Kevin Bourne, Chief Executive Officer of the content marketing and PR firm “Shifter Agency,” started his business with his wife in August 2013. He moved his business from Toronto to Ottawa to help the black community stand out through personal branding so they can utilize their skills and generate income.
Why did you move to Ottawa from Toronto?
The media presence in Toronto is already huge. I think Ottawa has a lot of talent, but since there was no media presence on the same scale as in Toronto, I decided to help individuals and companies brand themselves so they will be known for their skills and services and generate revenue. Ottawa is Canada’s Captial, and it should have a strong media presence, which made me move my business from Toronto to Ottawa.
How do you envision your business in the coming years?
I strongly aim for the presence of my business in different cities like Toronto and LA. So I will first try to spread it Canada-wide; moving forward, I plan to expand it further on the international level. We want our agency to be the major media outlet in Canada.
What services do you offer in general?
Our parent company ‘Shifter Agency’ is a content marketing creative services, so the company owns the media outlet. Our content platform doubles as a marketing platform. We help any individual, company, or brand reach the 18-35 demographic as we excel in that. Once they brand themselves, we help them invest in Ottawa.
Do you also promote other communities?
We focus on content that promotes hip-hop culture as long as it serves 18 to 35 demographic. We have also worked with corporate agencies like Universal Music Canada, CBC Ottawa to do mini-doc series. We help companies brand themselves through content marketing and help them invest in Ottawa. So we are not only limited to ourselves. But we majorly help the black or urban community in Ottawa.
Does your agency take any significant initiatives for Black History Month?
Yes, we acknowledged Martin Luther King’s quotes and promoted them digitally on Instagram. Especially for Black History Month, Invest Ottawa, the city’s economic development corporation, has hired us for article series. We are also trying to get Black Artists to be interviewed for CBC radio as a client.
Since you are tech-savvy and out there digitally, did the pandemic affected your business in any way?
There were a few projects at first, but they ended up getting postponed because companies were not sure if they wanted to invest. But after few months, we generated more revenue during the pandemic. It got interesting, especially in 2020 because of this pandemic, and George Floyd’s story combined with anti-black racism, more and more people wanted to do business with black entrepreneurs. I became more known in Ottawa. A person who media outlet wants to talk to, so May 2020 was great for us as we generated five times more revenue than the year before.
I have heard you also have a coaching program. The idea behind your coaching program?
We have a program called “Brand it to create.” We coach people on how to create their creative passion into income. We find many people who need to be clear on what their brand should be and finally monetize what they do. Our program leverages people who struggle to make income and attract revenue opportunities in respective industries as we have a proven model to generate revenue by coaching our students in what they want to be recognized for without spending a lot.
For example, one of the students in our program excels in web designing. She is only halfway in our program but has already started getting clients. We teach people how to get into the industry without spending a lot. It is me and my wife and three more contributors to this business. I want to see people like us be more successful. As an immigrant, it wasn’t easy, so that is why I run a coaching program.
What makes you different in this industry?
I present myself as an art and culture journalist. Brand and companies do not know how to be relevant to the audience because they don’t know 18 to 35 demographic. Most don’t know how to talk to people of color, so we excel in that. What makes us different is that we understand diversity and a young audience. We work with everyone at the corporate level, but blacks find it easy to connect with us.
We help to position you as a brand. We craft it, and we create the narrative as to how you will appear in front of the crowd, what you want to be known for so you will start getting noticed and attract the right opportunities. I position myself so that opportunity comes to me instead of me calling them or sending cold emails.
Since you acknowledge the young audiences, what message do you want to spread out for them?
I could bring Toronto’s big vision and the energy here, and I believe that the vision attracts people. I partnered with TV and radio stations. My picture with Kevin Hart got popularity and people started noticing me, but I first realized my self-worth. I have been on call with Kevin Hart and the fast and furious team from my kitchen table, which is possible. So it is crucial to have a vision and dream then, once you put the work in, there is nothing impossible.
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Author: Sarah Syed, Content Writer, Toronto, Canada. If you have stories to share kindly email: – [email protected]