In the year 2000, Heather Logrippo was lucky enough to land a job working for a tiny internet startup. That start up grew to be a 500 million dollar company during Heather's seven year tenure. As a result, Heather was able to take the experience she gleaned in that position to go out on her own. In 2007 she bought Distinctive Homes Magazine and had the unique pleasure of bringing a stodgy magazine into the digital age. In 2009, Heather hosted a fundraiser at her home, one of the guests, who happens to be a famous rock musician, asked her to help him market himself as a motivational speaker. After suggesting that getting a publicist might be a smart strategic move, this musician asked her to be his publicist. "I'm not a publicist," was her response. Not interested in taking no for an answer, he offered to be her first client and the rest, as they say, is history. The name was created as a lark, as she thought this would be a onetime deal. Something fun to do. But as the story goes, she liked it, and other companies started to take notice. Soon Expose Yourself PR started working with clients such as CRICO Strategies, a division of Risk Management Foundation of the Harvard Medical Institutions, and the Mayo Group, a large real estate holding company. Before you know it, this fun dalliance turned into something great, something exciting and, today, with five employees and a robust client list, that whole lot of fun is guided by a whole lot of passion.
How did you get into the industry?
I’ve been in marketing since I can remember. I used to help my mother with her label business. Then I worked in sales and marketing in NYC selling printing to Fortune 500 companies like Merrill Lynch and Pfizer. I got my “big break” when I took a job as an inside sales manager for a small advertising company, which was an internet startup in the year 2000. I worked my way up and by the time I left in 2007, that $1m company was a $500M company and was one of the most profitable websites in the world. And I had stock options! I left the company and bought a real estate magazine, called Distinctive Homes in 2007. I call the three years following that career shift my character building years; it was a tough and frustrating time! But in 2009, I had a fundraiser because when I’m down I like to do things for other people. And somehow, at that party 3 famous musicians showed up: 2 Members of P!Nk’s Band and a member of the band Def Leppard. By the end of the night, one of the musicians asked me to help him with his marketing. I suggested he hire a publicist. He asked if I would take the job. I said I wasn’t a publicist. He said, “you are now.” The rest is history!
Any emerging industry trends?
This industry is moving so fast and consumers are so bright that the old tricks of the past just don’t work anymore. Honesty, transparency, and accountability are the trends that are emerging in PR. Isn’t that inspiring?
On the digital media side, it’s truly amazing what we can now do. We have the capabilities to target people in ways you wouldn’t believe. If you told me you need to target mothers who live in households that make over $200k that like to take luxury vacations, I can get your product or resort in front of them – no problem. If you want to target employees of a certain company – I can find them and market to them – inexpensively. We can market to people via video pre roll, as they are standing in your competitors’ retail stores; it’s crazy crazy stuff. Then when it comes to product marketing and PR, we can get product into the hands of celebrities and in magazines like never before. That never loses appeal to the American population. It’s all really exciting!
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
The challenges for a boutique firm like mine is that we are always going to be too efficient for our own good. What I mean by that is: the big PR firms who work with accounts like Botox may have budgets of $900k a year, but they’ll have the same number of people working on the account that we would have working on a $75k account. And our employees are of the same skill level; we just make less money and don’t live in major metropolitan cities. Often times, we are better performers because we come from these bigger firms and just couldn’t take the pressure anymore! The issue is: the mid-level accounts that we want and enjoy often leave after a few years because they think they need to go “bigger.” They end up doubling, tripling, quadrupling their budget to have a home-base in New York City or 100 employees available to work on their account (even though only 5 are actually on it). Big companies would be shocked by what they would find if they were just willing to work with a company that’s based in the suburbs, rather than in a major city. Everything is digital now anyway, why not!
Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?
The original idea for the business was to just help someone out and have fun doing it, and that is still the future of the business. I want to help our clients be successful, and I am happiest when I see them and my staff feeling fulfilled. You can feel that excited, warm energy through our interactions with press, our social media posts, our playful advertisements. I’ve had some real challenges this year and it’s become ever more apparent that being fulfilled and growing as a person is crucial to both personal and professional success, so if I can help people meet their goals and have fun doing it – I’m content!
What's next for the Business in the near future?
We are really gearing up our digital marketing which includes all of those really crazy targeting and retargeting ads I discussed. We also have a super exciting new client that we are working with behind the scenes to get launched and we are handling everything from concept to packaging to a full-on PR launch. It’s going to be something very new and different and I’m really excited about it.
Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?
I wish I had a secret or key initiatives. I think I’m just too stubborn to quit.
Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)
I’ve had many, but the times I’ve had to fire a client (especially during already trying times) have been some of the hardest. Without saying too much, we’ve had clients that have treated my staff poorly, asked us to do morally reprehensible tasks, and failed to recognize the value of a partnership. When this happens, it’s demotivating for my employees, and is not only frustrating day-to-day, but also doesn’t allow us to do our best work. But my motto (it’s even on my website) is that we only do business with people we like and respect so we can be authentic in telling the world about how wonderful they are. I’m still recovering from those losses, but feel that the payoff will be worth it.
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
Our staff is simply amazing. It’s really the first time in the 8 years I’ve had this company that I can say this with confidence. I have an operations manager that allows me to not have to do everything by myself. He came on the scene about 3 years ago and has taken such a load off of my plate. Then we have a designer who is a true artist. She’s nothing short of a modern day Michelangelo (with a marketing brain). We have a media relations specialist and account manager who is cool as a cucumber and does things I could never even imagine doing. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve got people who have talents I could never possess and they are the best of the best – my clients end up being our life long friends.
How do you motivate others?
I explained that my staff is amazing above, and I really mean that. But they are not going to feel, or continue being amazing day in and day out if I don’t recognize and acknowledge the incredible work that they do. Our work can be hard, and they, like anyone, need to be reminded that no matter how many client emails, crises, or tight deadlines come through, I see them, and I appreciate them. I also try to figure out what is important to them and help them reach their own goals. I truly care about the people around me, and I do everything in my power to make sure they feel that.
Career advice to those in your industry?
Just don’t stop. This is not a 9 to 5 industry. You have to be hungry. You can’t just call it in. Only the people who really want to work for it will get the glory.