Scott Johnson, principal, Rock Creek Strategic Marketing
Steve Radick, lead associate, Booz Allen Hamilton
David Almacy, senior vice president, digital public affairs, Edelman
Dominic Campbell (chair)
First up, Scott. They do strategy driven design and he started the company with his wife. One of the things that has helped them is that branding is now so important for many organiations and people. We have learnt to re-invent ourselves over and over again. There are a lot of opportunities in DC that aren’t to do with Federal government. There are 8,000 associations for instance in the area. Their interest in starting the company was having a job and being around for a long time. They’ve find their outlet through being interested in things outside their direct revenue. We’ve done very well, he says, without an earth shattering idea. He doesn’t want people to think that you have to have a break-through idea or being innovative is necessary to work in DC.
Steve from Booz Allen Hamilton, now up.
We’re focussed on government work, with a few non-profit exceptions. We’re 23,000 employees across the US and some internationally. We do contracting work and consulting work, he says.
His team is focused on the internet and how we use it to communicate something. He’s noticed that there are a lot more shorter and smaller types of contracting, such as task-orders. Take a look at IDIQs, for example (a type of contracting for government).
David from Edelman, now up. The DC office is their third largest office. Their still independently (family) owned. They focus primarily in DC on public affairs. He thinks he’s a rare bird as he was born and raised in DC (which is an interesting observation in it’s own right and shows the potential opportunities for individuals from outside the Beltway within the US as well as further abroad). Government and campaigning is so different when doing communications work, but also the legislation around both (not dissimilar to the UK).
Some of the hoops you have to jump through if you want to work on government work:
- Resource – you can’t just ask people to continue to do work, just because they were doing it before, they have to bid for work like everyone else, even if they are familiar with the work.
- Procurement and bidding exercises can sometimes seem quite complicated
- Contracts are shorter and more project based
Now in Q & A
Scott – DC in itself has structural imbalanced – many are government buildings aren’t taxed, and so therefore the buildings that aren’t government owned share a higher burden of tax and services aren’t often as strong. Being next to a Metro really helps.
Therefore, we’re the first building in Maryland, by a Metro.
Top tip: find out who has the contracts and then who is therefore looking for businesses to help with their IDIQs completion.
For an entrepreneur in a small business you really need to be networking says Steve, as our companies are often very large, so you have to break through long term supplier relationships, this is particularly the case where with innovative companies where they really can add to the work being done. Some of the large companies are trying to break this problem with new business outfits. David states that Edelman has one of these. Pursue these companies and getting on their schedules by partnering with companies that are already on the schedules (ie. they are already a preferred supplier).
So where do you network?
There is an event in DC every night. Check out Facebook, try to find out who the connectors are.
Interesting to note that breakfast meet-ups aren’t popular due to the traffic.
There also a lot of people who have virtual presences too, for example the Social Media Club.
Scott says that finding talent keeps him up at night. Finding and recruiting in DC can be a challenge – so look at this as an opportunity.
Network, network, network. And when you do give people good ideas. Good ideas and smart people, says Scott. Tweeting too, works really well. Connect to people via Twitter, say hello.