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How an external agency can really shine and pay exponential dividends for the thriving small to medium entity

24/7 is composed of an energetic, creative and aggressive team of communication professionals that prides ourselves in the ability to raise our client's exposure and effectiveness in the marketplace. Our team is seasoned in marketing, public relations, and management with backgrounds that are diverse from Fortune 100 corporations to startup companies domestically and internationally. 24/7 believes in partnering with our clients. This means that in addition to providing an external resource and service to your company, we also act to augment your staff and internal processes. We consider ourselves a part of the internal team and work with you for seamless interactions. 

In the following interview, Jimme' Peters of 24/7 Consulting discusses 1:1 with San Madan, on how an external agency can really shine and pay exponential dividends for the thriving small to medium entity.

San Madan: Tell us about your business and the work you do. What exactly do you do on a daily basis?

Jimme' Peters:  Every day is dynamic and unpredictable in the PR business, even more so when technology is involved. Typically, there is a combination of conference calls with media, analysts and clients. The list ends here when talking about a daily routine.  

Market surveys, editorial calendars, creating speaking opportunity abstracts, award submissions, drafting/editing of press releases, strategic planning, customer reference interviews for case studies, story pitches, partner relations, crafting blog topics, executive speaker training, developing executive commentary quotes, product reviews and testing, that would be a good cross section of activities that may be on my list each day.  Add in road tours, client brainstorming sessions, trade shows, and administrative tasks.  To say that my job is never boring would be a serious understatement!

San Madan: What are some favorite projects you've completed and why?

Jimme' Peters: As an entrepreneur at heart, I always love seeing the small company thrive.  So, I would have to say that my favorite projects have been acquisitions of small clients into large enterprises. The little company getting a big endorsement from a blue chip corporation that raves about their offerings.  

Another area that I am particularly fond of is working on large technology vendor partnership announcements.  Traversing the internal departments--Corporate Communications, Product Marketing, and Legal all have differing requirements that must be checked off. Crafting content with the right terminology for everyone can be a major time consumption with endless edits. Articulating verbiage so that all executives and stakeholders feel recognized is crucial to a successful announcement.  Once the final approval is obtained, it is a very gratifying process to look back upon.  
IPO road shows and flawless product reviews would also be high on the favorites list.

About Jimme’ Peters

Jimme’ Peters started her public relations career with Oscar Mayer in the mid-80's promoting their community and charity events. She then transferred over to hospitality and travel/tourism on the Oregon Coast. She also worked with sportswear companies in golf related activities. After completing her mission in consumer public relations, Jimme' transitioned into technology and found the fast pace to be her sweet spot. After living in Asia while working on a contract with Samsung, Ms. Peters moved back to the US to work for a technology agency.  After earning her stripes, she began her own agency, 24/7 Consulting in 1995.

Working with clients domestically and internationally, Jimme' has successfully developed large and small corporate product marketing strategies and public relations campaigns for high tech companies. In addition, Ms. Peters is a strong problem solver with a crisis management and damage control background that allows her to defuse difficult situations. She prides herself on creativity and development of unique marketing ideas to differentiate her clients from the competition. From hardware to software, Jimme’ has developed strong relationships with analysts, trades, verticals, and business press along the way and continues to nurture her network as she constantly leverages opportunities for her clientele. Ms. Peters has BS degrees in marketing and management from the University of Oregon and Portland State University, an MBA from Ellis College at NYIT, and post graduate work in international marketing and organizational development and leadership.
San Madan: What are some of the challenges you have faced in your line of work? What core-competencies have benefited you the most?

Jimme' Peters:  Most corporations are very tight-lipped about their technology strategies, products used, and certainly any issues that have arisen such as website outages, customer data breaches, or litigation. Along with this secrecy, it can be challenging as a technology vendor for these corporations. Everyone always wants to share their successes with the media and the names of their customers to build credibility with sales prospects.  

Finding the internal champion at the corporate customer, making this person comfortable while sharing sensitive information, and taking their input while giving final authority has allowed us to garner media attention with big name case studies. Understanding the legal department's concerns, managing the approval process, and lots of patience has given us win-win scenarios many times over the years with Fortune 100 names that have skyrocketed exposure for our small enterprise clients.  It only takes one major financial institution, big retail brand, insurance company, or healthcare provider to make a small company's products appear like a big player that deserves consideration in the next report or short list of vendors.

