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“There are no mistakes, only lessons. Love yourself, trust your choices, and everything is possible.” (Cherie Carter-Scott)

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Inna Shamis Lapin is a seasoned communications expert with over 15 years experience in PR, marketing, client management and business development, working with some of the world’s most recognized brands. With a career that began in the mid 90’s, her widespread background spans a number of industries and today, she maintains extensive global contacts in the media and entertainment, consumer, beauty, health and wellness, travel and hospitality and lifestyle sectors. Seven years ago, she founded AvantGarde Communications Group – a full service agency that delivers expertise in PR, marketing, business development and creative services. A passionate educator and connector, Inna was instrumental in helping publish the first CRAVE New York City guide, is an author of Big Bold Business Advice from New Jersey Women Business Owners, and currently sits on the Advisory Boards of Retail Minded Magazine and Femfessionals Hoboken.

AvantGarde Communications Group is a full-service communications firm with extensive experience in public relations, marketing, business development and creative consulting.

MO: What influenced your decision to launch AvantGarde instead of working for an established firm?

Inna: I also had an entrepreneurial spirit… and knew eventually I would open my own agency. At the time (7 years ago), I had just been layed off from a job in corporate America (blessing in disguise) and I figure ‘no time like the present’. Less than two weeks later I was incorporated!

MO: How have you broken the mold of the traditional communications agency?

Inna: I don’t believe in cookie cutter solutions. Most agencies have preset programs and ways that they work with clients. Unlike other agencies, we really evaluate where the client is today, where they’d like to be in the future, and formulate a plan to help reach and meet those goals. From there, we customize the program – which is based on business objectives, timing, budgetary parameters, and more!

MO: What was the biggest lesson that you learned while helping publish the first CRAVE New York City guide?

Inna: That many times there’s more than just what meets the eye. And that managing a large group of entrepreneurs who have very set intentions takes a lot of work!

MO: What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken and how did it turn out?

Inna: Maintaining direction and confidence in a not so steady market. Building an agency that’s successful doesn’t happen overnight. Not to mention, its not the easiest thing to do when the economy is so bad and many businesses are closing their doors. Many a times I considered closing mine and going back to work for someone else. But perseverance, hard work and patience are key – Rome wasn’t build in a day!

MO: Can you give our readers some tips on how they can craft the most compelling pitch to the media?

Inna: Do your homework and focus! Know your audience and craft a pitch that addresses a concern or an interest in the market. Tie your pitch into current trends, hot topics, holidays and/or breaking news story. Get right to the point and frame your pitch appropriately – be clear and concise. Add any interesting statistics/figures – media loves numbers! And finally, spell check!!!!

MO: What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you personally or professionally?

Inna: Professionally, the agency is working on a new workshop series for those who are interested in a DIY program. Additionally, we are building some new capabilities/offerings that we will soon launch. We’re also looking to bring on some additional new clients – particularly in the consumer lifestyle market and personalities/experts in different fields.

On the personal front, I recently got married so I’m looking forward to this next chapter of my life and building a family!

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