No, You Can’t Pick My Brain. It Costs Too Much

Adrienne GrahamAdrienne Graham  Original Post

But your knowledge has value. You’ve invested time and money into learning your craft and it’s not fair for people to expect you to give it away for free. Even friends need to understand there are boundaries.

For example I will no longer advise my friends or family for free. (Wow, I just made some people mad….they’ll get over it!). I have businesses to run, employees to pay, a mortgage to pay, an office rent to pay, college tuition, etc, etc, etc.

I’ve told this to friends who have promptly replied, “Me too, you know I don’t have much money”. SO WHAT. That means you either have to delay your plans or come up with the money to fund your dreams. Period. Giving away information is the quickest way to end up evicted or foreclosed on. Put that in proper perspective for a moment.

If you’re having problem drawing the line in the sand, here are some rules of thumb you should follow:

  • Believe that what you know is valuable. If it wasn’t then why are they coming to you? You’re their chance to solve a problem or find a solution. That has value. Charge for it.
  • Create a fee schedule. Whenever someone wants to pick your brain, make sure you have your fee schedule in front of you. Give them a quote for how much it will cost them. They’ll either pay it or move on. If they move on, good riddance. They weren’t interested in paying you anyway. Let them figure it out on their own.
  • Decline lunch/coffee invitations unless they are strictly non-business.If the conversation swings around to business, quickly and politely tell them you’re off the clock. If they are interested in a consult they can book an appointment and let them know what the charge is for that.
  • Keep it light. Some of you will probably cave and throw a few nuggets out there. If you do (I hope you don’t), keep it general. Give the why and what but never the how. Anything beyond the why and what comes with a charge. And don’t even point them in the direction to obtain the how. That’s short changing yourself.
  • Prominently post that there are no freebies. OK not in those words. But if you have a blog or website, and even on your social media profiles, make sure you mention that consultations are available at a fee.
  • Exchange for equal value. This puts you in an advantageous bargaining position. If someone requests free information or help, you must feel comfortable in asking for an in kind value service. Assess what they have that can be of equal benefit for you. If they are genuine, they should have no problem in an even exchange of knowledge. Only you will know if what they have is equal to what you’re giving.
  • Refer them to your “free” resources. If you write a blog, have published articles, have archived videos or podcasts or have a show in which you dispense advice, refer them to that information. Explain that those are the only free information sources you offer. Anything specific or beyond what’s readily available has a cost.
  • Don’t be afraid to send them to Google. You can recommend they go to Google, or any other search engine or to sites that have articles or information about what they need advice on. You can also recommend a book or magazine that might be helpful. Let them expend that energy they would have used in meeting you at Starbucks and hit the search engines to find their answers. Problem is, they’ll be overwhelmed with varying degrees of information. Not fun for them, but when they’re ready to put it in proper perspective and implement, they can come to you…for a consult…a paid consult.
  • Ask them for a paying referral. If they truly want your expertise, they have to be willing to help you out too. It’s kind of like the Equal Exchange point I made above crossed with paying it forward. Before you dispense any advice, ask them to provide you with referrals to others who most certainly need (and can afford) your service.
  • Don’t back down. I know it’s hard to say “no” sometimes. But you can’t back down. People will know how far they can bend or push you. Stand firm, set your boundaries and guard your treasures (your brain and the know how in it). The minute you compromise you devalue yourself and your expertise.

Most people are afraid to draw the hard lines in the sand for fear of angering a friend or losing a potential client or opportunity. Trust me, if they will walk away because they cannot get a freebie, they weren’t meant to be a client and there was no real opportunity in it for you.

Many in the marketing circles will tell you the freebie give away is vital. But it doesn’t always lead to a sale. Likewise giving away what you would do in a given situation during an interview will not necessarily lead to you being hired. It’s up to you to determine what you’re willing to give away and how much of it. Know your worth, understand your value. Stop being taken advantage of. No more freebies.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham
No, you can’t pick my brain!

