Battalion PR’s founding partner Jim Kloiber started his recently rebranded agency six years ago, following a long career working for some of New York’s top agencies and brands.
Currently representing clients like Piaget, Hardy Amies, Ralph Lauren watches, Gemfields, Rodeo Drive Committee and Georg Jensen, and with a recent expansion to Los Angeles and three new partners on board, the agency has its sights set on a big year ahead.
What does your company do?
We make our clients better. That sounds like a very PR answer, but I truly believe it. We guide and support our clients; we challenge them; we shape how the world sees them; and we help them achieve their goals everyday.
Specifically, as an agency we specialize in PR/media relations, events, social media, celebrity and influencer engagement and overall brand management. We really function like an in-house team for each of our clients. To say we are ‘hands-on’ is an understatement.
Some of the brands we represent are more than 150 years old with incredible heritages, while others are new and have just two or three people in the company. They are all special in their own way though. We hand pick our clients and we love working with all of them.
How did you start the business? What were you doing at the time?
It came after a lot of soul searching, years of working in-house for top fashion and luxury brands and then a great run at LaForce + Stevens. James and Leslie are the best in the business—I learned so much and am honored to count them as my friends. After five years there, I knew that I loved the energy and excitement of agency life, but I wanted to work on a smaller scale.
I started my firm with two other partners who’ve since gone on to do their own thing, but we remain close and still do work together on projects. We were fortunate to come out of the gate with some amazing clients, including Ralph Lauren and Piaget.
The agency has grown organically over the past 6 years. Last September, we expanded to Los Angeles and I brought on three new partners—Marisa Drew who actually has worked with me since almost the beginning and really helped build the agency into what it is today, and Monique Jones and Joe Richardson in LA. I’ve known both of them of many years, so I was thrilled when the chance finally came to work together. We are now 10 people in New York and 5 in Los Angeles and able to offer true bi-coastal expertise.
What have been the greatest challenges and rewards of establishing your own venture?
The biggest challenge in starting your own business, particularly if you’ve worked for large companies, is the amount of responsibility that is suddenly weighing down on you. It’s tremendous—from getting an office up and running, to creating your brand identity and web site, to finding and keeping great employees, to bringing in new business. I figured out how to set up a 401K plan, fix a laser printer and so many other things I never thought would be part of my job. Very quickly, you learn to ask for help and accept it wherever you can get it.
You also learn that you can actually do a lot more than you ever imagined…and you get used to 6 hours of sleep.
The rewards are countless, but by far the best is seeing our employees learn and grow and become brilliant at their jobs. I am so proud of my team.
How is the agency adapting to the changing digital/ media landscape?
Since our agency is relatively young, digital has always been a big part of what we do. Depending on the client and the initiative, we often prioritize digital strategies over everything else. I really can’t think of any campaign that we’ve done in the last 6 years that didn’t have an integrated digital component. And while I still love a magazine, let’s be honest, anyone under 30…or even 40 is consuming media digitally.
Social media has also completely re-written the rules. I’m still slightly amazed by the speed at which things are evolving…the rise of social media celebrities…the money at stake. Is it sustainable? I’m not sure, but it’s essential for us to be on top of it right now.
What are some of your current projects that you’re excited about?
Honestly, I cannot remember when I’ve been more excited about the work we are doing. We have so many inspiring projects in the pipeline for 2016. Many are still confidential at this point, but I’ll share a few details.
Gemfields is undertaking a major new partnership with New York Fashion Week. We’ll do a small event on Valentines Day and then something much bigger in September. Georg Jensen is partnering with Zaha Hadid—hands down my favorite architect in the world. People will be blown away at Baselworld in March. We just previewed a collaboration between our Johnston & Murphy client and menswear designer David Hart during New York Men’s Day—the shoes are flawless and I want all of them. Piaget, which I’m proud to say we’ve made into a force on the red carpet, has something game changing coming this summer. And on the West Coast, we are revitalizing Rodeo Drive with breakthrough events this summer and into fall. It’s going to be a big year.
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