5WPR Founder Chats New Book, Why Everyone Needs Good PR In The Digital Age

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5WPR, one of the top PR agencies in the country. With clients ranging from Lil Kim to Whole Foods to Marc Ecko, Torossian continues the legacy of excellence developed by his company since its inception in 2003 by sharing some of his knowledge of the game. In his new book, For Immediate Release, he drops gems on how to successfully utilize public relations, marketing and branding in the digital age. VIBE caught up with him to talk about the inspiration behind his book and to get some insight into why everyone could learn a thing or two about good public relations.

Talk about the concept behind For Immediate Release and the inspiration behind creating it.

I think there’s a lot of people who talk about PR and very few of them actually earn a living doing PR. I’m not a professor or someone who learns things from classrooms I’m somebody who makes a living from doing PR and so I wanted to offer people the opportunity to learn what real life PR is about.

You’re right that there are a lot of self proclaimed publicists out there, so what’s the science behind effective PR?

There’s a lot of different things. I think being effective at PR means understanding your brand, who you are, what success looks like and it’s different if you’re a celebrity or if you’re a Fortune 500 corporation of if you’re a local store. There’s different goals and objectives in terms of what good PR looks like but certainly, good PR is only good if its strategic and if it’s focused. All press is not good and all attention is not good. It’s about having the right exposure for your brand.

You’ve worked with various celebrities who have had their fair share of drama so what’s the first thing you should do when the client is going through a crisis?

First of all, realize that a crisis is exactly that, a crisis [and] it doesn’t wait for you. That means you need to act quickly, even if you have other things or distractions going on. Nobody cares if your basement is flooded and nobody cares if your Aunt Bertha is sick, the media is going to write the story with or without you. So you have to be a part of the story and there’s a lot of different things that have to be considered when you’re doing that, so it could be anything from a lawyer that gets in the way—lawyers might tell you “Hey, if you make the wrong statement a year from now when we’re in court you’re gonna have a problem with that,” well guess what, your business, your customers, your employees might not wait a year for that story to come out so it’s going to hurt you along the way; its going to hurt you way before you ever get to court. So that’s something to consider. You need to know that crisis is immediate, its not waiting, its going to happen very quickly and he needs to be prepared and ready for the crisis so it means you have to think about everything from what will your Google search results look like if you don’t handle it to what will your customers say, to what will your vendors say so its happening quickly and the world moves very quickly and you’ve got to be prepared. Warren Buffet said something very interesting, which is that it takes 20 years to build a relationship and to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it.

In your book you talk a lot about public image so in terms of social media, particularly Twitter, do you think it’s smart for celebs to have a Twitter?

I think celebrities need a Twitter page, I think that the best thing that people should realize is that their public brand is always out there. What that means is that you shouldn’t be tweeting things that you don’t want the whole world to know so if you’re out drunk and you don’t want anybody to know well then don’t tweet it. If you don’t want somebody to see naked pictures of you then don’t send it, look at Anthony Weiner. That’s the world we live in today and it’s true whether [or not] you’re a celebrity. People can talk all they want about privacy online but guess what? If you’re applying for a job somewhere and your email is [email protected] then you should change that before you’re applying for a job. We had an intern a few years ago who tweeted about [her] leaving work and going to get high, well [she] didn’t need to worry about coming back to work the next day. That’s not something I want associated with our brand and many of our people don’t think of that. So, you need to understand that people have to have a public [and] private persona and that goes for celebrities and many other people as well.

Is it a good or bad that fans have more access to their favorite celebrities online?

It’s a good and a bad thing because what does that mean? It means more access is good but you also have to be careful with it. Again, today is a world where everybody has instant access and demand instant access to everything. If your best friend calls you and you don’t call back in a few they’re going to think you’re dead and one has to realize that in terms of how they communicate. So. It’s great and negative to have instant access. So what I would tell you is, that you have to be very prepared ready and cognitive of the various things that instant communication means. It means that you can be rewarded but you can also be endangered.

As a publicist but also a celebrity in your own right, how do you balance being on both sides of the fence?

For me, it’s very important for us to promote our business the right way, which means that I wanted to write a book because I think that we have a lot to share with people from our success. I’m 37, I started this business, a NYC public school kid who thank God was educated and I’m an entrepreneur who has built a business, and it’s important for me that we share some of the things that we’ve learned along the way. So, when were working for a client its all about our client, we don’t share any secrets in the book. This is not a tell- all book [that] reveals client’s secrets. This is a book where we’re talking about strategies and focuses to win at PR.

