Mantra, Empowered Public Relations, Inc., was founded by a woman instilled with the entrepreneurial spirit from an early age.
As a fourth-generation woman business owner, Gaye Carleton has made a career of walking the cutting edge with a graceful ease that’s been passed down from the previous three generations. While her ancestors built businesses to guarantee them security, Gaye Carleton has ventured beyond to help establish an entire industry.
Gaye was born and raised in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, to progressive parents who raised their daughter to embrace her quirkiness as well as her rebellious nature.
“My father worked for Rolling Stone magazine for years, and my mother, the entrepreneur in the family, was committed to equipping us culturally,” Gaye says. “It was commonplace for her to take my brother and me to see everyone from Louis Armstrong to the Beatles.”
After Gaye was graduated from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, she went back to Pennsylvania to become involved in the burgeoning field of arts administration.
Several years later, she moved to California, took up residence on a houseboat in Sausalito and mixed drinks in a Union Street bar. Growing tired of the confines of San Francisco, Gaye moved back to New York in 1981.
For the next six years, she was a successful freelance music publicist, handling Phil Collins’ No Jacket Required tour, Richie Havens’ 25th Anniversary performances and the U.S. premiere tour of Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark (OMD), to name a few.
Carleton & Company Public Relations officially opened July 20, 1987, specializing in music, arts and entertainment public relations. Four years later, looking to push the borders and increase revenues, Carleton expanded her company to include many other industries for which she handled publicity and public relations.
Now, as strong generalists, the PR firm handles clients in a variety of industries—from performers to politicians, technology to travel, beauty to business and beyond.
In August 2001, Gaye Carleton decided to shake things up once again. She took the bold step of rebranding and renaming her company, Mantra, Empowered Public Relations, Inc.
“I wanted Mantra to offer our clients publicity campaigns that are purposefully balanced and centered—publicity campaigns that have a consciousness, if you will,” Gaye says. “I also thought it was high time to bring a sense of soul to an industry—public relations—that traditionally has had no heart.”
“In conducting research for our rebranding, we found that approximately 96% of the PR firms out there are named for the founders or partners, proper names like Carleton & Company was, for instance,” Carleton says now. “What we gleaned from that is that it is very hard to tell anything about the public relations agency simply from its name. Mantra changes all of that.”
Known for her outrageous “reel me in” brainstorming sessions, Gaye interviews clients like a journalist; she digs deep to find the stories that will appeal to the media. Press materials are written from a journalist’s point of view, reportage-style; she stays away from promotional fluff.
With PR all the buzz in every industry these days, Gaye Carleton continues to be a trailblazer, bringing creativity, sincerity, humor and a unique perspective to a business most of the world is just now discovering.
“The essence of public relations is raising consciousness, which then translates into measurable results—whatever the goal may be.” Carleton is also mindful of the spiritual aspect of PR—in this case keeping staff, clients and the media energized about a publicity campaign.
“Some measurable results are easy to identify—a major placement or increased sales—but what is often overlooked is how good it makes the client feel to be validated,” she reflects. To Carleton, that feel-good factor is equally important.
Gaye Carleton has appeared as a public relations expert on numerous radio and television programs, and as a guest speaker at many national conferences and industry events. Additionally, she was for several years an Associate Professor of Publicity at New York City’s renowned Fashion Institute of Technology. For over ten years she has been a mentor for New York University students enrolled in the prestigious Gallatin Program.
A big fan of the New York Yankees, sandy beaches and the word game Perquacky, Gaye brings to her work a sense of curiosity and openness to all campaigns.
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