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Inspiring Conversations with Julie Whitney of Phillippi-Whitney Communications

Today we’d like to introduce you to Julie Whitney. 

Hi Julie, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
As I PR professional, I have promoted dozens of authors throughout my 40-year-career, but never imagined the day would come when I would become an author myself. It certainly wasn’t ever on my bucket list! However, 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic changed all of this when my husband’s job came to a grinding halt. 

Instead of celebrating my 60th birthday in beautiful Italy, I had to settle for a zoom pizza party with friends in our backyard. And to top it all off, my husband lost his job as a Chief Corporate Pilot on May 5, 2020, when the pandemic led his company to sell the corporate jet and eliminate his job. 

I went with my husband that afternoon to clean out his office and the hangar and say goodbye to the beautiful G100 Gulfstream Jet that he had flown for well over a decade. I sat her beautiful interior one last time and openly wept, feeling sick to my stomach wondering what would become of her and how long she would sit all alone in her hangar before being flown again. I started writing the book that very night! The book was released on March 2, 2022, which is Dr. Seuss’ Birthday and National Read Across America Day. Publisher is Belle Isle Books, and illustrator is Michelle Simpson. 

Astra is a sleek, beautiful, shiny Gulfstream (G100) airplane with a fun and playful personality who finds herself all alone in her hangar with an uncertain fate as she learns she will be sold. She is missing the fresh air and exercise and wondering if she will even remember how to fly, after being flown by her sole caretaker and constant companion named Captain Dan for 12 years. She becomes sad and lonely as she sits rusting in her hangar. Captain Dan comes to check on her and start up her engines once in a while, but she will not be able to fly until she has a new owner. Finally, a series of not too friendly and quirky potential owners take her for a test flight, and she discourages each one of them from buying her in a humorous and playful way, as only a plane can. Eventually, the right owner comes along, and he is the perfect match for both her and her long-time partner Captain Dan. They fly cross country to California, to their new home, and Astra is tired a bit lagged, so Captain Dan parks her safely in her new hangar for the night and assures her everything will be alright. 

Astra The Lonely Airplane, the first rhyming picture book in the Astra series, is appropriate for young K-5 readers and also for preschoolers who will enjoy memorizing the rhyming verse. The book includes an educational glossary of plane terminologies and interesting facts, and also a 3-minute video via a QR Code in the book that children can scan to see a tour of the real Astra given by the real Captain Dan. Fun and educational activity sheets are also included for free on my website. Astra teaches children about planes, math, and geography, and about overcoming adversity in challenging times and embracing new circumstances that may occur in their lives, such as a move to a new city. The book will leave readers wondering what will happen to Astra after she lands in her new home. The book was recently selected as one of only six finalists in the “Picture Books For All Ages” category in the National Indie Excellence Awards.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Publishing a book is not an easy task. There are an overwhelming number of new children’s books on the market today, and it seems that every celebrity on the face of the planet has written one. I submitted the book to dozens of literary agents and publishers, receiving rejection after rejection, along with some positive and constructive feedback. I started submitting the manuscript in June of 2022 and received an offer from Belle Isle Books in August 2022. I signed on the dotted line on August 19, 2020, which also happens to be National Aviation Day and the day that Captain Dan received a new job! 

Persistence pays, and you have to have very thick skin. Don’t give up. Believe in yourself and believe in your book! 

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Phillippi-Whitney Communications LLC?
I have been a PR consultant with my own business since 2000. ( I have a diverse background in public relations, advertising, and marketing on both the agency and client-side and also in local television. I am known for crafting a precise pitch or story and knowing how to sell it and who to sell it to. I won’t cry wolf with the media and will only pitch solid and newsworthy stories. I sometimes see stories where others don’t. I often see unique angles and find a new way to spin a story. I also know that if reporters don’t bite on a particular story, I find out why the story didn’t work for them and use that as a key learning for the next time I pitch them. 

In addition to the local media, I have had my clients in/on the national media on just about all outlets, including Good Morning America, ABC World News Tonight, The Today Show, CNN, ESPN, NPR, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, Fortune, Forbes, Inc., and Entrepreneur, to name just a few. 

I’d say that reporters and my clients have come to know me and trust me over the years, and I still pride myself in relationship building. 

Is there a quality that you most attribute to your success?
Persistence! A former small business reporter from the Wall Street Journal once told me that I am the most persistent and diligent PR person that she has ever met! You can be persistent without ever becoming a pest or too overbearing. 

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