We had the good fortune of connecting with Paul Thom and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Paul, what role has risk played in your life or career?
As cliché as it may sound, I’m a head-strong believer that risking-taking amounts to rewards. I can attest that your results may not appear overnight (it sure did not happen for me instantly); however, there is always something to gain from it. Funny enough, I’m learning that the clichés ring in the most truth as I navigate my professional career and personal growth. You have to believe in yourself. You have to dream big. You have to see your value. These ideas of affirmations hold meaning, and manifestation supports these notions significantly.
At this point in life, risks are synonymous with who I am and what I stand on with my company, The Thom Brand (TTB). After years of setting the stage for my career in Public Relations and Brand Strategy through industry experience and academics, I decided to resign from a dream position I worked endlessly to secure in June of 2020 to start TTB. The truth is, this move was one of the most challenging decisions I had to make thus far. Anyone who knows me can attest that I’m the person who spends an absurd amount of time planning out my next move—ruling out options that I foresee. I’m also an earth sign, so we tend to be very grounded and practical with decisions [laughs]. While those practices I deem a strength of mine, I’ve also come to accept and celebrate the wonders of the unknown.
Some could say I made this move at one of the riskiest times to leave a secure employment opportunity — the height of an unprecedented lockdown that still affects many today. Still, in the end, I had to believe in myself and my potential to gain the reward of creating a business rooted in principles and practices native to my beliefs. With risks, you’ll never have all the answers figured out. That’s why it’s a risk. If you have intuition, trust it. Having a voice of reason is a gift. If you tune into yourself to that degree and do your necessary research, you’ll come across your rightfully earned reward. You have to bring yourself out of your comfort zone when you take risks. Most of the time, you will not have the ability to envision what’s next for you.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I am the founder of a boutique Integrated Communications agency, The Thom Brand (TTB). We specialize in talent and brand development across entertainment, music, fashion industries, with a full-encompassed branding strategy approach using scientific and creative measures to build media communication campaigns to promote, engage, and inspire key publics for our client(s). Media is a forever evolving landscape. That said, what I am most empowered by here at TTB is our attitude with thinking outside the box and coloring beyond the lines of what traditional Public Relations is known for. We’re not afraid of marketing or digital activations, and we’ve built a superb reputation for executing client outcomes that extend beyond PR. We spearhead earned media and traditional publicity at best; however, there is always the need to have a strategy in place that accesses all channels in today’s media landscape. This includes focus in shared media, owned media and paid (marketing) media. Since the emergence of TTB, we have had the pleasure to establish an array of multidimensional artists and creatives who have never had any form of representation with Public Relations to established talent who have it goaled to amplify the new and next that they have forthcoming.
I can write an entire novel on how I got to where I am—maybe I will [laughs]. Working retail as I was earning my B.A. from Rutgers University was a starting point. As many of us know, you could do so much with a Communications degree, and I spent years exploring my natural place in the industry. To earn extra money to support my time at Rutgers, I started working in retail, and I became fond of connecting with customers through a story-telling approach. PR, to a degree, has some connections in sales, but I particularly honed into the practice of putting myself in the shoes of the brand that I worked for while connecting with customers. As I grew with the company to store management, I graduated from Rutgers and was fortunate to be selected as the first field employee to be promoted to the corporate side of the company. I worked in internal communication, where I devised and spearheaded company assets that invested in training and development for field employees. It was a unique role, and I immediately saw the value of having a perspective that no one on my team possessed due to my experience as a field employee. FYI, if you’re the only one with any particular strength or strong suit, you’ll forever have leverage. One night the PR team needed assistance for an event, and that’s the moment I knew PR was my calling. I felt invigorated selling the company in a less transactional way as I was used to working in stores. From there, I wanted to become an expert, so I resigned and left to pursue my Master’s in Public Relations and Corporate Communications at New York University. The decision to pursue higher education was not easy, but it made the most sense for where I wanted to end up as a professional. NYU was invaluable. Not many PR professionals that pertain to the sector I’m in take on the scientific approach of PR. You have to know and understand the science of working with others and that’s one of many gems I took from my experience at NYU. Fast forward, I gained an array of experience working for PR agencies and music labels, where I studied everything that was not being done. Going into all of these experiences, I knew I wanted to be known as a professional that could not be compared to anyone else. This insight, along with my dreams of having an agency for myself, resulted in the birth of TTB.
Today, The Thom Brand leads with a perspective that makes us unique to other businesses alike.
As a business owner, you’re always on the clock, and that’s a mindset I strive in. Some could say that being available to someone else is changeling; however, that’s why this is one of the industries where you know early on whether or not it is suitable for you. One of the misconceptions many have regarding PR is that it is solely publicity. Publicity is under the umbrella of Public Relations, but successful PR should be involved in overall brand building. PR is strategy building through a systematic approach of planning, execution, and analysis (to learn what areas can be approved during the next campaign), so there is no opportunity to be left out of the loop in any aspect. Here at TTB, we are in it for the long haul with all of our clients, and that sense of dedication shines through our execution and beyond.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Growing up on the East Coast not too far from NYC, visiting the city would always bring a great sense of excitement for me. I love New York primarily because of the state’s array of offerings, with food, entertainment, and overall enjoyment. I’m West Indian, so we’d have to start at one of my favorite Jamaican cuisine spots Miss Lillys in SOHO. Then we would see what’s viewing at the cinema or Broadway! I’m so happy Broadway is back and better than ever. Right now, I’m eagerly awaiting to see Tina Turner The Musical and Thoughts Of a Colored Man. The next day, I’d more than likely set up brunch in Harlem because so many restaurants bring the flavor with food offerings and flare with entertainment in Harlem! Saturday shopping is the absolute best, so we’d then head to SOHO or an NJ mall for some light shopping. For the next day, I’d set up a visit to a museum—either the MOMA or Brooklyn Museum. Visiting exhibitions on Sundays always puts me in a relaxing and intuitive headspace for the workweek. After that, my friend would have to go along with their merry way because they wore me out [laughs].
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’m a product of my environment. That said, it only feels right to shout out every individual, organization, and institution that I’ve encountered along the way as I reflect on my journey thus far. I lead with a learner’s attitude. You can learn a lot from others, and it’s integral to take in as much context as possible to access your full potentiality.
Most of all, I have to acknowledge my family. My foundation is rooted in family principles, and I would not be where I am today without my family’s story & support. I created The Thom Brand because there was a time when I felt I was losing a sense of self in an attempt to assimilate to practices native to the corporate world that contradicted what I stand for.
Once I was able to clear through the noise and remember my roots, I experienced an indescribable feeling of motivation to prevail upwards and onwards. Every time my team and I have a success, tangible and intangible, I think about my family’s impact. This point naturally brings me to an ideology that I still hold in high regard since I was taught it in primary school by my teacher Mr. Rosenbaum—who took me under his wing early on. The principles of Sankofa are one of those defining lessons I speak of. Sankofa is a Ghanaian word that symbolizes the importance of looking back into roots to receive the full potential to move forward.
I own all photos. Thanks!