The Public Relations Power of Parlay

April 8, 2013 at 6:36 PM

This month’s column is a bit different from the usual case study where I portray how a business owner uses public relations to raise awareness and grow his or her own business.  This time we are fortunate to have a media guru offer insights into how he used public relations to build his career while simultaneously running a successful public relations firm.

Recently I sat down with public relations expert, Bruce Freeman.  Bruce is a syndicated columnist for Scripps Howard News Service and president of ProLine Communications.  He is the co-author of "Birthing the Elephant." Bruce is an Adjunct Professor at Seton Hall and Kean universities. Bruce can be contacted at or follow him on Twitter @SmallBizProf and on his Facebook page.

Bruce has an extensive background in all aspects of public relations both as a public relations practitioner and as a syndicated columnist.  He is that rare individual fortunate enough to see both sides of the same coin.

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When I asked Bruce what the one thing he believed helped him build his career – he answered me with one word – parlay.

The definition of parlay, according to Merriam Webster is to increase or otherwise transform into something of much greater value. Of course, Urban Dictionary has its own definition, but that is for another column.

Bruce explains, “To parlay or to build on one success allows everything you do to be repurposed into something new.  The wonderful thing is you never know where any one thing can lead.  It’s all interrelated. I worked at Ziff Davis for a number of years and I parlayed my experiences there to open my own public relations firm, Proline Communications, which specializes in the tech industry.  After awhile an opportunity arose for me to teach a small business class at Kean University.  When I was asked for the name of my class – I blurted out – The Small Business Professor.  Believe it or not, no one was using that moniker and within three years I was able to successfully trademark it.  This allowed me to parlay that name into instant recognition as The Small Business Professor™.  It gave me a platform which parlayed into unbelievable opportunities.  Based on my platform, Brothers International invited me to represent its company as their small business spokesperson.

Building on the trademark of The Small Business Professor – I developed a column called, appropriately, The Small Business Professor.  I had the name and the trademark, but not the national recognition.  Parlaying the success of my teaching and writing, I was able to land a syndicated national column with Scripps Howard News Service.  Now, I had the distribution capabilities to reach a national audience which opened further untapped opportunities.  By parlaying my platform and my distribution abilities, I was invited to co-author the book, “Birthing the Elephant,” which was published by Random House.  While this all may sound like I just parlayed in the usual avenues of traditional media to grow my business and my reputation – that would be wrong – I placed all this information on my blog, which allowed my Klout score to grow.  For those of you not familiar with Klout – it is a measurement of influence across several social networks and demonstrates the impact a person, brand or company has. 

In today’s world a high Klout score parlays into higher influence and increased success in both the traditional business and social worlds.

How can you parlay your business accomplishments to get you to the next level?  Please feel free to e-mail me at with any comments or suggestions.

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