The Story Exchange, Jennifer Baum, Bullfrog & BaumYour Name: Jennifer Baum

Business Name: Bullfrog & Baum, a marketing and public relations agency

Type of Business: Marketing & PR

Business Location: New York, NY, United States

Twitter   @bullfrogandbaum

Reason for starting
As Director of Marketing and Business Development for a restaurant group I was the point person for our PR firm and felt strongly that I could do the same job differently (and quite frankly, better) than the firm they used so set out to start my own agency. I started with what I call “one bad client” then got a “good” client as my second client and 13 years later we are going strong, continue to grow and get much of our business through referrals rather than cold-calling.

How do you define success?
If you truly love what you are doing, make a difference in someone’s life – whether it’s a client or an employee – and you’re making some money along the way, you’re successful in my book. If you’ve taken a risk, possibly tripped along the way, but end up standing tall, you’re successful. If you learn something new everyday, teach someone something every day and smile at least once (or twice) every day, you’re successful. If you still get a thrill from the small accomplishments and an even bigger thrill from the giant ones, you’re successful. If people WANT to work for you, and clients want to work WITH you, you’re successful.

Biggest Success
There have been many successes throughout my 13 year tenure with Bullfrog & Baum but I have to say that when I first started my company I was in a cab driving up 6th Avenue. There was a banner for a new restaurant and in my head I said “wow, that’s the type of client I really want to have”….6 months later they signed on. When Bobby Flay called looking for representation, we met over a soda at one of his restaurants. He praised me for my approach to new business and he signed the next week. That was over 10 years ago. When I was contacted by a huge hotel group in Las Vegas and I flew out there to meet with a dozen executives, and received the signed contract a few weeks later. And when employees leave our company, but thank me for the guidance, advice and support, that’s also a big success.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
I think the biggest challenge is the move from practitioner to manager – at what point do you stop actually doing the work, and simply (or not so simply) play a strategic role? In a service business that is very difficult. My name is on the door so when a client calls and needs something done, I have to take care of it…which makes me the practitioner all over again. The latest top challenge is how to consistently grow and differentiate yourself in an industry that has essentially become commoditized. We are constantly looking for ways to stand out from the now crowded field of hospitality marketing and justify our higher rates.

Who is your most important role model?
I don’t have just one role model. I have been fortunate to have many women in my life who have demonstrated strength in a variety of facets of my field…and have been willing to share their stories, advise me and guide me through these next phases of my business