. Because I use my voice regularly, I drink a lot of tea to prevent losing it. Nevertheless, I wouldn't trade it for anything. As a professional, I am passionate about what I do.
Having a passion for what you do is always a recipe for success. Regarding your specific journey, what would you say is the evolution of a journalist in the making? Wow, a journalist's evolution. During my elementary school years, I enjoyed writing imaginary stories. I also wrote about things I watched on TV, such as documentaries and animal, science, and nature shows. I was a big geek.
Writing about my thoughts and feelings was also one of my favorite things. As a result, I kept numerous journals in which I recorded them. Still today, I have journals from elementary and high school where I wrote about science, nature, or a fictional story.
So, the evolution of becoming a journalist for me was natural, and it was a perfectly logical progression. Going from taking an interest in writing in my youth to going to college to major in journalism and linguistics was inevitable because I've always loved it.
So, that’s what I do now. I curate stories on behalf of my clients. When I tell their stories to the media, they pick them up and share them.
So, you have been selected by Forbes as an official member of Forbes BLK in recognition of your work as a 5-star rated publicist and a journalist. By the way, congratulations are in order. Thank you, Gina. My work as a 5-Star Rated Publicist was acknowledged, and it felt good to receive that honor and recognition from such a prestigious organization.
Can you tell me about the events that led to your acceptance into that prestigious community of writers? I am so excited about being a member of Forbes Black. It's an amazing organization. Forbes has been around for a long time and has done many great things in our communities and worldwide by sharing stories.
Being selected by Forbes was part of my journey. I've been working in public relations and journalism for a while now. I've created many different stories on different topics, people, celebrities, athletes, and people building their businesses. My work was recognized as a 5-star rated publicist, and it felt good to receive that honor and recognition from such a prestigious organization.
I like to let my work speak for itself, and I'm grateful that it caught Forbes' attention. I'm very excited about the journey through this organization and all the things I can bring to the table to make my community and other communities a better place.
That is so wonderful, Desirae. I'm so proud of you! Over the years, you have accomplished quite a bit personally and professionally. What other achievements are you proud of? As a publicist, journalist, and entertainment and media industry member, I am also a mom of a beautiful son and a wife of a very loving husband, all of which keep me very busy.
Both my professional and personal life are well balanced. Apart from fulfilling my clients' expectations, I maintain my involvement and presence within my immediate family. Also, as women, we tend to give so much of ourselves. We need to remember to give back to us as well. I love my “me time” and it’s something I greatly value.
That's awesome! Please tell me what you do that's special for yourself in your "me" time. I give myself time to rejuvenate through long baths or day trips alone. Relaxing while watching a documentary about science or nature is also perfect. I thoroughly enjoy my own company.
That's wonderful, Desirae. Thank you.
You're welcome. I know your family is very proud of you. Yes, and I'm very proud of my family. I'm pleased to be a wife. I'm proud to be a mother, and I want to continue being the best version of myself that I can be.
And that you are. Part of your job is interacting with a broad spectrum of creative people on a wide range. Having to deal with variations and personalities of people requires excellent people skills. How did you develop these skills? That's a great question. I've never been asked that question, so thank you for asking. I attended college and received both an undergraduate degree and a graduate degree in linguistics and journalism, and part of my undergraduate study included communications and cultural awareness.
Having lived in Europe, Norway, Korea, and Japan and traveled throughout Europe and Asia, my ability to communicate with people from diverse backgrounds was crucial.
Consequently, my experiences within those environments taught me several valuable lessons that enabled me to deal with people from various cultures and walks of life.
Because everybody perceives the world differently, you must be conscious of that when you're interacting with people. One of my first interactions working with people and media was when I lived in Japan. I worked with Fox TV in Tokyo, Japan as an “About the Town” TV Host, interviewing Tons of American and International celebrities visiting Japan that came into town.
Much of my experience came from working with them and learning about their stories. Whether they were doing shows or whatever they came to Japan to do, I had to listen meticulously and research them properly before working with them. If I know that I will talk and interact with someone, I like to do my homework.
Researching their backgrounds before interacting with them is wise for any publicist or journalist to do because you want to be well-versed in your questions or whatever you do for them.
It is especially important to respect the person you are interviewing to avoid offending them. In addition, because of the many things happening around the world, many people are dealing with personal matters, so we must be sensitive to their concerns and be cautious. Thus, most of my experience was derived from combining these principles and encounters.
Considering my personal experiences in dealing with people on a humanistic level is also requisite. I'm incredibly conscious about people, their emotions, and their personalities. Considering my own experiences helps blend all that to have a harmonious and cohesive relationship with my clients.
That's wonderful, Desirae. I also believe that being a publicist requires a big heart and a selfless attitude, and your heart matches that criterion. Self-centered, narcissistic people are not interested in helping anyone but themselves. Still, publicists choose that career because they love helping others and pushing others' achievements to the forefront, which speaks volumes of your kind of heart. First and foremost, thank you for those beautiful words you shared with me. I love you, and I love everything about what you're doing. So, thank you so much for that. Thank you, Gina.
