Profile: Jennifer Maloney Adab, founder and CEO, Brix Media

Entrepreneur helps lead sector into age of social media

Jennifer Maloney Adab | Chung Chow

Jennifer Maloney Adab is pretty much an unstoppable force when it comes to launching a new business concept. At last count, the serial entrepreneur had founded three separate companies. Maloney Adab was eight months pregnant with her son when she launched her most recent venture, Brix Media Co.

Brix started as one of the first marketing companies in Canada with a central focus on social responsibility, combining traditional industry practices with modern ideas and techniques.

Maloney Adab launched Brix to augment long-standing public relations techniques, which she said were losing their effectiveness. The traditional pillars of the industry were no longer enough on their own. She saw an opportunity in the mass adoption of social media.

Rather than throwing out the baby with the bathwater by rejecting accepted public relations business models, Maloney Adab, 37, decided to build on traditional principles through influencer marketing.

The Brix team promotes clients by connecting them with “influencers” – individuals, often bloggers, who have a large social media following.

This technique opens up a large potential online audience for marketing campaigns.

Through trial and error, Maloney Adab’s firm has developed techniques that allow brands and influencers to work together for their mutual benefit.

For example, Brix works with influencers to create sponsored content that prominently features the brand being promoted.

Working with socially responsible companies is also a Brix priority.

“We work with a lot of companies that we categorize as socially innovative,” Maloney Adab said.

“They are leaders and pioneers in their industries. They are looking to do things differently to provide value for people or the planet.”

Maloney Adab started Brix Media Co. with the goal of making public relations services more accessible to small-business owners like her.

She used her own experience to help shape her understanding of what business owners need – and hopes to provide them with entrepreneurial resources that she never had access to.

Fighting a time crunch imposed by her pregnancy, Maloney Adab had to work quickly to establish Brix Media Co. as a brand and a business.

Maloney Adab said it was difficult preparing to be both a mother and a business leader, but persistence and family support helped her to achieve her professional and personal goals.

“Where you put your will is where you will achieve.”

Trained as a journalist at Langara College, Maloney Adab has had experience on both sides of a media interview. That has provided her with insight into the needs of journalists and how to navigate the media landscape.

Leaving journalism was a difficult decision for Maloney Adab.

After spending two years working as a reporter for various press outlets, including the North Shore News, Maloney Adab needed a change. 

A career in public relations was something she had never considered. Having spent much of her time as a journalist working with public relations managers to arrange and conduct interviews, Maloney Adab was unsure how she would fare on the other side of the process.

“At the time it was a really hard decision,” she said. “I always heard from colleagues that I was going over to the dark side.”

After interviewing for her first public relations job at 1-800-Got-Junk, Maloney Adab realized that she was a natural fit.

So when a colleague provided an opportunity for her to expand on her experience, working with a variety of companies and consulting in a more strategic and creative role, she jumped at the chance.

When she was 27, Maloney Adab was one of the founding members of Spark Publicity. The company, which would later become Talk Shop Media, was her first foray into helping lead an agency.

She would go on to launch two public relations firms of her own.

Working in public relations helped provide Maloney Adab with important communication, marketing, human resources and management skills that are fundamental to running a business effectively.

“When you’re in PR, you look at all the stakeholders and how decisions affect other people – that’s certainly something that gets exercised being an entrepreneur as well,” she said. “People often say to be a successful entrepreneur, you must love being your own boss. But my response is I often feel like I have 10 bosses – they’re my clients or my staff.”

During her time at Spark Publicity, Maloney Adab found that her best work came from projects and companies whose values were in sync with hers. And while the idea of working with a variety of different companies was part of what had driven her to join Spark, venturing out on her own was an opportunity too enticing to pass up.

She wanted to work on what she was most interested in, and she was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug.

“I never thought about being an entrepreneur,” she said. “The idea of cherry-picking my clientele and working with brands that align with my own personal vision appealed to me, and I just felt that was my calling at the time.”

She left Spark to launch Sip Publicity to more closely align her work with her values. Sip stood for sustainability, integrity and philanthropy, and, according to Maloney Adab, it was the public relations firm in the city that focused on a triple-bottom-line strategy that placed social and environmental outcomes on an equal footing with profits.

Sip Publicity later merged to become Yulu PR, and Maloney Adab left to start her next adventure and help change what she saw as a lack of innovation in the industry.

Maloney Adab said the future for her business lies in micro-niche influencers who have fewer than 10,000 social media followers. This group, she said, is underused and offers the potential for successful word-of-mouth campaigns.

Timeline: Jennifer Maloney Adab

March 2004
North Shore News reporter

May 2004
Graduates from Langara College journalism program

September 2004
Senior reporter for Black Press

December 2006
PR manager, 1-800-Got-Junk

March 2008
Founding member of Spark Publicity

January 2010
Founds Sip Publicity 

December 2012
Sip Publicity merges to become Yulu PR

November 2014
Wins Notable Award for best in PR and communications in Western Canada

July 2015
Founds Brix Media Co.

August 2015
Gives birth to son