THE DISTINGUISHED — MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS
Modesty is perhaps not something a person would associate with a roaring publicist or media and communications specialist who, throughout the decades, has worked with some of the top names in reggae-dancehall history, including Sean Paul and Damian ‘Jr Gong’ Marley. But after a few minutes of speaking to Carlette DeLeon, it quickly becomes clear that she is not the typical public relations professional.
DeLeon will tell anyone who starts a conversation about her career that she has been privileged to survive in an environment that has changed “dramatically” over the years and it is all owed to the approach she has maintained from the very beginning of her career.
“One of the things that I have not done is change, in principle, the fact that I believe content must be newsworthy first and foremost,” she told Flair.
DeLeon started her professional journey at the age of 19, at West Indies Publishers in 1994, immediately after leaving the College of Arts, Science and Technology (CAST), now the University of Technology (UTech). Since then, she has co-hosted Television Jamaica’s morning programme – Smile Jamaica, led a weekly live radio feature, and contributed to a weekly newspaper column – THE STAR’s Tech: IT Easy, in addition to writing for other magazine publications. Her public relations career is currently split between Headline Entertainment and Breakthrough Communications. Like a true lioness, DeLeon is the primary hunter of the pride – agile in how she reacts, attentive and knows how to use teamwork to secure her next target.
She does all this while juggling her responsibilities as a mother to a 10-year-old ball of energy – her son Caleb. When her cohorts imagined her first book would be inspired by her work in public relations, media and communications, motherhood led to DeLeon’s musings for Joys of Parenting, published in 2019.
Born and raised in Linstead, her mother, Claudette DeLeon and father, Winston ‘Carl’ DeLeon, both active members of the business community, had high expectations of their daughter.
“I was exposed to work at a tender four-year-old; when my parents got a supermarket, they handed us (my brother and I) an ink gun to put prices on the goods and stack the shelves. By 12, I would have learnt cashiering; then by 16, I learnt how to do the accounts,” she said. “My daddy would have taught me everything I know about business, and in keeping me by his side through thick and thin, he showed me that relationships mattered in business. He was a man of his word and instilled in me the same … to live by my words. In addition to lessons in business, my mother taught me to be independent. It is important for young women to love and appreciate the men in their lives, but also be able to can stand on their own two feet and take care of themselves. I have worked hard to be able to take care of myself and, by extension, my loved ones.”
Having had such a supportive family, DeLeon is passionate about “sharing knowledge” and helping others nurture their own ambitions through her philanthropic efforts. Beyond her professional life, she is the founder of the Hope Elliott Memorial Scholarship to provide scholarships and support to talented young students of limited means at The Queen’s School.
“With the funds left to me by my dear, great and late aunt Hope Elliott, I started the scholarship, selecting two young women at The Queen’s High School for Girls annually to be beneficiaries of full scholarships that covers their tuition, books, uniform, lunch allowances, transportation and exam fees, and that will expose them to other areas that will impact their personal and professional growth,” DeLeon shared.
She remains one of the top practitioners in her field, a pleasant surprise in the densely populated jungle of communications.
“Sometimes I ask myself if I am worthy, but to be ‘distinguished’ in a scenario of women who make an impact in the lives of everyone, not just every other woman, but who, with every inch and fibre of their being, are inspiring others each day is an honour. I would have never thought I would be named among them,” said DeLeon.