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Business Acquisition: Maintaining a Boutique PR feel in a Corporate PR Setting

Merging 5SPR with Regan has allowed me to resume doing what I do best, all while joining a phenomenal team of some of the most talented publicists I have met in my career. - Jessica deGuardiola

Jessica deGuardiola had owned her Boston-based boutique fashion PR firm, 5sPR,  for about three years when she realized two important things. First, that she was spending the majority of her time in New York and second, that she was spending more and more of her time dealing with the logistics of business ownership and less time doing what she loved: public relations. Despite receiving repeated interest from big New York firms, it wasn't until she sat down for coffee with a Regan Communications VP Erin Tracy about to go on maternity leave that she began to seriously consider her options. "We instantly clicked," said Jessica, and it wasn't long before discussions turned to mutual business opportunities.  "Regan had a very strong hospitality, business and tech sector, but was lacking in the fashion and lifestyle divisions. We all saw it as a great opportunity to combine our various skill sets and backgrounds."  Jessica's team and existing clientele offered the perfect new specialty practice for Regan's New York office.

Maintaining a boutique feel in a corporate setting

In August, 2011 it became official.  Regan Communications acquired 5sPR, with Jessica assuming the role of Vice President in New York, and the current 5sPR client roster transferred to Regan. It was important to Jessica that despite the change from small boutique agency to corporate firm, her clients maintained access to Jessica and she remained an integral part of current client strategy and management, while developing in her new role. "With corporate firms, the "higher-ups" are often sent in to land an account, but the workload is then passed off to junior level staff. With boutique firms, the principals are usually involved in a client's account on a day-to-day basis. This approach is why I've tried to stay away from corporate firms throughout my career. However, Regan is an anomaly in that despite it's size, there are always multiple senior level associates involved in a client's account. If there is a larger account that comes through one of our satellite offices, we have the ability to lean on the senior teams out of our Boston headquarters for additional assistance, all of which come from varied and impressive backgrounds that allow for new and exciting angles to pitch. I was pleasantly surprised when I learned this about the company, and am grateful it's structured like this every day."

Team NYC Photo, Regan Communications
Marzi Alavi- Senior Account Coordinator, Liz Austin- Account Coordinator, Chelsea Lada- Social Media Coordinator, Tom Cunningham- SVP, Marketing and Business Development, Erin Tracy- VP/Team Leader, Jessica deGuardiola- VP, Megan Esteves- Deputy Team Leader, Sarah Cox- Account Executive

Added value for clients

One of the key benefits for 5s and Regan clients out of the merger is the ability to leverage each specialty's expertise, media relationships and point of view to identify and secure new opportunities. Regan's New York office's five main sectors include: Fashion & Lifestyle PR headed up by Jessica, Travel & Hospitality PR headed up by Erin Tracy, Green/Tech & B2B PR headed up by Megan Esteves, and Entertainment PR, headed up by Marzi Alavi and the Fitness and Broadcast division, headed up by Nicole Glor.

"For example, if we are speaking to a fashion-related client, my fashion background is a given, but the team is also equipped to offer a more layered campaign that focuses on a wide array of angles in addition to my efforts, such as business profiling, in which we work to establish by-lined articles and or/industry related profile pieces that immediately introduce them to a wider audience." Beyond the traditional fashion campaign, Regan can offer clients the benefit of multiple perspectives on a single project, increasing coverage and client success.

One such new client is a new gift registry site called All I Really Want. Jessica is confident the start-up chose Regan because "we not only have demonstrated expertise working with fashion-focused and lifestyle media but because of our equally strong tech and business background. Early calls covered all aspects of the business, from website design to mobile apps. It was so exciting to see how our team seamlessly worked together to not only bring on a new client, but offer them so much more than traditional PR."

Celebrating 5 years

After a successful seven months at Regan, Jessica and the NY team are focused on Regan's upcoming 5-year anniversary in April, securing office space and of course, bringing on a varied roster of of clientele in all sectors. "What started out as an office of 3 has grown into an office of 9 that is made up of a team of amazingly talented publicists, all of whom have contributed to establishing Regan NYC as a force to be reckoned with amongst some of the largest, most well-known firms in New York."

For those considering pursuing or who are being pursued, Jessica shared the following advice for boutique PR owners:

3 tips for boutique agencies interested in mergers

  • Do your homework. Make sure that you can bring something different to the company you're merging with, whether that be client experience or a new roster of media contacts.
  • Be sensitive to all preexisting issues and team dynamics. Remember that you are joining a new environment, and change is difficult for everyone. It's so important to remain as open minded as possible, while also establishing a mutual balance of professionalism and respect.
  • Embrace your new opportunity wholeheartedly! Keep in mind that the first few months of transition might be difficult, but that you are embarking on a new and exciting chapter in your career that was made possible because of all your hard work....enjoy it!

Stay in touch with the Regan NY team on Twitter

Regan Communications- @ReganComm
Jessica- @JdGNYC
Erin- @ETwittyNYC
Megan- @Esteves1
Marzi- @marZbarZnyc
Nikki - @NikkiFitness

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Meet Crosby Noricks

Hi. I'm Crosby, the founder of PR Couture and a fashion brand strategist. I care about supporting and celebrating fashion publicists as well as helping rad companies connect with their audiences in more meaningful ways. Recently, iMedia included me in their annual list of 25 Internet Marketing Leaders and Innovators, along with people from Starbucks, Twitter and Volkswagon, which I think is pretty neat. Like Elle Woods, I am a Gemini-vegetarian (that's about where the similarities end). Let's connect: Check out my full bio, Brand Elixer sessions or shoot me an electronic communiqué.