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Embracing the Brand Growth Revolution: Why I Boldly Transformed My PR Firm!

In 2006, fresh out of college with my journalism degree, and fueled by the fire in my belly of my twenties, I embarked on PR. Although I entered what was already a mature industry, it was virtually prehistoric compared to where we are in today’s fragmented media landscape. The series of enormous 500-page Bacon’s media directories have become obsolete, making way for digital databases. Faxed and snail-mailed pitches and press releases became emails and tweets (or Xs) years ago. Back then, landing a feature in traditional print media was the holy grail of PR. I remember the first time I secured a client a story in the Wall Street Journal, I was praised for weeks. A year into my career, I ventured off solo, launching my own public relations firm, Grapevine PR. Over the last 17 years, the firm has grown into a reputable boutique storytelling consultancy, representing hundreds of brands and celebrities, and winning dozens of awards - including agency and campaign of the year multiple consecutive years.

And now I’ve made the decision to kill it. Yes, you heard me right. I killed my PR firm! In its place stands GVG Agency, a digital marketing agency dedicated to holistic brand growth through brand storytelling, influencer marketing, content strategy, paid media, and other digital tactics.

And yes, we still do world-class PR.

The Evolution of Public Relations

The PR landscape has undergone a seismic shift.

Long gone are the days when trusted media contacts were stuck at the same job for ages. In the initial decade or so, the primary question posed by potential clients was, "Do you have solid relationships with the media?" I confidently replied with a resounding yes!

However, today, these relationships hold less sway for two key reasons.

  1. Firstly, many journalists and editors frequently change positions or move altogether.

  2. Secondly, even if you have a rapport with a reporter or producer, it doesn't guarantee their willingness to cover your client. It all boils down to the story itself.

Today, visibility in media outlets no longer dictates the success of a brand. Social media influencers and content creators wield immense power, reshaping how brands connect with their audiences.

The democratization of information has given everyone a voice, thanks to platforms like LinkedIn, X, Facebook, blogs, and podcasts. Journalists are no longer the gatekeepers of news and stories; it's an era of open access and boundless possibilities.

And for brands, a hair-pulling nightmare to try to navigate this ever-chanding ecosystem. A budget used to be divided into print, TV, and radio across paid and owned media. Now the options to create an ROI-driven media campaign can be mind-melting.

Adapt or Perish - The Only Options

This PR revolution isn't just cosmetic; it's a complete reinvention. Traditional PR methods, while still valuable, no longer suffice. To thrive in this new era, brands must evolve and adopt a comprehensive approach.

These are the new pillars driving brand growth today:

  • Crafting an Epic Brand Story: A compelling brand story is a must-have and a minimum; it's your secret sauce. An epic brand story alchemizes a commodity into an experience. Your brand's story should resonate across all channels, creating a symphony of impact.

  • Know Your Personas, Embrace Their Uniqueness: It's not enough to shout; you must whisper into the hearts of your personas. Personalized engagement is key – it's about forging connections, not just transactions.

  • Mastering the Art of Influencer Marketing: Influencers and celebrities are your backstage pass to brand stardom. From unboxing to sponsored content, and affiliate programs to ambassador partnerships, influencers amplify your brand message like never before.

  • Content That Captivates: Creating content isn't an accessory; it's your weapon of choice. Text and video content establishes your brand as an authority in your niche, leaving a lasting legacy.

  • Strategic Paid Media Campaigns: Paid media isn't just about recklessly throwing ad spend; it's about strategic investment. Data-driven campaigns ensure your message reaches the right people at the right time.

Beware of Modern PR Gurus

In this digital age, every Tom, Dick, and Harry fancies themselves a "publicist," promising you the moon for a paltry $97. But buyer beware!

Most of these hucksters deliver nothing but empty promises.

Press releases turned into backlink-building exercises won't earn your brand the substantial credibility and gravitas it needs. Building domain authority and trust is a grind, not a bargain-bin purchase.

Don't fall prey to the allure of their deceptive shortcuts. True brand growth demands strategy, authenticity, and a commitment to navigating the complex terrain of the modern media landscape, which GVG Agency is unapologetically dedicated to mastering and leveraging for our clients' success.

Over the last 17 years, we've orchestrated exclusive sit-downs with Oprah, secured coveted spots on The View and The Today Show, landed our clients on the covers of People magazine, scored placements in the pages of Rolling Stone, Forbes, and Fast Company, and infiltrated practically every foreign language or overseas media outlet worth mentioning.

We understand, down to our very core, the profound significance of storytelling in the art of brand elevation. Our journey has given us invaluable insights into the transformative power of narrative.

And speaking of storytelling, last year, we authored the book: "Stories That F*cking Matter: Three Pillars of Epic Storytelling to Dominate Media Headlines, Win Clients, and Grow Your Business,” with a foreword by our client William Shatner. It's a testament to our belief in the power of storytelling to drive brand success and has been heralded as a game-changer by those who've delved into its pages.

So, perhaps you might view the murder of my PR firm as brutal. But let me assure you, it wasn’t an impulsive act. The world of public relations has shape-shifted, rendering yesterday's tactics obsolete. Surviving on traditional publicity alone is no longer an option; it's time to embrace the audacious, multi-dimensional strategies demanded by the digital age. As we charge ahead, GVG stands committed to empowering brands to conquer this ever-evolving landscape and electrifying terrain with zeal.

By: Steven Levine, Founder and President at GVG Agency.


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