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Brian M. Lowe is a veteran PR professional with over 10 years of experience in the creation and execution of all aspects of public relations strategies for some of America’s most recognized food, technology, fashion & beauty, insurance and travel brands.
BML Public Relations is New Jersey’s fastest growing public relations agency specializing in publicity services, product launches and placement, branding events, celebrity and athlete appearances and social media. Located 20 miles outside of New York City, BMLPR provides both local and national companies with big agency results without the expensive overhead.
MO: What influenced you to break away from your “big agency life?”
Brian: I grew up in a family business environment, so I always envisioned starting my own company. The decision to break away at 28 was tough. There was a lot that I knew, and even more that I didn’t. But encouragement from my awesome wife (girlfriend at the time – and we met at work by the way), extended family and great friends helped me feel like I could do it. On top of that, I am one of the lucky ones who was able to figure out what I loved to do and turn it into a living. The great part is that I still have a great relationship with my former agency (Coyne PR) – and their founder, Tom Coyne, offered me great support. He remembered what it was like when he started from scratch. I looked up to him then, and I still do today. In fact, he passes leads our way often – so it’s true, never burn a bridge.
MO: How was the transition of leaving a big agency to starting up on your own?
Brian: The transition was tough. I essentially left a great job working on some of America’s biggest brands and started an agency with one project – a $300 press release and media relations campaign for a local printing company. I was fortunate that my overhead was low – all I needed was a phone and internet access. So I split time by working out of my apartment and some office space at my family’s company – to break up the monotony. But, I had to generate some more business, and fast! Having no client case studies of my own, the new business front was very difficult, so I shifted strategies and decided the best way to get in the room was through someone who was already in it. I began partnering with advertising agencies that did not have a PR arm. They sold my services in to their clients and I gave them a piece of the fee. That is how I started filling out my agency roster.
MO: What’s been one of your favorite campaigns that you’ve been part of or created?
Brian: I think that is like picking your favorite child. I’m proud of everything we have done since the day I opened the doors. And most importantly, we’ve had fun doing it! I loved the recent Fat Bat Wiffle Ball Homerun Derby contest we did for the American Dairy Association & Dairy Council at a school in the Bronx with Curtis Granderson of the New York Yankees. A couple years back we set records for the World’s Largest Mug of Hot Chocolate – a 500 gallon mug unveiled in Bryant Park’s ice rink in NYC – and The World’s Loudest Moo – 1,500 school kids “mooing” as loud as they could, which ended up being louder than a jet taking off – for Farmland Dairies. But more than just branding events, we do a great job launching and placing products, conducting community relations and creating news through fun surveys. National placement or community newspaper, I still get psyched over every placement we generate for our clients.
MO: Can you give our readers some tips on ways to increase their PR on a tight budget?
Brian: Yes, hire us. We work miracles with small budgets. I would recommend focusing on social media vehicles, like Facebook and Twitter, as they are free. Start by trying to build your friend base/followers – or what I refer to as your “captive audience.” Engage them. Offer them something – anything – as they need to feel there is a reason to follow you. Also, try to gain their feedback. Another important part of social media is bloggers. Pick a few blogs that you read regularly or are a good fit for your product or service. Email an interesting hook about asking them to help spread the word about your company. If they decide to do so, it helps them deliver relevant content to their readers and helps generate awareness for your company. You can find them by simply conducting a Google search or using Technorati or NewsGator. And, if they write about you, ask them to include a link to your website as that helps increase your SEO.
MO: What’s your creative process look like? How do you bring ideas to life?
Brian: I think the most important thing is to inject a little fun and excitement into whatever it is you are doing. People are attracted to unbridled enthusiasm. Clients often lose that enthusiasm for their product or service because they become too close to it. It’s just a commodity to them. I like to take a step back and start the brainstorming process with “what would be funny” or “what is a unique and ridiculous visual we can do with this?” In this day and age, those are the ideas that are going to stand out in this cluttered world. Something that makes people smile. And as startups, and even small and midsize companies don’t always have big dollars to spend – and in the current economy, many large companies don’t have big dollars either – you can always make a big splash with a little creativity.
MO: Learning from mistakes is critical for entrepreneurs. Can you share some lessons learned from your past or how you would have approached things differently?
Brian: My thought process in the beginning was to make as many mistakes as I possibly could without costing anyone any money or embarrassment. I have friends who are business owners as well, and we always talk about baptism by fire. I lived by that expression in the beginning. The best way to do something better is to learn it the hard way the first time. I can’t draw upon one lesson as I don’t think it is that simple. But I would say don’t beat yourself up over a mistake. Take a step back, acknowledge your weakness, be honest with yourself and start identifying ways you can improve across the board. It isn’t always easy, but it is crucial.
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