Stay tuned for the release of my new book “Get Recruited: Secrets from a Top Recruiter to Use Unconventional Tactics to Get Noticed in an Inconvenient Economy”



3 Tips For Producing a Red Carpet Event

By: Kristyn Burtt

I have been on the red carpet quite a bit this year and I’ve seen it all from the grandest red carpet to one of the most laid back red carpets.  Even if you are having a small press event, it is important to have a well run red carpet that not only pleases the talent, but also pleases the media. I’ve given my helpful hints on how talent can shine on the red carpet here and here, but I haven’t offered up a few suggestions for producers of red carpet events. Here are my Top 3 tips for running a top notch red carpet.

Press Release:  Ringling Bros PR was great at updating their press release several times before the event.

1.  Press Releases:  This is one of the most important aspects of your event, so make sure to write a compelling press release that will get the media excited about coverage.  It should include the pertinent information about when the event is, expected celebrities, and types of media opportunities. (red carpet, VIP party, Meet and Greet, awards show press room access, interviews with producers, etc.)  Get your press release out about 2-3 weeks in advance.  This gives media outlets time to plan their coverage and line up reporters for the event.  If you put the press release out 3 days before the red carpet happens, you run the risk of having a low media turnout.  This is especially important if your red carpet is happening during summer movie premiere season or during Oscar season, it’s hectic…plan accordingly.  Check the Hollywood Calendar or the trades for important awards show and movie premiere dates, you don’t want to schedule your big night the same night that the Academy Awards occur.  Finally, if you are announcing nominees for an awards show, have the press release ready to go BEFORE the announcement. (Honestly, this is PR 101.)  Once the announcement is completed, email it out to your media contacts,  place the nominees list on your website, and tweet it out.  If you want the media to cover your event, be prepared, otherwise we grumble (Trust me, we are good at grumbling.) about the lack of preparation and it is noted for next year.

2.  Tip Sheets:  These are imperative to any photographer or reporter’s job on the red carpet.  They include a picture of the confirmed celebrity and their latest/most notable credit.  For me, I see so many faces and talk to so many people in any given month.  I may recognize a face, but I forget what show I’ve watched them on.  Having that tip sheet in hand lets me do quick research on my iPhone as I see them walk down the red carpet.  For up and coming talent, it is great if a publicist is escorting the actor down the carpet with a sheet of paper that includes the correct spelling of the actor’s name and their upcoming movie or TV show.  If they are making their debut in the Twilight series or in a new Disney Channel show, chances are I will jump at the chance to interview them.  It’s fun to break a new actor to the public before they are wildly famous.

3.  Placement:  A typical red carpet places photographers first, then video crews, and then writers/bloggers at the tail end of the line This is done for a reason.  The photographers grab their shots and then send the talent down the line to be interviewed.  After the video crews grab the interview, the writers will ask more in depth and longer questions so it is okay if the back end of the red carpet crowds up a bit.  Each media outlet is assigned a spot where the bigger the outlet, the better the placement.  You can expect to see E! NewsET, and Access Hollywood up front and the online media outlets closer to the back.  Honestly, it’s a fair way to do it and I never hear anyone complaining about this system.  What can be a problem is the amount of space given to each outlet.  A piece of 8×10 paper is placed at your feet to indicate your spot.  The problem is that the next piece of paper is laid down side by side for other media outlets.  Uh….I don’t know about you, but my body is not built in 8×10 dimensions.  It can be so frustrating for all of us to jostle for space, keep out of other network’s shots, and interview at the same time.  Now, I don’t expect a plot of land, but placing each piece of paper even three inches apart would make a huge difference.

I hope these tips help if you are producing your next red carpet event.

This post can be orginally found

Girl PR Power: Notes from the Women in PR Summit by Julia Wakefield



This post can be originally found here

I recently attended the Women in PR Summit at the Eden Roc Hotel in South Beach, Florida. Women working in all facets of the public relations business flew in from across the nation and Canada to attend panels, workshops and seminars.

