By Sonja Whitemon
A 20-year-old Johnson C. Smith University student had no idea how a basic college internship would chart the course for her life. “Neph” Nepheterra Best was paired with Dee Dixon, now publisher of Pride Magazine for a role that was supposed to be a writing internship, simply writing articles for the magazine, which was owned by The Charlotte Observer at the time. Instead, Dixon introduced her to the entire business and 23 years later they are still together, now co-founders of Pride Public Relations, an award winning, full-service public relations agency and the only Black and women-owned PR agency in Charlotte.
Best credits Dixon as her first professional mentor.
“Dee was the first person who taught me how important it is to have a variety of skills to tap into,” Best said. “She did allow me to write during my internship, but she also took me on sales calls and got me involved with the Pride Awards. I remember going on photo shoots for advertisers. She had me doing a lot of different things.”
The two public relations professionals clearly have a mutual love and respect for each other. Dixon saw promise in her protégé.
“When Neph was an intern, I got a sense of her work ethic,” said Dee Dixon. “I thought it was unusual for someone her age. She followed through, she was on time, she had some qualities that told me she is going to go a long way.”
In fact, after graduation, Best worked as a newspaper reporter then started her own public relations agency in Wisconsin. The two kept in touch and eventually started Pride Public Relations. Dixon says today, “Neph is one of the most talented public relations professionals that we have in Charlotte.”
In 15 years, the two have built a thriving, award-winning agency in Pride Public Relations with an ever-growing list of clients that includes national, regional and local brands that span the banking, technology, government and nonprofit sectors. Their client list includes giants in their respective industries, such as Walmart and Wells Fargo. Their team of professionals have expertise creating general market as well as multicultural strategies in vital areas of communications, advertising, and media relations.
Best, with her experience in the newsroom and Dixon, a longtime magazine publisher, have built invaluable relationships with producers, editors and reporters in media that create winning results for their clients.
While Pride PR is a traditional full-service public relations agency that manages events, media messaging and media placement opportunities for its client, they distinguish themselves from their competitors in a number of ways. First, it is uniquely positioned with its connection to Pride Magazine, the only print publication in Charlotte that targets African Americans. Another distinguishing factor is Best and Dixon’s close relationships with local leaders and their deep involvement in the Charlotte community. They also have expertise in community engagement and coalition building.
Michelle Belaire, Senior Director of Community Relations for Walmart, has worked with Pride PR for three years. Pride PR helped Walmart understand the Charlotte community, using focus groups and other community engagement tactics.
“We were very pleased with the results of the work they did,” Balaire said. “They were extremely professional and thorough. They did a tremendous job.”
Fifteen years in, Pride PR continues to thrive and expand its services and client list. The company will soon add new services that include full-service media buying for its clients.