Curley Company at 15: Reflecting Forward

Jennifer Curley by Jennifer Curley

Fifteen years ago, I took a leap of faith, hung my name on the door and started my own public relations agency. Hitting this milestone reminds me of everything I have learned while building and running a successful agency, and what it means for the next fifteen and our continued growth.

Creating a Client-Centric Agency

When I started the agency, my goal was to put clients first. It sounds like a no-brainer, but I didn’t think it was being done as well as it could be by others in the business. I built a client service model that focused on strategic thinking, problem solving, wins and wows. To deliver on this client-first vision, I’ve hired a team of smart and talented people who, first and foremost I like working with, but who also complement my skill set. We pride ourselves on being experts in the personalities, processes and politics of Washington, D.C., and over the years, our team has become more knowledgeable and sophisticated. In PR, it’s a virtuous circle. Better talent attracts good clients, which in turn attracts better talent. It’s not enough to convince someone to hire you, I believe you need to earn their business every day. Our client-first approach has remained constant through the years. Even as we’ve grown, our clients know our goal is to never let them down.

Ensuring Best of Breed Capabilities

One of the most exciting things about the PR industry is that it’s constantly changing. When I started the agency, Twitter and Facebook didn’t exist. We still practice traditional public relations, like actually picking up the phone and pitching stories to reporters. However, we are increasingly integrating multi-media strategies that include advertising, branding and marketing across the board. Personally, I am learning something new every day, and I push my team to do the same. We have a deep bench of strategists who strive to stay ahead of the rapidly changing communications ecosystem and when we don’t have a particular skill set on the team, we know where to find it. We seek best-of-breed specialists in design and digital, as well as subject matter experts in an array of fields. This approach allows us to provide clients with the cutting-edge capabilities their projects warrant, without losing the intimacy of working with a small agency.

Considering the Crystal Ball 

I am really intrigued by all the ways we are using “smart data” and audience targeting to up our clients’ PR. It’s been a game changer for our industry. While there’s no way to predict what tools and tactics we’ll have at our disposal over the next fifteen years, I can assure you some of the basic tenants of PR won’t change.

  • Relationships are more important now than ever before as we continue to compete with an influx of new communications channels and endless content.
  • Audiences matter. Stakeholders are the center of any good PR program and just throwing tactics at them won’t work. They will continue to require a hyper-tailored approach.
  • The basis of a good PR campaign still needs strong, digestible messaging and a vehicle for getting that message to each audience. Whether it’s digital or analog, our clients are winning with the right headlines and sound bites.

As we look to the future, we are going to stick to what we do really well and strive to do it better. I’m excited about the next 15 years and watching how the public relations field continues to evolve. My leap of faith started a journey that has been more rewarding than I could have ever imagined, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.