September 14th, 2010

BET’s Senior Publicist Leaving at the Top of Her Game

Always keep your mind open to new experiences and new beginnings and don’t be afraid to tackle your goals to get closer to your dreams.

This is the lesson I learned after spending a day with Voncella McIntosh, BET’s Senior Publicist. As one of two publicists in the LA office, she is in charge of leading PR campaigns for original programming and award shows. This young lady is making powerful moves in the media industry and she is only 26 years old. What is most striking, is that at the top of her game, she has decided to take a leave of absence from her job and go back to school – in London.

At the end of September, Voncella will officially leave her posh Los Angeles office to travel thousands of miles away to matriculate at the London School of Economics where she will receive her Masters in Social and Public Communication. While there, she plans on freelancing with BET and other companies in the UK.

When I initially heard this, I was instantly inspired by the brave risk that she is about to take. Personally, since I graduated, I have been contemplating the idea of  going back to school. I have always been told that in the world of PR, obtaining a higher degree won’t really get you far and it’s not valued as much as experience. Now, I have evidence that education is always going to be the foundation to getting closer to your dreams.

I know that many people would be content with having an amazing senior level position at powerful company like BET, but Voncella knows her worth. She knows the importance of following her heart and living out her dreams. She has always wanted to go back to school to obtain a graduate degree and she’s not letting anything stop her from reaching that goal. Further, she knows that it is important to be able to compete on an international level, “Having international experience gives you an edge,” she says. Voncella aspires to use her advanced communications degree to return to the field of entertainment public relations and work at the Director level.

Although Voncella is a powerful woman, she is extremely humble and spunky! I was pleased to find out that despite her hectic schedule, she finds time to give back and mentor youth. As I sat in her office and we chatted, I felt like we were old girl friends talking about life. She gave me stellar professional advice and tips on ways to stay afloat in the industry:

  • Always make yourself stand out in a professional way.
  • Join professional organizations that are in the field you are interested in and network.
  • Intern as much as possible!
  • Once you meet people, stay in contact with them, find ways to stay on their agenda.
  • Always be prepared with an updated resume, business cards and portfolio.

Voncella McIntosh represents what true courage is; being able to have the strength to venture and leave her comfort zone in order to learn, lead and change. Her character speaks for itself and she proves that hard work prevails. Voncella started out as a “friend in my head,” as Wendy Williams says.

Now that I have gotten the chance to meet her, she’s more like a big sister!

Make sure you tune in to BET’s HIp Hop Honors on Octber 12,2010. For more information about BET Networks, please go to:

About the Author

Empress Varnado
Empress Varnado is a budding Public Relations and Marketing professional who fosters a fighting spirit and a drive to succeed. She lives by the motto; “I’ll Find A Way or Make One,” in which she uses her creativity, ambition and skills to accomplish her goals.



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