Pop Quiz, Monday with Erik Bigalk

Erik Bigalk

The Pop Quiz, Monday is a fun little exam that we love to give to savvy business owners. The examination is not a surprise after all since the interviewee already knew about the questions in advance. However, we can always pretend and have fun with the scenario of a young entrepreneur sitting in class nervously biting on their pencil. They are ready to take a pop quiz on a chapter that they were supposed to read the night before. Instead, they played Metroid all night on their SNES (Oops, this was me in high school). The real purpose of the pop quiz is that this is a fun way to introduce business tips from real-world experiences that you can not learn in a classroom. We want to thank our entrepreneur for being a good sport and volunteering their time to answer a few questions to help our community grow from their knowledge.

I want to introduce you to our guest today who will be taking our Pop Quiz Monday.

Can you please tell everyone your name?
Erik Bigalk

What is your job role?
Founder/ CEO of Smart-Solutions Creative Marketing and Public Relations

I’m a business solution and a serial entrepreneur. I specialise in branding, design, creative marketing and of course media and public relations. As a public relations expert, I lead a team to write compelling content and implement strategies to grow brands for businesses. I also manage the accounts for various clients and across different fields. I design and head client-specific campaigns and implements business-building strategies. More importantly, I build mutually beneficial relationships. This task is accomplished through reporting back to clients and building trust.

Tell us about your company?
Smart-Solutions Creative Marketing and Public Relations are celebrating its 10th year in March 2019. The business first launched in Byron Bay while changing its headquarters to Melbourne in 2016. The company has worked and collaborated with leading brands and diverse industries across Australia and beyond to bring innovation and creativity to the public relation industry. The company has worked arduously to achieve substantial client outcomes and audience reach.

We are a multiple award-winning public relations firm and have received prestigious titles such as the Best PR and Marketing Firm for Victoria for 2019 as part of the Australian Enterprise Award and the winner of The RICOH Small Business Award last year. Smart-Solutions PR was equally shortlisted as a finalist for the Optus My Business of the Year Award in 2018, and I was nominated for the Telstra Business Award this year.

What do you love most about your job?
The public relations industry is about achieving results and outcomes for clients. I love to create unique brand communication/development strategies that target the clients individual business needs. It gives me great joy to see clients and their business succeed in their respective field and that they have come out on top in the competitive market.

As a business growth and marketing consultant, speaker, widely published writer and global networker I have affected countless entrepreneurs, start-ups, SME’s and business operators supporting them with the expansion and growth of their business based on my depth of experience, innovative approach, and tailored solutions.

What motivates you to get up every day and go to work?
The industry of public relations is continuously evolving. There is always something to be done whether it be content writing, speaking directly with clients, planning meetings or preparing for the next public speaking event. I appreciate the fact that my role is non-stagnant and that my duties allow for flexibility. My role as the CEO of Smart-Solutions means that I oversee the global activities of the business. Daily, I need to reassess the areas that need my assistance. It is quite rewarding, and I love working closely with my team.

How do your co-workers inspire you?
I have a professional and dedicated team comprising of promising leaders in the public relations industry, marketing, creative and technology. It is good to know that we mutually support one another to get the job done. The public relations industry is about building strong relationships with clients. I find it as essential to being able to rely on strong team players. Communication is key, and I believe that effective communication is the most important in any business. My team inspires me to improve and develop a greater team and work environment, as well as communication strategies, technologies and likewise I learn a lot from them – it really is a beautiful and fruitful collaboration.

How do you have fun at work (team building, pranks, etc..)?
Again, Smart-Solutions believes in effective communication. Communication can also be non-verbal. The company found beneficial ways to improve the team’s communication skills while building healthy working patterns and relationships. Our favorite team building activities are charades and playing word-association games. In our field, it is important to be quick and to be able to think on our feet. We nurture a relaxed and flexible work environment with a dynamic and professional work ethic, this means being social, having fun, getting out of the office and taking chill-breaks, sharing of meals, and laughter are as important as strategy meetings, deadlines.

This works both ways… my team set me up with a call back to a supposed media outlet and gave me the number of the local nail polish parlour – the call was filled with the funniest mis-communications until the prank became obvious! Haha! Good on them…

What are some of the challenges of your job?
With many new clients joining Smart-Solutions in 2019, it is a challenge to respond to every potential clients’ request. Public Relations industry is a diverse and changing industry, and modern businesses are wanting to access these type of services. The industry will keep you on your toes and continuously responding to pr enquiries, media pitches and finding creative angles.

What are some lessons learned from a past project that you can share with us?
There have definitely been some learning curves along the way. It has been about personal development and knowing what I could achieve. The business grew rapidly, and I found myself taking on so many new clients. Management of my time became crucial as I had to allocate and distribute my efforts evenly. Trust is a big one, both with team members and clients, but also in myself and trust to make the right decisions in and on the business as well as about campaigns and critical stakeholder.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting in your industry?
My advice for anyone starting in the Industry is to build your contact list and ensure to have a strong network in the media and publication industry because they will be your good friends at the end of the day and for a long time to come. Broadening your experience is the best way to lay a strong foundation and finding opportunities to learn from the best is key in this. I did this when I started 20 years ago, and it is what we offer to up-and-coming professionals and interns we host here.

Thank you for taking our pop quiz today. You get an A+ for effort. You can learn more about our interviewee and their business by visiting them on the web:


Author: Ricky Singh, MBA

Editor of The Startup Growth.

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