This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Alexis Robinson. After working in hospitality and sales, Alexis decided to open up her own shop with Diamond Marketing and Public Relations. Now, she handles top sports and entertainment clients, including Travis Kelce and DJ Duffey. I chatted with her about her big sports family, transition to entrepreneurship, and love for John McEnroe.
Q: As someone who didn’t get into sports until much later in life, I’m always curious how people got into sports. How did you become a sports fan? What was your earliest sports memory?
A: I come from a huge basketball family. Sports have always been a part of my family, so I knew I would get involved in some capacity. My dad was a professional basketball player and a good majority of the men in my family were collegiate and professional basketball players.
One of our close family friends John Lucas—I call him Uncle John, he was a basketball coach and player, but he also played professional tennis, so I got my love from tennis from him and my grandmother. I had my own outlet with tennis. I started playing when I was 7 or 8, but more seriously when I was 14. That’s when I decided that tennis would be my career. I went to Dixie State University in St. George, Utah, specifically to train with my tennis coach Vic Braden. He has since passed away, but he was a world-renowned tennis coach. He and Andy Fitzell were training me to go pro. It was convenient to get some of that college experience while training for the next level.
Q: What were your favorite sports teams growing up?
A: Growing up in Las Vegas and in a family that played for so many teams, I never really had a specific team. All my favorite teams were based off of relationships. For example, my Uncle was from Durham and when I was young, I met Coach K so I fell in love with the Duke basketball program. My dad played in the NBA and 17 other countries, so I became a big fan of European players and I fell in love with Dirk [Nowitzki] and the Mavs. I’m so sad that he’s almost done.
Q: You recently made the transition from working in business development and event management in the hospitality industry to owning your own public relations, marketing and event management firm. What made you want to make the leap? What was the biggest challenge?
A: I finished playing tennis because I got a big injury and I needed to go back to school and start a career. I ended up going to the University of Oklahoma and working in the hospitality field there. Then I moved back to Las Vegas, where I became one of the youngest national sales managers for Hilton. It was good money and I liked it. Until one day, suddenly I didn’t want to get up and put on slacks and be somewhere at 9am. I didn’t want to work for someone else on something that I didn’t absolutely love. I thought to myself, “I’m still young, I’m accomplished. I still have time to do what I want.” I took a leap of faith. I knew I had a lot of contacts in sports and entertainment because of my big sports family, so I decided to do my own thing and see if it would work out.
I’m still thankful for my time in hospitality, because the knowledge that I gained from it was amazing. Now I can easily put together events for my clients and have insider knowledge of travel.
The biggest challenge to being an entrepreneur has been the behind the scenes organization part of being a business owner. I want to get the marketing and PR work done, but I also need to do a lot of work on the back end that would be taken care of by other people at a big company. Luckily my sister is an attorney so she helps me with the legal stuff and I have other connections that have helped me. In 2017, I plan to bring some people on to help with the business side, now that the work has really started to flow steadily.
Q: You work with a number of athletes and entertainers, many of them you knew through family connections. How have you attracted your new clients?
A: It’s honestly been word of mouth and people seeing what I do. I started with my family and friends. I went to Oklahoma, which is a huge football school, so I met football players there. I also run Las Vegas Fab 48, which is the largest summer AAU basketball tournament in the country, so when people see me there, they reach out. When people see the events I’ve worked on or people I’ve worked with, that’s how I’ve grown my business.
As far as entertainment clients, one of my sister’s closest friends is DJ Duffey. She came to me one day and said “I want to be a DJ. I don’t trust a lot of people. I know you just do sports, but will you take me on?” That was 4 years ago, and now she’s been on Basketball Wives and she’s a tour DJ for Jet Life rapper Curren$y. She credits me with a lot of that. Now, people see the things I’ve done with her, so people will reach out.
Q: When you first start working with a client, what are the initial meetings like? What criteria do you have for taking on new clients? What goals do you set with them?
A: I left the hotel and hospitality industry because I didn’t want to work on projects that I wasn’t interested in or work with people I didn’t get along with. I have inquiries come in every single day for music artists, athletes and events, but I don’t take them all on. I don’t take on projects or clients that I don’t want to work with or I don’t see myself being able to help. There are a lot of people in marketing and PR that will take on tons of clients—anyone that will pay them, but I love the projects that I’ve been able to obtain as a publicist and I that’s what I really focus on.
I love that I can focus on the clients that I want to work with. I love that I can say that when I started working with DJ Duffey she was just in Dallas, but now she’s on national television. I love that my client Erin Simon, who was a freelance journalist at the University of Kentucky is now a producer at REVOLT.TV.
When I sit down with a new client, I ask them what their goals are. I see what I can do for you them and tell them where I see them going. If they’re interested, we’ll work as a partnership. I probably do more things than the average publicist does. I take on a bit of a management and marketing role, but I’m happy to do that because all of the clients that I take on I see myself helping them to the next level and building their brand.
Q: Can you take me through a typical day at your job?
A: I travel a lot, like I just got back from Dubai with DJ Duffey 2 days ago. But I try to be in Las Vegas as much as I can. I was born and raised here I think it’s the best city in the world.
When I am in town, I wake up and check my 2 cell phones. I have people on the East coast that I’m in contact with, so I know that I’ll have missed calls, texts, and emails. I catch up on them and then I shoot out emails to my assistant and intern and tell them what we’re working on that day. I check in with all my clients—I communicate with them all the time.
A big part of what I do is social media. As crazy as it sounds, it’s a huge part of my job. I need to make sure that people are seeing what my clients are doing. I have Google alerts for all my clients and projects to make sure people are talking about them.
Usually, I have one big event each quarter, and that’s what takes up most of my time. I just finished Fab 48, so now that that’s done DJ Duffey and I are starting an event that is focused on women in sports and entertainment. We’re going to put on a panel event for women that want to work in the industry, that’s what I’m really excited about. It’s another reason why I decided to start this company. I understand that I am really luck to be able to do what I’m doing, because I have my family and connections. I know that sports closes a lot of doors for women, so I want to be able to help open them as much as I can. For the event, I’m starting from the ground up. I’m finding a venue and speakers. It’s the big one that I’m working on right now.
Q: What’s your favorite part of being an entrepreneur?
A: The travel is really cool. I complain about it sometimes because I get exhausted. I’ve been to some cool places like Dubai—like I was just mentioning, but I’ve also been to small towns in Ohio in the middle of winter.
I like that I get calls and meetings with people that I never thought would be interested in me and my company. I’ve had the NCAA, NBA scouts, and really big football personalities reach out to me. I like that I can go have a business meeting with someone and be wearing my Nike gear and sweats. I think that’s what’s great about being an entrepreneur. You can make your own rules for yourself, as long as you’re doing good work.
Q: What is one storyline in any sport that you are looking forward to this year?
A: The tennis girl in me is excited for Serena to surpass Steffi Graf for most Grand Slam titles in tennis. I think she’s one of the best athletes in the world, male or female. I think she’ll get it done next year at the Australian Open.
Q: If you could have dinner with any athlete living or dead who would you choose and why?
A: John McEnroe. He’s my favorite player in the world. He was a lefty with a big serve and was all about coming into the net. I’m a lefty, so I based my game off of him. I liked his attitude as well. People joke about that side of him, but I definitely understood what it was like to be mad out there. I also like how he’s transitioned to a great commentator and has all these organizations he’s a part of.