“I started my career in the boiler room of a small financial services practice making over a hundred cold calls most days,” says Brian Hart, the founder of Flackable, an award-winning PR agency in Philadelphia.
For a recent college grad who had just interned at a large PR agency and wanted to get into the industry right away, taking a sales job out of desperation was like being handed a bag of lemons. Even so, he didn’t let that deter him. As Brian says, “I made lemonade.”
He turned his sales position into a PR role—without initially asking permission. “I took over their social media,” says Brian. “I started blogging for them. I built media lists in my off hours so I could do some pitching.”
Eventually, he built himself a portfolio of work and used it to land a job at a New York PR agency specializing in the financial services industry. “I started climbing the ladder very quickly,” says Brian. “Six months in, I had my hand in every aspect of the business. I wasn’t just managing PR campaigns. I was on their marketing committee. I was building out a digital offering for them. I helped them pick out health plans. And I was like, ‘You know what? I think someday I could probably do this myself’.”
At the time, Brian thought he was at least a year away from launching his own business, but only several months into planning he received a message from a Los Angeles-based wealth management firm. “I had just written an article on LinkedIn about earning third-party credibility and why it’s important for financial practices,” says Brian. “They loved it.” Within a week of that first interaction, Brian quit his job at the agency and sent over a contract to his first client.
Eight years later, still in the same industry but as president of his own agency now, Brian and the team at Flackable use credibility marketing to leverage their clients’ media hits into something bigger. “We look at quality media coverage as a means to a greater end—one that integrates into a client’s marketing strategies,” says Brian. “Businesses come to me looking to translate that third-party credibility into real, tangible business goals, like increasing their sales, boosting their recruiting efforts, and helping them attract investors.”
The key to credibility marketing is consistency. “If your press coverage is sporadic, you can’t run a monthly In The News newsletter,” says Brian. This need for reliable results is why Brian encourages small and mid-market businesses to bring on an agency if they’re unable to drive a steady flow of impactful press themselves.
Brian’s goal is to always do more for his clients by pushing credibility marketing to the next level. “We want to continue to build and leverage each placement to hit a new high. There’s no peak to the mountain.”