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Spotlight on Top Business Owners in
Advertising, Marketing & PR


Melanie Downey

Name: Melanie Downey

Location: Leominster, MA 

Type of Business:
Brand Development Strategist and PR Expert

What does your business do?
I teach small business owners and solo entrepreneurs how to catapult their greatness into the world. Using simple, easy to use public relations techniques and templates, and with an understanding of how the media works and time-tested persuasion skills, small business owners learn how to use what they alreadyknow to build their businesses and get known.

When and why did you start the biz?
I've been working in the PR industry and teaching and mentoring PR pros for over 20 years, but just started teaching small business owners in July 2015.

How Many People are in your Company?
1, plus lots of freelance technical help!

Where's your office?
Technically, my office is anywhere with wifi and my laptop. When I'm home, though, I work in my home office, which was once my kids' playroom and is painted in a lively, but muted, orange color. It's the sunniest room in my house, and faces a mountain. It's also the room furthest from the refrigerator, which as anyone who works from home knows, is super important.

What's the toughest part of running your biz?
Since I teach most of my courses online, I spend a lot of time alone.So, I'd have to say that sometimes loneliness creeps in. I've found it's important to find a group of like-minded people and meet with them regularly to save my sanity.

What's the most fun part?
Seeing the excitement when my students get their first magazine profile or interviewed on television. It never gets old.

Anything you would have done differently?
I would have invested more in myself and my business up front. For me, that would have been a few courses on how to do anything with technology, wordpress or graphics. There was a steep learning curve, and I just ended up investing in my learning anyway.

What's next on the horizon for your biz?
Starting a beta group for a new online coaching programs and a membership site.

What advice do you have for others?
Always be learning! The world is always changing, so there's always something new, whether it's about your customer base, competitors, a new skill (related to your field or not), new technologies, or just catching up on reading.

How do you use Idea Cafe to help your biz?
I found Idea Cafe when I was researching grant opportunities for small businesses for a free webinar I'm putting together. I'll be sending everyone over here to check it out!

School (where, still in school, degree)?
B.S. in Journalism from University of Hartford, and M.S. in Applied Communication from Fitchburg State University

Prior jobs or business?
I was the owner and sole proprietor of Wilava, a handmade skincare business that was named one of the Top Innovative Skincare Companies in 2011. But I'm probably best known for running the Public Relations Department at back in the late 90's to 2001, and then B2B Marketing. I got over 2 billion press hits for Monster in my first 6 months working there. We were everywhere! I left that job when my daughter was born. I also worked as a journalist for the Hartford Courant, and a few other dailies and weeklies, as well as a corporate ghostwriter, and have done PR for lots of clients when I worked in PR agencies, including PC World magazine and The Smithsonian Awards, several international consulting firms, and many, many start-ups.

Favorite Food?
Ice cream. Can't live without it.

What are your pets' names?
Penelope Persimmon, aka Penny, a completely hairless American Terrier.

Do any of these pets help with your biz?
She was the inspiration for a book I'm writing.

Is there any one person or event in your life that led you to go into business for yourself?
My kids. I left my job at when my daughter was born prematurely and needed 24 hour care. But when I was ready to go back to work full-time, my kids said they still wanted me to be home when they got home from school. Now that they're teenagers, they're happy that I can still attend (and drive them to) their sporting events and other activities, and I'm also around when they just need to talk.

Anyone you publicly want to thank?
My mentor, Betsy Buffington Bates. She was my first boss in marketing and public relations, and she had an amazing career as a writer/editor for magazines and newspapers, in PR, and later as a professor. She and her husband were old school journalists through and through, and they invited me over for many brunches over the years. I always left feeling smarter and so inspired, and for that I will always be grateful. She never did get me to try anchovies, though... Betsy taught me not only how the industry worked, but how to create my own future.

Contact Info:
Melanie Downey
36 Revolution Dr
Leominster, MA 01453



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