Prospering Company: First Media Group

Sometimes, sleepless nights can be a good thing.

Delora Hall Tyler had a few of them in the 1990s, a few years after she founded First Media Group, a full-service advertising, marketing and public relations agency based in Southfield.

Up until then she had made her business work with a small staff and not a lot of overhead. But she had a problem, and it was keeping her up at night.

She had grown this business to the point she couldn’t do it by herself anymore. She would need more infrastructure, more personnel, more services.

In short, Hall Tyler was wide awake with possibilities.

“My anguish was really something positive,” says Hall Tyler, “and that positive was that I was growing my business.”

Today, First Media Group is a thriving, award-winning business that provides media consulting, marketing and public relations services to a diverse set of clients, including the state of Michigan, Oakland County, Michigan Department of Transportation, Detroit Institute of Arts, Center for Empowerment and Economic Development, health providers and private businesses.

Even 19 years later, at the company’s heart is still the tenacity of Hall Tyler, a former marketing whiz who decided to strike out on her own at the height of her career.

“My whole goal has been to set the gold standard for quality, creativity and customer service,” she says. “I can listen to you and can learn from you. I can figure out strategies for you. We create strategies and campaigns that work.”

First Media Group started in Hall Tyler’s home in 1990, after her day job in a marketing position at The Detroit News. “After work I would put my dinner in the oven and get on the computer to work and forget my dinner,” she says.

The burnt dinners were not in vain. Hall Tyler managed to grow her business into a full-service agency within a few years, creating Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson’s “Straight Talk” campaign and other high-profile local campaigns.

“I never doubted that what I was doing was the best thing for me,” she says. “I had ideas and skills and concepts that I knew I could bring to fruition.”

First Media Group has seen a steady client base even amid the recession, a fact she attributes to both quality services and a staff that includes husband Don Tyler, who works in human resources.

“He’s my biggest cheerleader,” she says of her husband. The rest of the staff is made up of professionals who are experts in their fields of video, radio, copywriting, and design. “We have a tremendous staff.”

The company has just opened another location in Atlanta, Ga., and Hall Tyler plans on taking it even further in the next few years.

“In spite of the economy, we’re growing,” she says. However, “I want to manage our growth. I want to grow but not at the expense of quality.”

One way Hall Tyler is learning to do that is through Venture Forward, in which she’s currently enrolled. Venture Forward is a 10-week series of training sessions offered by the Oakland County Business Center. The program helps existing entrepreneurs grow their businesses by developing sound business and action plans. The weekly workshops often include guest speakers, and one-on-one coaching and long-term mentoring from area professionals.

She credits the Venture Forward program with helping her look at her company with a fresh perspective.

“I’m so busy working in the business that I haven’t been working on the business,” she says. “There are still things I need to learn if we’re going to reach the heights that I want us to reach.”

She eventually wants to tap into the green technology boom and continue pursuing an eclectic mix of clientele — one way she will ensure her company is diverse enough to weather future economic storms. “I’m hoping to position us to diversify so that we can continue to grow.”

But none of that will happen at expense of what Hall Tyler says makes her company special: A staff that has integrity and passion for what they do.

“We are in constant pursuit of providing excellent service to our clients,” she says.

And what is the secret that made First Media Group move out of Hall Tyler’s home and onto the big stage?

Hall Tyler pauses for a moment before responding. “There are actually two things,” she says. “I have tremendous faith, and also my sheer tenacity.”

For more information on First Media Group, visit the web site at www.firstmediagroup.net or call (248) 354-8705.