What’s in a pitch? 10 steps for effective pitching


What’s in a pitch? A lot.
Effective pitching can separate a good publicist from a great publicist. What separates the two? Well, the devil is in the details.

In 2007, I completed a public relations internship at a boutique agency, with a focus in beauty and lifestyle PR. Though, I didn’t get much hands on training as I’d hoped for, except minuscule list building assignments, putting together press kits, mailing lists, going on magazine runs, assisting with seating arrangements, and tagging and repackaging items for return, I did pick up a few tricks of the trade. Ironically, however, it wasn’t until after launching my own media outlet in 2008.

I began to get pitches from many PR agencies and I quickly learned how poorly many publicists were in how they pitched to the media. It wasn’t just poor execution; misspelled wording, uninviting headlines, but it was clear that some of the publicists and agencies weren’t doing enough research to get to know the publications they were pitching to. They didn’t know the writers and editors, the publication’s niche or core demographics.

As a full-time content marketer and part-time PR and marketing consultant, I’ve had the benefit of being on both sides of the trade; both pitching and being pitched to.

Here are ten things I’ve learned about effective pitching: Continue reading

Marketing Needs Diversity

If there’s one thing we should all learn from the disturbing Dove campaign, seemingly depicting women of color as “unclean” is that, diversity is essential in marketing. It is essential in the way people, especially people of color are represented.


Dove’s Facebook ad, which the beauty brand later apologized for, further illustrated why it is important for people of color to have a seat at the table. Why it is necessity to have people in the room whose experience resonates with those of your target audience.

Perhaps if there was proper representation, the advertising committee that approved the campaign would have realized how offensive the ad was, especially toward women of color. The same demographic a Nielsen report indicates has a strong influence on brand loyalty and the Black buying power. In fact, it’s predicted that by 2021 the Black buying power will reach $1.5 trillion.

In their apology though, Dove tried—perhaps halfheartedly—to redeem themselves.

It reads, “Dove is committed to representing the beauty of diversity. In an image we posted this week, we missed the mark in thoughtfully representing women of color and we deeply regret the offense that it has caused. The feedback that has been shared is important to us and we’ll use it to guide us in the future.”

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Starting a Blog? 5 Things You Should Know [eBook Teaser]


On May 5th, I announced that I’m officially shutting down the Cotten Kandi blog, exactly nine years since launching the site.

In that time, I’ve learned so much about digital media and marketing, even launching my career as a full-time Digital Content Marketer.

Now, I’d like to share that knowledge with all of you. On June 1st, I will be releasing my first eBook, ‘Starting a Blog? 5 Things You Should Know.’

The book is a guide for newbie bloggers, but also, for those who’ve already launched their website but in need of expert advice. AND, it’s free!

Yes, totally free.

The book will highlight five points (and questions) all Bloggers should consider before launching their site such as:

  • Determining why you want to blog
  • What you want to blog about
  • Naming your site
  • Choosing the right blogging platform
  • How often you ‘ll want to blog

The book will also touch of tools and resources to help guide you along your blogging journey.

With that said, you can download a teaser of the book here: Starting a Blog? 5 Things You Should Know.’

To get a copy of the full eBook upon release, please sign-up here!

It Always Seems Impossible Until It’s Done: Reflecting on Self Growth


Weekends are often the time when we either regroup from a stressful work week, prepare for the week ahead, complete projects, tasks and reflect. While reflecting is very important, it’s also a time when we can be hard on ourselves. Did we accomplish all that we could of done this week, this month, today? And with the new year a little more than one month away, this time of year can be even more stressful.

I want to remind you, while you are preparefor the typical Monday morning bustle and another long week, month and year ahead, you are doing just fine. Give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve made through another day.

It’s always important to plan ahead to ensure your success; be it personal or professional, but we should congratulate each milestone. No matter how big or small. Waking to see another day is an accomplishment within itself. You’ve also opted to get up, go to work, school, and do everything within your power to take care of yourself and your loved ones.

You may not be where you’d hope by now, but you are doing your very best. Aren’t you? Of course you are!

It’s just as important to count the small blessings and each step you are taking in making your dreams become a reality.

Not happy with your current career? Start making the necessary changes to make a change. Update you resume, network with professionals in your field and go for it.

Want to go back to school? Start doing your research. Ask your family and friends for their support. Seek out grants and scholarship opportunities.

Not happy in your relationship? You’ve got to decide whether it’s worth fighting for or make a permanent exit.

Remember, you are not your circumstances unless you allow yourself to become complacent to them. Just do something, even if it’s a small task and check box off your list each day, just do it.

And, to be honest, none of it is going to be easy. The point is to start making those small changes today for those big wins tomorrow!

The first step? Believing you can do it. START NOW!

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Do Only What You’re Passionate About


If you’re still trying to find your purpose, here’s a clue, do only that which you are passionate about. Not somewhat, but totally intrigued with, so much so, that you’d even be willing to do it for free.

We’re often pressured onto going into a field or profession, we think, will guarantee a hefty salary or job security. What we fail to ask ourselves, is whether we see ourselves working diligently for long hours, sacrificing personal and family time, for a job you care little about. Here are 5 questions you should ask yourself in discovering your true passion:

1. Interest: What are your interests or/and passions? Whatever it is that you are passionate about, explore building a career around doing just that. When you are passionate about what you do, the more enjoyment you get from doing it, even during trying times.

2. Knowledge-ability: How much do you know about the subject at hand and how many hours are you willing to invest in learning more about the topic? Again, when you enjoy what you do the less it will feel like work.

3. Tenacity: When all else fails and you’ve hit a road block in pursuing your new career path, are you willing to stick it out and continue? Are you able to endure hard times in working up the career ladder, or even in your pursuit of a new one? Are you willing to spend long hours doing research and in completing a project?

