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Source: Chris Martin

How CEO and Founder Emily Blair Marcus Became a Fierce Leader in the PR World: 'I'm Always Eager to Learn, Improve and Grow'

Apr. 8 2024, Published 7:31 p.m. ET

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When Emily Blair Marcus was just 17 years old, she was "serendipitously connected" with a reporter from Us Weekly on social media. From there, her life would forever change.

"I had tweeted about a celebrity sighting at an exclusive West Hollywood hotel, and she saw my tweet, and messaged me asking for more details. As it turned out, I had been an eyewitness to that actress’ bridal shower, and the reporter was asking me for fun details to spruce up her story. I essentially sent her a thesis paper over the course of several Twitter DMs, documenting my every memory of the occasion. I ended the message by expressing my sincere interest in helping her out with anything she may need in the future, and that I was about to go to school for entertainment journalism. For some reason, I had a strong gut feeling that I wouldn’t have another chance to directly connect with a journalist this intimately. She was essentially living my dream job," Marcus exclusively tells Morning Honey.

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Fortunately, the reporter took Marcus on, asking her to help out with several projects — from transcribing interviews to doing research before a red carpet.

"Finally, during my sophomore year of college, I became an official editorial intern at Us, and worked my way up to a full-time staff writer and reporter by the time I was a senior. I was truly Hannah Montana — we’re talking finals by day, Oscars by night," she explains of the transformation.

Though working at the magazine was a dream job for Marcus, she was later hit with "a wave of burnout."

"I was interviewing the same Bachelor alums every week, pegged to their latest CPG brand partnership, and wrote a story about Kim Kardashian’s wardrobe choices every time she left the house. I was sifting through the same lackluster pitches in my inbox that felt robotic, and I felt like the industry was about to face a major change (this proved to be true mere months later). It was 2019, I was just about to graduate college, and there was more for me to do and learn," she says.

"I quit my job and decided to spend the next year studying for the GRE, with the intent of going to USC for a Masters in Strategic Public Relations. In the interim, I took a summer course at Conde Nast College in London (the Vogue Summer Intensive), and took on a few freelance PR clients. I had never been a publicist before (sans interning for a fashion agency for one semester), but I knew I could reverse engineer the process, knowing how reporters think and operate, want to receive information and how to make a pitch stand out in an oversaturated inbox," she adds.

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Source: Chris Martin

Emily Blair Marcus said it was a 'surprise' to learn her company organically took off.

In 2019, the blonde beauty decided to make a big change: launching her own agency as a side hustle while she studied for the GRE.

"It was never my intention to grow it in the way it organically did, and it’s been the most wonderful surprise to experience. Not even a year into its inception, my agency boomed when the pandemic hit, and everything about platforms and people of interest began to shift. I noticed a significant trend in new wave, digital celebrities becoming viral online overnight, but they clearly lacked an understanding of how to add credibility to their social personas with a proper press strategy," she says.

"There really wasn’t a firm who I felt excelled in representing this new age of talent, who needed an extremely unique PR strategy that was immensely different from how a traditional publicist would approach an A-list client. I found a gap that I could fill in the market, and my business boomed in 2020 with the surge of the creator economy. Our niche rapidly became podcasters, reality stars, TikTokers, and it-girls looking to elevate their brand awareness through press. Although I was accepted into USC in 2020, I deferred a year to really give Emily Blair Media a go — and I haven’t looked back since," she continues.

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Since Marcus is only being in her twenties, she admits running a business is "daunting." However, she is confident with how far she's come, noting that age is simply just a number.

"When I was young, I was ashamed of my age, and didn’t feel like I was old enough to experience all of their career highlights I was having the opportunity to undergo — interviewing Emma Stone as an 18-year-old, covering the Oscars the night before finals. At the time, it didn’t feel like I deserved it. I was incredibly savvy, always circumvented the conversation around my age, and truly adopted a 'fake it till’ you make it' mentality," she notes.

