By Molly Loughman
World renowned entertainers continue to turn to Emerson alumnus Jeff Raymond ’94 for talent representation. Over a 25-year career, he has served clients such as Britney Spears, David Beckham, Lionel Richie, Stephen Curry, NASCAR’s Jimmie Johnson, and Vin Diesel.
As co-president of talent for Rogers & Cowan, a global marketing and public relations agency, Raymond leads 45 publicists who represent both established and rising actors, musicians and athletes. Raymond also oversees corporate accounts, along with events, music tours, and endorsement campaigns for his clients.
Earlier this semester at Emerson Los Angeles, Raymond shared insights from his career with a class led by Brad Lemack. “He is a great example to current students—that with passion, patience, talent, timing and opportunity, we can achieve anything!” said Lemack, who is also an award-winning, LA-based talent manager and entertainment publicist.
Before his Hollywood days, Raymond came to Emerson in 1990 as an “outdoor kid” from Guilford, Connecticut, far removed from the entertainment industry. The advertising and PR major, who also played baseball and soccer for the Lions, was introduced to the film and entertainment industry by a fellow Emersonian.
He got started in the industry working on independent film release campaigns with Boston’s Allied Advertising, where he was the Warner Bros. and Miramax intern for all Boston area schools. His first job after college was with MPRM Communications, where he worked on one of his first films, Swingers (1996). He then joined Nancy Seltzer & Associates as a vice president, representing actors such as Sean Connery, Julia Roberts, Johnny Depp, and Kathy Bates. Raymond opened his own boutique firm, PRPR, which he ran for a couple of years before joining Rogers & Cowan in 2007.
Raymond recently took a break from his busy schedule to share some reflections with Emerson Today:
On what attracts him to the business: Whether a client is established or up-and-coming, it’s very exciting to work with them and their teams to build and grow their brand, and being able to contribute in my lane, which is PR — setting up the press that’ll hopefully help further their careers or help their agents and managers get them the next job. Or, to build out their brands more, so maybe if they want to retire from being an athlete and go into broadcasting and other things — these are the things you’re strategizing and building towards. It’s exciting and amazing to be a part of that, but it’s also challenging because you’re dealing with a human being, so you have to take a lot of different elements into consideration.
On the role of experience: All the experience you get working in films, you are, at some point, an extension of bringing things forward to the talent, or other publicists, agents, managers, and the studios, so you’re really learning a lot of what helps when you deal with talent. When you represent the client as well, you’re then their spokesperson and liaison between them, the media, the studios, the labels, and the teams — so it’s a different way of looking at it, but it’s all very collaborative. Having that background and experience, you understand the other side of it.
On working with celebrities: It’s a service job; I’m a service person. I always just looked at it as doing my job the best I can to provide for someone. You do get close to people. And hopefully, you have clients for a very long time because you’re doing a great job and everyone’s happy. You see their children grow and being a part of that is great, but at the end of the day, we’re in the service industry and that’s number one. I want to make sure we’re doing the things we set out to do, and that they’re happy and feel good about everything.
On connecting with Emerson and its alumni: The past year or so I reconnected with Jennifer O’Connell (’94, now EVP of Alternative Programs at Lionsgate) who was in my class at Emerson, and I started getting more involved with the college. I think people need to take advantage of that and search alumni and see who’s out there and what is possible. I also started speaking at some Emerson classes, which hopefully helps these students understand the presence Emerson has and the opportunity and support of a lot of alumni. I think growing an Emerson presence in LA is great and it’s definitely something more people should know about. At [Emerson LA], you have so many opportunities at your back door.
On advice to students entering the entertainment industry: It’s hard work and it’s a hard business. It’s a very small world, Hollywood, and you have to work hard and prove yourself. But if there’s an opening and you get a chance, go for it. Take advantage of opportunities and relationships. Shine as much as you can shine. And learn, and learn, and learn. Ask questions. Help out in different areas. Be kind. Be respectful. Do your work. Once you’re growing in your career, you’re just trying to take everything in, improve yourself – but also, there’s a lot to learn. You never stop learning.