Donna Loughlin “Powers” is a professional jet-setter-slash-serial-schmoozer and PR industry veteran. Among other things, her monikers include the “PR She Devil” of Silicon Valley and beyond, having ushered in five IPOs and taking hundreds of startups to The Street and Headline News.
It’s not every day that you meet a publicist willing to get photographed decked out in neon hoola hoops with a pink phone in her hand to send the message that she’ll do whatever it takes to get her clients noticed. Or that nothing will stop her from communicating. But to those who know Donna Laughlin (or Donna Powers as her clients call her), it’s just another natural byproduct of this publicist’s extroverted personality and creative brain.
A jet-setter-slash-serial-schmoozer, the industry veteran’s monikers include the “PR She Devil” of Silicon Valley and beyond, having ushered in five IPOs and taking hundreds of startups to The Street and Headline News. Like abs to an Olympian, Donna’s powerhouse tenacity has been honed through experience, sweat and the drive to constantly one-up her competition. This former news reporter has a knack for getting her clients an audience with the world’s movers and shakers. She’s fiercely good. As in, fast-talking, got-her-questions-down-cold-from-her-reporter-days good.
Try combining the energy of Cyndi Lauper with the journalistic sixth sense of Barbara Walters and you’ll get a good idea of what her clients say it’s like to have her on your side.
Donna founded LMGPR, a global public relations and communications firm, in 2002. The firm’s PR programs bolstered brands, catapulted companies to market leadership, secured loyal customer followings and drove revenue for gaming, entertainment, digital music apps and consumer services.
Prior to establishing LMGPR, Donna spent more than 10 years leading creative PR programs for several high-profile consumer and business services and IPOs. Additionally, she held leadership positions with global PR firms Burson-Marsteller and Edelman Public Relations. Earlier in her career, she got her journalism chops in several markets.With a marketing and advertising degree from San Jose State University, Donna also attended UC Berkeley, and in 2009, she was awarded the Stevie Awards PR Leader of the Year for small agencies, while the Silicon Valley Business Journal named her one of the 100 Most Influential Women in Business. She is a member of the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs and Executives and the Entertainment Resources & Marketing Association, and serves on the Public Relations Society of America’s Technology Practice Committee.
“In a word, WOW. She turns things inside out and gives you a new perspective which sets you apart quickly.” –BV Jagadeesh, Serial Entrepreneur
Risk, Challenge, Reward
The year 2002 was when everything changed for Donna Loughlin “Powers.” Or rather, the year Donna decided that everything would change. There were a lot of big PR agencies in the SF bay area that celebrated the .com boom but the market quickly changed. She’d been working as a senior director in the then-suffering Silicon Valley, and six weeks after being lured from one struggling tech company to another, the business she was working for lost its funding. “After receiving a severance check I realized I couldn’t rely on anything but myself and drove to the business license office the same day,” she said.
She made three phone calls on her way home: one to a venture capitalist, one to a market analyst, and one to a news reporter. Within 24 hours, three new projects had been birthed. And LMGPR was born. Six months later, this fearless leader had launched 12 new companies, making larger profits than she ever had in her corporate positions. “I had two successful IPOs during that period but many of my friends went from paper millionaires to unemployed and some homeless,” she recalls. “Risk, challenge and reward became my mantra. I never looked back.”
In 2008, Donna’s PR team launched a consumer tech practice incorporating social gaming, consumer gadgets, mobile apps, internet services and e-commerce. Most recently, the LMGPR added NeonScoop, an agency which services music, entertainment, and celebrity PR; this includes social gaming, book authors, musicians, and digital apps. Today, the company has offices in Silicon Valley and San Francisco, servicing clients all over the world. And they couldn’t be happier.
“Donna is a results-oriented PR professional in a crowded market place where it’s hard to get noticed. She knows how to tell a compelling story and makes headlines quickly.” –Randy Brasche, Global Marketing Strategist
Aside from a little gusto and a lot of hard work, Donna’s family life is a key ingredient her success. Her two adopted children from Russia, now 12 and 13, have grown with the company and help keep things balanced in Donna’s household. And they bring their own talents to the table too, contributing to the agency blog and keeping an eye out for cool consumer gadgets (and potential clients.)
We interviewed this powerhouse to get a closer, more personal look at what makes Donna Loughlin Powers tick.
What makes you different as a publicist?
I think my approach is to be completely fearless and look at a company and its services or products inside and out. I call this Pulse, which is my method of looking at all assets and deciding what helps make a story most relevant. The Right Story + The Right Audience = Real Business Results. It doesn’t make a difference if you are a celebrity, product or service – if you are not relevant, no one cares. My passion is to keep you relevant. Also, I have traveled extensively so I don’t look at anything on the surface. I have a lot of experience and resources to pull from and this allows me to build very personal relationships with my clients. Creativity, tenacity and experience are the three ingredients I attribute my success to. I’ve launched hundreds of companies, led multiple IPOs acquisitions and still get excited about telling yet another story.
What does your average day look like?
There’s no average day. My crayon box is full of colors but I generally start my day at 6 a.m., checking the daily news on Google, WSJ, BBC and Mashable. Then I have a cup of tea, get the kids ready for the day and off we go with our wire fox terrier to school. Then it’s off to the agency to get the team rallied up for the day. We meet twice a day for strategic planning and end-of-day status, which keeps the wheels turning and everyone in check. The first part of the day is a lot of client activity, team collaboration and business development. My day usually ends around 10 p.m., unless I have international calls, which can mean working until 1 a.m. During the week I go to at least one venture capital or marketing networking event, and I use LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to engage with clients, editors and influencers on a daily basis.
I am inspired by my two amazing kids, whom I adopted from Russia 9 years ago. They constantly give me new windows to the world and they have a great appreciation for music, art and laughter. We spend a lot of time reading, listening to music and singing around the house and in the car. My LMGPR team is really family and they inspire me every day giving me new energy and creativity that fuels new ideas daily. I am also inspired by my clients, who are some of the most innovative people in consumer and business technology, music, and entertainment. I’ve had the privilege to work with some of the brightest entrepreneurs and innovators in the US, Canada, Asia, Pacific Rim, Europe, Middle East, South and Latin America.
What are your goals?
Last year I launched NeonScoop, a new PR agency focused on music and entertainment. This year I am launching two radio shows, one focused on technology and lifestyle, and the other on music and entertainment. I am also looking to expand my international network to include PR agencies in Europe, Eastern Europe, Asia and South America. Pushing the envelope to extend the LMGPR and Neon Scoop network is essential for building a global brand. It’s an exciting time to expand and add new talent to my team. I am looking for creative and driven partnerships, clients and team members.