Gregory FCA is 20 years old today

February 14, 2010

Twenty years ago today, I propped a piece of plywood between two filing cabinets and founded Gregory FCA. Within a year, I had moved out of my basement and into an office, and was off and running.

The company has since grown into the largest Philadelphia public relations firm in the greater metro area, as well as Pennsylvania, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal. And we’re now one of the 40 largest public relations firms in America, according to O’Dwyer’s.

I can’t think of a better occasion than our 20th anniversary to kick off our new blog. I’ll be sharing some of what I have learned over the past 20 years, as well as broaden my own horizons by connecting (and reconnecting) with the amazing people I have met, served, and worked alongside.

I’m often asked what accounts for Gregory FCA’s success. I tend to downplay the answer and paraphrase Harrison Ford:”I don’t know if it’s that I succeeded, or others just gave up before me.”

When I look over the PR landscape of the past 20 years, and see how many firms have come and gone, I think about Harrison’s quote. And there are other truisms that I keep coming back to; those that I think play a crucial role in how we got where we are today:

1. Write like a journalist. I started my career by writing for national media. My work appeared in Forbes, Inc., and Success magazines. That experience taught me the power of well-written, clearly articulated thought. During my time, I have had the pleasure of working with remarkably intelligent clients. The one thing they valued most was an ability to tell their story better than they could tell it themselves.

2. Respect and revel in the media. I have always held a profound respect of, and curiosity about, the media. I learned early on how journalists work, and the elements they look for in a story. Stay current with the media. Know what’s hot. Understand what surfaces a story. Start each day identifying the top stories. End each day by guessing what tomorrow’s news might hold.

3. Start each day at the same time. Every day for the past 20 years, I have started my day at my desk at 7:15 am. It’s an act of discipline that turned a practice into a business.

4. Work three extra months a year. It’s an old trick taught to me by my mentor Sid Friedman. If you start each day two hours early, and work 50 weeks a year, you’ll work three extra months a year. Over 20 years, that’s added up to a lot of time I’ve used to learn more about my profession, improve masteries, embrace change, and move forward.

5. Change and change often. My business has changed dramatically over the years, from predominantly a firm focused on franchising, then on technology, then real estate, then financial services, and now, more of a general firm that can handle a wide range of assignments. Humans are omnivores for a reason. We eat meat when game is plentiful, and grains when the harvest comes in. Working in a range of industries allowed me to continue on when markets collapsed, industries failed, and clients struggled.

What business experiences maxims have changed your way of thinking and working over the last 20 years? What business maxims drive your approach to marketing, media, and communications? Share them here as a comment, or write to me.

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Kathryn O'Connor
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Kathryn O'Connor
7 years 5 months ago

20 years? wow. I learned countless things from working with you at GFCA. One thing that will always resonate is the importance of drawing out the angle from a client's story and crafting it in a way that is easy for the media to consume. Another valuable success factor I learned was understanding how to balance the client/media relationship to get results while being a trusted source to effectively serve both parties. Congratulations on the anniversary! I'm glad to have been part of the company.

RBL
Guest
7 years 5 months ago
Greg, Congrats on 20 great years, and here's to the next 20. I'm proud to say that I've been with you for 6 (going into 7) of those years. What an exciting, and often hair-raising) ride it's been. 😉 When I started here, I viewed Gregory FCA as a sharp boutique agency. We were a fraction of our current size. The media landscape was completely different. And what clients wanted from their public relations agency was much narrower than it is today. You have cultivated a stellar (and slightly crazy) team of creatives who have have proven themselves capable of… Read more »
Melissa
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7 years 5 months ago

Greg,

Congrats on the anniversary! I came to your company just three months ago from The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, and I can't put into words how much I have already learned. The mentoring here is superb, and the writing I produce every day is very rewarding.

It's an honor working with so many creative and talented people. I look forward to continuing my career here. Congratulations again!

Melissa

Joe Anthony
Guest
7 years 5 months ago
Twenty years in business is truly an institutional landmark. Along the way, Gregory FCA adopted the tagline "Our clients are changing the world – we make sure that the world knows it" and appropriately proven for our clients that they can indeed change the world if they have the right storytellers and the courage to persist in telling their story that just might change at least a small part of the world we live in for the better. As an eight year employee of Gregory FCA, it has been a phenomenal opportunity to help take part in that storytelling. I've… Read more »
Janelle
Guest
7 years 5 months ago

Congratulations on the anniversary! Few entrepreneurs can say they've built their "plywood and filing cabinets" into the largest firm in their regional industry. I'm proud to have been part of it for the past four years. Here's to many more years of success!
Cheers,
Janelle

Anthony Graziano
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Anthony Graziano
1 year 7 months ago
Greg: The shelf-life of blog writing is pretty good. I've managed to catch up on months of your good writing and ideas by reading backwards to this entry. Congrats on 20 years. My local real estate consulting firm in NJ was founded in 1972 by my father. I joined in 1992 during the rock bottom of the last cycle – and together, we helped form Integra Realty Resources (www.irr.com) in 1999 with 23 dominant local firms nationwide. Over the past 10 years of Integra's history, we have grown to the largest national real estate appraisal firm, with 59 offices nationwide.… Read more »
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