Small Girls’ PR Rules: Their Story Comes First

And that's cool with their clients

“Right off the bat, we knew that a huge portion of this was going to be about the two of us,” said Ms. Caampued, referring to the Small Girls enterprise as a whole.

It started three years ago, when Ms. Caampued first met Ms. Blair at her 21st birthday party. The two hit it off, dancing until long after everyone else had quit. Later, Ms. Caampued randomly discovered a picture of Ms. Blair—who had a small degree of celebrity thanks to on-screen gigs at Paper TV and mtvU—on her then-boyfriend’s Tumblr feed, and she decided to track her down.

They wanted to work together, but aside from a promotional YouTube video for Ms. Caampued’s employer, Cure Thrift Shop, they couldn’t figure out how else they might leverage their chemistry into something more salable. One night at about 3 a.m.,

Ms. Blair emailed her new girl-crush with the subject line “We are so dumb,” and the body, “Why don’t we start a PR company together?” Ms. Caampued wrote back: “LOL. I’m down. Small girls, big business.” And so, the company’s name and motto were hammered out before Day One—brand preceding business.

Ms. Caampued, who attended LIM in Midtown, worked in advertising for Lucky Magazine and did PR for Cure Thrift Shop. She brought the only concrete PR experience the company had to its 2010 launch.

The closest Ms. Blair had come was an internship, while she attended NYU, at WHY-Q, a Soho-based brand consulting firm with a roster of major brands as clients (starting with the As: Apple, Adidas, American Express, AT&T).

“She’s always been a great self-promoter,” said Teddy Liouliakis, a principal at the firm who speaks fondly of Ms. Blair and affectionately calls her “Big Mouth.” “That’s why PR is her calling­—because she’s doing promotion for her clients now.”

Even with a handful of blue-chip clients, the agency’s youth comes through in a variety of ways. Blogging on the company Tumblr about their launch of Mr. Poole’s DrawQuest app, the Girls tout that they managed to pull off a “widespread” press embargo—a non-event of the highest order, akin to BP announcing when it has not spilled oil.
And while it isn’t exactly compelling blog content (the post only got seven notes), it is telling about the Small Girls approach to PR.

To them, this habitual information dump is a natural element of their business. “I’ll make a blog post about the reasons I wore this outfit [just like] we’ll make a blog post about the reasons why we decided to promote a company a certain way, you know?” said Ms. Caampued. Ms. Blair sees it as being true to their message: “If we’re telling our clients, ‘Create your brand voice and amplify it and live in that space,’ then we have to do that ourselves, too.”

According to their clients, it can work. “They’re great, and their enthusiasm is infectious,” says Natalie Ebel, marketing manager at Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. “They just go a great job of drawing a crowd in and giving everything a personal voice.”

Not everyone in the industry sees it that way. “Some of the best PR is stuff that doesn’t get written about,” says Steve Barrett, editor in chief of PRWeek. Mr. Barrett acknowledged that social media has changed what is expected of PR professionals, but said, “you don’t want the PR people becoming the story.”

Let us not speculate on why E! News’s Michael Yo was reading a listicle written by Julia Allison on Nerve.com called “The Ten Sexiest Web Geeks,” but according to the Small Girls, that is how he came to be in touch with them about making a reality show.

It started as a docu-series about the Small Girls office and morphed into something akin to The Simple Life meets Nick Kroll’s sketch PubLIZity. In Blair’s words, the concept was: “Let’s send you to, like, middle of nowhere America and have you flip over brands overnight. And it’s gonna be a new brand each episode.” Perhaps a farmer might need a better social media strat, for example.

The deal ultimately fell through, but Ms. Blair said they have been approached several different times with various reality concepts. “I don’t know if this happens to everyone or what the deal is, but I guess Bianca and I are in that age-appropriate demo,” she said. Both now agree that a show would only be viable if it didn’t interfere with expanding their business, but that wasn’t the case just 18 months ago when they were first approached by Yo. “A year and a halfago, that would have been on the top of our list,” said Ms. Caampued.

And so the brand, which preceded the business, must finally submit to it. For the time being, anyway.