By Merging with BrandStar in Broward County, Gables-Based Kreps PR Gains Access to A Whole New World
It’s not that the PR firm Kreps DeMaria, the partnership between Israel Kreps and Sissy DeMaria, did not function on multiple platforms. In the course of their decades of promoting their clients, they pushed into both print and digital, with a healthy serving of social media and, pre-Covid, live events. About the only area where they were not strong was in the world of broadcast and cable television.
That was one of the elements which intrigued partner Kreps, who began discussions last year with Mark Alfieri, the CEO of BrandStar, after meeting him on a regional Zoom conference. Alfieri was looking for a strong public relations and communications component to round out his media company, which was big in TV production.
“Mark came back with an offer. It was not of interest to Sissy, but it was to me,” says Kreps. “So, we agreed that Kreps DeMaria would be spun off into two companies.” DeMaria formed Cultivate PR, with offices in the Gables, New York and Los Angeles, with an emphasis on digital approaches to publicity, corporate communications and crisis management. Kreps briefly continued as Kreps PR& Marketing before announcing last month its merger with BrandStar.
Launched in 2005 in Pompano Beach, BrandStar began with educational TV programming and evolved into what Alfieri calls “a content exchange program.” With 250 employees today, the company is into television, digital and social media platforms, but is best known for a half dozen national TV programs that include “The Balancing Act,” “Designing Spaces” and “Military Makeovers” (with Montell Williams), all on the Lifetime cable channel. Other programs are on Bloomberg and Fox, and the company recently signed a deal for the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” franchise. “I call them branded education,” says Alfieri.
In the last five years, BrandStar has expanded horizontally. “We have bolted on everything you would find in a full-service advertising or marketing company,” says Alfieri, including social media, ad space purchasing, SEO capabilities, creative production services for commercials and so on. The only thing absent was a good public relations arm. “PR ties in nice and neat toTV shows,” says Alfieri. “Kreps had such a stellar reputation in Miami, and we wanted to get more involved in the bilingual community and the Latin market. Israel was a perfect fit.”
Like DeMaria, Kreps has kept his own clients after the split, including companies such as EWM Realty (now BHHS/ EWM), Intercontinental Hotels Group, Amerant Bank and the MDM group, which owns the Marriott hotels in Miami-Dade County.
Now, he says, he will be able to offer the additional service of television production. “To me the appeal is having a PR firm that is able to produce compelling, quality content [and] BrandStar has all of the facilities and capabilities to create a live TV show… it’s actually branded content,” says Kreps. “Let’s say an existing client wants a three- to five-minute piece on ‘Designing Spaces.’ That is [already] a national and regional platform, and then you own it… you can slice and dice it on social media or any other way you want.”
Meanwhile, says Kreps, “We are going to become BrandStar’s portal into Miami-Dade. They are recognized on a national scale, but not on a local scale. So now we can help remedy that.”