The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here

Front and Center: Vice President of The Lippin Group, Jeanne O’Keefe

jeanneAs Vice President of The Lippin Group, one of the largest independent entertainment and media PR agencies in the world, Jeanne O’Keefe helps take on the daunting task of marketing the music industry’s most anticipated yearly event – NAMM.

As a Radio/TV/Film major, Jeanne dreamt of working in the entertainment industry and dove headfirst when she landed a full-time PR position at The Lippin Group, where she now holds an executive position.

The WiMN got the chance to learn more about her role at the company and her involvement with NAMM. Read on for our full interview with Jeanne, and learn more about The Lippin Group here.

 WiMN: Tell us about your role as Vice President of The Lippin Group.

 JO: The Lippin Group has a multitude of specialty areas that include industry relations and networking, corporate communication, event promotion and consulting. My specific role has always been tied to the strategic campaign development and outreach/coordination of consumer campaigns and events tied to music, TV, film, non-profits and new media.

WiMN: How did you get involved in PR in the entertainment industry? What attracted you to this field?

JO: As a Radio/TV/Film major, I had that “dream” of being involved in the entertainment industry somehow and originally thought it might be as a film director. After moving from New Orleans, I eventually landed in full-time PR work. I didn’t know a lot about the music industry, but that was my first task at The Lippin Group, so I had a somewhat “trial by fire” experience right away, learning about tour media, launching singles and albums, promoting the music products industry and working with all kinds of artists, established and new. No genre was left unturned – indie music and labels, pop, jazz, R&B and country.

WiMN: What is your favorite thing about your job at The Lippin Group?

JO: The clients I’ve been fortunate enough to work with. When you have an easy and friendly rapport with them, it’s an enjoyable exercise to engage in the sharing of ideas and work through the challenges that come throughout the year. I also enjoy the variety of a career that lends itself to an interesting day-to-day life. One day I could be writing press releases, making phone calls, connecting international interviews or strategizing ideas; the next, on the red carpet or listening to live music.

WiMN: What challenges do you face in your job?

JO: One of the things I like most about my job also becomes one of the biggest challenges: living in large world of competing ideas. By that I mean, it’s an enjoyable exercise to create and approach media with unique story ideas, but I’m not only competing against myself (how can I stay fresh and think of new ways to get coverage), but I’m also competing against publicists all over the country who are also trying to get ink or airtime with the same newspaper editors and TV bookers. The competition is fierce and some newsrooms are shrinking, which means journalists have less time to listen.

WiMN: Describe your involvement in marketing the NAMM show.

smg_namm_showJO: I work in close coordination with their internal PR team to help meet their goals for media coverage. That means we have to stay on top of trends and new music-related story angles to present to journalists within the trade, music, business and entertainment fields. Logistically, we coordinate live TV segments, support special media day events, manage on-site credentialing and become personal escorts to media who wish to explore the hottest products and technologies. We are also in contact with NAMM members directly to see how we might serve them in better ways by highlighting products they have determined are strong publicity priorities.

WiMN: Apart from NAMM, what other projects are you currently working on?

JO: The projects I work on tend to vary from month to month. Besides the NAMM Show, the next most immersive area of concentration is television. In TV, I work on everything consumer-related, from documentary specials to scripted series to reality programming.

WiMN: Can you share your experience as a woman in the industry? Have there been any challenges?

JO: A majority of my colleagues and those I have working relationships with in the world of publicity tend to be women. I do however have less affection for the “ego” that comes with certain people working in entertainment, though one finds that in every career right? I used to work at a small TV station in Mississippi and we had a news anchor who made $12,000 a year. He was one of the most arrogant guys I knew. Not because of his salary, but because his face was on your evening news every night.

WiMN: What advice do you have for women aspiring to work in the music industry?

JO: It’s extremely important to remain flexible and open to an ever-changing environment. Be interested in your first love, yes, but also be open to the many offshoots categories that this kind of industry can provide, until you find what you’re really good at doing. I started in music, but have grown and explored many projects beyond that discipline. And that’s what’s kept my career life so interesting and successful.