Today we’d like to introduce you to Tara Coomans.
Tara, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
For most of my career, I’ve been self-employed. I started my first company, an event marketing agency when I was 24. I went from there to owning a national vertical magazine and tradeshow. After the passing of my Dad, who was my entrepreneurial inspiration, it was time for me to step away and really think about what I wanted next in my life.
After several years “off” of entrepreneurialism, I realized that it was time to reconnect with that part of myself. I realized that I am an entrepreneur, it’s just who I am. More importantly, I get a really big thrill from working with other incredibly driven people, team members and clients, who have a vision and the grit to see it through; it really brings out the best in me.
I determined that my next venture would be structured differently and offer really premium, hyper-responsive quality services. I also wanted to really build a team of committed, professional and diverse people so our work would be in tune with different consumer perspectives and voices. I wanted my business to be one of integrity, one where our clients feel cherished and so do the team members. I started my most recent firm, Poodle Mafia (then named Akamai Marketing) in 2008 when I moved to Hawaii. We offer digital marketing, specializing in social media for travel, tourism, lifestyle, and wellness brands. After moving to Los Angeles, I rebranded it Poodle Mafia and then added Primo PR to service cannabis companies with media relations and strategic positioning.
Today, I’m leading the teams for both those businesses and I’m LOVING it. Every day is diverse and exciting. One minute I’m managing a communications crisis for a client, the next minute, I’m planning for 6 months out for a client strategic initiative, and the next minute I’m celebrating a win or coaching a team member on how we can do what we do better and then the next moment, I’m planning for MY company’s growth. My priority is always on our current clients and my team – and growing the company is part of that. When the company is doing well, our team is happier and so are our clients, because I never spread our team too thin, but more contributions to our work create better results. So when our company wins, we all win.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Anyone who says being an entrepreneur is a smooth path simply hasn’t committed to being their best. One of the hardest parts of being an entrepreneur is the idea that you’re never satisfied. Never. Every goalpost gets moved. Challenges are opportunities for growth.
Maybe one of the hardest times was moving my company to Los Angeles. Moving any B2B business is disruptive, but especially when the company culture and service is based around hyper-responsiveness. I knew very few people when I moved to LA, so I had to start over. LA is a city of opportunity, it’s thrilling, but it can also be an emotional vampire. Learning how to make the very best of the opportunities in LA was a huge struggle for me, but I got through it. Our business has exploded in LA, we’re seeing unprecedented growth because we’re in the center of so much opportunity and innovation; I’ve also been heavily involved at the board level of great organizations like Social Media Club LA (SMCLA), American Marketing Association LA (AMA LA) that really allows me to tap into great people. Getting involved with nonprofits is something I love doing. I’ve sat on numerous boards in my life and welcome opportunities to get more involved with great organizations and great people. Ultimately, I’m grateful to LA for teaching me some great lessons about myself and about business.
Please tell us about Poodle Mafia & Primo PR.
Poodle Mafia is Elegantly Aggressive PR & Social Media for travel/tourism, lifestyle, and wellness brands with aggressive ambitions. This firm mostly specializes in social media (paid and organic), but we also do PR and marketing for those brands as well. Our Poodle Mafia team is mostly based in Southern California.
At Primo PR our motto is “fly higher,” and we’re a strategic communications and media relations firm specifically for the cannabis industry. We have team members in LA and New York. We’ve worked with clients from startup to IPO.
At both these firms I’m most proud of the fact that, in general, our clients love us. I can’t tell you how often people come to us after a bad experience with another agency, but we’re selective about who we work with too because it has to be a good fit. Our team is professional, creative and advanced. We’re not the least expensive, but I’ll put our work up against anyone else’s. We are the type of people who wake up in the middle of the night with an idea or a solution, we never stop thinking. I’m proud of our teams and our results.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Oh, I had a magical childhood, so this is a tough one. Probably my 5th birthday when I got my first Standard Poodle puppy. I cried from happiness – at 5. I have this fantastic photo of my sister and I taking the puppy on her first “walk,” at our summer home in Door County, WI. That photo makes me smile because it really encapsulates my childhood happiness. I have a wonderful relationship with my sister and that puppy kicked off a life-long love of dogs. My life just isn’t complete without a canine – I now have two Standard Poodles, Stella & Zoe.
- Agency services start at $5,000 per month
- Website: primopr.agency/poodlemafia.com
- Instagram: primoprmkting/poodlemafia
- Facebook: primoprmkting/poodlemafia
- Twitter: primoprmkting/poodlemafia