Q&A With Nicole Baker

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Q&A With Nicole Baker 

Recently since creating a LinkedIn account, I have been able to make contacts with people I know and with new people! One of these new people is Nicole Baker. Nicole is a senior publicist at Smith Publicity. Nicole has had eight years of experience in the publishing industry. Nicole has secured media coverage for authors in Newsweek, Essence Magazine, USA Today, Time Magazine, NPR, Yahoo & more. 

Q: Nicole, when did you know that being a publicist was something you wanted to do? 

A: After graduating from Purdue University, I started my career in the non-profit sector. While fulfilling, I found myself craving more creativity. I then moved into healthcare public relations, where I thrived until my position was eliminated after the company was sold. This transition led me to my first role in publicity, which I instantly loved. I enjoy bridging the gap between clients and the media, always seeking the perfect hook to elevate my clients and assist journalists. Over the years, I’ve built wonderful relationships with my colleagues and media contacts, making this field truly rewarding for me.

Q: I have done Q&As with several publicists. Some said they went to college, others applied for internships. What was your experience? Did you go to college or apply for an internship? 

A: Yes, my journey began at Purdue University, where I graduated with a degree in Communication and Public Relations. During my time in college, I seized every opportunity to gain practical experience through internships. I had an unforgettable internship at Walt Disney World, where I learned the magic of storytelling and brand experience. Additionally, I interned at a local radio station, diving into media relations and broadcasting. Perhaps most impactful was my internship with the YWCA Women’s Cancer Program, which not only allowed me to contribute to a meaningful cause but also became my first “real” job after graduation. Each of these experiences uniquely shaped my career path and equipped me with a diverse skill set that I continue to draw upon today.

Q: Which authors do you represent as their publicist? 

A: I have the pleasure of working at Smith Publicity, where we represent a diverse array of talented authors. Currently, I’m managing publicity for five incredible nonfiction authors, each bringing unique perspectives and insights to their respective fields. For the latest updates on which authors are making waves in the media, feel free to check out my LinkedIn profile, where I regularly share exciting media placements and features.

Q: In the eight years you’ve been a publicist, what lessons have you learned that you hope others learn if they would want to become a publicist? 

A: Embrace discomfort and constant learning! As a publicist, you’ll need to become well-versed in topics you might not normally explore, which is a fantastic perk. We are always learning, whether it’s new technology to enhance our work, emerging media platforms, or diverse subject matters—no two days are ever the same.

Excellent organizational skills are essential in this role. Managing multiple clients and navigating hundreds of media opportunities and deadlines leaves no room for error. Developing efficient processes for every step of the day is crucial.

Lastly, while it’s important to stay responsive to the media, I’ve learned to carve out time away from my phone. The media never sleeps, and while it’s tempting to always be available, it’s also essential to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Q: What is it like getting media attention for your authors in Newsweek, Essence Magazine, USA Today, Time Magazine, NPR, Yahoo? It sounds like the most exciting part of the job of a publicist getting media attention for your authors! 

A: It absolutely is! Seeing my clients featured in top-tier publications like Newsweek, USA Today, Time Magazine, NPR, and Yahoo is incredibly rewarding. My clients’ successes are my successes too. Each media placement is a testament to our hard work and dedication, and I genuinely feel like their biggest cheerleader. It may sound cheesy, but I do a little happy dance every time we secure a major media win. Helping my clients achieve their dreams and watching their stories reach a wider audience is the most exhilarating part of being a publicist.

Q: If you ever became an author yourself, what kind of story would you write & would you ever represent yourself as your publicist or hire someone else?

A: Great question! While I don’t see myself writing a book anytime soon, the idea is intriguing, especially as I accumulate more life experiences—raising four children, being a recent breast cancer survivor, and living with four dogs and a very old cat. I think it would be fun to capture those adventures someday. For now, I find joy in elevating my clients and helping them shine in the spotlight.

Watching my oldest son pursue his writing career has given me a unique perspective on the author journey, and I support him as much as I can. Interestingly, many authors are not natural marketers; they spend so much time writing in solitude that the transition to marketing their book can be quite overwhelming. While I like to think I would manage my own publicity, I believe having a dedicated publicist on your team is invaluable. It allows the author to focus on what they do best—writing—while the publicist handles the promotion.

Q: What is your favorite & least favorite part about being a publicist?

A: My favorite part is landing my clients their dream interviews. There’s nothing quite like the thrill of seeing their excitement and knowing that I’ve helped them reach a significant milestone in their careers—it never gets old! On the flip side, my least favorite part is all the “circling back” emails. While it’s a necessary part of the job to follow up and ensure everything is on track, it can feel repetitive and tedious. Even I cringe a bit when I have to write another “just circling back” message.