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Tipping Point combines media, PR divisions

Rochester Business Journal
July 25, 2014

Combining Tipping Point’s media and public relations divisions is a natural transition, say President Barbara Pierce, left, and CEO Michelle Ashby. (Photo courtesy of Tipping Point Communications)

With a new location and a refreshed companywide focus, a rebranded Tipping Point Communications LLC expects to add two employees and increase revenue by 12 percent this year. The projected growth would build on roughly 25 percent revenue growth companywide in 2013.

The communications firm—formerly divided into Tipping Point Media Inc. and Tipping Point Public Relations LLC—believes the unification of its divisions will boost its growth.

“I think as we’ve grown and clients have come to us, they’re finding that the services that we’re offering—it’s not just an either/or,” said Barbara Pierce, president of Tipping Point Communications.  “It started to be, ‘Well, which is it—PR or Media?’ and now it’s really about both.”

The firm moved last week from 277 Alexander St., its location of six years, to 1349 University Ave. in the Neighborhood of the Arts, scaling up from 3,800 square feet to 5,100.

CEO Michelle Ashby established Tipping Point Media Inc. in 2005 at 860 University Ave. In 2008 the firm relocated to Alexander Street.

The firm’s leadership had an eye on the University Avenue location for more than a year before moving in on July 21. The new site met a need for more space and matched a desire to become a more unified company, which meant housing all employees on the same floor.

The company transitioned to its space with the help of local companies, including ArtisanWorks, which provided artwork throughout the office, aligning the business with the artistic focus of the neighborhood.

“It’s neat for public relations because we were in a bubble in our old space,” Pierce said. “It’s (great) to be totally engaged and totally intertwined with the media team.”

“I think that it’s good for everybody because it enables all of our team to learn from each other and be well-rounded individual contributors to the organization,” she added.

The new space includes updated technology such as sound masking, an electronic whiteboard and multiple flat-panel monitors, and stronger network capabilities.

“All of our networking technology has been upgraded, so for our focus groups, for video conferencing, for anything that we want to do in terms of multimedia, (it) will go much faster and we have a lot more control over it,” said Jeffrey Commaroto, ad operations and IT manager. “The backbone part of it is the last thing a lot of people think about, but it’s actually the most important thing.”

One new employee has been added, bringing the staff to 24.

Roughly 80 percent of the firm’s clients are in Western New York, with 20 percent national and international clients.

Combining both sections of communications is a natural transition.

It makes sense to clients, Ashby said. “They’re wondering why it took us so long.”

Research and data will be a focal point of the firm, as they are becoming a larger part of the media industry, officials said. The company will work with partners to do qualitative research.

“The data side of our business is what’s growing very fast, companies who need to test things,” Ashby said. “So whether it is testing a television ad before it goes on the air or it’s actually testing yogurt, we can do all of that here.”

Without tax incentives the move would not have happened, Ashby said.

In May, the County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency approved tax breaks totaling $12,000. The community benefit was projected at $117,921.

“Barbara and I are native Rochesterians,” Ashby said. “I think everyone is counting on the local entrepreneurs to continue to invest in the community and develop a strong workforce. Without the support of Monroe County and its incentives, none of this would have been possible. They really stepped up and helped us.”

The communications landscape continues to cause companies like Tipping Point Communications to adapt.

With the physical change and the strategic reset, the firm will continue to serve its clients as it always has, Pierce says.

“It used to be defined in almost tactical terms—media and public relations. Now it’s communications,” she said. “I think the name embodies what we have done and what we can do, which is provide communications advice and expertise to anyone in any organization that wants to get exposure.”

7/25/14 (c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

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