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Omar Epps Talks New Horror Film 'Trick,' His Vast Acting Roles And John Singleton's Genius

If you came of age in the ‘90s, Omar Epps may eternally be Quincy McCall playing Monica for her heart, or Malik Williams running to regain his full athletic scholarship, or high school student Q romancing a grown-ass nurse with her own apartment (I’m really stuck on that detail as an adult) and trying to avoid Bishop in project elevators. But over the last two decades, Epps has pretty consistently stayed on-screen - small and big - in roles that run the gamut from DJ to doctor, from ballplayer to police officer. He was even the Black person that gets killed in a horror movie in 1997’s Scream 2 (that franchise was thoroughly committed to maintaining slasher tropes). When Brooklyn native isn’t juggling multiple projects, he’s one-half of ‘90s Black couple goals with his wife of 13 years, Total’s Keisha (and she’s still fine). But I digress.

This Halloween, Epps returns to the slasher film subgenre in Trick, the first installment in a new horror franchise from director Patrick Lussier, whom Epps worked with on Scream 2 and Dracula 2000. Epps plays Mike Denver, a small-town detective fighting to stop a serial killer terrorizing the community every year — even though Denver already shot and killed him.

VIBE talked to Epps about the new movie (carefully, so as to not give it all away), choosing vastly different roles over the years, and predicting the future with John Singleton.


VIBE: Trick is kind of a full-circle moment for you; it’s been just over 20 years since you were in the last big slasher franchise, Scream. Now, you’re the one chasing the bad guy. There’s not that much we can say without giving the plot away, but talk about what attracted you to the movie and the character.

EPPS: For me, it all starts with the script. I thought it was really entertaining, I thought the role was fun, and obviously the chance to work with Patrick again. We have that trust factor there, I know he’s a really solid filmmaker. And I thought it was something unique, you know as it twists and turns you can’t really figure out what’s going to happen.

And this is one of the first new franchises in (the slasher movie) genre, which seems to be making a comeback.

We’re calling it “slasher noir”, so it’s a call back to that old school slasher movie, but a little more elevated in terms of the story and the plot. And it’s touching on some things I think that can make the mind wander in correlation to where we’re at as a society right now.

The killer’s motivations give you pause to think, for sure. In Scream, they got you up out of there pretty quickly (Epps laughs). Now, instead of being one of the “kids,” you’re the adult trying to solve the problem. You play a police officer who’s very grounded, very logical, so the idea of something paranormal and supernatural really disturbs him as he’s trying to put the pieces together. How did you place yourself in that headspace?

The keyword there is “grounded,” and that was both the challenge and the exciting part, for me, to play this character. He’s someone that, to your point, is logic-based, and he’s looking at everything from a linear point of view in that way. But as things progress, he’s basically someone who loses himself over this case; over trying to figure out what’s going on. I think part of the headspace is you have to be in the moment of that process versus having a  strategy to attack it. You have to be immersed in the moment. And again, working with Patrick, we have a shorthand, creatively, which allowed me to be malleable in that sense, and I think we pulled it off.

Later this year, you also have the movie 3022 coming, a sci-fi thriller that takes the “lost in space” theme further than usual with an extinction-level event that destroys the Earth and traps a crew of astronauts on a space station just...until.

I really love that project; I think it’s a powerful piece that every human being will be able to relate to because it touches on age-old questions: What would you do? Why are we here? It just hits on so many broad themes. And (director) John Suits, man, he did his thing with that. And I think the cast is magnificent. I’m really excited about that one.

We (Vibe and Vibe readers) think of you first as one of the core young Black actors of the ‘90s, but over the years you’ve done such a variety of work between both TV and movies. You’ve done medical dramas, you’ve done procedurals, you’ve done sci-fi, you’ve done rom-com, you even had a moment as a ‘90s video lead. You really don’t have a box, Omar, which is a beautiful thing as an actor, but how have you made your choices?

It’s been a combination of me making choices of things that I connect to, and the blessings that come down and opportunities that come my way. I think every artist is sort of a blank canvas, and no one’s in a box. You’d be surprised at how many actors can sing or rap or dance or how many musicians can act - we’re artists. I’m just thankful to — knock on wood — continue to get these opportunities, because the next path for me is writing, producing and directing.

You’ve dabbled in that a little bit already. Are you working on anything now?

Oh yeah, I’ve got a few things bubbling. I don’t want to jinx them, but we’ve definitely got some things in the works across all those fronts: as a writer, as a producer, as a director.

My favorite roles of yours are Q (Juice) because of nostalgia, and then Quincy McCall (Love & Basketball), but I really loved you as Dr. Eric Foreman (House). I thought you guys were brilliant as an ensemble. Do you have a favorite?

