Entrepreneurs are changing the world, bringing new technology and innovation the world needs. As we gear up towards the future all eyes are set on the emerging leaders and their revolutionary companies. It is these class-apart thinking, and out-of-the-box product offerings, that will open new doors of innovation and possibilities. Taking us to a future, where everything is achievable and possible.
In our search for enterprising women leaders, we met Heather Ripley, Founder & CEO of Ripley PR. Ripley PR is oriented towards securing media and brand awareness, especially for the B2B industry.
In an insightful conversation with Heather Ripley, Founder & CEO of Ripley PR. Let’s get to know more about the company, its services, and Heather’s professional journey.
Brief us about the company, what inspired you to start the company?
My career started in a completely different industry. I was an assistant buyer for a department store right after school, where I learned that I enjoyed copywriting for our ads. I went on to manage marketing for a couple of different companies, and in 2008, I started working for a company called Clockwork Home Services, managing marketing and public relations for the company’s three franchise brands: One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, and Mister Sparky.
In 2009, the CEO wanted to sell the company and I was able to secure a spot for our brands on the television show The Celebrity Apprentice. A few months after the episode aired, Clockwork’s CEO sold the business for more than $180 million.
After leaving Clockwork, I worked in public relations on the agency level for several years before moving back to my hometown in East Tennessee. It was then that I decided to chase my dream of launching a world-class public relations agency.
Serving the skilled trades is something I’m especially passionate about because my father is an auto mechanic. The time I spent at Clockwork Home Services opened my eyes to an industry that understood sales and marketing but needed to understand that public relations can be a powerful tool for growth when incorporated into a well-developed marketing plan.
I started Ripley PR in 2013 without any clients or outside business capital. My biggest assets were my desire and grit, and a strong will to put in all the hours necessary to make it happen. It was a little scary, at first, (and I worked a lot!) but I was confident I could do it. I partnered with my first three clients within 45 days, and, after 6 months, I moved into an office and hired my first full-time employee. (I’m proud to say we still work with two of the agency’s first three clients!)
Now, Ripley PR is a global public relations agency specializing in B2B tech, franchising, manufacturing, and the skilled trades. We serve clients from around the world, from Australia to Israel and Montreal to Brazil, and all over the United States.
In 2018, I launched a separate agency division called Orange Orchard, which focuses on providing public relations for plant-based products and animal welfare organizations. Whether it’s our work for Ripley clients or Orange Orchard clients, we want to be a force to do good in the world.
What are the products or services the company focuses on? How are your services different from those in the market?
Ripley PR focuses on securing earned media and brand awareness for our clients. We help our B2B clients become industry leaders, and we help our B2C clients become the local experts in their markets.
We use a proprietary blend of strategic business accounting and creative public relations branding. We want our clients to know what we’re doing and why and we provide detailed reports outlining this.
Because Ripley PR provides services to many industries severely lacking in PR support, we have developed unique strategies that highlight franchises or home service business owners and spotlight their expertise. PR should be included in every home service company’s marketing plan, regardless of its size.
Please tell us about your team.
My team loves what we do. When you partner with Ripley PR, you get a team of specialists working for you instead of just one person. We have experts who value content creation, professionals who know the right media to contact when pitching stories and ideas, and dedicated managers who pull it all together.
One way we ensure our clients’ success is by exceeding their expectations. We take this very seriously. It’s kind of our “thing.” We value seeing what is working and then building on that success.
Please brief us about your professional experience.
After school, I spent about 10 years in Germany, New Jersey, and Florida. It was then I decided to work at Clockwork Home Services, managing PR and marketing for its three franchise brands, One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, and Mister Sparky.
While with Clockwork I earned the company top-tier media exposure, including an appearance on The Celebrity Apprentice in 2009, after which the CEO was able to sell the company for $183 million.
From there, I had a successful career managing PR for two different marketing agencies before opening Ripley PR in 2013.
In 2018, I extended our services through Orange Orchard because I wanted to use the knowledge and experience we’d gained through Ripley PR to help animal-friendly businesses use public relations to grow their brands.
What are the key achievements of your business journey?
Positioning Ripley PR as a global public relations company in just a few short years is one of my key achievements. We are currently the second-largest public relations agency in the greater Knoxville, Tennessee market, and working to become the largest.
I was personally extremely honored to be nominated as a finalist for the 2020 Blount County ATHENA Awards and PHC News’ Top 10 Women in PHCP list for 2021.
In 2021, I published a book through Forbes/Advantage Books, called NEXT LEVEL NOW: PR Secrets to Drive Explosive Growth for your Home Service Business. The book is available on Amazon.
Ripley PR Inc. has also been recognized by Entrepreneur Magazine as a Top Franchise PR Agency for four years in a row, was honored by Forbes as one of America’s Best PR Agencies in 2021, and has cemented itself as the number one PR agency in the nation for the home service industry and skilled trades.
Any client experience you would like to highlight?
Ripley PR helped propel ServiceTitan’s public-facing persona through our long relationship with the founders. We were with them from the first Series A press release, through their record growth and their ongoing expansion. They show our success in promoting B2B tech companies from start-ups to industry giants.
We are also proud of our relationship with TintWorld® Automotive Styling Centers®. Throughout our seven-year association as their public relations agency, we have helped promote their growth as one of the country’s fastest-growing franchises. Ripley has made Entrepreneur Magazine’s Top 10 Franchise PR Agencies for four years in a row.
What is your favorite quote?
“Too many people are thinking of security instead of opportunity. They seem to be more afraid of life than death.” — James F. Byrnes
I think that anxiety and fear often hold people back in life and this quote speaks to me about the importance of taking risks and creating opportunities.
I also enjoy the book, “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” by Susan Jeffers. This book was given to me by an agency owner I used to work for, and it inspired me to grab my fears, make “no-lose” decisions and expand my comfort zone.