Two PR Agency Leaders Share Their Secrets To Success

photo courtesy of Tom Garrity

photo courtesy of Tom Garrity


I’ve been contemplating milestones lately. Running miles in a new destination, like the 2016 Spring Conference in Puerto Rico (pictured above), or driving across my home state of New Mexico, it is easy to get caught up in the sweeping views. When possible, I watch those green signs with white numbering every mile, marking my travel. The zero mile is one of my favorite signs because it marks a new beginning. 

Our culture has a thing for milestones, birthdays, Super Bowls, and celebrating anniversaries with years that end in zero. (Though, post-recession, we really should celebrate every year.)

I wanted to recognize the accomplishment of two firms represented on the Counselors Academy Board of Directors who are celebrating 30 years of being in business. Pam Golden, founder and president of GLA Communications in New Jersey and Alice Pearson Chapman, partner with McNeely Pigott & Fox in Tennessee shared with us their top “ah ha” moments that helped to direct their firm’s 30 year course.

Surround yourself with the right people

Pam Golden Headshot.png

“In 30 years of running GLA Communications, there have been many things that have helped shape the direction of my agency, but one stands out as most important. You can’t do it alone – it really does take a village and it doesn’t matter what your agency model is. I discovered that I needed smart people to advise and guide me in areas that I wasn’t an expert. I found great people to provide me with great counsel in the financial aspects, leadership coaching and agency strategy. PR people joke that math isn’t our best skill, but I now know how critical it is to understand the finances. be able to read a P&L and prepare a budget. If my advisors are my local village, Counselor’s Academy is my national village. I have learned so much from so many CAPRSA members and attending spring conference in New Orleans was one of my best business decisions.” – Pam Golden, GLA Communications

Create a culture of inclusivity


Two things my partners and I have learned to cherish as our firm celebrates its 30th anniversary are transparency and inclusion. We’ve always shared with our whole staff how we are doing financially, on a regular basis. One reason is we set company goals at the first of the year that, if met or exceeded, means everyone on staff, from the senior vice president to the administrative assistant, will receive extra compensation. It is an honest and open incentive for everyone to bring his or her A-game every day.

And as a communications company, we value open dialogue, discussion and coordination and have never embraced cliques or lone wolves. Both transparency and inclusion are necessary for us to constantly strive to live our mission statement to provide the very best service possible to our clients, to be a place where people look forward to coming to work, and to be successful enough as a business that everyone on staff benefits from those successes. For 25 of the past 30 years, we have proudly used the headline version of that vision: Do Great Work, Have Fun and Make Money.” Mark McNeely, Senior Partner

If you had to choose only one, what would be your agency’s secret to success?