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Discovering What’s in a Name

November 2, 2018

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When launching an independent PR practice, one of the most important things we can do is decide on the name. It’s our brand, our identity, the URL for our website and the root of our social media presence. Here are some examples of company names independent communications practitioners have chosen, and why:

Advotocracy

Dave Barthmuss, a communications consultant and president of the company Advotocracy in Thousand Oaks, Calif., says the name of his business refers to the subtle art of turning detractors into proactive third-party supporters by leading through advocacy. The name is “built around my life in public relations and the lessons I’ve learned along the way,” he says. “I was faced with many challenging times, but the hardest thing I had to master was turning detractors into advocates, haters into huggers.” The name Advotocracy “helps me describe my blueprint for engaging critics, skeptics and cynics.”

People often ask him what the name means, which gives him an opportunity to deliver his core-value “elevator speech,” he says. The name has also lent itself to creative logo treatments. “My goal was to tie a unique and interesting phrase to my core services, versus simply playing off my own name, which frankly is even harder to spell and/or pronounce,” Barthmuss says.

Odenwald Marketing Strategies

Laura Odenwald, APR, owner of Odenwald Marketing Strategies in Dowagiac, Mich., took the eponymous approach when naming her independent practice. By using her own name to identify her firm, she could comfortably and directly introduce herself based on the services she offers — while avoiding misconceptions that people might otherwise have about public relations.

“Although my background includes public relations, I use the term ‘marketing’ in my business’s name because when I started it, I was concerned that anything with ‘PR’ in the name would attract clients only interested in media relations,” she says. “A lot of people wrongly assume that public relations only focuses on publicity. Even though I have media relations experience, it’s not something I wanted to offer as a primary service.” The word “marketing” better reflects her services, which are social media strategy, consulting and web design. “But I’ve learned that as my business evolves my services may change,” she says.

Mother of Pearls

Tammy Sander, APR, president of Mother of Pearls Public Relations in Carmel, Ind., chose her firm’s name because both of her children were born in the month of June, and their birthstone is the pearl.

“I really liked the concept of the pearl and treating each of my clients as individual pearls,” she says. “On my business home page, I explain that ‘Every public relations plan Mother of Pearls executes should be as rare, flawless and valuable as the most precious pearl.’”

Potential clients often ask her how she came up with the name. The question “allows me to talk about something personal, which often leads them to tell me more about themselves as well,” she says. “It’s a great ice breaker. Mother of Pearls is the heart of who I am — a family person who also happens to be a PR professional.”

Bryant Street Public Relations

Carol Higgins-Taylor, APR, owner of Bryant Street Public Relations in Bangor, Maine, took a familiar branding route for small businesses by naming her firm after a favorite roadway.

“I liked the idea of having the location as part of the name,” she says. “I tried others but always came back to this one. It just felt right.” Before officially starting the business she told a freelance client she was worried the name would be abbreviated as “BSPR.” The client burst out laughing. “I did too,” she says. “It was quirky.”

Higgins-Taylor advises would-be independents to think long and hard about the name they choose for their business, and to anticipate the pitfalls. “The bottom line,” she says, “is you have to love it because it will be with you every day.”

Tim O'Brien, APR

Tim O’Brien, APR, owns O’Brien Communications, an independent corporate communications practice in Pittsburgh, and hosts the “Shaping Opinion” podcast. Email: timobrien@timobrienpr.com. Twitter: @OBrienPR.

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