In 1987, I left New York City and moved to Texas to start my own public relations firm.
Today, I can say the journey has been better than I could have imagined. As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of Pierpont Communications on February 14, 2017, I am reminded of the company’s humble origins and how we’ve grown over the years.
A Portfolio and a Monte Carlo
After earning my MBA in marketing, I moved to New York City to work in the fast-paced PR and marketing industry. Struck with the entrepreneurial bug, however, I decided to take control of my career and future. I didn’t set out for world domination, but I did want to do something different, something my way.
Torn between the possibilities of sports marketing in Boston and following a gourmet barbecue sauce venture (a story for another time), a friend suggested I consider moving to Houston. With the low cost of living, a business friendly environment and an economy on the upswing from a historic oil downturn, I was convinced that Texas was the perfect place to start a business. So I grabbed my portfolio, hopped into my 1979 Monte Carlo and headed south to the Lone Star State.
The Exchange Rate of Great Business
Entering the Bayou City with a handful of clients and a few referrals, Pierpont had no ability to lease office space. Instead, I traded marketing and public relations services with a friend at a CPA firm, in exchange for an empty office and a phone line.
These types of exchanges became a common theme in the first few years of Pierpont and a testament to the entrepreneurial resourcefulness of the company, which is still very much a part of our DNA today. I worked as a solo practitioner for five years, building the brand and growing client relationships. By the early 1990s, Pierpont’s foundation was set, and the growth soon followed.
Two’s a Company
As the client base and workload increased, so did the demand for more support. A friend recommended that I consider hiring an intern. So I approached the dean of the journalism school at the University of Houston and found Pierpont’s first employee.
The intern program was so successful that I was offered an opportunity to teach principles of public relations. Over the years, I moved into teaching public relations campaigns, and then an integrated marketing course. In all, I have been teaching at the University of Houston for 28 years.
During the first 14 years of our existence Pierpont had grown to become a top independent firm in Houston, but we knew our model could also work in other markets. We expanded our statewide presence with the opening of an Austin office in 2000, and then Dallas and San Antonio offices in 2007.
Looking Back to Look Ahead
What was clear to us from early on at Pierpont was the role integration would play across the marketing and PR industry. That’s why our focus has always been on evolving and refining our marketing and public relations offering in tandem. It’s given us the versatility to differentiate, while better supporting the unique needs of our clients across diverse verticals.
Forecasting the success of a business at its infancy is an impossible task. Pierpont has seen many forms of success and challenges throughout the years, but I’ve always believed in the company’s mission wholeheartedly. It’s why we have worked year-in and year-out for the three decades to create an engaged, inspired and energized team that provides exceptional client service.
In an industry that’s faced tremendous change and consolidation over the years, I’m proud that Pierpont has remained fiercely independent. Our independence gives us the freedom to make intentional choices—choices that support Pierponters in doing their best work, while enjoying a healthy work-life balance. Reflecting upon Pierpont’s growth, one thing that makes me proud is the many lives we have positively impacted by creating meaningful jobs. I’ve always believed that when you leave this earth, no one will wonder how much money you made, but rather the impact you’ve had on others. In fact, of all the successes we’ve enjoyed at Pierpont over the years, being named a Houston Business Journal “Best Place to Work” nine times means a great deal to me.
Our independence also means we are free to make intentional choices that best support our clients in delivering award-winning work to elevate their brands, grow their businesses and ultimately cultivate successful long-term relationships. Finally, it’s this independence that enables us to live by our values and do the right thing, giving back to the communities where we live and work.
While I’ve enjoyed building Pierpont over the past 30 years, the best is yet to come. We’re only getting better from here. While I may be a little older (and I’d like to think a little wiser), than I was as that 29-year-old brash New Yorker who envisioned his company on a notepad—I look forward to the next 30 years and the great things to come for Pierpont Communications.