Gregory FCA is 20 years old todayFebruary 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.