TheCconnects: Can you tell our readers a little about your professional journey & how did you come to your current role/position?
Paul Fitzgerald: My professional journey has been an interesting one. Being a big thinker and one to always push the envelope in the marketing, public relations, and journalism arenas, I have helped scores of brands become household names. In fact, I have helped nearly 500 brands launch on the market over the last decade since opening up my PR firm.
My professional journey is anchored on music, travel, education, and past work experiences. I learned through music to always be different, to be creative, and try new things, and it is these traits that allow me to help tech startups that I have the pleasure to work with. I like to take brands to new places – I like the hype, and the exposure, and is different on every level. For me, the average is boring.
Then there is travel with seeing new places and meeting new people: I am a global citizen and visiting and living in other places – Spain, Africa, Halifax, Calgary, Jasper, New York City, Los Angeles, to name a handful – has opened my eyes and mind to the world around me. I have always been a big thinker, one who never “colors just inside the lines;” I like the color on everything. I have seen the world and have met so many fascinating people and I have embraced change, culture, and diversity naturally. My client list boasts unique start-ups that are different and who call on me to take their brands to new heights. Simply put, travel has and will always be a tool for my innovative mind to grow, and I utilize these experiences and new ways of thinking and apply them to campaigns – press and social media – I develop, manage, and promote.
Let’s also not forget the education and its importance and how it has helped my professional career. If you can believe it, I dropped out of high school, finally finishing, and I am now almost ready to complete my Ph.D. in Communication Sciences. When I attended college and university, I wasn’t your typical student just studying a standard course load in commerce or arts or science – I studied everything to soak up information. Like music and travel, education also opened up my mind to the world and I learned so much about other people and myself too. Education and the people I have met along the way have given me confidence and have helped fuel my innovation.
My past work experiences at leading newspapers, magazines, and higher education institutions have also played a big role in my professional journey. I have learned the importance of processes, teamwork, meeting deadlines, and more.
So, it’s music, travel, education, and past work experiences that have made me who I am, and they have all directly shaped my company. I am thrilled to be running a big PR and Marketing firm, with a team of 25 writers, videographers, and designers. It’s a dream come true and capitalizing on my past experiences has helped ensure success for my business and for our long list of innovative clients who come from all walks of life.
TheCconnects: Who has influenced you the most in life and why?
Paul Fitzgerald: Great question. Credit for who has influenced me the most has to be my parents. They are incredible and have always supported me in whatever I set out to do. When I played in marching bands, orchestras, and rock bands, they would always tell me to be the best and give it my all. I could have chosen any career path, and they have always been supportive in so many ways. If I wanted to be a painter, they would have told me to be the best painter. If I wanted to be a professional athlete, they would have told me to go for the win no matter what.
I remember calling my parents over a decade ago, telling them I was going to quit my day job to open up my own PR firm: the phone went silent for a few seconds, but they were so happy that I wanted to move on to bigger and better things. They applauded me for my drive and passion for PR and journalism and told me to run the best PR and Marketing firm in the world. So, off I went.
Then there are other influences that have had a positive impact on my life, which include writers and musicians like Hunter S. Thompson, Pete Townshend of The Who, David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, Ronnie Wood of The Rolling Stones, Neal Peart of Rush, Eddie Van Halen of Van Halen, Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath – and the list could go on. I credit them because they all pushed their own envelopes in their own ways and they were creative, and they loved to try new things, with never a care in the world of what others thought of them.
TheCconnects: What are the biggest challenges you have faced in your life & how did you overcome them?
Paul Fitzgerald: Like everyone, I have had my share of challenges. At one point in my life, I always worried about what other people thought of me; I had a hard time letting things go, and I undervalued myself. We all have our share of insecurities and faults, but I overcame them quickly in my career as all my clients have embraced my enthusiasm, innovation, and passion for success. I have surrounded myself with the right people and they have helped show me that the past is the past – let it go; they have shown me my value, and they have taught me the importance of focusing on myself and my well-being.
TheCconnects: What lessons you have learned from your professional career?
Paul Fitzgerald: I have learned many lessons, and the big one for me is “listen to your gut.” That’s right, your instincts are usually never wrong, so I have learned to “listen to the whispers.”
Each day I get scores of phone calls and emails from potential clients, but I go with my gut on who I want to work with. I don’t just work with any brand; I work with brands that suit my style. For me, I could care less about drama or just signing any client up and taking their money. For me, I need to be surrounded by other innovators who are innovative, passionate, and who want to go to new places. For me, “average sucks,” and I have learned to how to look past the “average filter” and strive to be the “best.”
TheCconnects: What do you see as the biggest challenge for brands in the digital space?
Paul Fitzgerald: The digital space is a different world altogether. The biggest challenge startups face is how to use this space wisely. I would always suggest that for any brand starting up, use expert advice: call on a Marketing and PR firm and do your homework on them. I also suggest finding a firm that can work with your budget and who can help you get earned media.
Once you are in the press, you gain credibility and from there you can use that exposure to build new audiences in the media and of course on social media. New brands launch and they are not utilizing press coverage and wire services – get your name out there and your challenges will be in the rearview mirror. The digital space is a noisy world but once you have content, then you have audiences and engagement. One thing is certain, use media and promotions to increase your Google footprint as it helps with branding and boosting your bottom line.
TheCconnects: How your product/solution can help to resolve the pain points of your customers?
Paul Fitzgerald: My firm does it all: we build websites, we do social media, we do marketing, and advertising, and most of all we help secure “earned media” for brands. Every startup wants to get noticed and the best way is through press releases and earned media coverage – sell your story to the press and you don’t have to worry about big advertising dollars.
TheCconnects: Do you have any advice for those who want to become a chief marketing officer?
Paul Fitzgerald: The best advice I have for anyone who wants to be a chief marketing officer, like myself, is to be innovative, think outside the box, and accept change and challenges as they arise. Be yourself, don’t worry about what others think, and push every envelope of ideas beyond the limit. Don’t just cover inside the lines – color everything and give it your all.
When you are a chief marketing officer, it means that you represent brands and they need your expertise: be a leader, be an innovator, be honest, be transparent, be loyal, and show that you care about each startup you represent. You will be richer for it. Give it your all and communicate, and most importantly, remember one thing if you want to succeed: Being average sucks, and there are no glass ceilings when it comes to creativity, innovation, and drive.