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Elon grad runs top D.C. PR firm

Kirk Monroe, a 1987 Elon grad, says he couldn't believe his eyes when he saw that the company he founded, KM Communications, was ranked one of the top 500 public relations firms in the country and the 12th fastest growing agency by PR Week magazine.

KM Communications is based in Washington, D.C., and specializes in media relations. It posted $300,000 in revenues this year. "We get people, products, services and issues in the news," says Monroe. "Sometimes we even have to try to keep them out of the news."

Monroe accepts the "boutique agency" label some assign his firm. "More than being small, 'boutique' means being focused on our mission and capabilities," he says. "We're not a huge firm that can do everything for everyone, so we tend to specialize."

He hires freelance writers and other outside professionals to help with big events such as a product launch or a press conference. His full-time clients include The Navy League; The John Templeton Foundation, which promotes the study of science and spirituality; the Acupuncture and Oriental Medical Alliance; the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics; and MDLinx, an online doctors group.

Monroe majored in political science at Elon, and he made his way into public relations through politics. His first job was in a Senate office on Capitol Hill. "I've always enjoyed the politics of politics, not really the policy side of it," says Monroe. "It's the media and PR aspects of the campaigns I like."

His big break came when he got a job with Ketchum Public Relations, one of the world's largest PR firms. He says that position gave him the experience and motivation to strike out on his own. He began putting the pieces together to open his own business six years ago. "I bought a FAX machine and a little computer with my savings and worked out of my bedroom for more than a year," he says.

"His first client was Mark Warner, now governor of Virginia. He added a pharmaceutical company, and before long was on his way. A founding member of Elon's Sigma Chi fraternity, Monroe regularly welcomes Elon students as interns. Former intern Devon Ramirez (a 1998 grad) was an account executive at the firm until recently. "We always have a little bit of Elon here," he says.

In the future, Monroe says he hopes to work more with the hospitality and tourism industry. "What keeps me going and so motivated is the sheer joy of doing what I do," he says. "I don't think you can succeed without that."

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