Randy Alexander is the Founder & CEO of Randex Communications, a boutique entertainment, lifestyle, consumer and music publicity firm based in New Jersey.
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Photo credit: Scott Weiner
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your background and career?
I essentially spent the first half of my media career as an entertainment journalist in daily newspapers, before smoothly transitioning to the “other” side to run my own entertainment and lifestyle publicity firm, now entering its 23rd year.
This year, in fact, is the 40th anniversary of me first setting foot in a major market newsroom, as a copy boy (that’s an old term for “gofer”) in the sports department of the long-defunct Philadelphia Journal, a spirited, short-lived racy tabloid similar to the NY Post with a young, hungry staff of super talents, most of whom are still excelling as highly regarded journalists or public relations specialists with fantastic legacies.
It’s where I started teaching myself to write and moved from sports to entertainment, ultimately as assistant entertainment editor. I’m proud to be have been part of that incredible group of people and to have broken into the biz during a special moment in time at such a uniquely exciting place.
Still just 23 when the Journal went belly-up, I landed at The Trenton (NJ) Times, seizing a moment when the staff had just been decimated (See? It was happening in newsrooms back in the early ‘80s, too!) amid an ownership sale, giving me room to enter low on the ladder (writing obits) and quickly carve my niche as the entertainment columnist specializing in music, broadcast, and casino showrooms – and primary features writer.
Not only I develop a style that led to three writing awards through the ‘80s and ‘90s, and gain a multitude of incredible experiences – from covering Live Aid to attending Hollywood press tours to discovering Elvis Presley’s roots during an extended Memphis fact-finding mission – but I also sharpened all the skills and developed the unique journalists’ seasoning that separates me from most of my competitors on a national level.
Starting Randex Communications in 1997 took an immensely rewarding leap of faith, with large credit to my wife for the big push, as I’ve rolled forward my contacts and experiences in the same entertainment-oriented media arena while becoming a self-taught entrepreneur in the process, expanding not only my career but personal growth in areas I never realized as a newspaper guy.
I’ve been named a “tastemaker” by the Philadelphia Inquirer, one of “24 People to Watch” by SJ Magazine, and one of South Jersey Magazine’s “Names to Know,” as well as leading my company to a “Publicity Firm of the Year” nomination in the New Music Awards/Hollywood, with a couple more “Top Publicist” nominations in the NARIP (National Association of Recording Industry Professionals) Best in the Biz Awards.
I’m also Vice Chair of the Philadelphia Music Alliance (Philadelphia Walk of Fame), a member of the Broadcast Pioneers, and a certified 20-year member of the Grammy® Recording Academy (NARAS). I do guest speaking or moderating on panels at top conferences and universities around the country, as well as mentoring youth seeking careers in publicity or as professional artists and entertainers.
I’ve been sought for national and local TV appearances, from the CBS Early Show to public television, and have been quoted as an industry expert CBS Radio, CNN Radio, FOX TV, Chicago Tribune, Yahoo!, and so on).
On the client side, I’ve handled red carpet events for the Philadelphia Academy of Music’s Anniversary Concert Gala & Ball events with Billy Joel and Sting and oversaw the original national rollout publicity for School of Rock.
For over a decade, I’ve been exclusive publicist for legendary Sound of Philadelphia moguls Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff. Other current and recent clients include The Ultimate Disco Cruise and The Soul Train Cruise (StarVista LIVE/Time-Life), Bill Graham and the Rock Roll Revolution museum exhibit for the National Museum of American Jewish History, the launch of the Fillmore Philadelphia (Live Nation/House of Blues), Light of Day Foundation (supported by Bruce Springsteen), PBS Great Performances Landmarks Live in Concert, Big Apple Circus, Thelonious Monk Institute, The Hit Men (sidemen supergroup recognized by the Musicians Hall of Fame), and Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp, among many others.
Branching out further, I’m also Vice President of Marketing and Publicity for Calling All Divas, a nationally touring jukebox musical saluting music’s greatest leading ladies, where my partners include an Academy Award winner, Golden Globe winner, and a Paul McCartney producer. Truly exciting, and a huge window of opportunity in a whole new world.
2) What is your current role and what does it entail on a day to day basis?
