Korean entertainment has been steadily dominating film, television, and music in the last few years, with no signs of slowing down. As western media companies are slowly catching up, one is ahead of the curve. Helix Publicity is a New York City-based agency dedicated to representing Korean, Japanese, and Asian artists in the US.
“We don’t want the Hallyu wave to die down,” says Brittany Press, Helix’s Director of PR and Operations. “We want people to realize Asian artists are just as talented and amazing [as western artists].”
Press, along with marketing manager Racquel Goldy, have become two powerhouse women in the Asian entertainment media landscape. With combined backgrounds in publishing, marketing, and journalism, they each boast an impressive resume with skill sets that lend to navigating the expanding market.
EnVi caught up with the two to chat about the ins and outs of working in this competitive industry, the future of Helix, and what advice they have for aspiring publicists.
Leaning Into Strengths
Even on a dimly lit zoom call on opposite ends of the country–Press in New York and Goldy in LA–their adoration for both their work and clients glows.
Press started her career in publishing but longed for something a bit fast-paced. She first got into K-pop through second-generation acts BoA and TVXQ, and always wanted to work in the industry, but didn’t know what careers were out there. After a brief stint in Korea working for a K-pop app and some PR experience, she moved over to Helix.
Similarly, Goldy also wanted to shift her journalism and broadcasting career to K-pop but wasn’t sure how to. During the initial pandemic lockdown, she caught EXO’s “Love Shot” playing on TV and it was Kai with his red suit and precise dance moves that caught her eye. “I was like, ‘I don’t know what this is, but I love it with my whole heart!’” she exclaims with a smile on our Zoom call. “I grew up competitively dancing, so I resonate and connect so much with K-pop in that aspect because I know how hard it is.”
After a year of shifting her professional content towards K-pop, she hopped on a Zoom call with Press, and it was an instant connection. “We ended up talking for three hours about K-pop and the music industry!” It wasn’t long after that Goldy was offered a position at Helix.
And although they’ve been working together for less than a year, the professional chemistry and friendship is evident. “We finish each other’s sentences, it’s cute!” exclaims Goldy.
Their workdays consist of various tasks, from creating campaigns for clients and media training talent to setting up brand deals and researching new artists. A number of factors go into balancing a successful friendship and professional relationship, including a collaborative mindset. “We’re not the enemy, we’re not competing with each other,” says Press.
“I’m finally at a place where I feel appreciated and smart, which is so sad to say being a female in the music industry,” says Goldy, who has worked in the industry for six years.
Helix consists of a small team of majority women and they encourage everyone to take initiative and grow. “We want everyone to flourish, we want everyone to be able to meet maximum potential,” says Press. “We all are kind of like Swiss army knives. Whatever our clients need, we find a way to make it happen.”
The Helix Standard
Although an independent and small company, Helix Publicity continues to establish itself as the leading PR company for Asian artists in the US.
The special Helix touch is helping Asian artists navigate the US press market beyond working together. The company emphasizes helping international artists learn how to navigate the cultural landscape. “More so than saying, ‘we’re going to do this and it’ll work for you,’ we take time to explain to their [artist’s] team why we are doing it, why it’ll work, what is the purpose, and teaching them how to do it,” explains Press. “Regardless of time, when they leave us, we want them to excel.”
They also shared some insight about what goes into a PR campaign. When a new artist is signed on, they are asked what their goals are, and Team Helix makes sure to deliver on that. “A lot of the beginning is figuring out what they want. We do a lot of research on what the artist has done before us,” says Press.
Part of the Helix method is figuring out what has or hasn’t worked in the past and building off that—and it’s different for every single artist. For example, some talent may have dedicated press days, squeezing in multiple interviews in 24 hours. “Other clients don’t have a press day, but a couple [of] weeks to put a puzzle together,” says Press. “It’s like playing human tetris,” adds Goldy.
At Helix Publicity, their roster of Asian artists are considered on par with US artists. “It’ll be [more] common for people to be into music not necessarily in their native language,” explains Press. “I think the market will move forward thinking about artists from around the world and we’ll see a market open to experiencing more things.”
Advice for Aspiring Industry Professionals
Creatively working with celebrity talent is a dream career for many, but it does require patience and flexibility. “You have to be prepared for a lot of hard work and long hours,” says Press. “This job is not a nine to five–we’re always on. We do try to set boundaries, but overall if you’re looking for work-life balance, this isn’t the industry for you.” She adds, “Be agile, not everything works for a reason and you have to try new things to reach your goals.”
As far as what they wish to see for women in this industry, they both agreed the term ‘fangirl’ needs to be reevaluated. “I don’t like the term ‘fangirl’ because it has negative connotations in the professional world. You can’t teach someone more about an artist than someone organically in it,” explains Press.
“Fangirls rule the world and understand engagement and branding,” Goldy passionately echoes. “I don’t think fangirls should feel weird for liking what we like.” She also emphasizes the importance of networking. “Be willing to talk to people because if you’re not, someone else will.”
In regards to professionalism, both shared valuable insights. “Remember whoever you’re dealing with is a person. Treat them as you would want to be treated,” says Press.
“Remember privacy is important, too. Always be ‘on’ because you never know who you could run into,” shares Goldy, “and be in it for the right reasons. We’re all genuinely in this because we love music and care about K-pop. There’s a very big difference when someone is in it because it’s ‘cool.’”