The Brownstein Group is one of the oldest privately held PR firms in Philly. Since its start in 1964 as an ad agency, the firm changed to provide more well-rounded services. Founder Benny Brownstein built the company from the ground up, but today his son, Marc, heads the company as CEO.
Marc Brownstein first showed an interest in his father’s business at a very young age. Today, he lives his childhood dream as the frontman of the legacy he watched his father build. In fact, Marc describes himself as the “ad brat” and “the writer” in his family. He got his feet wet in the business, at the tender age of just three years old. Marc wrote his first ad at 13 years old.
Inspired by his early success, Marc attended Penn State University. There, he got more hands-on experience running the school newspaper. He moved to the Big Apple to learn what he could about media and advertising.
In 1990, Marc returned to Philadelphia at his father’s bid to help him run the firm. Marc started out as creative director, working his way up to the CEO position. When asked about his leadership style, Marcstated, “The greatest leaders aren’t arrogant, but always believe they can improve and learn.”
The firm hires about 70 workers, banded together meeting the needs of their clients. The team is made up of well-educated professionals from various backgrounds. But, they all share the same goal of not just attracting new clients, but keeping the old ones.
Like most PR firms, the work at Brownstein varies. Even so, the firm takes on some especially interesting projects. For example, the team does work for children’s books, and even works on zombie comics, and oil paintings. This comes as no surprise, considering Benny’s background as an artist.
The firm also builds teamwork, by encouraging friendly interactions outside of the office. At the end of a rough week, the workers enjoy “happy hour” right outside the CEO’s office in a makeshift bar.
Due in part to its initial start as an ad agency, Brownstein offers a full package of services to clients in both marketing and PR.
Brand Strategy: The firm strongly believes wit and pun go a long way in producing quality content and building brands. PR should also engage consumers “by saying something that matters to people.”
Advertising: With a strong background in advertising, perhaps no PR firm does this better than Brownstein. The firm aims to create ads doing more than just providing a good laugh. Ads should also inspire thought. To achieve this, the company uses photography, skywriting, illustration… and the occasional cat GIFs.
Public Relations & Social Media: Now that PR involves social as well as public components, the firm works hard to make its clients’ companies more personable on social media.
Digital: The firm knows in spite of technological advancements, the message should always get more priority than the medium. As the company puts it, “We never create technology for technology’s sake.” According to Brownstein, it actually began preparing itself for the digital age back in the early 2000s. This proactive approach not only helped the firm to gain useful experience, but it also put it ahead of other firms, just starting to catch up.
B2B: The firm makes B2B communication more personal. Believing the overuse of jargon cuts into the ability to build meaningful relationships. This helps make businesses not just partners, but friends.
Philanthropy: Brownstein knows sometimes strong messages come from people who can’t afford to share it with everyone. For this reason, the firm does pro bono work for non-profit organizations to amplify their voice.
Clients and Awards
Brownstein’s client list includes top names like eBay, IKEA, Comcast, ESPN, and Western Union. The firm also works with non-profit organizations helping them find the opportunity to voice their messages.
In 2014, Ad Age named Brownstein the “Best Place to Work”. The firm also earned the PRSA Silver Anvil. The PRSA Silver Anvil is the highest award in America’s PR industry.