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Erin Brosterhous has been working in outdoor media for a long time. As the co-founder of Inside Out Communications, a PR firm in Colorado, she has spent years developing communications strategy for brands like The North Face, Mystery Ranch, and Wigwam. Along with Inside Out co-founder Paige Boucher, she’s known as one of the most plugged-in PR pros working in outdoor media, with relationships that span the industry.
This week, OBJ chatted with Brosterhous to ask about about her reasons for pursuing a new venture and what she hopes to bring to the digital marketing space through Blue Fire.
First of all, what was your reason for creating this company? Why leave Inside Out?
The decision was the result of a lot of reflection. Last year was very intense for everyone, and like many others, I did a lot of soul searching. We both did—myself and Paige [Boucher], my co-founder at Inside Out.
At the beginning of the pandemic, we lost a big client, and we started thinking about how to approach business development. I kept coming back to one nagging idea: I thought we needed to evolve more into the digital space. That would have involved a big rebrand for Inside Out, and that’s just not something Paige needed or wanted to do. Paige has had a long, star-studded career as a PR professional and she’s not in a place where she needs to make a major change.
I, on the other hand, was in a place where a change made sense. For a while, I’ve felt a pull toward more digital strategy work, which is not something Inside Out specialized in. So after a lot of thinking, Paige and I concluded that it seemed like the perfect time to explore my interests by starting a venture of my own.
What does Blue Fire offer to clients?
We’re a full-service, integrated marketing agency, which I think a lot of companies are looking for now. We can handle brand and content strategy communications, creative, search engine optimization, search engine marketing, pay-per-click marketing, retargeting, and more.
How will Blue Fire differ from Inside Out?
Inside Out was branded as an outdoor PR agency, whereas Blue Fire won’t be branded specifically as “outdoor.” That’s very much on purpose. I didn’t want to pigeonhole us into that one category, because when you work in this field, you always end up taking on work from companies you didn’t expect. At Inside Out, for instance, even though we were an outdoor PR firm, we ended up doing work for medical companies, nonprofits, resorts, folks like that. Officially, our target clientele at Blue Fire will be “active lifestyle brands and community-centered organizations.”
Another big difference is that Blue Fire is made up of freelancers who form a community that can collaborate on various projects. The company is really is a reflection of the modern day economy. There are a ton of freelancers living all over the place now. On one hand, that allows people to live with more flexibility and freedom, but on the other, sometimes that distance means you lose a sense of community. Blue Fire is a way to get around that. We’re marketing ourselves as a collective of individual freelancers. Blue Fire will provide clients with a unified content strategy, but that will be implemented by a team of people all over the country. What’s powerful about the collective is, everyone in it comes with a deep level of expertise. They’ve worked for Smartwool, Hydro Flask, VF, and lots of other big companies.
That structure also provides another benefit: We serve as a resource for all the people in the collective to grow their own careers. We can help each other out internally that way.
So your employees are spread all over the country?
Yes, although the company is based in Steamboat and many of us are here. When Smartwool relocated from Steamboat to Denver [in 2020], a lot of talented people were left behind because they didn’t want to move. I saw an opportunity there, and we now employee several marketing professionals who used to be with Smartwool. We also have folks in Oregon, one person outside of D.C., and some people in Denver. We’re always open to adding more talent. I don’t really see a cap on how large the collective could grow.
What clients have you landed so far?
I brought some clients over with me from Inside Out. Currently we work with Mystery Ranch, a startup called EyKuver, and a restaurant group in Colorado—Rex’s Family of Restaurants.
Finally, let’s talk about the name. Why Blue Fire?
Fire is an important element for human beings, and in the outdoor space it’s a place to congregate, to gather. I think we all have some degree of mesmerization with fire. More specifically, I’ve always been fascinated by blue fire—the hottest part of the flame. I wanted a name that was simple and memorable, but not a made-up word. I think Blue Fire puts a clear image in people’s minds.