Quite the pleasure, Desirae. Is there one field that interests you the most when you write about athletes, entrepreneurs, musicians, actors, and so on in the entertainment industry? You know, you asked an excellent question because I work with clients in all those fields. That’s a difficult question because choosing one over the other would be equivalent to a mom or a dad choosing their favorite child out of four. Therefore, I don’t have a favorite regarding which field I prefer working with over the other. I love music because it moves the world and touches the hearts of so many people worldwide. Music unites the world through shared artistic and creative forms of expression. It brings healing to the soul.
Regarding sports and the athletes, I work with, I enjoy sharing their stories and creating awareness regarding what they do in their communities. The public may already be familiar with what they do on television, but they may not be aware of the other amazing things they do. As a result, I enjoy bringing these things to light. I also share inspirational stories, so I have no favorites; I love them all.
And I’m sure they love and appreciate you dearly. Desirae, out of all the fantastic clients you've interviewed, has anyone ever said something so profound that it has remained with you to this day? Yes, Although I've interviewed many people throughout the years, a couple of instances come to my immediate mind. One of them is my interview with Tyrese Gibson. Last year, he appeared in a movie with Terrence Howard and Jeremy Piven. During his interview, he said something profound. In his talk, he described how scenes were filmed in real-life prisons with real inmates. Moreover, he told me that he grew up in an environment that favored this lifestyle and that many of his friends went down that same road. So, being in that environment every day affected him to the point where it took him months to get back to himself after filming that movie. In other words, being in prison and working and filming daily in that environment shocked his system. The heaviness, the sadness, and just being there around the prisoners and inmates drained him emotionally. At the same time, it caused him to feel thankful, reflecting on his life and experiences.
Many years ago, I also interviewed "The Whispers." And in my discussion with them, we spoke about the military and how it shaped them. In that conversation, we also touched on my father, who passed away several years ago.
What was profound about this conversation is as I began to dig deeper into their musical career, they divulged their experiences growing up, touring, and their encounters with discrimination. Many people are unaware that, The Whispers” experienced these types of things, so sharing what they discussed with me made me think of the issues my father had with that very same thing, discrimination.
Such is the same with my conversation with “Ne Ne Leakes” shortly after her late husband, Greg, passed away. She spoke of her sadness about his absence and her being ok with crying and showing her emotions because she’s human. She noted that she would not hide her feelings in any way. Her sharing of this information with me was prompted by a conversation with one of her girlfriends who suppressed her emotions. She went on to say that everything in her life was planned and designed within her mind, and everything happening for her today has now materialized into reality. She imagined herself doing everything she's doing now. So, stories like these have touched my heart in remarkable ways and will always remain among my most memorable conversations.
Desirae, those are beautiful stories of how you connected those you've interviewed and how they said things that touched your heart profoundly. Thank you for sharing those precious stories. Thank you for asking.
My pleasure. Having a publicist is a blessing in many ways. I believe that our brands and character are inextricably linked. Where you take your persona, your brand follows, and vice versa. Although nobody has the right to take away your God-given right of freedom of speech, at the same time, with that freedom comes personal responsibility, knowing that we can say what we want, but the seeds we plant will always produce a crop. Sometimes we cultivate flowers with our words, and sometimes we disperse weeds that choke out our years of hard work. Using wisdom with your words is the key to success.
Unfortunately, many up-and-coming entertainment professionals avoid having a publicist, sometimes to their detriment. Because they represent their brand without using discretion in many of their postings, some have said things on social media that have had disastrous outcomes and killed their careers. Could you explain to those new in the industry why having professional representation in this business is crucial? That is another excellent question, and I'm glad you asked. The paparazzi are always there at televised award shows or various events where celebrities are gathered or individually out and about. No matter what they're doing, they will always be there. So, to up-and-coming artists or people currently in the industry, good publicity can lead to a ton of media coverage, endorsements, partnerships, and many other opportunities that help elevate your brand.
Trying to handle their entire career alone can be challenging when they have to create music, be in the studio, go on tour, prepare for shows, and get ready for a boxing match or red-carpet event; doing all those things alone, subtract from their time when they have to do, A, B, and C. They want to focus on being that “A,” sticking to what they know well and letting someone else handle the publicity aspect for them instead of doing everything themselves.
Not only does it free them up to do what they love doing, but it allows for effective communication with their target audience. Public relations specialists should target their audience and even go above and beyond to create a more significant buzz around their demographic and beyond.
Also, as aforementioned, regarding potential crises that may arise in that client's life or professional career, we help manage those situations and help mitigate negative feedback.
Sometimes, clients deal with negative feedback from other entities or businesses, and that’s when we go in there, clean it up, and try to ensure their image stays positive.
