25 years in the Biz of Buzz
By Risë Birnbaum
Ok, so I wasn’t 18 in 1989 when I co-founded Zynyx which morphed into zcomm, but I was still fairly young. Fresh from local and network news, I was able to take my skills and put them to use for clients who needed a viable story angle, a great headline and the cover of Forbes Magazine. With a talented staff we managed to make that happen, and 25 years later, we are still doing it, though these days it might be Forbes online or the right blog posts.
You might wonder where the Z comes from. It’s the first letter in my maiden name – ZYWOTOW (zih-wah-toe) a Russian name that put us last in the phone book in Teaneck, New Jersey where I grew up and the victim of countless crank calls. I always thought Z was a strong letter (loved Zorro and his way of branding) so opted to use it in business.
My sister, Cori, also in PR, named her Miami agency SAMCOR to help memorialize our dad.
My daughter, Jeni, was all of three years old when I got my first business Amex in ‘89, “When Harry Met Sally” was in the movies, Barbie turned 30, Billy Joel was belting out “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” unleaded gas wasn’t much more than a buck a gallon and George Bush, Sr. became Prez.
I worked hard for supportive clients, also published Amtrak’s magazine, traveled for biz and fun, wrote and pitched two screenplays, played USTA tennis and watched my daughter grow, go off to college, work in the TV and movie biz in LA and come back East to work for zcomm. My sister sold SAMCOR and now helms H&K Miami. Must be something in the blood. Ok, maybe not our mother, who vows to toss my iPhone into the river (a possibility from her terrace overlooking the Hudson).
What’s different now? Viewing habits, attention spans, digital devices, mobile, citizen journalists, product integration and the packaging of content to match all formats. In short, a lot. It’s a challenge to stay on top of all that’s new, but we keep our antennae up, and monitor for how audiences are consuming content to cover all bases.
These last 25 years have passed in a flash. I thank everyone who’s played any role in our success…from staff and clients to partners and vendors. They’re the ones who have helped put Z on the map, and without whom there would be no buzz.