I was fortunate to be invited to participate in five panels, ranging from developing a profitable social media strategy, to confronting gender issues in the workplace, to best practices in media relations.

Through participating in discussions and networking with attendees, I found that their concerns and questions tended to center around a couple of key topics that are top-of-mind for public relations and communications practitioners today.

Metrics and measurement

I noted in one panel that a mistake we see a lot in public relations is not knowing what success looks like for a given campaign. That is, plunging into the execution of the strategy before first determining the metrics by which you’ll measure the success of the strategy, setting benchmarks and developing a strategy accordingly.

Then, the firestorm of questions began. What kind of benchmarks should one use? How do you project what is reasonable to accomplish? How do you manage client expectations?

Given rbb’s focus on metrics, measurement and benchmarking success, I was able to offer some methods for attendees to implement in their next campaign. I explained that at rbb we don’t just have one way to measure results, and we certainly don’t just count clips. Depending on the project, we look at business outcomes: leads, customer service goals and conversion rates. We also track communications metrics such as impressions, message point penetration, sentiment and changes in perceptions – all great ways to benchmark success for a PR campaign.

Crisis management on social media

Many attendees were in the field of entertainment PR, serving as publicists for celebrities, musicians, artists, and athletes, and client management is one of their day-to-day tasks. But now that every client has the ability to broadcast image-damaging – even career-ending – statements without the benefit of PR counsel, what’s the best way to contain such crises?

Once they’ve happened, said Joshua King of Fly Publicity (our only male panelist), they’re difficult to contain. Counsel clients about the pitfalls of social media when you bring them on board. However, understand that in certain instances issuing an apology or ignoring the online outrage is all you can do (besides working with the client to avoid similar issues in the future).

Law in the age of online content sharing

These days, as intellectual property laws struggle to keep up with the ever-expanding platforms for creating original content and sharing found content, it’s more important than ever to know your rights when it comes to your own content (such as blog posts, white papers, or photos) and when it comes to others’ content. LaShawn Thomas, Esq. of Miami Entertainment Law Group shared ways to protect your work, just as you’d protect any other asset.

For Pictures from the summit click here

Women In PR Celebrated Their One-Year Anniversary In NYC

Women In PR, a professional organization dedicated to connecting like-minded women with nationwide professional development seminars and online public relations resources, celebrated their one-year anniversary in New York City with a two-day conference.

Public relations professionals and students from around the country joined Women In PR founder, Anje Collins, and her team for a two-day boot camp. During the boot camp, participants discussed “Fashion & Beauty PR: Where to I start?”, “Being a woman in PR: How to act like one”, “How to create opportunity in 2012” and “How to make social media work for you and your client.”

Attendees were given the chance to network with top industry professionals and ask questions about their experience.

The event was preceded by a cocktail reception at Flatiron Hotel on Thursday hosted by Tené Nícole, Marketing and Public Relations Firm to celebrate the anniversary and introduce the boot camp professionals.

Here is what attendees had to say:

Hi Anje,

First, I would like to say how much I enjoyed the Women in PR boot camp this weekend. I definitely learned a lot and you are an amazing woman! I was wondering if you knew of any job positions within fashion PR or event production. I will be graduating this weekend and the job hunt has been stressing me out! I really appreciate all of your help!

