Who are you and what business did you start?
My name is Gianni Spradley, Founder and principal publicist at Fifteen East Media Group, which is a public relations and marketing firm based in New Jersey. Our firm specializes in the beauty, health/wellness, fashion, food/beverage and lifestyle spaces.
What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
With over 14 years of Corporate America experience, I’ve had the opportunity to work at LVMH, Cardinal Health and Johnson & Johnson (just to name a few.) While I worked at some major Fortune 500 companies, I still wasn’t fulfilled. I felt like I was a square peg in a round hole; being told what to do vs exercising my creative muscle…. and I didn’t have the guts to voice my emotions like a mature adult. I remember one particular job I worked that I absolutely HATED and to be transparent, I sucked at it. My attitude reflected the leadership style of the company and it was not conducive to promote a healthy work environment. Something was brewing inside, and it was only a matter of time until it bubbled over. In 2011, I was working for Goldman Sachs in NYC making a GREAT salary, but again, I wasn’t fulfilled. Then as fate would have it, 4 months later, I was laid off. Shortly thereafter, a good friend of mine presented me with an opportunity to work as an entertainment publicist for two of his celebrity clients.
During my time as an entertainment publicist, I was able to utilize my corporate experience and work with some influential people in the entertainment industry. As I went through my journey, I decided to create my own company, Fifteen East Media Group. I love being an entrepreneur! The creative freedom you have is priceless, however you definitely have to persevere because it’s a rollercoaster ride; make sure you have your seatbelt on at all times.
Describe the process of launching the business.
As a service based business, you have to have a strategy in place in order to sustain. What areas will your company specialize in (i.e., marketing, social media, PR) along with the niches they will cater to (i.e.; beauty, food and beverage, lifestyle, etc.) are very important. When I first started my business, I was a one woman show. Creating press kits, writing bios. managing social media accounts, accounting, and an administrative assistant- I did it ALL! A mentor of mine that I met through SCORE told me early on that I needed to find an intern to help with some of the tasks on my plate so I can focus on bringing in paid clients. I’m so glad that I listened!
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Client referrals is our #1 way of attracting new business. Our team can cold call and pitch until we are blue in the face but at the end of the day, a referral is what takes us to the promise land of having a discovery call and in depth meetings regarding future business endeavors.
As far as retention, it’s the white glove service we deliver to ALL of our clients. We strive to make sure our clients feel like they are our #1 priority and we are all about RESULTS.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
We are growing and continuing to expand. Our goal is to work with more brands regarding DEI and multicultural initiatives. Since the pandemic, we found that certain brands were having a hard time connecting the dots from an inclusion perspective, and with our guidance, we are able to creative meaningful campaigns that are purposeful, which is very important.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
It may sound cliché BUT you have to believe in yourself and the product/service that you are offering. Also, you must clearly identify what sets you apart from the competition and focus on what makes you special/unique. That is your “sweet spot.”
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
We use a multitude of tools, but our top 3 are Cision, Nav and ContentCal, just to name a few.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
The book “Giftology: The Art and Science of Using Gifts to Cut Through the Noise, Increase Referrals, and Strengthen Retention” was very enlightening. Also “Ready, Fire, Aim,” and “Write It Down, Make It Happen” are great books, too.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Believe in yourself! Don’t let outside influences deter you from your path. Also, you must get in tune with what your purpose is. Being a business owner is a marathon, not a sprint.
Where can we go to learn more?
Please visit us at our website, which is fifteeneastmediagroup.com and follow us on our social platforms, which are @fifteeneast_mg on Instagram and Twitter and Fifteen East Media Group on Facebook.