Downtown small biz sector gets boost from Camelot


BY John Bayles

As the role of small businesses has changed, so has the marketing behind them. Rarely have small businesses been able to afford to hire their own public relations firm, instead having to bank on word of mouth and a dedicated customer base.

Christina Cozzi, founder and president of Camelot Communications, is well on her way to changing that, at least when it comes to Lower Manhattan.

“One of the things I like about Downtown is you can walk into a business and talk to the owner,” said Cozzi.

The young entrepreneur identifies with her clients, many of who are also young, either in age or in terms of their business’ existence. And she knows regardless of the economic environment, small businesses will not disappear.

“As [President] Obama said, small business is the instrument of change,” Cozzi noted.

Cozzi paid her dues, moving up the ranks in numerous public relations firms prior to starting her own. She noticed in late 2008 and early 2009 that many large corporations were cutting or pulling altogether their communications budgets and she began working on smaller, independent projects in her free time.

Many of her current clients have come from face-to-face interaction, such as KK Salon on Maiden Lane.

“I just went to get my hair cut at a local salon,” Cozzi said. “Everyone I represent, I’ve visited and patronized.”

Cozzi said what sets herself apart from a larger public relations or marketing firm is being able to relate to the needs of her clients.

“I’m not running out of the office, turning off my computer at 5 p.m. and telling them I’ll call them in the morning,” she said.

In late October, Cozzi hosted an event for all of her clients, which she called “Fall in Love with the New Downtown.” Staying true to her entrepreneurial roots, the proceeds went to the Hive at 55, which itself is a turnkey office space for small start-up businesses.

“I wanted to have all the clients in one venue — a family tree type of thing,” said Cozzi. “A lot of the people had never had public relations before. They either couldn’t afford it or didn’t know what it would actually bring.”

Cozzi said word spread quickly about the event and she decided to open it up to other downtown businesses so even more networking could occur.

Cozzi created over 100 gift bags, raffled off items from participating businesses including LightAir, August Black Interior Design, We’re Worth It and the Bluebell Café, and put her clients “in front of all of the Financial District residents” in one fell swoop. She said the night proved to be a bigger success than she or her clients could have ever imagined.

Camelot Communications is planning a similar event for the holiday season.

“Their success is my success,” said Cozzi.