When Elisabeth Newberry Galligan was a student at Rhode Island College, she flirted with the notion of becoming a teacher but once she discovered public relations, that was it.
She was hooked.
“I always thought I could go back, get my master’s degree and become a teacher,” she said. “But once I found PR, I fell in love with it. I found PR in my second semester as a freshman.”
Not only is she in PR, she is a business owner. She founded and operates her own successful public relations and marketing agency in East Providence, Newberry Public Relations and Marketing Inc., which she said handles on average about 20 to 25 active clients. “I enjoy being the business owner,” she said. “I love the reward of growing something, but more so I notice that it helps me bond better with my clients.”
On weekend nights, she plays keyboard and belts out songs with a rock ‘n’ roll band, Full Circle, at local nightclubs. “I’m a PR executive by day and a rock diva at night,” she said with a chuckle. “I need to sing. It’s stress relief.”
A woman of many talents, Galligan was born and raised in Pawtucket, graduating from Rhode Island College in 1986 with a double major in theater and communications. She worked at various public relations agencies in Boston and Providence and, from 1997 to 2001,and was managing director of the Rhode Island International Film Festival based in Providence.
At the same time, in 1997, she opened Newberry.
She began, as many startups do, working out of her home. She recalls business meetings at her kitchen table and film-festival interns stationed in her living room. “I’m pretty disciplined about working at home. I was very busy from the get-go, so it was really not a problem,” she said. “What was the problem was the blending of the home with the business. … I never shut the door [on clients].”
In 2001, she moved her business to an office she rents on Pawtucket Avenue. She currently employs three people, but has had as many as five employees, and she usually hires an intern or two each semester. “I was an intern. I really feel it’s great to give back and mentor students.”
Among her clients are: FM Global based in Johnston, one of the largest commercial insurance companies in the nation; psychiatrist Scott Haltzman, of Barrington, and her very first client who remains with her today, the American Canadian Caribbean Cruise Line Inc., which recently changed its name to Blount Small Ship Adventures, based in Warren.
Consider the work Galligan’s agency did for client Linda Couture, a Barrington woman who created a line of gourmet sauces, Serving Spoon, manufactured and packaged in Johnston and soon to be sold in local supermarkets such as Dave’s Marketplace. At first, the sauces were bottled in old-fashioned jars, such as those used for jam, with blue and reddish lettering on generally nondescript labels.
After buying up all the barbecue sauce for sale at Dave’s, Galligan and her staff literally recreated in the agency office a supermarket shelf of the products and spent a few days analyzing the competition that Serving Spoon bottles face as customers survey all the choices. The result included sleek new bottles, tall and slim, with fresh-looking labels adorned with what Galligan said were actual photos of spices contained in the sauce, rather than drawings. •