Meghan Ely always knew that she wanted to be a wedding industry consultant, so she started her career with an eye toward gaining hands-on experience in the field. She spent six years working at wedding venues, consulting with couples and planning large events. By the time she launched her consulting firm in 2009, Ely had approximately 200 weddings under her belt. “I absolutely loved doing events, but I loved doing public relations more, and I was confident there was a way to combine those two loves,” she says.
That’s not to say that Ely launched in perfect conditions. With the Great Recession hobbling the economy and only $600 set aside, Ely decided it was better to give her all to her own business rather than stay in a job that wasn’t for her. To help support herself as her business launched, she continued to work part-time.
Now Ely runs one of just a dozen boutique public relations firms in the world focusing exclusively on the wedding industry. Ely represents clients all over the world, helping business owners become recognized thought leaders, win major industry awards, book speaking engagements and get media mentions. In one case, she helped a client increase their media appearances by 74 percent and win a coveted Travel Weekly Magellan Award for Agency Innovation.
Since launching, OFD Consulting has tended to double its revenue every few years. For 2018, they have already forecast a 25-percent revenue increase.
Furthermore, in the past year, Ely has expanded her business by launching the OFD Collective, the first wedding PR membership program for small businesses. Members receive ongoing PR education, press leads and opportunities to submit their weddings for media opportunities
Ely sought mentoring from SCORE immediately after launching. SCORE mentor Emmett Richardson helped Ely institute effective HR policies, determine which clients were right for her, and set price points. Richardson also advised Ely as she turned down a tempting investment offer so that she could maintain full control over her business, a decision she calls “one of the biggest things SCORE has helped me with.”
“Emmett is the perfect combination of advisor, sounding board, informal therapist and shoulder to lean on,” says Ely. “Over the last nine years, he's helped me tackle every major challenge that has come my way, seeing me through to the other side.”
Ely continues to meet with Richardson every six weeks or so. Additionally, she now gives back to SCORE by leading workshops on how to be your own publicist.