Black Crow, is a newly set up boutique marketing and events agency, aiming to give bespoke campaigns and services for authors and publishers across a variety of platforms. Specialising in genre fiction, pop culture and “all things nerd”. Founder of Black Crow, Jamie-Lee Nardone discusses the process she took and her shared vision for Black Crow.
Nuray Bulbul: What is your role?
Jamie-Lee Nardone: I run Black Crow, a boutique Marketing and Events Agency specialising in genre fiction, pop culture and all things nerd. Basically, I get paid to promote my favourite things.
What made you open your own PR agency?
Faced with the difficulties that 2020 brought to the industry, I had to look for opportunities to keep working, to find creative and innovative ways to evolve, and to give my clients the fullest representation possible. I also wanted to focus on the books and projects that I’m passionate about. The result was Black Crow.
What goals have you set up for your agency in 2021?
I'll be using the agency to build our incredible client list and showcase the work we do. I’m excited to get more involved in the comics industry, starting with Volume 1 of Cavan Scott’s Shadow Service.
How long have you worked on this idea?
About five years ago I made the jump from London and started freelancing. I made visits when needed, still networking and attending key festivals and conventions. Most importantly, I was able to get a dog. I’m glad the industry is waking up to not being so London-centric. It removes a lot of barriers.
What has been the most challenging thing about opening your agency?
Deciding to launch during a pandemic is pretty high up there. Each time I prepared to make the announcement; a new trash fire started. It didn’t seem appropriate to shout about my exciting news. Ultimately, I don’t think there ever was a right time in 2020, but the reception has been great.
You’ve worked in PR for over 10 years, what has that journey been like for you?
Busy! I’ve met some amazing people over the years, including my best friends and husband, and experienced things I never would have outside of this industry. You do have to work very hard in this profession, so make sure it’s the right career for you.
What were you doing before PR?
I wouldn’t call my path ‘traditional’; I was working in a dog-grooming salon before I got my first job in publishing. I’ve run restaurants and clothes stores, been a secretary, flyer distributor. I studied Business and Media at University, and while degrees are important for many, I’m much more interested in someone’s work ethic and attitude.
What would you recommend to someone setting up their own agency?
Most importantly, do something you love. No matter how driven you are, you need to find the passion to live and breathe the spreadsheets as much as the canapes. I’d also recommend getting feedback from your peers and doing some market research. In future, I would get a professional to do the design side of things. I’m sure they’d be a lot quicker.
How have you assembled your team?
As the work has increased, so has the team. I work with passionate and creative freelancers who have skills that complement the agency, from experience in bookselling and events to SEO and digital marketing. I value drive and initiative, so demonstrating that is key. And never underestimate the power of networking.
How do you find and pick titles for book publicity campaigns?
I work with wonderful publishers who continue to give me a range of awesome titles to work on, from best-selling and award-winning science fiction and fantasy, to beautiful graphic novels and addictive YA. Networking and word-of mouth continues to bring more work in, and I’m always excited to hear about potential projects. Clients can get in touch directly via email or through the website.
How do you work with clients?
We cater to each client individually, whether working on retainer or a one-off campaign. The team works remotely across the UK and can be on-hand for physical events and meetings (remember those?). We work flexible hours, which is ideal for our clients based outside of the UK.
What have you learnt from this experience so far?
That I made the right decision. And Cujo (my dog) makes the best companion to take to author events.