I run a boutique agency, with a virtual staff of seasoned associates and strategic alliances that allows Randex Communications to meet the requirements of any client, no matter how large. As president and CEO, I captain the ship either from my desk or from the scene, thanks to the ever-flexible capabilities of technology.
We keep things lean and mean wherever we can, in a way that affords clients the added value of get my personal attention at all levels, and the work of seasoned pros at all times, at the best rates.
3) What does a typical day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
A typical day will find me at my desk, working the phones, email, and social media, whenever I’m not out at appointments either traveling for business, at meetings, or on the scene at any number of media events.
Whether it’s just turning out to support your clients or pro-actively working an event on their behalf, I believe strongly in “showing up,” and making sure I don’t stay chained to my desk at the expense of client attention. There is nothing like face-to-face contact in this increasingly screen-connected world, and there’s equal value in the intangibles that go along with the tangibles.
4) In between everything you do and all your responsibilities, how do you ensure you find some sort of balance in your life?
It took me some years to figure this out, but you realize that with balance comes strength.
For a long time, I used to return to my desk after dinner to pull a night shift after a long day, on nights I had nothing else scheduled. But too often I found that time only half as productive, and could be put to better use recharging while I condense those work hours to a more productive time of day, getting started at say, 7:30 a.m., when I’m fresh, and finding it finished at 8:30 or 9 a.m.
That leaves my nights free, when I don’t have to be somewhere, to just kick back at home.
5) What are some of the things you do to take time out and recharge?
I watch TV more than I’d like to admit, but I’ve moved away from most series to news, documentaries, and talk shows. Don’t watch much sports anymore, with the grand exception of baseball. The Phillies, in particular, are my passion, and I rarely miss a game during baseball season, whether I’m home or watching the stream on my phone.
In the warmer months, I’ll also do anything to get outside and soak in nature – long walks, hikes, gardening and lawn upkeep, grill on the barbeque, etc. My wife accuses me of being a borderline hoarder, though I prefer calling myself a serial collector, and I love going to antique flea markets and quality garage/yard sales, finding cool pop culture collectibles and some useful stuff, too.
I’ve been collecting Presidential campaign buttons since I was a teen, and I also have long collected JFK Camelot items, 1964-65 NY World’s Fair, and vintage (‘60s) Flintstones. I like to get out for a good restaurant, movie, or show as much as the next person, especially when I can fully separate it from business.
I’m also trying to work in more mini-vacations, short motor trips, and generally keep the body moving, eat healthy, and stay positive and self-confident, knowing tomorrow can always be a better day. Anything to keep stress out of my life, and it’s really working well, including finding moments when I don’t need to be tethered to my devices.
I’ve learned that so much of keeping your body sharp and responsive begins in your head, and keeping it clear and organized really helps avoid everything from writer’s block to, ultimately, artery blockage. I’m in this for the long haul, and don’t ever plan to retire.
6) Are there any gadgets, tools or products you can’t live without?
Of course! Much as I crave being untethered to maintain balance, you just HAVE to stay plugged in to the wired – and wireless – world. The basic tools are cell phone, desktop and laptop, but at the end of the day, I can go a week with nothing but a cell phone. I lose that and it’s almost like losing a limb. Good or bad, it just is.
Digging deeper, I depend on Outlook for email and its other functions, and iContact to e-blast press releases and newsletters. ACT! is my database software, and that’s the heartbeat, really, of any publicist’s arsenal. I gave up my fax line many years ago, and wonder when the day will come that I let go of my land line, too.
7) Do you have any books that you love and would like to recommend?
I love reading show biz autobiographies but my problem is that I have less attention span to read them, so it’s too rare that I’ll go more than a few pages to a chapter at a time.
I read article upon article from the moment I have breakfast, taking in the morning paper on my phone, to the constant barrage of media that passes my eyeballs for the rest of my waking hours – not to mention the time spent on social media and so on, even while I’m watching TV. Again, it’s about creating more space in my brain for those types of things, hence the challenge.
8) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
Organize. Make lists, prioritize, check them off, and carry over stuff you didn’t get to from one day to the next. I keep a notebook and appointment book on my desk next to me at all times, and am constantly at one with them. Wanna add those items under “gadgets, tools or products you can’t live without?” ‘Cause I really can’t.
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