Behind the Scenes of Publicizing 'Manchild' Hoops Documentary

Interview with Publicist Jerica Williams

Manchild documentary
Artruculture Group

In a previous interview, Jerica Williams shared what she does in her role as a publicist.

She is currently working with retired basketball player Schea Cotton on promoting a documentary about his career called ManchildMs. Williams shares how she began working with Cotton, how she helped promote the film and other behind the scenes details in this interview.

Readers got a sense of the general role of a publicist in our previous interview. Now let's go deeper with a current project you are working on for a client, the documentary Manchild.  What's the film about?

Williams: Manchild is a documentary about Los Angeles basketball legend, Schea Cotton. There have been many stories told about Schea, and all of the ones about what he did on the court are true. This time, though, Schea and the people closest to him tell the story about what really happened. A star-studded documentary featuring Scoop Jackson, Paul Pierce, Baron Davis, Ron Artest, Tyson Chandler, Jason Hart, Stephen Jackson and Elton Brand to name a few. The 78-minute story line depicts all stages of Schea’s basketball journey, beginning at the age of 11. 

How did you connect with Schea Cotton to work on the project?

Williams: Schea and I got introduced when I was in my senior year of college, I was an intern writing for a local basketball outlet, and I asked Schea to interview one of his players. You know how they say things always come full circle? That’s essentially how it happened.

We stayed connected over the years.

I found my way into my public relations career, and as the development of Manchild began to manifest, he kept me in mind. We always talk about how we used to have conversations about a documentary because everyone wanted to know his story. He knew all of this would happen. I think those conversations are what essentially brought us back together for this project.

Obviously, this is his baby, but something about hearing him speak about the documentary before its existence makes me connected to the project in my own way. As a publicist, it’s my job to listen to a person’s dream, and help him or her create it.

I saw on social media there was a showing of the film in Toronto during NBA All-Star weekend.  How does an event like that come together?

Williams: Teamwork and organization are keys.  There can be so many moving parts when it comes to executing an event of that stature. We had just come off of a private screening in Los Angeles, so the momentum was there.  It begins with logistics and coordinating event details such as location, set up, time frame, agendas, etc.

After the event details are in place, now we have to get people there. Keeping in mind that NBA All-Star weekend is one of the most prestigious and popular weekends of the sports calendar, so there are a lot of other events happening in Toronto. Effectively communicating why our event is one that people - mainly media - should attend, is essential. It’s also important to strategically place press releases and other marketing collateral in spaces that are visible to your ideal audience and demographic.

Last and certainly not least is the event day.  Anyone in Public Relations or Event Planning will tell you that a successful event is one with few hiccups. For instance, the food caterer delivered the wrong platter, we are over capacity and there are not enough seats, the signage did not show up, the keynote speaker got the flu, no one can find the entrance, the venue has no wi-fi…you get my drift. Thankfully, we experienced very few hiccups and Toronto screening ran very smooth.

What kind of media attention has the film drawn?  What is your role in that process?

Williams: Schea has been featured in nearly 20 national outlets including CBS Sports, Fox Sports, Vice Sports, ESPNSLAM Magazine, USA Today, and Mashable, to name a few.

My role in the process is to first solicit those interviews. I have to get in contact with those media people and let them know the documentary even exists, and that it is worthy of their time and media placement.

I usually do this through effective social media marketing, and constant research of each media outlet to simply find the right person and/or email address.  After the first few interviews are landed, the visibility and traction start to pick up, and they start to email or call me to schedule the interviews. Now my role is to maintain that traction and manage the hectic schedule. 

Networking is a key to success for many professionals.  How does working on a project of this magnitude benefit your efforts to attract additional clients and build your network?

Williams: A good publicist is proven with excellent references. I am constantly interacting with new people in my industry, so my network is consistently growing. With that, they are able to see my “work” first hand on a project like this one.  I guess you can tell when a publicist is good in their delivery, organization, relationships, and execution. It stands out. And word travels fast in the sports and entertainment industries. If I do a job well, people will hear about it.

Thank you to Jerica Williams for sharing her experiences promoting Schea Cotton and Manchild.

Some interesting takeaways:

  • Williams connected with Cotton many years before actually working with him.  As illustrated in many of the interviews with sports professionals, connections made years before can impact professional opportunities in unexpected ways.
  • The key to managing events is managing the details.  If you are looking to work in events related to the sports and entertainment industry, assess whether you are excellent at managing time and details.  These traits are valued in many roles in the industry.
  • Networking is important in any career.  But Ms. Williams points out that the quality of your work is what cements your reputation.  This is an important reminder to focus on producing great work whether you are a new intern or more established in your career.

Find Your Next Job

Job Search by