"However, this is a stark contrast compared to how I feel now. I honestly believe my youth is a value add. I run a team all under 30, and we are working with brands and talent that are becoming overnight sensations at our fingertips. Our unparalleled understanding of new technologies, the creator economy, and knowing how to create a press narrative that emphasizes the viral community influencers carve out online, is our competitive edge. We aren’t industry veterans trying to keep up — we are shaping the very industry we are working in, and learning new developments every day," she continues. "It’s a very exciting experience, and I wish I knew when I was younger that my age wasn’t something to hide from — it always has been something to embrace. All this to say, I would encourage every aspiring entrepreneur to never feel like you have to be a certain age, or reach a certain benchmark, to pursue your aspirations. Society likes to put an appropriate age on milestones in life — challenge that, and don’t accept it. Your path is yours to chart. Start before you feel ready to do so, and do it with everything you have."

These days, Marcus is thrilled to be a prominent leader in the PR world.

"There are many firsts, and at the end of the day, I make the final call. It’s a lot of trusting your gut and instincts, pivoting quickly, investing your time, resources and finances strategically, not making the same mistakes twice, hiring smart people around you, asking for help, and giving yourself grace. I have so many amazing mentors and friends who have been a guiding light for me, and every day I become more confident in my role. My greatest goal is to create an environment that is somewhere I would want to work. We have so much fun in our office, but we also work extremely hard. It’s all balance, and we truly respect and appreciate each other," she says.

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"The best part about my job is getting to work with a myriad of clients who all have different personalities, goals, objectives, passions, and interests. It’s so fun ideating new strategies every day, and it’s so rewarding to see something you brainstormed from scratch end up as a viral moment. The most challenging part is working in a very fast-paced and high-stakes environment. The media moves very quickly, and can be quick to cancel someone for one misstep. My team and I are always on high alert, and we aim to be proactive instead of reactive. That said, we truly are crisis management pros," she continues.

Marcus' agency represents an incredible roster of talent and brands, including Sofia Franklyn, Bhad Bhabie, Morgan Riddle, Danielle Carolan, Vita Kari, Jessica Rich Collection, Boys Lie, Dolce Glow and many more.

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Source: Chris Martin

The entrepreneur started her business five years ago.

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Marcus is only just beginning her career, but there are already a ton of accolades she looks back fondly on. "Producing my first Vogue cover will always be a career highlight. It was such a full-circle moment, especially as someone who has always had a deep-rooted appreciation for the authority that Vogue holds in the media industry. Other 'big wins' have included delivering the commencement speech at my alma mater, Chapman University, being recognized by Inc for Emily Blair Media’s contribution to philanthropy as a 'Best in Business' honoree, having Forbes profile my company, Insider calling me a 'top PR pro,' earning a PR Net Next Gen Award, and surpassing 20 employees this year!" she says.

Clearly, Marcus is driven and eager to take on anything, but she knows there's still so much more for her to master.

"If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. I am a forever student, and always eager to learn, improve, and grow, personally and professionally. Being receptive to constructive criticism and feedback has been really critical for my development, and I’d encourage others to really set ego aside and be willing to get uncomfortable in order to grow," she states.

For Marcus, whose company turns five this year, the future looks bright — and she's eager to continue being a force in the PR world.

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"I am extremely excited to continue expanding our roster into the celebrity space, and widen our focus beyond the creator economy. I also look forward to being more founder-facing this year by speaking on conference panels, guest lecturing at universities and sharing more of my story to cast a well-earned light on my amazing Emily Blair Media team. I also launched a podcast called 'After Hours,' which I host alongside my friends Celeste Durve (CEO of VIPER) and Jade Watson (CEO of Sickbird Productions). It’s been an incredible platform for us three — all female, self-funded, first-time founders — to share our stories, foster community, and hopefully uplift aspiring entrepreneurs by telling it how it is," she says of her goals moving forward.

"I am extremely proud of myself, but my success is truly a testament to everyone I’ve met along the way who has influenced me professionally, and taught me so much. Whether it be my first internship boss at Us Weekly, who now works for Entertainment Tonight and who I work with regularly, or my incredible staff who are always challenging me to be the best version of myself as a leader and as a publicist, I am immensely grateful for the community that empowers me daily," she adds. "I so look forward to continuing to expand my business internationally. I can’t wait to see how the journey continues to unfold!"

For more on Emily Blair Media, click here.


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