Meet Laura Murray, a classical ballet dancer turned communications entrepreneur
Recognizing the need for a marketing agency dedicated exclusively to the arts and culture sector, Laura Murray launched Laura Murray Public Relations in 2011. As the principal of what is now known as Murray Paterson Marketing Group (MPMG), Laura has built a company founded on the passion, creativity, and integrity that define the artistic process. A classical ballet dancer and journalist by training, she brings the strength and discipline of dance to her leadership with the insight and exactitude of reporting to her work. Now six-years-old, the agency has grown from a two-person operation to a 15-person company that has earned numerous accolades for its innovative, full-service marketing and communications. Most recently, Laura was recognized as a 2016 Business in Vancouver ‘Forty Under 40’ winner, acknowledging the city’s most successful entrepreneurs under the age of 40 and the ones to watch.
My first job ever was… A very brief stint at Dairy Queen.
I decided to be an entrepreneur because… Truthfully, I never set out to be an entrepreneur. I wanted to wake up every day and do meaningful work that I was extremely passionate about, which meant circling back to my first love: the arts. Following my gut and heart, I started my own full-service marketing company – at the time of launch, it was called Laura Murray Public Relations – dedicated exclusively to servicing the arts & creative industries.
Transitioning from the arts to the business world was… Exciting, nerve-wracking, and challenging, but also filled with endless opportunities. Walking away from a career in dance was a difficult decision, given this had been my dream from the time I was six years old; I definitely mourned the loss of my former life when transitioning from the studio into an office environment. But I still carry a piece of the studio with me, and attribute much of my professional success to the drive, discipline, and persistence ingrained in me as a dancer.
My proudest accomplishment is… Being selected as one of Business In Vancouver’s 2016 ‘Forty Under 40’ winners. It was a tremendous honour and incredible validation of the countless hours, the sleepless nights, and the tremendous emotional & physical investment made as an entrepreneur. Being recognized by BIV for work I feel privileged and grateful to do every day meant everything. I’m still pinching myself!
My boldest move to date was… Taking the risk to launch my company, with no business degree or formal education, while remaining steadfast in my vision to work exclusively within the arts (despite the critics).
I surprise people when I tell them… My business partner, Brian Paterson, is also one of my best friends. We couldn’t be more different – he’s the yin to my yang – but I believe our complementary partnership and distinct roles are what has made MPMG so special. We recognize each other’s strengths and weaknesses, respectfully challenge one another, and collaboratively develop big, audacious goals.
My best advice to people starting out in business is… Love what you do. You are going to eat, sleep, and breathe your business 24/7; it will become your greatest obsession, your biggest stress, and your most fulfilling joy. Beyond that, draft a solid business plan, hire an excellent accountant, persist in the face of adversity, prepare to hustle, trust your gut, ask for help, and dream big.
My best advice from a mentor was… “Go for it. What do you have to lose?” Growth is only possible when you’re prepared to take risks and make real change. If something scares you, chances are it’s worth doing.
“Growth is only possible when you’re prepared to take risks and make real change.”
My biggest setback was… To be honest, I don’t believe in setbacks. A willingness to try and fail is the cornerstone of innovation, creativity, and success. Every challenge I have faced throughout this entrepreneurial journey has been an invaluable learning experience and ultimately helped me grow stronger and even more determined.
Work/Life Balance is… I’m still trying to figure that out! It truly is a balancing act, and as a result, it is never static. Setting clear boundaries and priorities while also remaining adaptable is a constant exercise in discernment.
If you Googled me, you still wouldn’t know… Fun fact: my father, Hugh Murray, was Senior Vice President and Executive Producer at IMAX before entering retirement last year. He was a pioneer in 3D film technology, working on films such as Avatar and Harry Potter, as well as many of the films screened on the OMNIMAX at Science World.
I stay inspired by… The people in my life. My husband and family always inspire me, as do the dedicated, driven, insanely talented dream team at MPMG. I also draw inspiration from the artists whose visions we have the privilege of promoting across Canada.
The future excites me because… It’s full of endless possibilities. I believe that your dreams are only limited by your imagination and work ethic. In many ways, I feel like I’m just getting started.
My next step is… Discovering the answer to that is the fun part! In the not-too-distant future, I would love to create a foundation that focuses on supporting the needs of start-up artists and arts organizations. Creating an opportunity for burgeoning artists to excel is one way for me to give back to the community that has been instrumental to my success.