New Publicity Firm ZTPR Seeks to Bridge Canadian and U.S. Markets
One month (and one office fire) in, former celebrity gossip blogger Zack Teperman remains bullish on his firm's opportunities for success in the Great White North: "It's a whole untapped market."
Zack Teperman is young and Canadian—but don’t hold that against him.
In fact, the 26-year-old publicist, who launched his own firm Feb. 1, sees those two traits as assets. “It’s a positive that I’m young and I’m fresh, and I have the energy to work with all these clients and give them the attention they need,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter. “I understand the changing media forms; I grew up with that.”
And the Toronto native is especially bullish on ZTPR’s chances of penetrating the entertainment PR industry via its unique specialty: bridging the Canadian and U.S. markets. “If a celebrity does a suit company [endorsement] in the U.S., they can do a different suit company in Canada, and it’s two different contracts,” Teperman says. “Canada has a whole market that people aren’t really tapped into.”
The reverse works as well. “You can grow an artist in the U.S. and then bring them back to Canada,” adds Teperman, citing client Mark Lash Jewelry as one example. The Canadian jeweler is about to open a third location in Toronto after placements at the Grammys and other awards shows, and on celebrities from Drake and Celine Dion (both Canadian, admittedly) to American stars like Bruno Mars and Nick Cannon.
One month in, Teperman has grown his full-time accounts from around 20 (including Richard Grieco and Star Trek’s Marina Sirtis, who transferred from Lexicon PR, where Teperman was most recently operations manager) to nearly double that figure. Clients include individual talent as well as technology, product lines, corporations, fashion labels and lifestyle brands.
Teperman’s energy and optimism were put to the test less than three weeks into the firm’s existence. Early morning on Feb. 18, a two-alarm fire injured two firefighters and caused $2.5 million in damages to the West Hollywood building in which ZTPR’s offices were held. The fire department is investigating possible arson. The setback didn’t deter the young president, who signed on new office space in mid-Wilshire a week later. The company will officially relocate March 7.
“An office is just a place for people to meet, but it’s a digital age,” Teperman says.
Teperman got his start in radio over a decade ago. At 15, he became the youngest employee ever hired by Canadian sports station The Fan 590, which led to a broadcasting scholarship (at Toronto’s Seneca College) and jobs at Canada’s KiSS FM and Z103.5 as well as Y100 in Miami.
In Miami Teperman met Perez Hilton and was introduced to the world of celebrity gossip. A subsequent assignment took Teperman to Mix100 in the Canadian city of Yellowknife, less than 250 miles from the Arctic Circle. “I got bored, and I started a Canadian celebrity blog like Perez’s,” Teperman says, naming his site after his radio handle, Zack Taylor. (The alias originated when a radio program director noticed Teperman sporting a T-shirt bearing the likeness of the Black Power Ranger, whose alter ego was named Zack Taylor. Ironically, Teperman now represents the actor who played Zack Taylor, Walter Jones.)
Within five years ZackTaylor.ca was generating about a million views a month. After generating some mild notoriety as the “Canadian Perez Hilton” (the site had its own nude athlete photo scandal—of an NHL player, natch), Teperman sold the domain to a company that shut down the site and redirected its traffic.
“Back in the day, PR firms pitched to my blog and I learned from that,” Teperman says. “Now I’m the one who goes to the Perezes or the TMZs and gives them information about my clients. Having been on both sides of that world is what makes me different, and what makes our firm different.”
Teperman says that his celebrity gossip past hasn’t deterred clients. “Back in the day, celebrities loved it because any attention is good attention,” he says, adding that none of his current clients were ever featured on ZackTaylor.ca. “Plus, running an online business has really helped with a lot of our clients, helping to build their websites and get viewers, because I know how to market properly and pull that traffic in.”
Teperman made his transition from radio and blogging in 2009, when he attended the Toronto Film Festival and met Lexicon president Steve Rohr (there with client Martin Sheen), who invited him to come work for him in the United States.
“Everything I’ve done in my life has led to where we are right now,” Teperman says. “The blogging, the radio, talking to media, talking to celebs—those are skills you can’t learn in school. It’s real life experience.”