Thank you,



I attended the New York boot camp and it was well worth the travel.  I am so thankful to have met Anje Collins and fellow women in PR like myself that attended the summit. Anje and the guest speakers answered all my questions and concerns. I came in not knowing what to expect and walked out with a clear vision. I learned more in two days about PR than I have learned in my entire post secondary education. I was supplies the tools for a beginner publicist to get started in PR. From a PR tool kit, to budget plans and pricing, to how to writing effective and creative proposals & press releases. The interactive almost lecture-like seminars were all very inspiring and educational. I will definitely be travelling from Toronto to Miami for the 2nd annual summit & retreat in the future! I am beyond thankful for the opportunity. My journey with Women in PR has just begun.
Adjoa Atuahene
Thank You having the Women in PR Boot Camp. It was a really good experience. As student at The City College of New York I learned a lot within those two days. Hearing you speak about y…our experience in the PR industry helped a lot. Listening to Jenelle Hamilton and Nikkia McClain share their stories was great. Hearing their stories was very motivational and helpful to a student like me. Not only were the speakers helpful meeting the ladies who attended the boot camp were great to meet. I learned a lot from everyone there.
Thank You,
Angelique Williams 
The bootcamp was truly an enjoyable learning experience. I am grateful for Women In PR and your openness to sharing real and insightful knowledge of the industry. Having also attended a previous summit, you continue to inspire me and keep me motivated toward my goals. I would highly recommend that anyone interested in PR attend one of your summits! Thank you again!
Hi Anje! I’m so glad I could make it out to the NYC Boot Camp. I learned more than I ever anticipated and all those great guest speakers have me amped to work harder than ever! School can only teach you so much. I loved how everyone was so open to sharing their experiences and laying out how the PR world really is. It was a great positive learning experience. Hopefully I can make it out to the Miami one.
With Love, Mathusha
Hi Anje,
loved the class.  Even thought I have been doing  events/meetings/publicity for a while I always love an opportunity to learn something new…. and I learned a lot from you!    You are an awesome person and I love your energy.
It is possible to get a list of the attendees, with e-mail addresses?  I would love to stay in contact with the class and follow their careers.
Also, anytime you know of an opportunity in NYC, please let me know.  As a freelancer I am always looking for work.
All the best,
Lynn Aloia

Who is @DKNY PR Girl Really?

Aliza Licht, a DKNY publicist with 380,000 followers, pulls back her veil on YouTube.

Published: February 15, 2012

“I CAME out on YouTube,” said Aliza Licht, who until recently was known to her legion of Twitter fans only as DKNY PR girl. “Of course, where else would you come out?”

To her nearly 380,000 followers, DKNY PR girl seemed to exemplify the fun-loving, fast-paced life of a fashion public relations gal living in New York City. Hers was a sassy diary written from inside the fashion bubble: “Back at the ranch (office) waiting for CelebX to arrive for her fitting. Only issue is she’s still asleep. Oh @nyfw…the drama never ends,” she wrote last Saturday. Or “It’s so strange to go from runway show craziness to vacuuming in pajamas. What a day,” she wrote a day later.

But last October, Ms. Licht decided it was time to pull back the veil and, surprise, it turns out that she is in fact a DKNY publicist. Or more precisely, the senior vice president for global communications at Donna Karan International.

Seated at the Four Seasons lobby the other day (her pick for the roaring fireplace), Ms. Licht pondered her next steps. “I’ve never thought of myself as a public person,” she said.

Dressed in head-to-toe black with an immaculate blowout and red matte lips, she had the shellac polish of a flinty fashion boss and a chit-chatty way of charm. “What I’ve done, it’s been for the company. Now that I’m out there, I would love to mentor more young people. I think I was a teacher in a past life.”

She is already a role model. At the recent Fashion 2.0 Awards, which honors online fashion initiatives, Ms. Licht was the night’s big winner, with awards for Best Twitter and Best Blog by a Fashion Brand. “Aliza was one of the first people to understand the potential of Twitter for a fashion house,” said Yuli Ziv, founder of Style Coalition, a blogger network that was host of the awards.

Unlike the new breed of baby-faced social media editors, Ms. Licht took a more circuitous path to Twitter stardom. Ms. Licht, a 37-year-old mother of two, grew up in the Five Towns area of Long Island, with dreams of becoming a plastic surgeon. It took a summer internship at a hospital to relieve her of that notion. “I can’t wear scrubs every day,” she said, throwing her head back and laughing. “I love fashion too much.”

After college, she trained her sights on fashion magazines, and got an editorial internship at Harper’s Bazaar, then jumped to Marie Claire, where she specialized in accessories for two years. With few editor positions opening up, even before the dawn of social media, Ms. Licht made the leap to public relations when a job opened up at Donna Karan. She has been with the company since 1998.

