Exclusive Interview: PR Pro MJ Pedone Brings Service to Charitable Causes

Charles Oakley, Vinny Harris, Charles  Grantham, Darrell Walker, Patrick Ewing, MJ Pedone, Trent Tucker, Kris Humphries, Andy Thompson

From left to right: Charles Oakley, Vinny Harris, Charles Grantham, Darrell Walker, Patrick Ewing, MJ Pedone, Trent Tucker, Kris Humphries, Andy Thompson. Photo credit: courtesy of MJ Pedone.

Interview by Lori Perry
In the circle of charitable socialites, you’ll find MJ Pedone who is an incredible Businesswoman, Publicist & CEO of Indra Public Relations. MJ is one of the most hands on PR Pro’s who has a deep celebrity client list that reads like the who’s who of Professional Sports, Hollywood and Corporate America.

Although MJ is the owner of a full service PR Firm, she herself handles her celebrity clients and leads the philanthropic/charity division. Her celebrity clients either have been inflicted with the disease or started their own foundations funding the scientific research.

MJ’s expertise lends itself to the cross-marketing opportunities that she creates between her clients and ultimately brings a partnership to. “I love connecting a young foundation with celebrity ambassadors and guide the development of that relationship where the foundation would have either never had the opportunity to work with that celebrity or would have taken years to attract a celebrities attention.

“My team and I develop fundraising strategies that we can implement and will have the most powerful impact and financial return for the foundation. If I can use my expertise to expand on the foundations goals, then I’ve done my job.”

When asked about being in the limelight with her clients, she chuckles, “they see it as being in the limelight with me as most people recognize me.” If we can all use our influence to make a positive and lasting impression, then the mission is accomplished.”

Lori Perry: You have produced as well as attended a significant amount of celebrity fundraisers and red carpet events. What is the most rewarding aspect of giving back whether from an event production standpoint or as an attendee?

MJ Pedone: The adrenaline rush that I get when I produce an event and seeing the results is the equivalent of hitting a three point shot that wins the game in overtime. The praises come in for weeks and then I know that collectively, we have succeeded at another great event. As far as attending the red carpet events, I get to relax and socialize although I’m paying attention to all the minor details that people normally don’t think about. My husband and I are very charitable by nature and we have committed ourselves in supporting many different causes. We consider it to be an honor and privilege to be able to give back any way possible and I’m humbled to continuously succeed in guiding my clients in doing what is needed to achieve their goals.

Lori Perry: Rumor has it that Michael Jordan will once again be the lead golfer for Trent Tuckers Celebrity Golf Event. Is this true and what is he like in person? Can you give us the details?

MJ Pedone: We will produce the 2nd Annual Trent Tucker All 4 Kids Foundation Celebrity Golf & Gala on September 9 & 10, 2012, which will be hosted by the All 4 Kids Foundation and The Max Cure Foundation for pediatric cancer causes. Yes, Michael Jordan is confirmed as our lead golfer along with many other exciting athletes. MJ (Michael Jordan) is always a gentleman and has a lot of depth to him. His personality is bigger than life and I love to hear about the behind the scene stories he shares in regard to his NBA career, which I find to be one of the great perks of my profession. He is very approachable and has a huge heart. One of the things that always remain close to me was when he was at the Trent Tucker Celebrity Golf & Gala in Minneapolis and it was during a time my father was ill. MJ expressed his concern and offered if my family needed anything at all to please just ask him and I knew that he meant it. We had a conversation regarding our aging parents. He did shed some sage advice, which I followed during that difficult time which helped me get through the mentally tough times. I will add, MJ also supports many different causes outside of his own foundation and is willing to help whenever his schedule permits.

Lori Perry: Tell us a little bit about some of the charities you’ve worked with throughout the years. Any favorites?

MJ Pedone: The list is too extensive because we work with so many different foundations whether they are disease-related causes, education, disaster relief as well as working with many private family foundations. Each foundation becomes your favorite as you work closely with all your clients in every aspect whether it be in managing their nonprofit, event planning, branding & licensing, PR, fundraising as well as writing programs that get implemented into a school system. Actually, this spring we will be implementing the Trent Tucker University Scholars Program at Columbia University in which we are taking 20 students from an area school in Harlem, and bringing them into the program. I have also written a sports/academic program that will be implemented in twenty-two schools across the nation beginning this September. It is so exciting knowing that your hard work pays off and that your efforts are helping so many students in need. When people ask me why I do what I do, my response is the same: I have been given a talent that allows me to make a difference in the lives of many others.

Lori Perry: Can you tell us about your involvement in Henry & Me which will be released in June? Who are some of the cast members for this movie?

MJ Pedone: Henry & Me is an animation about a boy named Jack who finds out he has cancer and the story is told through the NY Yankees magic. The stars of the movie are Richard Gere, Chazz Palminteri, Cyndi Lauper, Lucie Arnez, Danny Aiello and the current and former stars of the NY Yankees. It is such an uplifting movie that exudes hope and bravery. As far as my involvement, I had the opportunity through my client, The Max Cure Foundation for pediatric cancer causes, which is a foundation inspired by a young boy named Max Plotkin who was diagnosed with stage four B-cell Lymphoma at the age of 4. The story of Jack is similar to that of Max Plotkin. It is exciting for me to be involved in a movie with a beautiful storyline relating to pediatric cancer and such great actors as well as the greatest organization in the history of baseball. I know my father is watching from above saying that’s my girl as he was by far one of the biggest Yankee fans out there.

Lori Perry: Regarding philanthropy, what advice can you give and how do you balance your personal and professional life?

MJ Pedone: I believe you should follow your heart and passion and support the causes that are dear to you and then research the organization that you want to support. Charity Navigator is a great tool in finding out who the 4-star-rated charities are, why they are rated that way, expenses that are paid out to staff, etc. Philanthropic dollars are becoming more competitive with the climate of the economy, so I believe more people want to do their research on the foundations that they have interest in. The other thing to consider is lending your time to an organization as they always welcome volunteers. As far as my professional and personal schedule and balancing both, let’s just say my mind is always working and I’m constantly creating ideas and ways for my clients to raise additional funds. I do commit the little spare time I have to my son but I’m always on as working with celebrities and athletes are a full time job in itself! There are many ways to make our world a better place and set positive examples for our children and Indra Public Relations is sure leading the way!

About Ib Dabo

Ib Dabo, founder and executive editor of Ib Talk Online, is a writer, journalist, photographer, and communications and IT leader whose mission is to inspire and work with people to make a difference in our world. Visit his official website - www.IbDabo.com - to learn more. Follow @IbDabo on Twitter and also @IbTalkOnline on Twitter.