It’s hard to believe that Peppercomm began its improbable rise to fame and fortune 23 years ago today.
I say improbable because there was no reason to expect success. After all, why would yet another start-up in the highly competitive PR firmament succeed?
The answer? Our name.
I decided to name the firm in honor of my late black lab, Pepper.
The name turned out to be a godsend.
It was at that precise moment in time the dotcom boom was in overdrive. Venture capitalists were pouring billions of dollars into dotcoms with any semblance of a business plan (as well as many that did not).
The phone began ringing off the hook. Why? Because dotcoms mistakenly thought Peppercom (there was only one M in those days) was a dotcom specialist. We weren’t.
But we hired tech PR specialists faster than you can say IPO and, by 1998, O’Dwyer’s had TWICE named us the fastest growing PR firm in the country (which isn’t that impressive when one considers we started with no billings whatsoever. But, still….).
Our firm shot through the PR firmament like Halley’s Comet. And then, just as suddenly as it had all started, the dotcom bubble burst.
One $35,000 per month dotcom client after another either declared bankruptcy, stopped all work or, in the case of a true dotcom wanna-be called iFrame, took us to court demanding a refund (we won).
Thankfully, we had managed to attract, and win, blue chip clients such as Steelcase and GE (the latter courtesy of The 10 Company’s Valerie Di Maria. Thanks for your Peppercomm service, Val).
And my superb partners took it from there.
Fast-forward to today and tomorrow.
Peppercomm’s success has always been fueled by innovative products and services (some of which exceeded beyond my wildest dreams while others withered and died on the vine).
We’ll be building on a 23-year record of innovation by introducing a first-of-its-kind “societal crisis” offering next week.
Called StandSmart (sm), the service will provide CCOs, CMOs, CHROs, CEOs and boards of directors with:
– A predictive, data analytics tool that helps our clients anticipate relevant industry and societal crises as they initially bubble up (Think: NRA, NFL or NAFTA; Internet privacy, phishing and prevarication; trade and Twitter wars to name just a few).
– An overlay to any organization’s existing crisis response/management plan that leverages the company’s higher purpose to respond quickly and accurately to any news, false or otherwise. Google’s response to last week’s POTUS attack is a superb example.
– Sitting down with the client and her team to identify each, and every, issue that is relevant to the organization and preparing responses in advance, and in cooperation with the in-house general counsel and CEO.
StandSmart is the logical next step for an iconoclastic agency named in honor of an iconoclastic canine.
Here’s to the next 23 years.
I second the comments above by Joan. Best two years of my working life were at Peppercom, 1999 to 2001. A great workplace environment. Congrats to Steve, Ed, and everyone else. Looking forward to a BIG celebration when you hit 25 years (right before the November 2020 election!). Hoping we can get a bunch of old Peppercom alumni there. – CPO Kasko
I’m not an industry insider but as I think about your success I think it’s due in large part to the fact you treat people well, creating a great place to work, authenticity valuing women, having vision and purpose, being willing to take risks, and working hard yourself. Congrats on the first 23, best wishes for the next many!