Much of her job consists of what she calls “classic P.R.” She cranks the news release machine, arranges fashion show seating and handles celebrity dressing. Then, in 2009, she added social media to her portfolio.

“It was like the wild wild West when we first started,” she said. “Before, the P.R. strategies were so controlled. Now everything you’ve done before is out the window, because whoever is tweeting, whether you like it or not, is speaking on behalf of the company. Good or bad or different.”

In an unusually trusting move, the company gave her free rein. “I kept hearing how some companies had interns doing it, and I can’t imagine somebody going out on a Saturday night with a branded Twitter handle and just going crazy on it,” she said.

Her online voice comes across as girlie and intimate (morning routine, weekend mani-pedis and “Gossip Girl” critiques) but knowledgeable. She’ll discuss inner workings under the hashtag #PR101, as in “Attention to detail is everything. The wrong colored binder clip can destroy your presentation.”

And before each runway season, she’ll explain seating charts and divulge ridiculous requests for tickets.

It’s a style that has since been imitated by other fashion Twitter accounts like OscarPRgirland Bergdorfs. “This year, other brands have stepped up their games by investing more human resources into social media,” Ms. Ziv said.

Twitter has also introduced Ms. Licht to like-minded friends in the industry (other folks “who get it,” she says), including Mickey Boardman of Paper magazine, Ariel Foxman of InStyle and the socialite Marjorie Gubelmann. They get together for dinners every so often.

“We met via Twitter,” Ms. Licht said, who likens it to a book reading club. “I knew some of the editors through my job, but would you speak to them everyday? Maybe not unless you’re working on a story.”

“Twitter breaks down the walls of the normal infrastructure,” she added. “Anyone can speak to anyone, and you’re not butting into a conversation.”

That online party came to life during the televised “People’s Choice Awards” last month. Ensconced in her Upper East Side apartment — sparkling clean with silver and white décor — she pulled out a trusty old Thinkpad and opened up two desktop windows: one to TweetDeck (a Twitter interface), the other to the live stream on

She bantered back and forth with fuggirls, a Twitter handle known for hilarious red carpet commentary. Then she sent a message to courtjustice, a longtime Twitter friend who has a knack for identifying Donna Karan attire on celebrities. All the while, she kept an eye on any Twitter mentions of @dkny.

“The friends you make on Twitter are real relationships,” Ms. Licht said, adding that she hired her assistant and an intern through it. “I still remember when I had 230 followers. There are some followers from those numbers that I still speak to on a regular basis. It’s very personal. It’s become part of my stream of consciousness.”

A version of this article appeared in print on February 16, 2012, on page E9 of the New York edition with the headline: P.R. Girl Revealed as P.R. Executive


Women in PR Presents “A Connected Affair” Hosted by YES Productions & The Kartel Company


Written by: Mena Wright


Women In PR is an organization that empowers women to reach their full potential by promoting their professional growth and inspiring them to share their successes in the rapidly changing world of public relations. On January 26th, 2012 they held their 2-day boot camp summit in Los Angeles at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills. The boot camp focused on topics such as Entertainment PR, Event Planning, Sports PR and Sponsorships.

After the boot camp, guests were invited to attend “A Connected Affair”, a free cocktail mixer for event planners and publicists that was held at the Terrell Moore Art Gallery in Downtown, Los Angeles. The event was coordinated and hosted by YES Productions & Concierge and The Kartel Company, a full service public relations company. The evening consisted of music, food, beverages, art and lots of networking.

Delicious drinks in yummy tropical flavors flowed all night on behalf of Hula Girl Beverages, guests also enjoyed food catered from Chef Ewanda of Ladies Touch Catering and tasty dessert treats from Chef Ameera.

Guests were able to take in the abstract art that decorated the gallery from Artist Terrell Moore, beautiful floral arrangements courtesy of Primary Petals and take fun pics in the photo booth provided by Apixture.

The event was a perfect way to welcome publicists and event planners to the boot camp summit. We would like to thank everyone who attended and all who were involved in helping to make this a successful, fun, and worthwhile event.

