John Maroon

PUTTING RELATIONSHIPS INTO PR

John Maroon
President
Maroon PR

With nearly 20 years of PR experience prior to becoming an entrepreneur, John Maroon worked with Major League Baseball’s American League, The Cleveland Indians, the Baltimore Orioles, the Washington Redskins, and Ripken Baseball and the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation.

Maroon PR opened its doors on April 3, 2006 with two clients, Ripken Baseball and the Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation. Today, the agency offers a full suite of communications services to dozens of client organizations and brands across the country. The company’s industry-focused client service divisions include sports, nonprofit organizations, growing businesses,hospitality and entertainment, and lifestyle and outdoors.

The agency provides media relations, branding, social media, website development, media training, media buying, event support, and more. Maroon PR’s tagline is Drive Growth Through Relationships. In addition to serving as a full-service public relations and marketing firm, Maroon and his employees actively help their clients connect with each other to foster growth. Maroon and his team look for creative opportunities to develop mutually beneficial relationships by sharing their contacts at all levels.

Maroon says he is a born entrepreneur and discusses his growing pains as a business owner as well as tips for business owners considering a PR strategy.

Q: Why did you start your business? Why not work for another sports organization?

A: My entire family is comprised of entrepreneurs. My dad owned several businesses when we were growing up and my brother and sister each own their own business in Northern New Jersey. I turned 40 and was ready to look for another job when my brother convinced me to take a shot at my own business. He told me that we have it in our genes and he was right. I don’t think I would have taken the leap without his encouragement and the support of my wife, Carolyn.

Q: How has your role changed since you founded Maroon PR? 

A: It has changed a lot as we have grown. Early on, when we had a limited number of clients I was more involved in day-to-day PR efforts and now I focus more on the “big picture” needs of the clients. I delegate running the day-to-day aspects of the business with Mitchell Schmale our VP of Client Services. I really enjoy all of our clients and how diverse our client base is and I believe that our account teams have done a good job keeping me up to speed and coming to me for strategic assistance.

Q: How is Maroon PR structured differently from other agencies?

A: I believe that the biggest difference is that we are an open book. We enjoy sharing our relationships with our clients and making introductions that could benefit them and help them grow. Our tag line is “We Drive Growth Through Relationships” and we genuinely mean that. In addition to our media relations and social media services, I think the largest benefit we bring to clients are strategic partnerships that make great sense and really change the game for them.

Q: As you’ve grown the business, what growing pains have you experienced and how did you overcome them?

A: I think one of the greatest challenges is knowing when to add employees to the team. In our industry we have been fortunate to have several clients with us for many years and that is somewhat of an anomaly. With contracts ending at various times and new business coming in while, at times, some business is departing makes taking on new salary and overhead a challenge. I don’t know if that will ever be “solved” but we talk to the account leads regularly and encourage them to be very open and candid with regard to how much work they can handle and still be very effective. Decisions are largely based on the reaction of the staff.

Q: When evaluating a PR campaign, what should business owners keep in mind, regardless of industry or company size? 

A: Set goals and expectations with your agency and with yourself and prepare to be fully engaged with your firm. They need your help, and the more engaged you are the better they will do for you. Remember that PR is not advertising; advertising is instant gratification … write the check and run the ad. PR is art (ok I am very jaded); the story needs to be told and the media relationships need to be cultivated. This takes time but the payoff is much larger. There are more pitfalls in PR because you must put your story in the hands of a probing journalist and hope that it turns out the way you want it to, but that third party media endorsement is very impactful.

Also, remember that what impacts your business may be different than what impacts another. Trade publications could be vital for your business or mainstream media might be most important. Finally, if you are using multiple agencies (one for PR, one for social, one for advertising, etc.) make sure that they get to know each other and are prepared to work together towards the common goal of growing your business.

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