PR Power: Interview with publicist Wendy Shepherd

Wendy Shepherd is a marketing and entrepreneur who developed dozens of successful websites over the last 21 years. She has a background in digital graphics, website design, online publicity, social media management, marketing, online publishing and more. She works with well-known talent and films and has run a number of high-profile marketing campaigns. She lives in Maryland and is married to a wonderful husband Michael and is the mother of three college-aged sons named Erick, Tim and Mark that she homeschooled.

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Wendy recently discussed her fascinating career via an exclusive interview.

Clients, services, and websites

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you get interested in publicity and social media, especially pertaining to the entertainment industry?

Wendy Shepherd (WS): I was introduced to the internet by my father-in-law.

I hung out on AOL during the time of a dial-up computer modem connection. I eventually noticed there was a big bold internet to discover and was curious about what made it tick. I found that computer code made websites appear the way they did and that there were free online resources to learn how to build them. So, I started to make websites with html and graphics in 1997 as a hobby for fun while raising my children, who were young at the time. Once I built the websites, I learned how to get traffic to them. Then I learned how to earn income to cover the costs of running the websites by participating in affiliate marketing and advertising programs. Gradually people wanted to hire me to create their websites and work on promoting them as well. When social media came along, it obviously became a tool to help promote a website.

My interest in publicity seemed to be a natural addition to gain attention for a website. I didn’t initially seek out media coverage for my websites or myself, but media outlets found me, which lead to features in Parent‘s Magazine, Paper Crafts Magazine, Practical Parenting Magazine, Wall Street Journal, other newspapers, radio mentions, books, etc. When I started working with people in the entertainment industry, I realized many of them needed media coverage, so I decided to help them with it in addition to other things I could do for their online presence. In the beginning, I had no idea I would eventually be working with people doing publicity and social media management, especially with so many people in the entertainment industry. From the beginning, I just had a desire to learn, create and communicate, and had a passion for family and entertainment.

MM: Exactly what kind of services do you offer?

WS: In general, I offer social media services, publicity, consulting, and websites (occasionally), along with some other tasks my clients may need related to their industry.

A thorough list of services can be found on my Studio Matrix website at “Studio Matrix (dot) com.”

MM: Right now, how many clients do you represent? What do you look for in a client?

WS: The number of clients I represent fluctuates. I can have an average of 50-60 people on the roster for long periods of time, with many other people that pop in and out over the years. They all have varying degrees of needs. I always hope clients I work with are honest, loyal, and patient with communicating what they need without being overbearing. A lot of behind-the-scenes work goes into social media and publicity work and it can take time to build a presence.

MM: Are any of your clients especially famous? Also, have you any particularly interesting stories about anyone you worked with?

WS: Yes, some of my clients are famous and some are up and coming talent. I love to watch them grow in their careers. I have some interesting stories about people I work with, especially with the first actors who encouraged and inspired me, leading me to get into publicity work in the entertainment industry.

Sean Patrick Flanery is the first actor in entertainment I have the pleasure of working with, starting around May of 2007. A couple of producers were working on his film project and they connected me with him after I asked if he had a website or any online presence, which he didn’t at the time. We talked by phone and instantly clicked. While talking with him, I mentioned I hadn’t seen any of the films he starred in, so I asked which ones I should watch first. He said I could watch the “Powder” and “The Boondock Saints” films to see him play two completely different characters. After I watched them, I was impressed. As I worked with Sean to build his website and set up his social media accounts, I was determined to gather his fans and help promote him. While doing so, I ran into fans of Norman Reedus (“The Walking Dead”), as he was also in the “The Boondock Saints” film with Sean. Fans kept asking me if certain social media accounts were Norman’s real profiles. Once I confirmed with Sean the accounts really were his, I connected with Norman around August of 2007 and started working with him to set up a website, some social media, etc. During production of “The Boondock Saints II” film, I connected with actor Clifton Collins Jr. (“Westworld”) in about the year 2008 via actors Sean and Paul J. Alessi. As I was setting up his website, social media accounts and arranging interviews for all three of the actors, he mentioned something about me being like a mother to my clients; guiding and protecting them. I’m fortunate to know these three humble, big-hearted actors.

I’ve been blessed to work with many more people in the entertainment industry since then. I just wanted to highlight Sean, Norman and Clifton at this time and share the story of how I got started in the industry. People I work with long term are regularly listed on my Studio Matrix website

MM: You stated that you run some websites, so what are their purposes?

WS: I’ve built and run several websites. Some have disappeared as my focus changed, and some are still live. The first two I built were Tipz Time in 1999 (for household tips) and Chart Jungle in 2001 (for printable charts for parents, teachers, etc.). Others I built and run are Movie Vine, Entertainment Vine, and Officially Plugged in. MovieVine was created in 2004 as a and television outlet (including interviews, news and reviews). Since I also like to share about other topics such as music, art, games, technology, comics, etc., I created Entertainment Vine as a sister website in 2006. Officially Plugged In was started in 2007 to help showcase celebrities and talent with verified videos to help combat impersonation. Sean Patrick Flanery was the first featured person when I started that website. Studio Matrix is the website I created in 2002 to showcase my online work for clients and services that I offer. And WendyShepherd is for showcasing all of my websites and I’ll probably be starting up a blog there again soon.

MM: What have been the most interesting and/or rewarding parts of working in the PR field?

WS: Working in this field, from where I’m located, I’m grateful to talk/meet and build relationships with some of the most interesting and inspiring people in the entertainment industry and beyond. I never thought it would be possible to have these connections. I’ve also made great connections with supportive/devoted fans of my clients. In one way or another, we’ve all helped and supported each other.

Aspirations, projects, and events

MM: What are your career aspirations over the next ten years?

WS: I’m happy with the progression of my career so far and hope to continue learning, growing and expanding over the next ten years. I want to keep developing connections with people I can learn from.

MM: What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to attain a career in entertainment-focused publicity and PR?

WS: Try your best to find the balance between personal and business life. It’s so easy to get caught up in helping others that you don’t take enough time for yourself. Keep striving to learn and grow as things advance and change at lightning speed.

MM: Are you currently working on any big PR projects and/or entertainment events that you would like to mention?

WS: I have some things in the works, some ideas I’m looking to develop, and I’ll be sharing news about those things when I’m able to talk about them. In closing, I want to give a shout out to my wonderful husband, Michael, my great kids Erick, Tim and Mark and all my invaluable family and friends for their continued support, advice, understanding and love through all these years. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it wasn’t for them. I also want to thank you Meagan for this interview. You are a wonderful creative person with a huge heart. Anyone can connect with me through my profiles on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and through my websites.