Jennifer Baum is the president and founder of marketing and public relations firm Bullfrog + Baum, which focuses on lifestyle, hospitality and food and beverage.
Bullfrog + Baum has launched the careers of chefs, created integrated marketing campaigns for international lifestyle brands and built the brands of New York's hottest restaurants. Jennifer tells us about what she has in store for 2016, including launching Claus Meyer's food hall in Grand Central Station and building Bobby Flay's new burger chain.
What does your company do?
We are a marketing company that specializes in the hospitality, food & beverage and general lifestyle sectors. We build and reimagine brands, launch concepts, and promote our clients through integrated marketing programs that continue to garner interest for the long-term.
How did you start the business?
I have a background in beauty public relations and restaurant operations, as well as a MBA in finance and management. While working as the director of marketing and business development for a growing restaurant group, and acting as the point person for their PR firm, I decided to launch my own company. I started my company with one small, relatively unknown client. My second client, Sara Moulton, was, and still is, a nationally recognized culinary personality who helped lend credibility to the work I was doing. She remains a client today, almost 16 years later and that small client - Tao/Strategic Group - is now a huge international company and a client once again.
What were you doing at the time?
I had been consulting for a small firm at the time, trying to decide what to do next. I was pregnant with my son when I started Bullfrog + Baum which made me take pause and make sure I was doing the right thing…but clearly it didn’t stop me from launching my company.
Tell us about some of the highlights of your career thus far.
From a culinary perspective, I’ve had the opportunity to represent and/or launch the careers of many chefs you see on television today including Marc Forgione, Geoffrey Zakarian, Marc Murphy and Alexandra Guarnaschelli, as well as work with some of the most celebrated chefs in the world including Bobby Flay, Wolfgang Puck, Joel Robuchon and Alain Ducasse, to name a few.
I played a big role in creating, developing and promoting the BLT brand of restaurants (and continue to work with Laurent Tourondel today); launched quirky concepts such as Rice to Riches; and facilitated mutually beneficial relationships for real estate development companies such as Related Companies and Howard Hughes Corporation.
I worked with Westfield on the new World Trade Center project and relaunched the iconic Rainbow Room with Tishman Speyer.
What are some of your current projects that you’re excited about?
We are working with Claus Meyer, the founder/partner of the world renowned restaurant, noma, on his food hall and restaurant in Grand Central Terminal as well as his other New York-based projects; helping Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts gain further recognition as a stellar restaurant-focused brand; collaborating with the Bobby’s Burger Palace internal team on the branding and marketing of Bobby Flay’s casual burger restaurant; and preparing to launch Carla Hall’s new restaurant here in NYC. We are also working with Howard Hughes Corporation on the food and beverage development of South Street Seaport which as a lifelong New Yorker it is particularly exciting to see the transformation of that area.
What are some of the pitfalls you’d advise against in creating a thriving business, and your tips for success?
I think it’s very important to enjoy the journey, and not look only to the reward. There is much to be learned if you pay attention along the way. It’s also important to hire well. It’s been said that you should hire slowly and fire quickly and I believe that to be true. Managing people can be the most difficult part of our jobs so you want to ensure your team is cohesive, collaborative and supportive. There is no one person who can do everything themselves so learn to trust and delegate, not only the senior most people on your team but everyone. I read somewhere that Netflix tries to hire “fully formed adults” and I believe that if we treat our team in that manner, they will respond accordingly. It is also very important to understand who you and your company are within your greater industry and remain true to that vision. One must also maintain balance and take care of your most valuable asset – yourself.
What are some of the biggest changes you predict for the industry in the next 5-10 years?
Obviously technology will continue to be one of the greatest influencers of change in our industry (and our clients!) so it is imperative to stay as many steps ahead in that arena as possible. But I also think there will be a change – or more accurately – a reverting BACK to focusing on the importance of human connection – conversations, hand written communication, sharing of experiences. There will also continue to be changes in how the modern workplace operates: more flexibility, more experiential learning and more expectations.
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