Kia Drayton is an ex-model, and currently, a sports publicist who operates from San Francisco. Dayton was successful as a model and is equally successful as a sports publicist. Dayton attributes her success to hard work and persistence in everything she does. Her success as a publicist is evident in the awards that she had bagged over the years. Some of her most notable awards include the Publicist of the Year Award and the Prestigious Press Award.  Dayton’s success as a sports publicist also has a lot to do with her academic background. She holds a degree in marketing, and also attended short courses in advertising, communication, and advertising. She also had a passion for sports and fitness from an early age and retained it all through her time as a model. She also has a strong business mind, and this helped her notice an opportunity in the sports market and grab it. She used her skills in marketing and her networks in modeling to launch a successful career in sports. Aside from work, Drayton is a philanthropist and regularly donates to the Challenged Athletes Foundation, among other charities.

How did you get started in your industry?

I got started as a publicist while I was a professional model. I always admired the job, and always wanted to follow it as part of my career progression.  I convinced some of the people in my circle to take a chance on me, and in the end, they loved my services. I would also use every opportunity I got, especially social and business events I got invited to market my services.

How do you make money in your field?

I make money by billing my clients for the services I provide them. My services include managing clients’ public image, organizing and managing press conferences, regulating information available on different media concerning clients, writing and delivering press releases and reports, social media site management, and preventing and mitigating crises.

How long did it take for you to become profitable?

It took almost a year before I made profits as a publicist. I focused mostly on getting the relevant experience and would charge my clients really low amounts for my services. Some of my services were also pro bono because I offered services to those in my social circle for a start which taught me skills that were relevant in the market. I was also juggling my modeling career and establishing myself as a publicist, which meant that less time was spent on the business.

When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?

No, I never doubted that things would work out. However, there were many setbacks and challenges, which I managed to overcome through working hard and learning from my mistakes. I had to juggle two careers at once, which took time away from the business, and also I was primarily self-taught when I started. I received training in a variety of subjects to make me more competent and continuously reached out to prospective clients. I received very many Nos but kept going.

Do you remember how you got your first client?

Yes, my first client was a colleague who I convinced to take on my services. I appreciated her taking on my services and through her and others like her, I got better at the job. She also referred other clients my way and became one of my longest-standing clients before I ventured into sports publicity.

What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in your professional life?

Venturing into an industry I had no training or experience was daunting at first but totally worth it. I was passionate about it but was initially scared of how things would turn out.

What is one marketing strategy that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?

I rely heavily on digital marketing, especially SEO and social media marketing. The internet has made it possible to get clients from all over the world and provide services online. Further, with more and more people using digital technology, I have to use it constantly because that’s how people are getting information. It’s easier for prospective clients to find out all they need to know about my services, get in touch, and become clients. I also like that it’s easier for me to assess how effective my marketing methods are and make changes whenever the need arises. Social media marketing is good because it makes it possible to customize content for each demographic, which promotes efficiency.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I would advise my younger self to believe in themselves. When younger, I spent a lot of time second-guessing myself, worrying about how things would turn out, and questioning a lot of my decisions. If I knew what I know now, I would just put in the work and sit back and wait for things to play out as they were intended to. I put in a lot of work, and I should have trusted that it was enough.

I would also advise my younger self to invest in meaningful relationships and ask for help when I need it. I tried so hard to do everything by myself and be self-sufficient while many people were willing to help me if only I asked. Asking for assistance is not a sign of weakness but strength. I have also found that relationships have helped develop both my personal and professional life. They have helped grow my business and supported me through the difficult patches.

What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

Nailing my first sports client was very satisfying and validated my decision to specialize in sports.

What do you think it is that makes you successful?

I believe that one of the main reasons behind my success is hard work. It took me years and numerous sacrifices before I got to where I wanted. I juggled two careers, went back to school for training, offered pro bono services, and gave my all to get here. I also believe that being resilient helped me push through. I experienced numerous disappointments and closed doors but always found a way to bounce back bigger and better.

What business books have inspired you?

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t by Jim Collins was an amazing book that helped me move my business to the next level. It had great tips for increasing efficiency and staff productivity, which I apply to this day in my career.

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Nell Scovell is also my favorite.

What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?

I look forward to working with international teams and players and expanding our team here to support the growth. I’m also excited about reaching out to more people through the different organizations I support.


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