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“I like that sense of struggle, because it highlights for me an even bigger potential goal for which to strive.”

Steven Le Vine founded grapevine pr five years ago as a lifestyle and entertainment PR firm. It is one of the only PR firms in existence to also have a special niche department catering to the $835 billion-per-year LGBT market.

Grapevine has grown by leaps and bounds every year since its launch in 2006, despite existing in one of the worst economic climates the country has ever seen, and has had the chance to represent over 100 clients throughout a wide variety of industries.

MO:
What makes grapevine pr different than the hundreds of other PR firms in the U.S.?

Steven:
I think grapevine provides an alternative to the large, almost factory-like corporate PR firms and the small sole practitioners who may be highly focused on only a certain area. We charge very reasonable rates that are well within the range of what someone who is ready for PR can reasonably invest in their marketing budget, and we also provide a personalized and personable approach; tend to think outside the box; and cover a wide span of media outlets, from trade and consumer media to local, national and even international press.

My goal with grapevine is to make it a “way of life” brand. What I mean by that is any good PR firm can get its clients press, but we strive to always go above and beyond that, by looking for unique incentives for our clients, providing flexibility and by never over-promising.

MO:
How has catering to the LGBT market helped business for Grapevine PR?

Steven:
First and foremost, it attracted a lot of clients to us who were looking for a PR firm that truly understood their needs. And of course, when you tap into such a market rich with creativity, talent and so much buying power, it’s no doubt going to open up a wellspring of business and opportunities. I also think it helped to set us apart by underscoring our mission of looking for edgy brands and markets to work with. We can’t wait to continue opening more departments focused on specialty niche markets in the near future.

MO:
How have you managed to grow in such a terrible economy?

Steven:
I’ve always been someone who perseveres the most during the hardest times. I like that sense of struggle, because it highlights for me an even bigger potential goal for which to strive. That’s what fires me up. It wakes me up like splashing ice cold water in my face.

There were definitely moments over the past few years when things slowed down tremendously, almost coming to a grinding halt, and a lot of our clients pulled out simply because they had to cut back on spending or shuttered their doors completely. But I never for one moment accepted the possibility of defeat. And eventually things cycled around again, and there was an influx of even more business. For me, this has always been my baby. And even when times are tough, a parent doesn’t just give up their baby.

MO:
Who would be your ideal client to work with and why?

Steven:
Generally speaking, my ideal client is someone who understands how public relations works, inside and out, and gives us the freedom to just do our thing, but also provides us with clear-cut goals, realistic expectations and a length of time that allows for their goals to realistically be met.

Specifically, three ideal clients I’d love to represent would be Virgin, English Laundry and singer-songwriter Tori Amos. The first has revolutionized numerous industries and has become held up as one of the world’s foremost “way of life” brands. The second highlights part of grapevine’s mission to seek out edgy, stylish and hip brands. And the latter has inspired me to do what I’m doing now, by empowering me to go with my passion and do it on my own terms.

MO:
You are currently writing a book about what it is like to be a young entrepreneur. Tell us what we can expect from this book?

Steven:
I am! I’m currently one-third of the way through writing it, and expect it to be released sometime in the first half of next year

My book is primarily for people in their 20s and 30s, but it could really be for anyone. I will share stories starting with my first job experiences into what it was like to start my own business, and the reasons for doing so, at an especially early age. I will also explore the dos and don’ts of risk-taking, and try to alleviate any fears others have of starting their own businesses, by helping to share my own experiences, all of which have taught me valuable lessons.

MO:
Why did you think it was important for you to write a book?

Steven:
When I started grapevine at 24, I was only an intern and a month out of college, and when it started to take off unexpectedly a few months later, I knew that I was doing something I was meant to do. It was very scary, but also exciting and liberating. Part of me almost felt like I shouldn’t be doing it, and should just forget about it, while another part wanted to keep going. By that time, I had been working for a major real estate PR firm, and they didn’t know this assistant account executive had his own agency going on the side. Then it took off overnight, and I was faced with the decision to give it up and continue working there, or vice-versa. I knew I had been handed a once in a lifetime opportunity, and would be foolish to give it up and regret it my entire life. But I was also aware of the fact that I could potentially be ruining my career so early on, if this business failed. But I decided to just go with my gut and continue building it up.

Five years later, I think I have a unique experience to share with anyone who is looking to also take a risk by becoming an entrepreneur. It’s the scariest and most rewarding experience of my life.

I think it’s also important to note that many business owners in my age bracket have an investor, bank loan or trust fund to help support their endeavor. I did not, however. I started from scratch. So, I want to help dispel the notion that a potential young entrepreneur must have lots of money if they can want to start a business. While it is much more difficult to do so without money, it can be done. And I want to show them how.

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