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Siren PR

PO Box 1298
Royal Oak, MI 48068

Lindsey Walenga on building a client list from scratch

Starting a business is the easy part. Landing its first paying clients, that’s the tricky part.

New businesses gain traction by racking up paying customers, and the first ones are often the hardest. It's also a challenge Lindsey Walenga and Adela Piper excelled at that when they launched their own boutique public relations agency, Siren PR.

"Word of mouth is pretty important," Walenga says. "You need solid relationships so people will go to bat for you. ... Clients need to gain trust in your ability to serve them."

First, Walenga and Piper needed to trust each other. Piper hired Walenga six years ago to work in communications at the Oakland Livingston Human Services Agency, commonly known as OLSHA, in Pontiac.

"We worked there for about four years," Walenga says. "We built the communications division to a level it had never been before."

That's the point they knew they could do something bigger. The partners decided to launch Siren PR. They spoke to their boss and arranged for a three-month transition to smooth out the process for all involved. They also wanted to do more on the external public relations side because working at a non-profit demanded equal amounts of external and internal communications work.

"We really yearned to take on some new challenges," Walenga says.

Often when people leave bigger organizations to start small businesses their former employer turns into their first client. That wasn't the case with Siren PR. Not quite.

The Royal Oak-based agency locked down OLSHA as its second client. Its first was with the Ennis Center for Children (an adoption-oriented non-profit with offices in Pontiac, Flint and Detroit), which turned into a larger trend of attracting clients in the non-profit sector.

What attracted them at first was Siren PR’s organization. The two partners excelled at making sure the details were right and all of the pertinent information was on-hand when pitching a client.

"Having our ducks in a row," Walenga says. "I can't tell you how many compliments we got for our businesses plan and having all of our details in order."

Orderly ducks is the best piece of advice Walenga can give to new entrepreneurs looking to start their own business. It helps build the trust between the client and the company. And more clients beget more clients as people trust the firm more and more. Today Siren PR has a growing roster of clients that include non-profits, startups (Detroit Bikes) and local schools (Pontiac Academy of Excellence).

With that said, Walenga advises patience when trying to land those first clients.

"You won't always get the funding to your dreams right away," Walenga says.

- Written by Jon Zemke

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