Making an ...

The Sun-Sentinel takes a closer look at Stu Opperman & Impact Players

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 Stu Opperman: making an impact on his own terms

Stu Opperman founded Hollywood-based Impact Players public relations firm in 2009


Stu Opperman founded Impact Players in 2009 and now represents a variety of businesses, including those  in the mixed martial arts (MMA). (Photo by Jim Rassol)


Details: Stu Opperman/Impact Players: 954-815-2303; web:; Facebook: ImpactPlayers; and Twitter: @StuOpperman

By Cindy Kent, Sun Sentinel

Having the voice and resources of an entire company behind you is important in any field, including public relations.

Indeed, leaving a senior position at an established PR agency means leaving a certain comfort zone, says Stu Opperman, founder of Impact Players, the Hollywood-based public relations firm.

When it’s time to strike out on your own as an individual, small business owner, it’s more about doing things your own way and building your brand, he says. So, Opperman created strategies for a successful start.

He parlayed his decades of South Florida connections into a launching pad. Opperman drummed up new business.

Then, in 2009, he launched his firm with his first client, syndicated radio’s “Paul & Young Ron Show.” He took on other project work and added the Andy Roddick Foundation as another early client.

Opperman specializes in media relations, on traditional platforms and through social media; crisis communications and creating or enhancing audiences, content and relationships.

The drill-down:

You left a senior position at an established agency where others would cherish steady work. Looking back, would you have made a different decision? No. While direct deposit twice a month provided a comfortable existence, it didn’t quiet the nagging feeling that I could create something special for myself and my family. It was the right time, even given the state of the economy, to put my efforts into building a business that would provide long-term security.

What are the challenges of being a one-man PR firm? Finding the time to do everything you need to do and want to accomplish. I’m in charge of communications strategy, implementation, client relations, business development, accounting, IT, brand enhancement and everything else that goes into running a small business.

Did you ever feel like the rouge underdog? I’m fortunate to be in business at a time where technology levels the playing field and clients now understand that quality work and results don’t have to come from a large firm with a fancy downtown office. It’s an advantage (and selling point) that my client’s retainer dollars go toward the pursuit of the results they want and not the overhead I’ve taken on.

You’re one guy, how do you provide services for large-scale projects or a multitude of clients? I’ve established a senior-level network that can provide services valued by my clients that I can’t do on a professional level (graphic arts, web development). They are independent practitioners or agencies that I trust, and we share in each other’s success. Sometimes it’s me bringing them in to help with client work and other times I’m the recipient of their assignments.

If it isn’t broadcast on social networks — it isn’t real, it didn’t happen. What’s your take on that? Social media and networks are marvelous tools, but they are just pieces of the communications puzzle. Our job in public relations is to reach targeted audiences in whatever ways are most likely to accomplish goals and objectives. It doesn’t replace face-to-face meetings, handwritten notes or phone calls. Every audience is different, and one tactic doesn’t fit all.

What should small businesses consider before hiring a PR person? Understand the money spent must be accompanied by a level of commitment to seeing the process through. Whatever dollars a business feels it can spend in the pursuit of these goals should be focused and allocated consistently.

What keeps you up at night? The fear that the quest to provide my family a great future could take away from the present we already have.

What clients should know about PR:

  • Hire advocates you like, respect and are comfortable with having represent your organization
  • Share your knowledge; be open to new ideas, criticism
  • Participate in, but don’t try to micromanage, the public relations effort
  • Demand a crisis communications strategy, whether you believe you need it or not

What PR pros should know:

  • Stay hungry, keep learning, ask questions
  • If your writing isn’t significantly above average, improve it
  • Challenge yourself by stepping out of your comfort zone on a regular basis
  • Connect and be a connector
  • Don’t limit opportunities by pigeonholing yourself into one specific niche or 954-356-4662; @mindingyourbiz


“You can’t drive forward looking in the rear-view mirror.”

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It was easy to miss Jerry Ross at the Public Relations Society of America’s International Conference in Orlando.  The session he spoke at was on the last day of the event, at a time when many attendees were more focused on checking out of their hotels and making travel connections.  The executive director of the Disney Entrepreneur Center spoke to no more than 60 people in a breakout session at the end of a long corridor far from where the keynote speeches were heard.

But, in many ways, Ross’ message was the most important delivered at the event.  He didn’t speak about how to measure social media campaigns or engage Gen Y, but about entrepreneurial thinking, the business behind the craft.  His message was that there is opportunity even in the most chaotic of economies, and it was there for those who could harness their internal fire, fuel, and focus.  Ross encouraged those in the room to macro manage their careers and stop micro-managing the daily tasks on to-do lists.  “Don’t confuse activity with accomplishment.”

While it is easy for employees to wrap themselves in the blanket of direct deposit and feel secure, Ross said it is the entrepreneurs who will succeed in the “innovation economy.”  They are the ones who will have clearly identified their unique competitive advantage and found their niche, not as order-takers who can complete assignments but as business owners who know their customers pain and how to relieve it.

Lessons Learned from Andre Agassi

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Back in Andre Agassi’s acid-washed-jean-shorts-and-tights-wearing days, he was identified with the tagline, “Image is Everything.” It was the centerpiece of ads he did for Canon and no doubt helped sell cameras, in part because it embodied what we thought was cool at the time. Whether it was an athlete, a product, or company, the early ’90s were all about convincing audiences that how you were perceived (brash, edgy, glamourous) was all that mattered. Style trumped substance.

Agassi ultimately regretted being the billboard for narcissism (and is now, credit to him, known for helping educate children), and there is a lesson that all business people can take away in the post-mullet era. Especially in the service industries, it’s reputation, not image, that’s everything.

No one wants the sizzle without the steak. What your potential clients/customers really want is to hear good things about your work or product from people they trust, whether that be word-of-mouth or through any of the social media/networks where like-minded people gather. While they still have to buy (into) what you are selling, the difference between getting the assignment or not may very well come down to what that third party says.

How comfortable are you that your reputation works for, not against, you?

Are They too Big to Care?

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I fired my bank recently.

I share this not to brag or shame them publicly (although if that happens, so be it) but as a reminder that all businesses have an obligation to satisfy the customers that support them.  Long after I’ve forgotten the details of mistakes that were made, I’ll remember how I was treated, and how little urgency there was to correct situations they created.  Each issue that arose, and there were a number of them, was met with comments like, “It’s an automated system; we have no control over it” and “It will be 7-10 business days for us to get that resolved.”

I realize I’m a proverbial drop in the bucket to them and that me taking my business somewhere else will not even register on their radar. But I also know that I can’t treat my clients the way I was treated without consequences and that customer service and human decency still count for something.

So, while they weren’t particularly inclined to take action and correct a bad situation, I was.