Company: Marlo Marketing Communications
Interviewee: Marlo Fogelman
Interviewer: Tracey Thompson
A few words from Tracey Thompson; a member of BUMKC:
Marlo Fogelman is an alumnus of the BU Law School and a graduate from CAS in International Relations. She has passed the BAR exam in Boston and New York. She is the owner of Marlo Marketing Communications, a full service PR firm. She manages all the clients, meets with prospective and current clients, shows them concepts and manages all the employees.
This interview was an amazing experience. I knew I wanted to minor in something at BU and I’ve been trying to figure out what I wanted it to be. Today made me realize that I love PR and marketing. Both excite me and I have now decided to minor in PR and concentrate in Marketing. It was really inspiring and great meeting and talking with a woman who started her own business, as that is what I want to do one day.
Tracey : What is the story of Marlo MC? How did Marlo MC start?
Marlo: When I first started getting into PR, my first client was Starbucks Coffee, they were trying to move into New England back when no one knew what an espresso was. This was the most difficult market because of Dunkin Donuts. We were trying to open a store in Burlington, South End, Boston. I was fortunate enough that they moved with me twice. So the support of a company like Starbucks behind me gave me the confidence I needed to move on by myself.
Tracey: How did you know that this is what you wanted to do?
Marlo: I didn’t. I’m a lawyer, I went to law school and got a masters degree in International Relations. I didn’t even know what PR was. So when I graduated from school, I took the BAR exam in Massachusetts and New York. I found that there were more things I didn’t want to do in law than I wanted to do in law. My friend saw an ad in lawyers weekly for a PR firm that was looking for a lawyer. She said “you’d be perfect for this job!” and I said, “I don’t even know what PR is!” So I applied for the job and I got the job. They had 500 people apply for that job. I figured, if 499 other lawyers weren’t that happy, I should give it a try.
Tracey: What would you say the culture of your company is?
Marlo: The culture where people are expected to take personal responsibility and act like adults. I think one of the things our company is known for and what I’m known for is that everyone sort of “marries” their client. When I first worked with Starbucks, the president of the company called me out for “marrying” my company and I didn’t even know what it was. I was basically becoming a part of my client’s team. It is less of a vendor-client relationship and more of serving as an extension of their marketing team. That extension is what we seek to achieve here. We try to match up our employees with what they love. If they love food, they’re on the hospitality team. If you’re into consumer products, you’re working with product placement, or the beauty team. There’s the expectation that everyone is an adult and you are not nagged to get things done. We’re known in the city as being the best, if not the best in what we do in consumer, and we work hard. At the end of the day, we look to dispel the myth that PR people are all idiots. There is more to PR than talking to people. I think what all of us collectively do is try to dispel that myth. I mean, we’re not curing cancer here, but there’s definitely an art to it.
Tracey: What was the hardest part of starting your business?
Marlo: There was really no hard part of starting the business. The hard part was growing it. The hardest part of growing the business is human resources. Starting this business was easy. I had clients, I knew what I was doing, and I got an office. What made it hard was when I had to start hiring people and managing people. No matter what industry, human resources is the most challenging.
Tracey: What do you love most about your job?
Marlo: I love being able to help clients develop the brand. What I find exciting is the opportunity to take a baby business and, with the right branding, grow it. We’re a full service integrated marketing firm, we’re not just a PR firm. We do everything from concept developing, including the logo, the brand, and then we’ll do the PR. That’s so exciting to me. I’m sure you’ve seen baby brands that have done very well. The firm makes you engage with the brand and want to become a supporter, as opposed to people with an amazing product, but if the packaging sucks, they’re not telling the story the right way, they might not get to where they want to be.
Tracey: If you could give any piece of advice to young women who seek to start their own business one day, or even just be in the business world, what would it be?
Marlo: You have to be willing to work hard. You have to be willing to make it everything you work for and know what you stand for. Know what you want your company to represent. Once you figure that out, do not stray from that, because people will try and get you to stray from that.
Tracey: What was your biggest challenge at BU? What advice would you give to BU students in general?
Marlo: I didn’t really have a huge challenge; I liked BU. It was great. I loved law school and I loved the experience. I loved the way it made me think. Law is a very structured path, and I sort of stayed on that. I was an RA to a professor. Some advice, study in the law library. Enjoy your time in school, because when you get out, that’s when the real fun starts.