So having good PR is essential, especially if they want to achieve long-term success, maintain a positive reputation, and be relevant.
Our responsibility as publicists is to ensure that our clients remain relevant consistently. To those seeking to advance in their careers that require public engagement, hire a public relations specialist to help you maintain your image, increase your visibility, and generate a bigger buzz. That's what I'd suggest to them.
And if I may add my suggestion, "If you can't do that, then watch what you say on social media." (laughs) Yes, and please don't post things back that are derogatory. (laughs)
In my opinion, if you are a hothead or someone who doesn't know how to use wisdom or discretion, don't post anything until you can hire a publicist. Just sit there and hold that thought until you can afford PR, or you'll be sorry. (laughs) That's good advice. (laughs)
Do not shoot your career in the forehead. I've seen it happen quite a bit, and when it happens, I've had to go in and clean it up at times.
On the other hand, most people do understand the benefits of having a publicist. For example, I attended the BET Awards last year, and while there, I interviewed and interacted with different people. I can guarantee that everybody who entered the door before walking out on the red carpet was asked at least one of the following questions by an official BET spokesperson, “Is your publicist here? Do you want us to walk you down the red carpet with you, or do you have your publicist?”
So, in this business, it's common to have a publicist. Unfortunately, many people who choose to do everything independently, sometimes due to their self-representation, end up running into a brick wall. That’s ok, too, because life is a lesson learned. But then, you get a publicist. (laughs)
That’s ok, too, because, as the saying goes, “You live, and you learn.” But then, you get a publicist. (laughs)
Well said, you're fantastic, Desirae! I'm enjoying our exchange. Please tell me what you love most about working in your field. Firstly, because working in public relations entails so much, I don't consider it a job but a creative outlet.
I like using that term because it's something that I love to do. Part of what I love about being a publicist is that I get to create campaigns around my clients. My clients call me, we schedule a meeting, and they share their gratitude for what I have done for them in these meetings. They say things like, " I love what you're doing, I love what you recently posted on social media, or I loved the interview we just had. They also thank me for getting them on the red carpet for an event.
It's always a pleasure to hear positive feedback from my clients about my services and the value I bring to their brands. That is one of the most rewarding things that I can think of. It's a great compliment to what I'm trying to do for them and makes me feel good inside.
Desirae, that’s beautiful! In addition to the quality of your work and the excellent work ethic you demonstrate, your clients appreciate your beautiful and genuine heart. This is something I sincerely believe. In closing, what would you say to inspire anyone considering a career and public relations? Well, the first thing is, if they have it in their mind that they want to do something involving public relations, they should take a hard look at themselves and analyze whether or not they're cut out for it. What I mean by that is that you have to be in a position to give up a lot of your time and sacrifice a lot of yourself. You need to be willing to be available for your client's needs throughout the day, week, and month to succeed in this field. For instance, I travel quite a bit. As a person who likes to be involved and visible with my clients, I travel with them sometimes to their events.
So, if you're considering doing this, you must be the type of person who wants that level of attention and wants to be there for your clients. You also must be able to multi-task well and handle 5011 things at one time. And when I say 5011 things at one time, that's exactly what I mean, 5011 things at one time. (laughs) Therefore, if you are the type of person cut out for that, go for it.
Lastly, find yourself a great mentor who is also involved in public relations. Learn from them and research different things that they've done. Get involved in different organizations that can help you with your career, go to events where you can network with people involved in PR, then go for it! And when you do, give it your 100% and don't look back.
You said it so well; it's fantastic. You are an amazing woman, and interviewing you has been a pleasure. Your story profoundly inspires me, and I pray that God will continue to bless the works of your hands, be it done according to his will. I pray that God will keep you and your beautiful family safe and protected. Also, I am proud of your achievements and rooting for your continued success. Thank you so much, Gina. You have done so many amazing things, and I value everything you're doing. You have changed so many lives and done so much for so many people. You are selfless and well-respected, and I love what you're doing. I know you will continue doing amazing things, and I appreciate and love you.
Awe, I love you too. Thank you!
Photo Credits: The Sandy shots were done by Binh Tran, and the other photos are courtesy of Desirae Benson.
End of Interview
THE INDIE POST | HI-FIVE | JULY 10, 2023 ISSUE | VOL 2 | THE INDIE SPOTLIGHT | 5-Star Rated Publicist, Celeb Interviewer, Journalist, Social Media influencer, & Forbes BLK member, Boss Lady, Desirae Benson Reaches Higher Heights!
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Words of inspiration posted by The Indie Post, written within ( The New American Standard Version Bible Verse) and are not the interviewee's words.
"John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him."
"Romans 10:9-13 9 [f]that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10for with the heart a person believes, [g]resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, [h]resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE [i]PUT TO SHAME.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13for “EVERYONE WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”