The onset of a global pandemic is not what most entrepreneurs would consider prime time for starting a new business — but Otter PR co-founders Scott Bartnick and Dr. Jay Feldman are not your typical entrepreneurs. Bartnick studied as an engineer while Dr. Feldman attended medical school; neither had a background in public relations.
Despite obstacles, the longtime friends and business partners started their PR firm in the midst of the Covid pandemic. Over the next three years, the pair built Otter PR into an award-winning, million-dollar firm that currently ranks No. 1 globally on Clutch, G2, and Upcity, turning an unprecedented and unpredictable time into a significant opportunity.
From a living room to a multi-city empire
The idea and initial foundational plans for Otter PR were born in Bartnick’s apartment living room right before the world went into lockdown in 2020. While neither Bartnick nor Dr. Feldman could predict the global upheaval of the next two years, they had a clear vision of what they hoped to create while sitting in that apartment. What they ended up developing exceeded their initial expectations — which were admittedly low.
“In all honesty, there were no expectations,” explains Bartnick. “I went into entrepreneurship for independence and freedom, but Jay and I believed we could make an impact in the public relations space. For my part, I was wanting to build a business I could be proud of.”
Bartnick and Dr. Feldman took their plan, still in its infancy, and dared to dream a “big, hairy, audacious goal” of becoming the best PR firm in the country. Today, Otter PR has offices in both Orlando and St. Petersburg, Florida, and employs over 50 people with over 300 years of combined PR experience. Recently, Otter PR moved into a brand new 8,000-square-foot space in downtown St. Petersburg, a move that has signaled ongoing growth for the company.
Throughout the past several years as businesses were handing out layoffs and shuttering, Otter PR was growing by leaps and bounds, solidifying itself as a force to be reckoned with in the PR world. Their team of PR specialists, writers, and account strategists have built and maintained effective and creative campaigns for their clients, garnering them ongoing praise and a fiercely loyal customer base.
“We saw an opportunity in a space where we felt no one was innovating,” says Bartnick. “There was a lot of distrust in the industry with people misrepresenting themselves and we saw an opportunity to make a difference.”
The future of PR
The contemporary PR landscape has been shaped largely by the global adoption of social media for news and information, as well as social shifts regarding what news people want to watch, hear, read, watch, and — ultimately — care about. The future of PR will likely follow this trend as online interactions gain in both significance and gravity.
In the PR field, a layered approach for clients is often required in order to garner the best results. Further advancements in digital tools like AI will continue to signal massive shifts in trends and industry practices for those in PR, and figuring out how to grow alongside these ever-evolving technologies will serve as a make-or-break moment for many firms in the space.
Otter PR is ready to meet the moment. Having already exceeded all expectations for their venture, both Bartnick and Dr. Feldman are optimistic about the future of PR and their company’s role in it.
The two co-founders are aware of where the media landscape is headed, with viewership and listening shifting to streaming platforms like Spotify and YouTube. For this reason, the pair not only draws the attention of larger publications for their clients — such as Forbes or Entrepreneur — but curates a collection of media options that speak to the unique characteristics of each client. For example, the pair recently sought out and garnered placement for a client on Netflix.
“I think this is where a lot of agencies are going to die, and we are going to have a big advantage,” says Bartnick. “Knowing that we can overcome challenges and build something bigger than we ever imagined has laid the foundation for Otter PR’s promising future as a leader in the PR industry.”
Indeed, Otter PR’s future has an eye focused on transparency and a commitment to growth. The company reinvests all of its capital back into its team to continue building upon its strong reputation — one that is well-earned. As Otter PR continues to top “Best Of” lists and collect awards, its focus on growth and reputation seems to be paying off. “We invest a lot in our team and we understand that we are only growing because of what an amazing job everyone is doing,” says Bartnick.
The future of PR is multifaceted, tech-heavy, and innovation-focused. Bartnick, Dr. Feldman, and their team at Otter PR are the face of the industry’s future, plugged into the rapidly-changing tech landscape and ready to get their clients trending where it matters most.