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Meet Adam Ritchie of Adam Ritchie Brand Direction

Today we’d like to introduce you to Adam Ritchie.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
In 2007, just before the recession, I opened a downtown office, won my first account and built a brand communications business that’s evolved to serve clients on four continents. Adam Ritchie Brand Direction has handled everything from beer to baby seats, treadmill desks to cybersecurity and niche social networks to the world’s largest swimming pools.

That spring, I also met my band. We’ve showcased at South by Southwest, written songs picked up by MTV and kicked off our most recent album release show by rappelling onto the stage from a platform 70 feet in the air.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
When you take on a new client, you make a promise that “your challenge is now my challenge,” and commit to throwing everything you have at it. Every campaign is an uphill battle. Every marketer is competing for attention. What we call “the noise” or “the clutter” is the sum of everyone else’s best efforts.

Brand strategy is like picking up a Rubik’s Cube with an infinite number of good and bad moves. It’s a puzzle we’re all trying to solve, and it doesn’t stay still while we’re trying to solve it.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking. Time is an irreplaceable resource. You can’t go back and wish you spent the last year working on something else. Selectivity is one of the greatest benefits of remaining independent.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
We help make things interesting. We’re always asking, “In one move, how can we make this different, or use it in a way nobody considered?”

Sometimes it’s coming up with an unexpected collaboration or bringing out what’s just below the surface. It can mean changing the shape of something real or imaginary for the sake of impact. Like making an album into a beer with The Lights Out and Aeronaut Brewing Co., or transforming a group of regular people into the world’s first team of pregnant comic book superheroes with Summer Infant. We take something you encounter every day and turn it into something that stops you in your tracks. We frame it within a larger cultural context. Then we make news with it.

This year was the first time we entered awards competitions. PRWeek recognized us with Best in Creative Excellence and we won more Silver Anvil Awards from the Public Relations Society of America than any agency in the country. I’m proud of this because they’re judged by some of the most respected people in the industry who volunteer their time to select what they feel is the best work.

We don’t participate in RFPs or spend time chasing new accounts. All of our clients come through referrals from existing clients. It’s a sustainable way to run a business. I’m proud of that, too.

Sometimes we surprise our clients with how far we go to bring their products into our lives. I used a treadmill desk made by our LifeSpan client every day until I walked 3,000 miles across the country, from Boston to San Francisco. Now I’m walking back to complete the round trip. If you’re going to promote something, you should understand how it works inside and out, and live by the message points you’re creating.

As a firm, we help brands grow, communicate and do the right thing. As an individual committed to running a boutique, I’m trying to break the notion that firepower is proportional to size.

Who else deserves credit – have you had mentors, supporters, cheerleaders, advocates, clients or teammates that have played a big role in your success or the success of the business? If so – who are they and what role did they play / how did they help?
A number of people have put their faith in me, and I try to live up to their votes of confidence every day. Clients express their faith every time they take your advice, and renew it with every paid invoice. I’m constantly evaluating our results to make sure we’re honoring their trust by hitting our objectives.

At the agency where I worked before going out on my own, nobody was shy about being your advocate when that advocacy was earned. It was a special place, and the people I met there continue to be mentors and sounding boards more than a decade later. I share each milestone with them and thank them for always believing in me.

New approaches aren’t embraced by everyone. If you’re compelled to push boundaries, you’ll encounter resistance. Someone attempting to block the road may end up serving you as effectively as your best advocate, because those experiences can be galvanizing.

Lately I’ve been trying to help people at the beginning of their careers. I put together a pro bono speaking tour called Invention in PR which will reach more than 1,000 students at 50 universities this year. I love teaching the next wave of practitioners about not playing by the book, while contributing to a larger goal of earning PR a seat at the product development table. Because when our efforts are judged on the success of the products and services they support, we need to take a stronger hand in their creation. That’s the next frontier for the profession, and I want to do my part to help get it there.

You start out trying to make everything you touch a little better. Over time, you’re putting a series of dents in the universe, viewing them as a complete body of work and striving to make a mark nobody else could have made.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Chris Anderson, Albert Chau, Sheldon Golder

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