Jen Appel

By: Starr Brown

Can you tell me a little about yourself and what you do?

I started the company six and a half years ago, and I am the CEO Publicity Director. I founded the company in 2012 and I do a lot of things. I handle the business development, I handle all of the staff is running efficiently, and I oversee all of the campaigns. I’m kind of the glue that hold everything together. But I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without an awesome team.

What lead you to starting The Catalyst Publicity Group?

I started the company because I was working for a couple different PR firms, and I wasn’t necessarily working in music but the one job I did take in music before starting Catalyst I really didn’t like the way they were operating. They really didn’t pay attention to the artists, didn’t give an artist, especially at an emerging level, enough of a platform to creatively speak and do the things that they needed to. And I kinda felt like the industry was extremely shady, so there’s a lot of things that the industry has shown me over years that you don’t have to be in business and do things the wrong way but you can create a business and have that passion and be able to work hard for the emerging artist so that they have the right platforms. It wasn’t necessarily something that I dreamt up overnight. It wasn’t something that I had been wanting to do my whole life. It was so of something that I decided maybe I should make something while I’m looking for another job. I feel very fortunate and blessed that my little idea that was supposed to be freelance ended up becoming a full time job for almost seven years.

You started it as just a freelance project?

Yeah, it started as just a freelance. I actually quit my job because my bosses were horrible in August. And the one good thing I had at that job was that if I brought in any business, I was able to take it with me. I actually had about a dozen clients that I brought into their company and was able to transition all of that over. Me being the, I guess, do-good type person, I was like ‘I need to create something that I can write off my taxes.’ So, I ended up creating Catalyst as just freelance and I thought ‘well maybe I’ll transition out of music’ even though I was only in it for a little bit. Maybe I’ll work at a general PR company. So, I ended up taking those clients with me and forming Catalyst. And after about three or four weeks I got a phone call from this girl, and she was like ‘I really want to join your company.’ But I didn’t really have a company, it was just me at the moment. She sort of dedicated the next three or four years to help me and help build the company and that’s where everything sort of kicked off.

What makes Catalyst different from everyone else out there?

I don’t know if I would say that we’re really different. We defiantly look at things in a very creative way. We’re not just looking at it as we’ll come in, take your music and share it across all PR platforms. We’re really trying to make sure that what we do is create a space for them, it’s a longevity thing. It’s not necessarily about wanting to take an artist and get a PR platform, it’s really about trying to make sure social media looks good, their branding looks great, making sure creatively we can come up for ways of better fan engagement. It’s not just about being a PR company, but we are the creativity behind it as well. We believe if you have really good creative assets and a really good marketing plan, then it can partner well with the PR effort. So, we’re trying to look at things a little bit different than just your stereotypical PR campaign which will generate the right results but I do want to make sure we’re able to be there for the longevity of their whole career. It’s not just a short campaign to release a single or music video, it’s really about how we can take those steps and make those initiative to build the platform that they deserve.

This last week especially, it’s been said that if women in music want recognition they need to work harder, what do you think it’s going to take for women in the industry to get the recognition they deserve?

It’s a very interesting time, I mean I have most certainly gone through my fair share of women not getting the right equality for the right work. I’ve most certainly had to go up against a male counterpart and have lost in that position. There are a lot of things in this industry that I see women don’t get the recognition that they deserve. A lot of the glue behind the music industry is not really gender relegated but it’s talent and how much dedication you have to helping out a client and making sure they’re given the right path for their success. Now for women who are constantly fighting and not getting the equal right. What I say to that is really keep going. If we keep stopping to ask why us, why aren’t we the type to get the right roles and why aren’t we getting to succeed past males, I think that’s the wrong way to look at it. It should be on a clear platform; how can we work with our male counterparts and make sure that what we’re doing is based off professionalism and how we can operate as a team.
I never grew up believing men and women are different, it’s just men and women have capabilities in all different ranges. We need to look into our inner selves and look at what we can provide the world and do something no matter our gender. I think it’s a little difficult. I feel like women that are fighting for equal rights, I applaud them, I think it’s amazing that there are women out there that want to fight. I think it’s an exhausting battle and I honestly truly hope that women have the most equal rights as males at some point in our lives. And I hope my children will someday see this equal rights and wont’ have to fight for things like this. But I think unfortunately based off everyone’s ideas, and belief systems and ideologies, we’re always going to have these battles, they’ll never go away. It’s just how you internally process it. For me I never wake up and say ‘wow I didn’t get that because I’m a female.’ I wake up and say ‘maybe I didn’t get it because it’s not the right time.’ I try t just alter the way that I look at things, how I think about certain things and how or why I don’t get certain projects. I don’t internalize it as me being a female but as it’s not the right project for me or if that doors closed maybe another will open.

Is there anyone you wish you could work with?

I wish I could work with anyone that works with Taylor Swift. I love her on a personal level, professional, everything she does I think is absolutely genius. Whether someone appreciates that or not. I just think she does things so carefully and meticulously that it’s really impressive. Just from a fan standpoint and an industry standpoint, she understands her audience and understands how to utilize that very well. If I could work with anyone, I would most likely want to work with Scott Borchetta who discovered Taylor Swift and built a label around her. Big Machine Label Group has all the most incredible and most emerging artists in the country scene. And I think they do such a great job making sure they expand past their market and have done so very successfully.

What’s next for you and Catalyst?

This year we’re sort of taking it back to the basics. We’re going back to making sure we’re developing artists really well, making sure we brought the right attention to our team, traveling to some new cities and expand the brand this year. We’re pretty much on an as need basis with our clients so it’s really important that we stay up to date on all the industry trends and trying to make sure that we’re doing enough to provide for our clients.
As far as the company goes as a whole. I think 2018 is going back to knowing why we do what we do and making sure we’re building the right platform and company for our clients to succeed in.

Thank you, Jen, for taking the time to chat with Savvage Media.  Please visit for more information on The Catalyst Publicity Group.

Savvage Media