Mia Lopez is the CEO and President of M.I.A. Media, Inc, a public relations firm based in Miami that caters to the Haitian entertainment industry. Lopez is a low-key person, but among her peers and industry insiders, her work doesn’t go unnoticed. Of her, Patrick Desvarieux, the founder of Kompa Magazine, said: “She is a natural. A people’s person. One of the best at what she does. A master of her craft.”
Nick Jean of KalePwa.com calls her a pioneer. “She helped take the Haitian Community into modern times [in terms of her public relations work],” he contends.
After being in the mainstream music industry, singer-songwriter Mickael Music wanted to enter the Haitian music market with her Bel Project, but wanted to go about it the right way. She recalls, “I asked around, ‘Who is the best PR marketing person in the Haitian music industry’? For the people that even knew what that meant all said, “Mia Lopez”, as if she [had] created the title in the Haitian music industry. When I say “everyone”, I mean everyone from artists to managers to promoters they all said, ‘Mia’.”
Some time has gone since that first encounter, contends Mickael, but the publicist remains her go-to person. “She’s still on the top of everyone’s list for PR needs. She still responds in a timely fashion and telling it like it is. But her biggest asset is how she carries herself, and her positive out look on life.”
And now a few words from the woman herself.
Kreyolicious: How did you get your start in the publicity field?
Well in August 1999, my cousin, a friend and I started a website called www.sakapfet.com I would travel and take pictures of T-Vice at bals and we would post them. All of a sudden we were attending different events, and I realized there was a need in the community for certain things that I was able to provide like PR services.
Kreyolicious: What was your objective in starting your company MIA Media?
Really and truly, I started working with Noel & Cecibon Productions in 2000 for the Haitian Compas Festival and once I got my foot in the door other festivals like Haitian Independence Festival wanted to hire me to work their festival. I decided to separate my work with Sakapfet by creating a public relations firm that focused on events and publicity work for artists and groups.
Kreyolicious: Do you believe in the saying “Fake it until you make it,” when it comes to marketing and public relations, and a musical talent or personality building a brand?
Actually, I don’t. The beauty of having your own business is that you can pick and choose who you work with. You build a clientele that not only trusts you and your talents but that you trust as well. I cannot represent an artist that is faking anything, I have to be just as passionate about that artist’s music and talent if I am going to stand up in public and speak on their behalf. I can’t fake it, and to be honest, I’m a horrible liar. [Laughter] So, don’t get me wrong. There are instances where that saying fits, but if you don’t have real talent or at least a foundation of talent, you won’t be able to stay relevant in any business.
Kreyolicious: What’s it like running your PR company?
I started M.I.A. Media, Inc. in 2004, and it has always been fun, even after taking two years off to tend to my family and my children, now that I’m back I’m able to see things a little differently and operate at a different standard. Like most people in the Haitian Music Industry, I have a regular 9 to 5 that keeps me busy, but I’m up at 5:45 a.m every morning studying the business and seeing what kind of buzz was creating in the middle of the night, and my day usually ends around midnight or one in the morning. The Haitian Music Industry never sleeps, and so operating a PR company you are able to build business relationships with musicians, promoters, producers and the media to keep you up to date of everything that’s going on. When you love what you do, it’s not really hard work. And when you’ve been doing it for so long, it’s like walking, breathing, eating…it’s second nature. It’s actually fun! Being able to see a person’s career blossom into something amazing and looking back to say, “I had a tiny something to do with that!” It’s an awesome feeling.
Kreyolicious: When artists are starting out…they have to pay for studio time, photo shoots, and promotions, and the like. Sometimes PR might be the last thing on their mind. What can an artist who can’t afford PR do?
With this day in age social media is just a touch away, I think any artist that is starting out can build the foundation of their brand by keeping up with their social media appearance and making sure that they conduct themselves in a professional manner at all times. Connecting with your fans, keeping the public aware of what you’re doing—not in a cocky way but in a productive, professional way is super-important. People nowadays are all about connection. They want to feel like they are there with you in every aspect, so creating a fan base by sharing your talents, videos, songs in small doses will create a buzz and will keep people watching you. Even if you can’t afford a PR person, you should definitely have a press kit prepared. You should also have a biography and a fan page where people can look you up when you do drop a song or video. There are lots of talented writers and PR people that you can [get] a la carte services [from]. I know that M.I.A. Media, Inc. provides those kinds of services, so you might not have the budget to hire a full-time publicist, but you can have some work done to help you along the way.
This concludes PART ONE of the interview with Mia Lopez. Be sure to watch out for PART TWO of the interview with the founder of MIA Media Inc.