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Weekend edition April 08, 2022 | Kailyn Lamb

Heather Ripley shares how her willingness to take risks helped found her business

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the final article in our series on women-led public relations firms in the Knoxville area.)

By Kailyn Lamb, Marketing Content Writer and Editor, PYA

It was in Sarasota, FL that Heather Ripley, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Ripley PR, was first bit by the entrepreneurial bug. At the time she was working for Clockwork Home Services, the parent company of Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning, and Mister Sparky. Ripley said she fed off the company’s entrepreneurial spirit.

In 2009, she left Clockwork and joined an advertising agency. Here, she began to plan the idea of returning to Maryville to start her own firm. Ripley PR was later founded in 2013.

“When I started Ripley PR, I had zero clients and no outside business capital,” Ripley said. “I just wanted to create an elite PR agency that worked with clients worldwide by providing them with the highest quality work.”

She added that it wasn’t until she learned more about running a profitable business from Clockwork and in other advertising agencies that she thought it was something she could do herself. “When I started Ripley PR in 2013, I was willing to build on my knowledge of the industry and strong business acumen to put in the hard work to succeed,” she said. Ripley added that her skills as a problem solver and someone willing to take risks have also helped move her business forward.

Ripley PR has a focus in numerous industries, including construction, automotive and boating parts manufacturing, and home services as well as others. Ripley said the firm has been recognized as the number one public relations firm in the home services space. For the last four years, Entrepreneur Magazine has named Ripley PR a “Top Franchise PR Agency,” and Forbes listed the firm in its “America’s Best PR Agencies” list for 2021. The firm also serves clients worldwide. Last year, World’s Leaders named Ripley PR one of the fastest-growing marketing firms. Read more in this article.

Ripley said the firm’s success is driven by her and her team’s dedication to their clients and building a “solid reputation built on results.”

The firm is positioned to be the number one agency for many of the industries it serves, Ripley said. Her focus is to expand on that and help Ripley PR provide “unchallenged promotion and advocacy” for its clients.

Because Ripley PR works in many fields that are considered male-dominated spaces, the firm often goes head-to-head with other firms led by men, Ripley said. However, she never lets it stop her from continuing to work in those spaces and putting in bids for clients. She hopes that her work as a top agency in male-dominated spaces can be a model for young women, showing them they can do whatever they put their mind to.

“Women shouldn’t be afraid to step up to the plate and take risks,” Ripley said. “In the past and even somewhat today, we don’t teach our young girls to take risks. I want to show them that stepping up to challenges is not unfeminine and there are rewards to overcoming obstacles.”

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