South Florida Business Journal: Tadd Schwartz on how ‘Jerry Maguire’ inspired him to start his own firm

Tadd Schwartz

When Tadd Schwartz started in public relations with Miami icon Phyllis Apple, social media didn’t exist, pitches were sent by fax, and there was no coddling for the new guy.

“It was sink or swim,” he recalled.

He sunk at first, getting fired his first month on the job. But Schwartz went back the next day to finish out the week, during which he managed to land his first front-page story – about Manny Medina and the Grover Hotel – in the business section of the Miami Herald.

“She hired me back,” he said.

By 2005, Schwartz had started his own media relations company and, in 15 years, Miami-based Schwartz Media Strategies assembled a client list that included some of the most influential businesses and organizations in Florida.

The native Miamian says he accomplished this by staying true to a few rules: Don’t take on too many clients, and only represent clients with a presence in Florida that he believes in.

“We don’t want to represent 10 developers,” he said. “We want to represent the top two or three of the best ones. That’s … how we built up our client base.”

The following Q&A has been edited for clarity and brevity.

What has changed the most in Miami since you were a kid? It was a small town. Today, the Miami brand is known all over the world. It is like saying you are from … New York or L.A. Miami is one of the Top 5 cities in the world. When I was a kid, Miami wasn’t even in the Top 50.

What do you miss about the Miami of your childhood? Being able to walk around without being connected. It was nice not having a phone. Miami was just a small town and just an easy place to grow up. Today you have a lot of traffic and all the stuff that people complain about. But it is the yin and the yang. If you want to be a big city, you got to have a lot of people, you got a lot of traffic, you got to be connected and have the technology. You [basically] got to grow up. You got to adapt.

Do you have a personal philosophy? It’s very simple: Just be yourself. Everyone in life tries to impress other people and be something that they are not. If you just be yourself, you’ll go a lot further. That relates to our business. There is not one client we have – not one law firm, not one bank, not one real estate company, not one tech company – where we don’t like the people. We respect them and they respect us for who we are. I am not a corporate suit. I am me.

Click here to continue reading the South Florida Business Journal’s Q&A with Tadd