“It feels great,” he said, about his new PR firm. “I’ve wanted to do this for a long time and I feel confident that I now have the right skill set to make Agency33 a success. When I first moved to Nashville, I had been in PR for many years, but never entertainment PR so I needed a bit of training so to speak.”
On his career in PR, he said, “I began my career at Sony Music in New York working in their marketing department. At the time, a lot of mergers were taking place in the industry and I decided to relocate to Orlando, Florida to get my MBA at Rollins College. While there I worked for now defunct Trans Continental Records and iHeartRadio. I also landed my first public relations role in Orlando. After a few years, I moved to South Florida where I began working with an incredibly talented publicist Allison Zucker-Perelman and her firm Relevant Communications. For the past eight years, we have worked with a wonderful roster of fine artists including pop-icon Peter Max, Romero Britto, Bernie Taupin, Rick Allen of Def Leppard and Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac.”
Regarding the origin of his PR firm’s name, “Agency33,” he revealed, “I noticed there were some public relations agencies in New York and Los Angeles specializing in LGBT public relations for musicians, but nothing like that in Nashville. Over the past four or five years, more and more country artists have become vocal about their support of the LGBT community. You have artists like Ty Herndon, Chely Wright, and Billy Gilman leading the charge. When Cody Alan from CMT came out as gay last year, I knew the industry was changing and now was the time to do something special.”
When asked about the hardest part of being a publicist, Amato responded, “The hardest part is juggling 10 things at once. Every day is different, and I love that about the job. I’m not the type of person to go into an office every morning and do the exact same thing. Some days are more challenging than others but at the end of the day you have to realize that our job is fun and to make the most of it. What other job lets you hang out with celebrities or go backstage at the Grand Ole Opry?”
On his daily motivations, he said, “Even after being in PR for as long as I have, it’s still exciting to land a feature editorial or book a national television appearance for a client. A lot of people don’t realize how many outlets we have to pitch to get one response and one interview confirmation. So when we finally do score an interview, it’s exciting.”
Regarding his proudest professional moments, he said, “For the longest time, my parents didn’t understand what I did for a living. My father wanted me to work on Wall Street or get a ‘real job’ working 9 to 5 in an office with a steady paycheck and insurance. That wasn’t me. I never did that and probably never will. I think they finally got it after I framed a picture of me and Dolly Parton taken last year and gave it to them for Christmas. For some reason, that photo put it all into perspective for them. I would say that was my proudest moment.”
Amato is a graduate of Saint Francis Prep High in Fresh Meadows, Queens, and he was able to overcome adversity. “I didn’t really like high school. I was bullied a lot. I was never really friends with the cool kids. I always found the creative kids were more my type because they were battling with the same insecurities I was. I think part of my insecurities in high school were because I was gay and didn’t know at the time, even though everyone else did. I had gone on a few dates with girls, but nothing serious ever materialized. I think bullies pick up on those insecurities before anyone else does. I remember being called gay hundreds of times and denying it. Looking back, I’m not sure what I was afraid of. I wish I would have come out earlier and not waited until my 20’s. Part of that fear may have been because I was raised in an old-school Italian and Jewish household. Nobody else in my family at the time was gay, so I really didn’t have a figure to look up to.”
His advice for aspiring publicists is as follows: “Work for someone first and learn the ropes. A lot of people want to start their own business right out of the gate but PR isn’t easy and it takes a certain person with a certain skillset to be successful.”
Amato defined the word success as contentment in life. “Success equals happiness and having enough money to be able to live comfortably without worrying about paying the bills. No, I don’t need a Bentley and a mansion in South Beach. I already feel successful and I’m only a week into my new venture. I have everything I need in my one bedroom condo in Nashville. It’s just me and my two cats, Cody and Cheyenne,” he concluded.
To learn more about beloved publicist Joey Amato, his new PR firm, Agency33, and the services they offer, check out his official homepage.