Don’t let anybody tell you something is impossible

COMMS.BAR public relations and marketing walk-in clinic

Please introduce yourself and your startup COMMS.BAR to our readers!

My name is Lyndon Johnson and I’m the founder of COMMS.BAR – a walk-in PR and marketing clinic. 

I’m a Brit, living in Toronto, Canada.  I studied Broadcast Journalism at University and have been working with startups and small businesses as a communications strategist for the last 22 years.

COMMS.BAR works like a medical walk-in clinic – business owners and marketers bring their challenges to us and we diagnose the cause and help them develop a communications strategy to overcome it.

How did you get the idea of COMMS.BAR?

It started with a single question – if startup and small business entrepreneurs could redesign public relations and marketing services to make it work for them, what would it look like?

During a 10 year career in PR agencies I’d seen the same problems repeatedly: the cost of public relations retainers made it impossible for most startups and small businesses to get help with PR and marketing; most PR and marketing agencies offered the same services to every client – and they weren’t what startups and small businesses needed to help them grow; there was no transparency by agencies which meant most agency customers had no idea what their retainer fees were being spent on; and there was no way to measure the commercial impact of public relations and marketing on an early-stage or small business.

Why did you decide to start with COMMS.BAR?

A former agency customer asked if I would continue to help them develop their PR and marketing strategies – something I’d been doing while working in an agency, despite it not being something they had paid for.

What is the vision behind COMMS.BAR?

The vision behind COMMS.BAR is to enable every startup and small business to be able to get help building PR and marketing strategies that deliver tangible business impact.

How difficult was the start and which challenges you had to overcome?

Building a startup is the hardest thing I’ve ever done – but also the most fulfilling and rewarding.  I’ve had to overcome an industry that is incredibly protective of it’s established business model (clients pay expensive retainer fees in return for tactical services).  My retail model (it works like an Apple Genius Bar) is also not typical – so persuading entrepreneurs that they really can walk in to COMMS.BAR when they need help has also taken some time.


Who is your target audience?

Startup and small business entrepreneurs and marketing professionals at larger organizations

What is the USP of your startup?

There are a few: our retail business model that enables anybody needing help solving PR and marketing problems to get help on demand; our a la carte pricing (we don’t offer retainers); our transparent approach (we work collaboratively with customers); and our open-source Framework (The Lean Communications Framework) and methodology that helps customers build, test and measure PR and marketing strategies to find the ones that work.

We also have a team of specialists that have specific experience in one area that ensure customers always work with the best person to help them solve their specific challenge.

Can you describe your typical workday?

I have a COMMS.BAR open routine that has been developed based on companies like Starbucks.  It involves checking pre-booked appointments and making sure that specialists have their schedules, and that the BAR is stocked with the consumables we need for the day ahead (canvases, experiment and action cards, tools, etc.). 

We run open Office Hours every weekday between 8.30 and 9.30 am to answer general PR and marketing questions.  The rest of the day is working with customers helping them build and test strategies that solve their PR and marketing challenges.

The business is in scale-up mode right now, so I spend time working on the COMMS.BAR growth strategy; recruiting specialists, identifying strategic partners and following up with COMMS.BAR customers

I also spent time on finalizing the book I’ve been writing – The Lean Communications Playbook – that will help entrepreneurs and public relations and marketing professionals alike – to build, test and measure effective PR and marketing strategies.  It’s part text- book (explaining the methodology) and part workbook.

Where do you see yourself and your startup COMMS.BAR in five years?

I see a network of flagship COMMS.BAR locations with specialists helping entrepreneurs solve their PR and marketing challenges, and the Lean Communications Methodology becoming the established system for building, testing and measuring effective communications strategies.  I’d like to be helping millions of businesses that can’t get help from an agency to be using public relations and marketing as a tool for growing their businesses and being able to measure the impact it delivers.

What 3 tips would you give other Start-up founders on the way?

  • Don’t let anybody tell you something is impossible
  • It’s not how many times you get knocked down that matters – it’s the number of times you get back up again
  • Building a startup is hard. Ridiculously hard.  Don’t expect it to be easy
  • Do everything to the best of your capability – or don’t do it at all

More information you will find here

Thank you Lyndon Johnson for the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

Sabine Elsässer

Sabine Elsässer is founder and chief editor of the StartupValleyNews Magazine. She started her career at several international direct sale companys. Since 2007 she works main time as a journalist. While that time she learned more about the Startup Scene, what made her start her own Startup Magazine the StartupValleyNews.

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