Janet A. Dickerson is a branding and media relations specialist with far-reaching experience in political, campaign, non-profit, grassroots and corporate communications. Her particular interests lie in human and civil rights advocacy, and she is a passionate believer in using the media to create change and support movement building.
Dickerson is former Press Secretary for national civil rights organization PolicyLink, and served previously as Deputy Press Secretary for both Cory Booker and NYC Mayoral Candidate Bill Thompson. Her firm Pixel Prose Media has advised numerous people and organizations on key strategic initiatives — including the US Human Rights Network, U.S. Congressional Candidate Joyce Johnson, The Urban Justice Center, and veteran comedian and “Tom Joyner Morning Show” co-host J. Anthony Brown, as well as her father Award winning Film and Television director Ernest Dickerson, to name a few.
Her behind-the-scenes work directing public and media relations for various campaigns can be seen and heard on such national outlets as CNN, MSNBC, PBS, CBS News, The New York Times, Washington Post, National Public Radio, and more. An East Coast native, Dickerson earned a B.A. in Journalism and Magazine Writing from Temple University in 2007. She is based in Los Angeles.
How did you launch your career and get to where you are today?
After earning my Bachelors in Journalism from Temple University, I began my career coordinating media relations for the City of Newark under Mayor Cory Booker, and on the 2009 campaign of New York City mayoral candidate Bill Thompson. From there I transitioned into the non-profit sector to become Press Secretary for national civil rights think tank PolicyLink, during which time I began planting the seeds for my own entrepreneurial endeavors. After much contemplation, my business partner and I finally took a huge leap of faith and moved to Los Angeles to launch Pixel Prose Media, a bicoastal PR and brand development firm. We serve clients nation-wide and provide public relations, strategic branding, graphic design and business development consultation to various enterprises ranging from start-ups and small businesses, to political campaigns and non-profits.
What have you had to sacrifice along the way, if anything?
Making the shift from full-time employee to entrepreneur certainly came with its fair share of sacrifices. In addition to giving up a steady paycheck and insurance benefits (yay Obamacare!) it was very hard leaving my friends and family back on the East Coast, especially my Mom. It takes a lot of time and resources to run a business, so I’ve definitely had to be more budget conscious and dial back on things like dining out, shopping, or traveling. However, maintaining a healthy work-life balance is really important to me and I feel it has been well worth the interim sacrifice.
How do you define success?
For me, success is getting paid to do what you love. I never wanted to be stuck in a situation that restricted me from living up to my full potential and choosing the projects I really want to do. Working for myself offers the freedom and flexibility to be more creative in my work, and attentive to myself, my family and home life. One of my favorite sayings is “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Running your own business definitely takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, but the reward is ultimately priceless.
How do you balance work and life?
Although it can be challenging at times, I try very hard to schedule my days so that I have ample time and energy to take care of professional and personal obligations. I work primarily from my home office, so one minute I can be laser-focused on a client, then cleaning out my refrigerator the next. That kind of flexibility has proven to be very helpful, especially from a creative standpoint. It’s also essential that I make time to exercise and eat healthy –well, I try– and leave room to work on other key projects like Off The Beaten Plate, (OBPNYC) a food blog and events management subsidiary that my business partners and I launched earlier this year (currently it’s a Finalist at the 2013 Black Weblog Awards).
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In five years I would like to see Pixel Prose Media fully thriving and helping fellow entrepreneurs accomplish their business-ownership dreams. In addition to PPM there are other ongoing projects like Off The Beaten Plate that I hope will have fully blossomed by then. On a personal front, I look forward to my husband and me starting a family and traveling a lot more, especially abroad. I’m especially excited about turning 30 in another six months and in general just continuing to evolve into the woman I’m meant to be, both in life and career.
Who is your role model or mentor?
My role models are hands down my Mom and Dad. They’re both very successful in their own careers and, by direct and indirect example, have shown me the true meaning of hard work and dedication, as well as their unwavering love and support of anything I’ve ever wanted to do. I also have to acknowledge my good friend and career mentor Lupe Todd, a real-life Olivia Pope who took me under her wings when I was fresh out of college and showed me the ropes on how a great PR professional operates.
What advice do you give your fellow entrepreneurs?
I know it sounds cheesy, but my best advice is to just never give up. While there will always be distractions and roadblock along the way, having the discipline and fortitude to see things through the fire is what really positions you for long-term success. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. I had to learn the hard way that closed mouths don’t get fed. The worst anyone can ever do is say “no,” at which point you just have to retune your approach and get right back out there until you finally achieve the results you want.