Each month, XBIZ spotlights the career accomplishments and outstanding contributions of Women in Adult. WIA profiles offer an intimate look at the professional lives of the industry's most influential female executives.
After more than a decade in the adult industry with a full-service adult PR agency, The Rub PR, Erika Icon has cultivated a diverse clientele that includes top-tier stars and big-name companies.
A professional publicist who produces results and keeps clients happy will always retain clients and have more who want to work with them.
Beyond promoting brands through press releases, Icon arranges interviews, facilitates business deals, cultivates positive relationships with stakeholders and maintains an active presence as a writer for various publications.
By generating greater name recognition for stars, Icon sets out to increase their chances at landing prominent roles, attaining awards nominations and being seen by more fans, whether the client is an indie content creator or an established performer.
Likewise, Icon handles company press releases and communications with an eye towards ensuring that messaging is consistent and is being touted by media outlets within adult and in mainstream, as well as representing a company’s interests with the community at large.
Now, as WIA Woman of the Month, Icon opens up about strategies for running a successful business, as well as her thoughts on what it takes to be an effective publicist in today’s evolving landscape.
XBIZ: How have you ensured The Rub PR remains competitive as the needs of brands, stars and creators change?
ICON: We offer more services and results at a competitive price. We go beyond the typical press releases and interviews. We have attained toy deals for many of our clients, brand ambassador gigs and paid social media posts. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
XBIZ: What is your “typical” day-to-day routine, and how do you deal with curveballs?
ICON: There’s no typical day here, which at times still kind of blows me away. I’m usually working from bed the minute I get up, but I’m not in my office until 10 a.m. I work late at night, so I give myself a little more time in the mornings to focus and get in a bit of chanting — AKA my Buddhist practice.
Curveballs come with the job, but I try to manage things to cut down on the amount of them. For example, we remind our clients about their interviews in the morning so they don’t forget later in the day. But you can’t control some things, no matter how organized and on top of things you are. You just have to breathe, center yourself and deal with the curveballs as they fly by.
XBIZ: Discuss your approach to understanding client needs for publicity and collaborating on a marketing strategy.
ICON: Each client has a blueprint of what they want, and this is something we discuss with them before we even start working with them. We usually develop a marketing approach from the beginning and follow it pretty closely but we can always change direction when needed. Our clients are always blown away by the creativity we bring to marketing. My background as an art director and copywriter in advertising, writing for some of the top mainstream and adult publications, and art degree from UCLA all have come in handy as a publicist. Marketing is definitely not a one-size-fits-all thing.
XBIZ: How do you cultivate good relationships with the media and the community to ensure your clients get good exposure?
ICON: I think many publicists and PR firms forget the media is doing us a favor, not the other way around. We always show respect and remember to thank everyone who promotes our clients. When a podcast, magazine, website, etc. books an interview with us, they know our clients will show up and do a great job. Work always comes first for companies and talent, and the media generally understands that. I try to make things seamless for them and will put another client in as a replacement if the initial client booked becomes unavailable. It’s better to create solutions than more problems. People appreciate that.
XBIZ: Describe a recent publicity push or two that a client truly found helpful.
ICON: Our client, Penny Barber, is always trying to promote herself and asked for help with her Pornhub. Many studios look at Pornhub rankings for hiring talent. We helped her go from 1,000 to 400 in a matter of weeks, which not only increased her work, but also got her some nice Pornhub swag and more followers on social media and premium social media.
John Legendary is very new in the industry. While I was at a podcast with him and Violet Myers, I came up with a really amazing product for him to sell at Exxxotica — his head as a cartoon on pasties. He’s making them now and hopes to have them for the Chicago show.
And when I worked in the past with one toy company client, I brought on Tera Patrick as a spokesmodel, and she was also pictured on all the packaging. This helped the toy company sell more products and establish brand recognition.
I use my relationships with talent to help promote companies and it’s been a win-win for everyone.
XBIZ: In your view, what is the ideal role of a publicist in today’s market?
ICON: With the rise of OnlyFans-type of platforms and more cam models getting into the game, publicists are more important than ever to help them stand out in a sea of other creators and cam models. Even performers need help to get nominations, wins and of course, publicity. A professional publicist who produces results and keeps clients happy will always retain clients and have more who want to work with them. Most of our clients come from referrals from current and past clients, and word of mouth is an ideal way to get new clients.
XBIZ: What do clients request most often for their PR needs?
ICON: Most of the performers want nominations, wins and more work, while companies are looking for exposure, branding and obviously more money in their pockets. But from both, I would say press releases are the No. 1 thing requested. They might be old-school, but they help adult and mainstream media come up with stories and give them even more coverage.
XBIZ: How do you create distinct campaigns for a company client versus a talent client? Any differences or similarities?
ICON: When I worked in advertising as a copywriter and art director, I realized that companies and people are products. Of course, products are marketed differently because they’re not a one-size-fits-all campaign type. But with companies and talent, you have to find what makes them different from everyone else that does what they do, and really highlight that. With a company, it could be their unique products, quality standards, business ethics, charities they stand behind, etc. But with talent, you have to draw out what makes them multifaceted and more than just a creator, cam model, director or performer. For example, Arietta Adams is a rapper and singer, Charlie Forde is a veterinarian, Mistress Marley is a lingerie designer and Skye Blue is a fashion model and photographer. Most people don’t know these things about companies and talent until we bring it to their attention with interviews, bios, press releases, etc.
XBIZ: Tell us about industry colleagues or friends who really keep you motivated and supported.
ICON: I always have to put Megan Stokes of NMG Management at the top of the list. She gave me my first PR gig when I worked at WantedList as a DVD buyer. Plus, she’s a huge success story and a definite role model for me. Leah Mahi of XBIZ has been extremely supportive, and so have Sandra McCarthy at OC Modeling and Holly Kingstown at Fleshbot. It’s great to have these badass women behind me, and I try to support them as much as possible, too.
XBIZ: What’s next in 2022 for your business? Any ventures on the horizon?
ICON: I definitely want to write more and will have more pieces in Hustler and ASN Magazines and will be adding Darkside Magazine to the mix. Being a working writer for valuable adult publications offers our clients more chances to get coverage. It’s easier for a publication to have me write it than farm it out to another writer. Plus, I know our clients well and can write pieces without going too over the top.
I’m going to add some new employees to the team as well. Hopefully, we will have some announcements coming soon. I want to expand our business and work with more companies. With a larger team, I can focus more on the important things. And we’d love to add some more awards to our collection, as well as for our clients.