To say Misty Starks is a PR giant who’s killing the game is an understatement. She runs two companies, one of which, 3B Resources Group, made Forbes’ inaugural “America’s Best PR Firms” in 2020. Success for this New Orleans native and Howard University alumna didn’t come easy, but rather through a professional journey (FOX, BET, TSU), rich with hard work, incredible talent and an unyielding faith in her ability to “Do all things thru Christ” who strengthens her.
And if you talk to 100 Black Houstonians, it’s a good bet 90 of them know and love Starks, a former Defender editor, because she not only brings a winning work ethic, but a spirit that invites respect.
DEFENDER: Can you describe the significance of being named to Forbes’ Americas Best PR Firms list?
MISTY: In PR, just like any other industry, you have your giants. In my industry Edelman, that’s really the giant. And they’re on the list. They have offices around the world. They represent some of the biggest names in business entertainment, medicine. Just name an industry. So, to be on the same list with them is incredible. From what I read, Forbes took 5,000 nominations and whittled them down to 200. My company was one of the 200, and I’m only one of three from the Houston area that made the list. And being a Black woman, certainly that is impressive. It’s a tremendous honor. It’s just a blessing from God. But, you know, we do work hard over here. So, I mean, there’s that too.
DEFENDER: It’s my understanding that you purchased this particular company from another local PR legend?
MISTY: Yes. Back in 2016, Phyllis Bailey, who was a legend in the PR world, particularly here in Houston, she was ready to retire. She approached me about the buying firm. I immediately said yes, because it’s Phyllis, and she and I had a great relationship already. She was always like a mentor to me. So, when she offered to sell it to me, I said, yes, without hesitation. And we made the sale at the end of 2016, beginning of 2017. And then from there, we were actually named to another list by Expertise.com as best PR firm from 2018, 2019 and 2020. I believe for three years running. So Phyllis definitely set the groundwork. She started this company 20 years ago. She didn’t want that legacy to die. And so I feel very honored and privileged to be able to carry on her legacy and just kind of add my own twist to it.
DEFENDER: But you were an entrepreneur before purchasing that firm, right?
MISTY: Yes. So, I started my own company, Misty Blue Media, and I had been doing that kind of on the side for a long time. My background is media. It’s news media and the entertainment television, and corporate. So, I just married all of my experience together. And I was doing Misty Blue Media, which I still run. So, I run both companies at the same time.
DEFENDER: How did PR come about?
MISTY: PR came about really kind of accidentally. People kept asking me for advice; how I get my product or service on TV. And I would just tell them, “Okay, do this, do that, do this, do that.” Then people just kept asking me that for years. And I was like, “I don’t want to do PR. I want to do television.” Then, “Well, maybe I don’t want to do television.” I was just kind of not sure. And I’m a Christian. So, I really prayed about it and felt like God was leading me in that direction. Ever since I said, “Yes, okay, I’m going to do this,” it just took off. I mean, literally just took off.
DEFENDER: Tell us about your professional journey before owning two businesses.
MISTY: I have always had a heart for entrepreneurship. And I didn’t know it at the time, but every job that I had, even if it was the best job, even if I loved going to work every day, I always felt like something was missing. I always felt like until I step out on my own and do things myself, I’ll never like scratch that hitch. When I first graduated college, I moved to Houston. I started out as an associate producer at the local FOX station. And I was there for five years and I, I was a producer, associate producer, writer and an editor. I just kind of worked it as much as I could. And I learned and met some amazing people who are still great friends to this day, but I knew it was time to go because I wasn’t moving up. I’m really ambitious. I really have a feel that I should be doing something of worth in the world. When I don’t feel like I’m doing that anymore, I know it’s time to move on to something else. So, I left FOX. Then I was a media buyer for a radio advertising company. I learned about that industry. Then I went to Texas Southern University where I was a writer and editor, because I love to write. That’s my other kind of gift, if you will. From there, I got into entertainment. I worked for the Judge Alex Court TV show as an associate producer here in Houston. Then I went to New York while we were on hiatus, just to kind of see “Could I make it in New York?” That’s always the question when you’re in this industry. And I quickly found out, “Yes, I can make it here,” from a career standpoint. As soon as I got there, I worked at a law firm, an entertainment law firm. I was working under, and this is a temp job, but I was working under the attorney for Al Pacino and Terry McMillan. I was like, “How did this happen?” And then I got on at BET. No, I got on the New York One News as a news writer. And all my experience at Fox here allowed me to really excel there. And then I got on at BET. And this is in the span of like a few months. I’m going to tell you, if anybody watching this from New York city, if you’ve ever lived there, or if you lived there now, hats off to you, because it is tough. Let me tell you. It’s tough to get a job. It’s tough to stay. I mean, the taxes alone will kill you. So, once I was there, I did that for a while. And then Judge Alex called me back and they promoted me to producer. So, I came back to Houston and I felt like, “Okay, feature comforts are back.” And that’s how I ended up coming back to Houston.
