Brian Tierney, CEO of Philadelphia Media Holdings, was the guest speaker for LeBow College of Business’ A View from the Top series on November 13. Tierney gave alumni, students and faculty a view into how he became a public relations and advertising mogul and shared his insights on publishing.
After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in political science, Tierney started his career in Washington, D.C. working for the Reagan Administration. “I moved to D.C. and held a public relations position without even knowing how to write a press release.”
So I went to the library and grabbed a book on how to write press releases, said Tierney
While still working for the Reagan administration, Tierney returned to the Philadelphia area to work with the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Public Affairs office. He also began taking classes at night to earn his law degree from Widener University.
With his combined legal and public relations knowledge, Tierney eventually went on to start one of Philadelphia’s most successful advertising and PR firms - Tierney and Partners, which later evolved into Tierney Communications. His agencies set the standard for advertising and public relations excellence in the Greater Philadelphia marketplace, attracting many national accounts.
Tierney cited “Working your tail off, being cost efficient, and having tight fiscal controls” as the keys to success.
In 2006, after leaving the agency business behind, Tierney assembled a group of investors and formed Philadelphia Media Holdings which then purchased the Philadelphia Inquirer and The Daily News.
“It was a large media company, the audience was big and it was an important asset to the community,” Tierney said in explaining his decision to purchase the newspapers. “We knew it was a fixer-upper but we were optimistic about its potential.”
Tierney describes his experience as publisher being “fun, challenging and exciting” and believes the Inquirer is a superior paper because its staff strives to find stories that add value — not just help sell copies. “Our quality of journalism is higher since we select the best stories from a pool of the 435 journalists [the paper] employs,” said Tierney.
Tierney says the main key to his success is to “Surround yourself with talented people.”