Special thanks goes to Terrell Moore and Dale Youngman, Hula Girl, Primary Petals, Apixture, Chef Ameera, Ladies Touch Catering, The Kartel Company and Women in PR. Please be on the look-out for future events and cocktail mixers that encourage networking and relationship building.

To view images from the event, please check out photos from celebrity photographer Arnold Turner at Picture Group or Associated Press

Posted by: Mena Wright of Yes Productions & Concierge

Meet The Gurus Signature Dinner Chicago

Please join us at this special event with Chicago’s top industry leaders. Learn from experienced professionals and network.

Anje Collins- Women In PR

Cameka D. Smith Founder & CEO, The BOSS Network

Dr. Renee Matthews- Matthews Entertainment Group & Associates

Dionne Williams D Williams Public Relations & Event Management

Jada Russell-High Style Marketing

Jen Knoedl-

Jenny Fukumoto- Ragan Communications

Julia Darling- Julia Darling Events

Meredith Bay- M&P Food Communications

Najja Howard- Howard Smith & Associates

Nakia Jefferson- Blogger + ChiTown Fashionista

Rebecca Dailey- Wooley- Designs by Ruth Quinones

Samantha Hosenkamp- Ragan Communications

Shannon Smith- Howard Smith & Associates

Shawn Zanotti- Exact Publicity


Offer expires 1/29/2012

Code: WIPRC12

How Can We Get More Women In PR’s Top Jobs?

According to the latest CIPR’s Annual State of the PR Profession Survey, the PR jobs market is dominated by women (65 per cent are female), yet men are more likely to hold a senior management or director position and are almost twice as likely to be earning a salary in excess of $70,000.

Of course there should be more women at board level in PR, but as with other professions, it is hard balancing having a family with a demanding job, and it‘s usually women who take on the brunt of childcare.

Yet some women with families do succeed. Jane Wilson, CEO at the CIPR says it is not easy to pinpoint exactly what women who hold down top jobs have in common. But she can draw on her own experience: “From a personal perspective, I suppose I am a woman in a senior role in public relations and I’ve been at board level or similar positions since my late twenties. As I look at my career, I cannot honestly say that I’ve found it harder to succeed because of my gender. But I’ve had to make choices about my priorities at different stages in my life.

“When I was younger I was free to work and play hard with few other time commitments. Now that I have other personal responsibilities, including young children, I manage my life in a different way. I’m lucky though. I have always had a great network of friends and family who supported my career and helped me out.

Wilson concludes that ultimately, women with families require a great support system: “The more responsibilities you have in your life – and the majority of women as child bearers do tend to have more – the better the support network you need. Whether that’s a supportive husband, a great nanny or an inspiring boss who pays for your professional development. If you can focus on the job in hand, you’re more likely to at least start on an even footing to your male counterparts.”

Another way to encourage women with families is to allow them to work flexibly. Lisa Doherty, marketing manager at PR agency Nelson Bostock Group, says this is vital and PR firms must have flexible working practices if they want to hold on to talented staff. However, she believes the PR industry is slow to adopt such practices, probably because it’s service based and therefore wants to be constantly available to clients, staff and fellow senior colleagues. She advises learning from clients: “Most of us, at some point, have worked with clients that have a flexible working policy, with some of them even having incentive schemes to get women back to work following maternity leave. It’s surprising then that the PR industry hasn’t followed suit quite as quickly, especially in such a female-dominated industry, and when you consider how much we invest in employees, not to mention the knowledge and expertise that is being lost.”

Doherty says that flexible working is easy to implement and improves productivity. “We currently have members of staff working flexibly – myself included – and over a year later it’s still working well for me. People now recognize when I’m in the office and structure meetings/deadlines accordingly. I have not yet encountered any negative reactions or any barriers when discussing career advancement.

“Flexible working increases productivity. When you’re only in the office a set amount of time, you tend to be more focused and need to make sure you are on top of your game, as well as your workload. So, with a bit more open-minded flexibility from PR employers there should be no reason why women can’t make it to the top in PR.”

