Please meet alumna Kelley Tarver.
●Title: Director of Public Relations
●Company: HiHat Productions
●BA Communications: Public Relations
●Master’s Degree Public Administration
●Minor: Sports Management
●Former team captain for CSUB women’s basketball team
●Career experience= Entertainment, Sports, Lifestyle, Restaurant Public Relations experience
●Clients/projects past & present = Tyga (Hip Hop Artist), Montell Jordan (Singer/songwriter), Hazel-E (Vh1 TV Personality), Jonathan Casillas (NFL: Team Captain of the NY Giants), Emeril Lagasse’s Las Vegas Restaurants, Eva Marcille (Model/ America’s Next Top Model Winner) and more
How did your experiences at CSUB help you find your first position after graduation?
My experience with CSUB helped me to be aware that it is okay to not know exactly what direction professionally you want to go in in your field. I had professors who encouraged us to be open and try any and everything. They had taught us many aspects of the industry and practices that were transferable. This was very helpful in learning more about what makes me happy.
What career advice would you give our students?
The best career advice I could give is to intern at as many different agencies as possible (both small in-house boutique companies and large corporations) This is experience employers are always looking for.
How did you decide to pursue the career that you are working in today? Was there a pivotal moment?
I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do after my basketball career at CSUB ended. Originally, I had only declared this major because a senior on my team was doing it and it sounded cool. I just knew that I wanted to be a key figure behind the scenes of a company. I did not intern anywhere during college, so I really had no idea what I had an interest in. The way I stepped into this career was by chance. I applied for an internship in LA upon graduation. The internship was a confidential one that did not list who the employer was. It just so happened to be the publicist for Tyga who at the time was one of the most popular recording artists in the country with his hit single Rack City. This is where I learned that sports and entertainment public relations was my true calling.
What do you attribute your success to?
I would not be where I am today without guidance from valuable professors such as Judith Pratt and others. I also believe to get to where you want to be, you have to have a strong work ethic and learn how to push past hurdles. This is something I learned from my parents as well as my college basketball career.
How do you foster creative and innovative thinking within your organization?
There are tons of clients with the same talents as those on your roster, so being creative and innovative is a must. In order to be successful, you have to think outside of the box and stay one step ahead of everyone. The best are able to pitch unique ideas to writer, editors, producers etc. It isn’t enough to just say “here is my client and this is what they do.” You have to be the creative genius to help make your client newsworthy. To stay innovative, we always encourage our team to not hold back with ideas. Even if you think it is over the top… it’s probably not and will probably be a great concept to execute.
What are the most important decisions that you face daily as a leader in your organization?
The most important decisions usually are whom to make a priority client wise. You may have fondness to one personally, but another may be more newsworthy. Finding a balance to divide your time can be pretty difficult at times.
What have you accomplished or overcame in the past that you thought was impossible at the time?
At one point, I thought I would never go any higher than an internship or entry level position. The industry is cutthroat and, to be honest, not many genuinely want to see you win because once you do, you become competition for clients. I’ve always hated this mindset. To me, there is plenty of business to go around. So the toughest time was when no one would give me a break. That’s when I put my big girl pants on and decided to go after business myself rather than work under someone. I did my research and found out they were going to film a Hollywood edition for VH1’s top franchise Love & Hip Hop. I researched the projected cast and pitched myself to the one I thought would be one of the bigger names. That was Ms. Hazel-E. We clicked, and I’ve been her publicist her entire TV career. Sometimes when times get hard… you have to be your own publicist and pitch your own talents to get to where you want to be.
Which accomplishment are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the fact that I was able to climb high enough in my career to earn an income to where I could help my little sister in some small way financially during her own college experience. It is something I wanted always to do and had told her I would… and I eventually did. I’m also proud of the fact that I am one of the only people in my group text with friends who loves their job and isn’t complaining about a boss. =)
Where do you expect to be in five years both personally and professionally?
In five years… professionally I expect to still be the Director of PR at HiHat Productions and have built a solid and successful team under me… that way in my personal life I can accomplish my next goal...the most difficult job of all…. being a wife, mother and business woman. Hopefully knock out twins so I don’t have to take too many leaves from work lol! JK.. kinda =)
Stay encouraged and blessed Runners!