DEFENDER: After you graduated Howard, you came to Houston. Was it the job that brought you here?
MISTY: No. My best friend lived here. She was a student at Texas Southern. And one of my cousins lived here and she had been a student at Texas Southern. And when I would come visit, I would come visit during the summers and holidays because I’m from New Orleans. But I didn’t want to go back home. I wanted to come here because my friends were here and I saw how well they were living. I mean, you know, at 19, if your best friend has her own apartment and a car, you think she’s living large. So, I was like, “If she can do it, I can do it. Let me come to Houston. It must be a great place to live.” And Houston has been great to me. I’ve been here over 20 years now, except for that time I went to New York, and it’s been amazing.
DEFENDER: What is it like to realize that a fellow Bison (Kamala Harris) will be walking into the White House? [Note: This question was asked before Pres. Joe Biden and VP Kamala Harris were inaugurated]
MISTY: It’s incredible. I think what a lot of us are feeling, it’s not just that she’s a Bison in the White House. That doesn’t surprise us. I mean, I don’t want to sound cocky, but you know, we have a lot of graduates who go on to do great things. It’s the fact that she went to an HBCU and so really representing historically Black Colleges and Universities is tremendous because as an HBCU graduate, I was told, “You shouldn’t go to an HBCU. That’s not representative of the real world. Your education is going to be looked down upon,” and all these things. Thank God, I didn’t listen to them. I just felt like this is a place for me. And it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. So, I’m really excited that Kamala Harris is in the White House or will be in the White House. And I think she’s going to be tremendous. But I’m really excited for all those people who maybe before now had discarded the idea of going to an HBCU, because it’s so much more than going to class. Obviously, you’re going to get a great education. But experience, it’s the culture, it’s the coming together of our people. And that’s something you just can’t, you can’t buy that. You can’t find that other places. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
DEFENDER: What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
MISTY: If you’re going to start a business, you really have to know yourself. Whatever traits you have, entrepreneurship will magnify them, good or bad. If you’re a procrastinator, it’s going to magnify that. If you are great with money, it’s going to magnify that. So just know your strengths and weaknesses and what you need to work on before you take that leap, because it’s going to show up in your business. Also, if you start a business, start it with the idea of a team. You cannot do it alone. You shouldn’t do it alone. So even if it’s an intern, if it’s your mama, somebody helping you in some way is really going to help you go further, faster.
DEFENDER: Any advice specifically for Black women professionals?
MISTY: As a Black woman, obviously, just like with anything else in any other profession, you’re gonna run up against obstacles. The way I was raised, I really wasn’t raised to look at the obstacle of being a Black woman, if it is to be turned that way. I was just raised that I can do anything. And so, I don’t really look at it through the lens of being a woman or being Black most of the time. But I know that those things bring challenges. Sometimes they’re obvious and sometimes they’re not. So, I would say, just, just take no prisoners. Don’t take “No” for an answer. And there are a lot of people out here who are doing the same thing you do or want to do, who are just mediocre, and they’re killing it. You know, we’ve been raised that we have to be twice as good and three times as good as the next person. And that’s just not true. That’s definitely what I learned, but it’s simply not true.
DEFENDER: Do you have any words that guide you, a mantra that kind of motivates you?
MISTY: Definitely one of them is “I can do all things through Christ.” I mean, it is what it is. I do believe that. And my mom used to always say to me, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat” and “One monkey don’t stop no show.” So those three things I live by. I know you’re like, “Wait, what?” Those three things I live by because whenever I come upon an obstacle and never let it stop me, because I mean, I was raised to believe that you might come up against an obstacle, but there’s gotta be another solution. You go around it, above it, under it, run through it, something. Don’t let it stop you. So, I live by that and it’s, it’s worked for me so far.