Justin studied marketing at Virginia Tech through the Pamplin College of Business. As a marketing major, he took classes in finance and accounting, as well as marketing communications, strategic marketing, and entrepreneurship. Justin took this route instead of studying public relations so he’d have the business foundations for owning and operating his own agency. Although he could have simply started his career working for an agency, he chose to begin his own at 22 because he did not want to work on accounts he does not personally believe in. Today, he takes pride in the companies he represents and is selective in taking on new clients. “I’ve learned more in the two and a half years with PRIME than I feel like I would if I had spent two and a half years working at another company,” stated Justin.
Although he hasn’t had the pleasure of meeting them yet, Justin has two industry idols. The first one is Kelly Cutrone. She is the CEO of her own agency, People’s Revolution, and started it at 22 as well. The second person that influenced him is Erin Kaplan. She inspired him because she was only 25 when she became ELLE magazine’s public relations director, which makes her the youngest director of public relations for ELLE magazine of all time.
In addition to the influence his viewing habits had on his career, he also learned a lot from his internship experiences. His internships included: brand marketing at Spectrum Brands, digital marketing at the MIXNET, public relations and communication at 33rd Republic, and social media and writing at New River Valley Magazine and Social Scene Magazine. The one that prepared him the most, however, was his digital media internship at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia. That’s where he learned how to integrate social media with email marketing, manage website content and create and distribute online content.
“I’ve enjoyed every minute with the 20-some clients that we’ve been blessed to work with over the last two years. A lot of these clients have been in the industries that we cater to, but some haven’t been, and through this, you learn passions for new industries that you didn’t know you had.” Now, as an agency owner himself, Justin hopes to expand PRIME to have satellite offices in three or four different locations. “We temporarily opened an office in Charlotte, NC to cater to a large client that we were working with at the time and it was an absolutely amazing experience. I would love to see PRIME do this in more cities in the future.”
If Justin had to have chosen a different career besides public relations, he would have chosen either fashion design or writing. “Since high school, I’ve loved the fashion industry and it easily integrated into my goals of a public relations firm. From working with several fashion brands and fashion retailers through PRIME, I see how involved designers and writers are in the public relations process, so it’s no surprise I would want to do something else that is somehow tied into the PR,” stated Justin.
In thinking about where he sees himself ten years down the road, Justin sees himself still working with PRIME. Whether it’s a managing role or advising role, he wants to continue to help grow the business and mentor the staff. Through his work at The Savannah College of Art and Design in the Master of Fine Arts program in luxury and fashion management, Justin focused his studies on the brand development, promotion, and supply chain management processes of leather goods, luxury fashion, wine/wine tourism and fragrance companies. With this knowledge, he hopes one day to teach at the university level to educate and inspire students that were as eager as he was in college.
“Reflection is key,” said Justin when discussing growing a business. “To continue on track you constantly have to evaluate and reevaluate your path. Sometimes you just need to dust a path off and other times you need to make and take a completely new path, but you can never just turn around the leave the path altogether.”