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Public relations firm relocates to Sussex County

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MSBD Inc. founder Mike Smith

OCEAN VIEW — MSBD Inc., a Washington D.C. public relations and business development firm is relocating to Sussex County, bringing with it a portfolio of clients in the technology and environmental world.

Founded by Mike Smith, MSBD Inc. and its subsidiary GreenSmith Public Affairs LLC has worked with clients like the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays, child online privacy startup PRIVO, and more.

The company is targeted to generate sales leads, raise market visibility and serve as an advocacy arm. The firms also facilitate strategic connections for clients with legislators, as well as venture capitalists and the media.

“It’s much more common these days to see technology and environmental science intersect. Because it’s very data heavy, it’s now leaning toward data science to help understand it, and those companies need people to best tell their stories and help people make sense of it,” Smith said.

In 2019, the assets of GreenSmith PR were acquired by Yes& Agency, a performance-driven marketing agency based in D.C. The deal had a three-year earn-out in which GreenSmith PR transitioned clients, a book of business and various assets to Yes& Agency, and Smith joined as a senior vice president.

GreenSmith PR LLC still exists as a subsidiary of MSBD. Smith left Yes& Agency in September to officially move his firm to Delaware.

A veteran of public relations with 40 years of experience, Smith holds degrees in journalism and integrated marketing communications from Northwestern University and Columbia University. After finding no jobs in journalism after receiving his undergraduate degree, he continued his studies in graduate programs.

Smith was recruited by the Dow Chemical Company, and later went on to work at top three public relations firms: Burson-Marsteller, Edelman PR Worldwide, and HAVAS Public Relations.

MSBD was started 22 years ago when Smith won a contest held by the Greater Reston (Va.) Chamber of Commerce to start a company. After going through the chamber’s incubator, Smith decided to keep the project going.

“Tech firms want the buzz, and environmental companies look for people to share the story. I have to say, I’m addicted to working with startups,” Smith said. “It’s an adrenaline rush. They move fast, they’re innovators working on today’s problems like the climate crisis.”

MSBD also works with startups in identifying and pitching to angel investors and venture capital firms, typically looking for between $1 million and $3 million to launch a product or company to market.

Smith has relocated from northern Virginia to Ocean View because for years he and his family have owned a second home at the Delaware beaches.

“I can work from wherever, so why not the beach? But there’s more business forming here outside tourism and hospitality, because people are looking for the same thing. There’s brain power here,” he said.

The robust media market in southern Delaware also caught his eye. There are three weekly newspapers, two radio stations and four TV news outlets geared to the Delaware beach market, by his estimation.

MSBD had between five to seven employees when based in Washington D.C. The firm is now at two employees, with plans to hire back to its original size.

“I’m working on recruiting from Salisbury University and University of Delaware’s journalism programs,” he said.

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