This protective nature of customer names can also be limiting with analysts as well.  It is a catch-22 - vendors have to have won big clients to attract big clients and be perceived as leaders and visionaries in a competitive market.  By having long term, straightforward conversations with influential analysts, we can share our client's successes/ references in confidence without publicly disclosing their names. The 24/7 team is a trusted source. The company/ product receives the recognition it deserves (without breaching any confidentiality), which translates into sales revenue. 

Reaching out personally, building trust, removing guesswork and uncertainty, and writing the desired content for the customer to approve are competencies that have been fruitful for our clients over the years.

San Madan: When does external PR versus internal PR work better? How can external and internal PR work together effectively?

Jimme' Peters:  Unfortunately, internal PR teams are perceived as biased by the media and analyst community, especially regarding product and service capabilities. Thus, internal PR gets discounted or ignored.  

External PR brings long term relationships, objective perspective, and solid counsel.  But, external PR is another line item in the budget.  The combined internal and external teams are the ideal approach to maximize the strengths and opportunities of the company to give a balanced view to the targeted audience.

In crisis communications and M&A situations, external PR is most effective as the media spokesperson to keep the message tight and consistent.

San Madan: What are some of the benefits small and medium businesses can get from external PR?

Jimme' Peters: Most often, small and medium sized companies do not have copious staff resources and wear many hats as a result.  Being spread too thin is not conducive to promotion and marketing strategy as it requires daily management and creativity.  General marketing staff cannot keep up with all the various mediums, frequent editorial beat changes, short deadlines, and stories that pop up randomly.

An external agency provides media relationships, strategic counsel, candid feedback, prior expertise with similar client issues, and most importantly focus to maximize opportunities and garner available exposure. This is where an external agency can really shine and pay exponential dividends for the thriving small to medium entity.  

San Madan:
 How does a company handle a mistake that will be seen publicly? And are crisis communications best handled by external PR?

Jimme' Peters: Unfortunately, mistakes are made in business, often unintentionally.  My motto is to personally reach out and respond to the situation quickly, take responsibility for the error, apologize sincerely without making excuses, and then state the corrective action to rectify the injured parties. Whether a product issue, partnership snafu, patent misunderstanding, or financial reporting oversight, it is human nature to respond positively when the company is being proactive and accountable. Litigation is often not necessary when the parties are dealing directly and honestly together to resolve the problem.   

During a crisis, the best advice usually comes from an outside expert that has encountered similar situations previously.  An outside agency is not emotionally tied to the crisis and therefore can guide the proper course without the personal influence that the executive team most likely feels.  The agency can offer solid experience to navigate around the hurdles with diplomacy. 
San Madan: Does the rapid social media growth further strengthen the role of external PR in providing effective results? 

Jimme' Peters:  Yes.  Social media adds multiple platforms to reach the target audience.  The immediate nature of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, et al allows PR to launch campaigns rapidly with prompt feedback on overall effectiveness.  This also gives opportunity to tweak messages as needed on the fly without having to wait for the next news cycle or published report.
 
A launch used to be multiple weeks long, now it can be just a few days on a plethora of different media outlets--television, radio, print, blogs, newsletters, online publications, etc.  The news cycle is now 'round the clock.
San Madan: What contributions do you feel your work offers to society as a whole?

Jimme' Peters: Over the years, the media and analysts have come to value 24/7's contacts as we always give the straight scoop and offer an alternative angle to the usual story pitches.  The readers and viewers benefit from candor and unique perspective. We see these relationships as an exchange opportunity--the media needs content and expert commentary while our clients desire awareness and recognition of their offerings.  

Our team has vast experience in marketing and public relations, many of us in excess of twenty years. We feel it is our duty to share our various skill sets and knowledge through internships with the next generation of practitioners whom are finishing the last year of their college coursework.  It has been an ongoing agency program that we offer with local universities. We love giving back to our community.  
Pro bono counsel is also integral to our agency, volunteerism is near and dear to the 24/7 team. Non-profits never have enough resources and fundraising is always challenging, especially in a tough economy.  So, we proudly assist in crafting messages and connecting them to news outlets that will draw attention to these well-deserving causes.
Company: 24/7 Consulting

Head Office Address: 2630 N Hayden Island Drive, Suite 15, Portland, OR 97217
Founded in: 1995
CEO: Jimme' Peters
Public or Private: Private
Investors: Private
Number of Employees: The company has ongoing, specialized contract talent of between 30-36 strong teammates
Products and Services: Public relations services, marketing communications services, social media services
Company’s Goals: We want to help our clients succeed in a positive light with superior integrity. This means creating compelling and innovative story lines that propel our clients awareness and progress to achieve their corporate goals.

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