I honestly don’t. For me, they’re all pieces of a bigger mosaic; of a picture, when it’s all said and done, of what will be my career. But there’s nothing like your first, right? There’s nothing like that first experience. So with Juice, that movie and character will always hold a special place in my heart.

And it was such an iconic moment for the culture. When John Singleton passed, I wrote about his work, and how when Higher Learning came out (in 1995), critics said the various characters were too on the nose and stereotypical. But when you view the film from a 2019 lens, it’s almost prophetic. Have you thought about that?

That’s the thing; great storytellers all tap into that same zeitgeist of eternity in terms of the human story. And when you whittle that down to American culture or to Black culture, it’s just one of those genius things. When we were on set filming, we could feel that this was saying something bigger than our parts in it. Now, when you look back on it in 2019, it seems prophetic because it was. It’s not “seems,” it was. Look at where we are in society right now, it’s crazy, but I think that’s a testament to John Singleton and his genius.

So, you worked with Tupac in his seminal role, you worked with Singleton. Is there a person that you still want to work with that you haven’t yet, or is there a dream role that you haven’t had the opportunity to play yet?

I don’t necessarily have a dream role, although, I would love to play Frederick Douglas. But the person I want to work with is Spike Lee. I’ve never worked with him and I don’t know how that hasn’t happened. We were trying to do something a few years ago that didn’t come together, so I’m going to put that back out in the universe because I have to work with Spike.

'Trick' is now in theaters, on-demand, and on digital streaming platforms now. 3022 is expected to hit theaters, on-demand, and digital platforms on November 22nd.

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Halle Berry Is #TeamZoeKravitz As Catwoman For Upcoming 'Batman' Film

Earlier this month, it was announced that actress/musician Zoe Kravitz would step into the sleuthing role of Catwoman for Matt Reeves’ The Batman. Joining in on the chorus of people that are elated to see Kravitz in this role is fellow Catwoman Halle Berry.

The Oscar Award-winning actress took to Twitter to congratulate Kravitz on her new job, writing “Keep shining queen and welcome to the family!” Kravitz will star opposite Twilight’s Robert Pattinson who’ll play the Dark Knight.

Special shout-out to your new #CatWoman, the eternally graceful & extremely bad ass @ZoeKravitz. Keep shining Queen & welcome to the family! ♥️✨

— Halle Berry (@halleberry) October 17, 2019

In 2004, Berry starred as Catwoman in the film of the same name. Directed by Pitof, the movie also starred Alex Borstein, Benjamin Bratt, Frances Conroy, and Sharon Stone. Although the movie wasn't a box office success, Berry said it opened up a world of opportunities in Hollywood.

"Everybody around me said, 'Girl, don't do it. It's going to be the death of you. It's going to end your career.' But guess what I did? I followed my intuition and I did a movie called Catwoman and it bombed miserably," Berry said at 2004's Matrix Awards, per Glamour. "While it failed to most people, it wasn't a failure for me because I met so many interesting people that I wouldn't have met otherwise, I learned two forms of martial arts and I learned not what to do."

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A Tekashi 6ix9ine Documentary Series Is In The Works

Showtime is set to debut a new project about Tekashi 6ix9ine.  Supervillain, a three-part limited docuseries produced by Imagine Documentaries, Rolling Stone  and Lightbox, will explore the rise of the New York native.

“The bizarre and complicated rise of Tekashi 6six9ine is a story of our times,” said Vinnie Malhotra, EVP, Nonfiction Programming, Showtime Networks. “Beyond becoming one of the most notorious hip hop artists of this generation, his story speaks volumes of the impact of social media and manufactured celebrity in our society. We’re excited to be partnering with such heavy hitters in the world of music and documentary to bring Supervillain to life.”

The series is inspired by the Rolling Stone article, Tekashi 6ix9ine: The Rise and Fall of a Hip Hop Supervillain, released earlier in the year.

“Tekashi 6ix9ine is one of the most enigmatic music artists of a generation,” said Gus Wenner, President and COO of Rolling Stone. “Rolling Stone is thrilled to work with Showtime and our other partners to bring the gripping story of Tekashi’s meteoric rise to stardom and infamy to viewers around the world.”

Supervillain isn't the only Tekashi-inspired project on the way. Snapchat is working on a doc about the 23-year-old recording artist, and 50 Cent is reportedly producing a biopic about him.

Tekashi, whose birth name is Daniel Hernandez, testified against former gang affiliates in federal court last month in exchange for a lowered prison sentence.  Though it’s unclear when he will be freed, the “FeFe” rapper -- who was facing up to life in prison -- recently signed a record deal worth a reported $10 million.

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