A Publicist Who Sees No Need to Duck Calls


LOS ANGELES — Not many years ago, the top players in Hollywood publicity called back when they were good and ready. It was all about access — or the refusal to give it.

Today, Kelly Bush smashes straight into the fray via videophone, social network, e-mail barrage and an all-in attitude. “We’re at the top of our game,” Ms. Bush says, “so bring it on.”

This could explain why her company, ID, which ranks with a handful of elite firms that protect and promote the biggest names in show business, counts as a prime client a children’s entertainer whose dazzling career had fizzled overnight after he was caught masturbating in a theatershowing pornographic films.

“I was told, ‘You might work again, but you’re never going to have a career,’ ” said Paul Reubens, who signed with Ms. Bush in 1999, years after the theater episode but before his 2002 arrest on charges, later dropped, of possessing child pornography.

When others might have counseled lying low, Ms. Bush pushed a reluctant Mr. Reubens to revive his Pee-wee Herman persona for a 2007 appearance on Spike TV. A rousing reception led to a Broadway run for “The Pee-wee Herman Show” late last year and a career revival that has him writing the script for a new Universal Pictures film, with Ms. Bush doing double duty as Mr. Reubens’s publicist and manager.

“She changed my life,” he said in an interview, acknowledging that he was “surfing on waves created by Kelly Bush.”

Ms. Bush, 44, is also helping change the business, playing into and sometimes tangling with a volatile, Web-driven, 24-hour media culture that has forced celebrity publicists to become less the cautious gatekeeper and more the frenetic multitasker. She’s in your face and sure of herself, and she has no filter.

Lately, she and her company have been rattling the clubby world of entertainment public relations with their agile efforts to stay in front of a culture that can chew up a client in an instant. Red carpets, photo shoots and tiffs with the tabloids are still the stuff of Hollywood publicity. But Ms. Bush has been pushing her company — which employs about 75 people in Los Angeles, New York and London — to use every tool in its kit.

That can mean playing the Internet fixer. Ms. Bush claimed in an interview that she knew how to get Google to make nasty, wrong headlines instantly disappear.

It can also mean writing Oscar skits and producing funny Web videos for clients like Ben Stiller, whose 2009 Academy Awards send-up of Joaquin Phoenix, a competitor’s client, was cooked up in collaboration with ID.

Or, it can mean actually managing an actor’s career, as Ms. Bush does not only for Mr. Reubens, but also for Ellen Page, star of “Juno” and “Inception” — a move that has been largely taboo for publicists in the past.

“A lot of publicists still see their job as blocking the press — when you call they either run for the hills or lie — and Kelly is smart enough, in the age of the Internet, to know that never works,” said Lisa Gregorisch, who runs the syndicated celebrity news program “Extra.”

Not that Ms. Bush is easy. “She’s a grizzly bear,” Ms. Gregorisch said.

Her manner is shockingly direct, though tempered by the occasional funny take-back. Asked about her ultimate goal for ID, Ms. Bush didn’t blink: “World domination.”

A beat later, she pointed to a reporter’s notebook and added, “she said sarcastically.”

Ms. Bush knows she’s a tough customer but prides herself on never resorting to one tool: the screaming phone call. “It’s O.K. to say no to someone, but you should do it with respect,” she said.

Her fans include Tobey Maguire, who credits Ms. Bush with helping persuade Sony to cast him as the lead in “Spider-Man” by lining up a sexy magazine spread.

“I like crystal clarity,” Mr. Maguire said, “and that is always what I get from her.”

Success inevitably brings detractors. One common criticism is that ID has grown by cutting fees.

Nonsense, Ms. Bush says. Everybody on the list — Amy AdamsJosh BrolinNatalie PortmanJavier Bardem — pays fees comparable with those charged by competitors. The most basic services start at $4,500 a month and escalate toward what she calls “the high six figures” annually for corporate clients, which recently have included Nintendo, Tiffany & Company, the Weinstein Company and Elle magazine.

