Today we’d like to introduce you to Mitch Leff.
Mitch, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I started my career with Cohn & Wolfe Public Relations, rising to become Media Relations Director for the Atlanta office, at the time the largest public relations agency in the southeast.
I spent several years with the Atlanta offices of Edelman Public Relations and GCI Group, where I led consumer and business-to-business accounts.
In 1999, I left the world of agency PR to become director of public relations for Turner Learning, the educational division of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. There I was responsible for public relations and public affairs for educational programs across many AOL Time Warner networks and entities, including CNN, TNT, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, HBO, The WB and the Atlanta Thrashers. I also launched CNNstudentnews.com, the network’s first educational Web site.
In late 2002, most of the Turner Learning division was laid off in a corporate restructuring. In January 2003, I launched Leff & Associates, an independent public relations agency.
Leff & Associates offers clients a full range of public relations services, with a specialty in strategic counsel, communications program development, media relations, media training and crisis communications.
Our staff has decades of experience in public relations agencies, corporate communications departments, television production and reporting, and non-profit business.
Over my career, I’ve provided public relations services for some of the world’s most prestigious brands, including Boys & Girls Clubs of America, The Coca-Cola Company, AOL Time Warner, the National Football League and UPS. Our expertise spans business to business, consumer products, sports marketing, special event marketing, education, healthcare, technology and telecom.
Our agency regularly secures media coverage for clients in local and national media outlets, from CNN, USA Today, and the Associated Press, to local media such as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Atlanta Business Chronicle to industry trade publications and local markets around the country.
To expand the media-focused services we offer, I created Leff’s Atlanta Media (www.leffsatlantamedia.com), a database of Atlanta media, and Mitch’s Media Match (www.mitchsmediamatch.com), an online service that matches local reporters with local sources.
Our monthly “Mitch’s Media Musings” blog reports on the Atlanta media community each month.
We also offer “Hitting Your Mark,” a complete media training program focusing on preparing clients to deliver their messages clearly and effectively to all their target audiences.
I’ve provided pro-bono public relations services for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta and served on the organization’s marketing committee for more than 25 years.
I’m a member of the Atlanta Press Club and the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). I chaired PRSA Georgia’s Independent Counselors Special Interest Group for three years, and provide pro-bono marketing services for the Atlanta Press Club and the Atlanta Region of Boy Scouts of America.
Has it been a smooth road?
The road for an independent business owner is never entirely smooth! We’ve been in business for almost 15 years. In the first few years, the challenge was to build a roster of ongoing clients, beyond short-term projects. I remember the sense of relief when clients began renewing their contracts for a second year!
In year one and two, I was a subcontractor for other agencies as I built my own business.
Over the years, that mix changed as I signed on my own clients and my subcontracting for other agencies declined.
Then the mix swung the other way as my business grew and I began hiring subcontractors to work on my clients. We have anywhere from two to six other professionals working on our accounts at any given time.
There’s a continuous process of refining our client base, evaluating prospects to make sure they’re the kind of client we want, their growth potential, and how they fit into our overall client mix.
I decided early on that I didn’t want to be a “big” agency. I’m the main account representative for all my clients, so it’s important that I have time to devote to all of them. Our team is all senior level PR professionals, so a client doesn’t have to worry about their work being pushed down to an inexperienced staffer. That model creates its own pressures and we pay those people more than we pay a junior person.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
We call ourselves a public relations agency, but our specialty areas are media relations, media training and crisis communications. We’re known in Atlanta as the agency with the strongest relationships with local media.
It’s those relationships, built and maintained over 30 years, that are the secret to our success. A local radio reporter once told me that he liked me because I didn’t call him all the time. I thought that odd, but he quickly explained that he was paying me a compliment. “When I get a pitch from you, I know it’s something that fits my beat, that I’ll be interested in covering. You don’t send me every single thing you’re working on. You’ve taken the time to understand me … and that makes all the difference.”
Many years ago, we created Leff’s Atlanta Media (www.leffsatlantamedia.com) an online service that functions as a directory of every pitchable journalist in metro Atlanta. It’s a unique service that really sets us apart from other local agencies. It really says “this is the agency that really knows Atlanta media.”
One of our latest endeavors is a group I’ve spearheaded called the “Georgia Entertainment Public Relations Alliance.” It’s a virtual alliance of senior level public relations professionals who’re building a business around the fast-growing entertainment industry in Georgia. Our team has expertise in film, television, music and digital entertainment/games. The group launched this month and has already secured a number of clients.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Atlanta is a great city for public relations professionals. We’re a top ten media market and one of the largest cities in the country. We’ve got a population that’s very diverse in economics, ethnicity and geography. That means there are a lot of media outlets catering to all of these groups.
- Leff’s Atlanta Media – $199 for an annual subscription
- Mitch’s Media Match – $195 for an annual subscription
- Media Training – Sessions start at $3000 and scale up from there depends on number of participants
- Crisis Preparedness – We offer a complete Crisis Preparedness module that every company should use ($5000)
- Address: Leff & Associates LLC
2646 Danforth Lane, Suite 100
Decatur, GA 30033
- Website: www.leffassociates.com, www.leffsatlantamedia.com, www.mitchsmediamatch.com
- Phone: 404-861-4769
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: Leff & Associates
- Twitter: @mitchleffPR