Today I’m talking with Tracy Wemett, Co-Founder & President of BroadPR. Tracy has been in the forefront of the high tech industry for over 20 years. As the President and co-founder of BroadPR, she is the visionary leader that manages an enthusiastic team covering the public relations needs of enterprise, consumer, OEM and channels organizations.
GP – What can you tell me about Broad PR that makes it different from “traditional” large PR firms?
TW - BroadPR has been servicing start-ups, grown-ups and other unique organizations for over a decade. We have focused primarily on high tech and those industries that reach high tech, but what’s most interesting to us is the story. Is it unique and compelling, and is it a story we believe in?
GP - Can you tell me something about the role of the PR agency as you see it at Broad PR, and has this changed in the last few years?
TW - Like other disciplines, public relations has transformed over the last few years. And so has the traditional “PR Agency”. We predicted this when we started our firm back in 2001. Organizations couldn’t maintain the extreme level of spending that was going on, especially to vendors and consultants. The recession was just starting, too, and of course 9/11 happened. It all became a perfect storm of change that has taken almost a decade to come through. What a great time to start a firm! So many talented people were let go from companies that had overspent and underserved their constituencies, their shareholders. And talented marketers and PR professionals wanted more than a paycheck. They wanted to enjoy what they did [again], and they wanted a quality of life that home and remote offices could bring. These changes also affected the overall role of the agency – positively. Over a decade ago we focused on organizations that understood PR could not be done properly in a vacuum. It had to be a part of the overall marketing mix, and now, most agencies realize this – not just the boutique firms like ours. From small to large and even to the individual consultant, public relations has expanded beyond simply writing a press release and sending it over the wire. The public relations professional, agency or otherwise, is an integral part of the marketing team, sometimes even the business team.
GP -What challenges do smaller, growing companies face in “getting the word out”, and what activities do you undertake to help them in these areas?
TW - Good question! Due to the phenomenal growth of social media and well-connected networks, smaller companies have a better chance than previously to get their message “out”. Having said that, they still need to get the right message to the right people. Otherwise, it’s just chatter. It’s landing that cover story on a publication that a million people read, but not a single one of them purchase or influence the purchase of your product or service. For smaller organizations the goals are broader, and the need is more urgent. Often they look to PR to put them “on the map” or jumpstart a funding round or reach that partner that might catapult them into success. But with good PR it’s all about relationships – relationship building, thought leadership and consistent messaging. So start with relationships. The first thing a company can do is tell their story – to themselves. And then to others. We start by understanding the story, evaluating its merit, testing the message and finalizing who would best be able to receive (and spread) it.
GP - Can you talk a bit about where the role of PR fits into the spectrum of lead generation and marketing activities, in general?
TW -Public relations is that awareness piece. Ideally, it puts an organization in front of the right people – influencers, decision makers, purchasers, existing customers and prospects – all through key journalists, bloggers, publications, venues and analysts.
GP – What’s the ”special sauce” that makes you company and its services different?
TW - The special sauce is really that. It’s a sauce that has more than one ingredient. The key to how we’ve been successful and how we help our clients to become successful is working with organizations (and people) we like and believe in – it comes back to the story. Is it a good one, do we buy it and do we want to buy into it? If so, we’re on board, and we give that proverbial 110%. We only take on a handful of clients at once. It keeps us small. And focused. We are literally part of our client’s team, attending weekly (and daily) meetings, answering questions 24/7 and being available for counsel at a moment’s notice. It’s like being an employee but we have the freedom to give candid and third-party advice. I think every team needs that – a mix of internal and external information – so you’re not blindsided by tunnel vision.
GP -What gets you up in the morning? What are the big “meaty” challenges you love to tackle?
TW - Oh!! A fine cup of tea. That gets me up. Oh, since I like it strong, it keeps me up! And what keeps me going are the challenges. Helping to tell a story, a good story, and doing all of the things that make it an even better one. The coolest thing of all is when you get that bit of coverage or that business referral that helped a client go over the top. Seeing them succeed because of something we’ve done. That’s satisfying. Even better is when their success helps others. That goes beyond satisfaction into pure joy. The kind that sticks with you. Like the scent of an ocean or a good book. Yeah, a good book. Which brings us back to the story. If it’s a good one, and we play a part in telling it and having it get told again [and again], that makes it all worthwhile.
GP - Thanks, Tracy!!