Competitors also say ID has grown by being willing to take “problem” clients. While that is true to some degree, ID’s cluster of challenging clients might also reflect the company’s skill in handling trouble.

ID’s talent roster may not outshine that of, say, Slate PR. And 42West, based in New York, is especially strong among filmmakers and on the festival circuit. PMK/BNC, owned by the Interpublic Group, has said it is the largest Hollywood firm, at least by some measures, since it was formed in a merger in 2009.

But ID, like most large competitors, has been expanding its brand-related business, partly to stabilize income from sources more reliable than actors, who may pay a retainer only for a few months when they have a television show or a movie to promote. Growing departments now handle filmmakers like Zack Snyder and Jason Reitman; blockbuster movies like the “Twilight” series; and digital initiatives for Sean PennAlicia Keys and others. The company is owned exclusively by Ms. Bush, who said she financed its growth completely from cash flow. Mara Buxbaum, the president and chief operating officer, shares in profits.

The name, ID, is meant to connote “identity,” Ms. Bush said.

And the corporate identity is thoroughly entwined with her own out-of-nowhere story. As Ms. Bush tells it, she was born in San Francisco to a single mother who put her up for adoption, then decided to keep her. Growing up largely around military bases, she says she took up karate at age 8, getting a black belt as a teenager. “Now I’m a black belt of the mouth,” she said.

After high school, she found work selling memberships at a San Francisco fitness club, and in 1991, at 26, she moved to Los Angeles.

Her career in publicity was born with a referral to Susan Geller, who had handled some of the era’s biggest stars.

“She had this blind ambition, she’s fearless,” said Ms. Geller, who is now retired.

After less than two years, Ms. Bush left to start her own publicity firm, taking with her a prime client, Rosie O’Donnell. Within weeks, Ms. O’Donnell was back with Ms. Geller. But Ms. Bush forged ahead from her duplex in the Hollywood Hills.

Ms. Buxbaum left PMK to join ID 11 years ago. “It was a much scrappier feel,” Ms. Buxbaum said of the contrast between ID and established public relations companies of the time.

By 2007, when Starbucks signed on for help with its new music business, ID was big enough to need management schooling. Ms. Bush and Ms. Buxbaum ultimately formed a corporate culture that has lofty ideals — every publicist is supposed to carry a card with principles for dealing openly and fairly. (They also have fussy rules like no BlackBerrys in meetings, and pen-clicking is a pet peeve.)

The expansion led Ms. Bush to Warner, which hired her in late 2007 for a very specific job: to contain Nikki Finke, the Hollywood blogger known for cutthroat tactics. Ms. Finke’s had written bitingly of Jeff Robinov, president of the Warner Brothers Picture Group.

As Ms. Bush came on board, however, the tenor of Ms. Finke’s coverage started to change. Ms. Bush insisted that the studio work harder to engage Ms. Finke. Warner news started to show up on Deadline first. At Warner, which has since deployed Ms. Bush on multiple fires (including Charlie Sheen), the publicist has become known by a nickname: the Nikki Whisperer.

There have been collisions. One occurred in Oscar season, when ID was part of the team behind “The King’s Speech.” The company also represented several actors in “The Social Network,” a chief rival in the awards race, as well as Sean Parker, an Internet mogul who was portrayed unflatteringly in the movie.

When ID, at Mr. Parker’s behest, according to Ms. Bush, began circulating copies of a book that was being used to question the veracity of “The Social Network” — Scott Rudin, the film’s producer, confronted Ms. Bush. He accused ID, Ms. Bush said, of working to undermine his movie on behalf of “The King’s Speech.” (Mr. Rudin said, “I have nothing to say about Kelly Bush.”)

“The King’s Speech,” of course, won the best picture Oscar. Ms. Bush ended the run-in, she said, by sending Mr. Rudin a dartboard. “My note said I was glad not to be his target anymore.”

A version of this article appeared in print on April 7, 2011, on page B1 of the New York edition.