4. Consistency: Okay, so you’re passionate and knowledgeable in your field but how consistent are you? Again, this goes back to how tenacious are you. There are times when you’ll be discovered. Will you want to stop, only to start again? You’ve got to be able to be consistent.

5. Believe: To do anything you first have to believe that it can be done. When you’ve given it your best shot and feel your opportunities are limited, just believe. Having the right mindset will motivate you to keep pushing. Just believe.

Toni Quotes: Living Without Judgement


Today I’d like to share this message with you.

“It’s quite possible to walk strongly in your convictions without passing judgement on others.” – me

It’s so easy to pass judgement on those we do not understand or agree with, but, we never know the decisions we’d make if given the opportunity to walk in someone else’s shoe.

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You Are Enough, Believe In Yourself!


It’s important to know that you are enough and whatever it is that you want to do you can. Period.

Most of the time, many of us never reach our maximum potential. Not because we can’t do it, but, out of fear that we can’t do it or we don’t know how.

Whatever your dreams or career aspirations, let me be the first to tell you, you ARE more than capable of stepping out on faith and reaching for the stars.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and so, you dreams won’t material in a day. You have to be willing to do the necessary work to really get there. Whatever your personal and/or career goals are, here are six actions you should take in order to get you there.

  1. Research. Know as much about the field and career path you are trying to pursue. You should also know the influencers in your industry as well. Study what they are doing what they’ve done and use that as a blueprint for how you would like to pursue your own career goals.
  2. Continue reading

Toni Thoughts: All That Glitters Isn’t Gold


We spend so much time wanting and wishing for what we don’t have that we often fail to notice all the things we do have — all the things we should be grateful for.

While “things could always be better,” some things already are.

Don’t be fooled or caught up with the illusion of anyone else’s happiness. Even the most, seemingly, happy and wealthy people have their own share of problems too.

That “perfect couple” with the “perfect relationship” on your Facebook friends list may actually argue like cats and dogs.

Your well dressed and groom co-worker may actually be battling depression.

Your neighbor with the nice car may actually be thousands of dollars in debt.

The job/career you think you want may actually make your life miserable and reduce the time you get to spend with your loved ones.

Here are seven things you can be thankful for:

1. You have a job.

2. You’ve got some place to call home.

3. You are able to pay all of your bills and still have a little extra funds left over.

4. You have, at least, one really great friend you can always depend on.

5. You’ve got your health.

6. You feel loved by your parents/kids.

7. You’ve got access to a computer/smart phone and wi-fi in order to read this fantastic article.

You may not have all of these things or even at the same time, but, being able to say that you have, at least, one thing on the list is better than most Never forget to live and appreciate all the (intangible) things that really matter in life.

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Johnson’s Baby Oil: The Anti-Aging Solution?

Johnsons-Baby- Oil-Anti-Aging-Solution

According to a study conducted by Statista, millions of Americans spend billions of dollars, each year, on anti-aging creams to counteract the effects of aging. While many of these consumers are willing to spend big bucks on anti-aging solutions — from creams to more permanent solutions including cosmetic surgeries — there may be a much simpler and cheaper solution.

How about trying baby oil? Johnson’s Baby Oil to be exact.

I know what you’re thinking. It sounds a little far-fetched, but, it’s true. Baby oil is not just for babies. The product is used by the young and old.

Your skin’s natural oils, especially that on your face, around your eyes and mouth warn off wrinkles. For that reason, it makes total sense that baby oil, used to replenish dry skin, fights wrinkles as well.


The best time to use the products is following a shower. I also recommend applying an ample amount of the product around your eyes and mouth before applying makeup. Although concealer is also good for this reason, adding a small amount of baby oil adds extra moisture to your skin while further protecting it from some of the harsh chemicals embedded in your favorite cosmetics line.

If you prefer a product with less oils, I would also suggest using Johnson’s Baby Lotion as an alternative. You can also combine the two products — baby oil and lotion — for a longer lasting moisturizing effect without the excessive oily glow.

The company also offers a list of other alternatives and fragrances. Their options include Johnson’s Baby Oil Gels, Aloe Vera, Shea and Cocoa Butter.

And, you’re in luck guys. Head over to Healthy Essentials to snag some coupons for some of your favorite Johnson’s baby products now.

*Please be aware that results may vary and not enough study has been conducted to medically prove that baby oil can be used as an anti-aging remedy. Please consult with your dermatologist.*

(Photo: Johnsonsbaby.com/Mstoni.com)

Keep Your Hair Moisturized With Olive Oil Serum & Sheen Spray


If you have relaxed hair, then you know the drying effect the chemicals can have on your hair. For this reason, I recommend using olive oil based hair products. I would also recommend using an olive oil based no-lye relaxer to aide in counteracting the dryness caused by the process of straightening your hair.

In order to keep my own hair healthy and shiny, I use two such products. Want to remedy your own dry hair? Try using Fantasia IC Olive Oil Shine Serum ($7.99) and Organic Root Stimulator Oil Sheen Spray ($5.99).


Try using these products daily before applying heat — whether by a hair dryer, flat or curling iron. While the serum aids in protecting your hair from heat and outdoor elements, the sheen spray will help to retain the natural luster to your hair after styling.

Here are some step-by-step tips on applying the serum and sheen to your hair after washing and styling.

  1. Towel dry damp hair after washing and conditioning.
  2. Apply serum to scalp and hair and work through to ends.
  3. Apply blow dryer and comb and brush through hair until dry. Apply more serum as necessary for drying and retaining moisture to hair and scalp.
  4. Style hair as desired.
  5. Apply sheen spray as a finishing touch after styling.

What are some products you would also recommend to counteract dry hair?