Daniel Dickey, owner of The Resource Guild, shares insight on starting a business and the importance of branding.
When did you realize that you wanted a career in media relations and branding?
I realized I wanted to work in this industry during my undergraduate years at Barber Scotia College. I was majoring in Business Administration and minoring in marketing but the Mass Communications majors would always want me to be a part of their work projects and I thought to myself, ‘These guys are obviously making some cool things happen and they are getting grades for it using me, I should investigate.’ I went and met with the division chair and he told me about the uniqueness of our program being that it wasn’t theory based so we actually got real world experience in TV Production, Radio Production, Journalism and Public Relations. That summer, I took an internship at WWAY TV3 [local ABC affiliate] and came back that Fall and changed my major to Mass Communications with a minor in Marketing.
What were some of your early experiences in media relations?
I remember my very first media placement, it was during my undergraduate years. I went to college on vocal scholarship and sang on a nationally touring choir. We were getting ready to head out on our tour and I sent a press release to the Charlotte Observer and they actually sent a reporter to our school and did a feature on our choir. The president of my school, our choir director and my fellow choir members were so excited. I really enjoyed knowing I made that happen, that’s when the media relations bug officially bit me.
How has media relations changed since your first years in the business?
Media relations has changed a ton since my college years, press releases were so formal in their context then. You had to mail them and fax them and hope on a wing and a prayer it made it to the editor/journalist you were trying to reach. Now, you can email media professionals a less formal media alert, blurb on the campaign and sometimes even a “Media Invite” with far less background information or all the way at the bottom of the barrel, or tag them in your social media post.
When did you decide to venture out and start your own company?
I worked with the amazing PR powerhouse Nicole Garner as the Executive Vice President of her agency, The Garner Circle for several years and got to the point where I felt stifled creatively and professionally by being called a publicist. I handled so many more aspects of brand development and realized how so many small businesses were making critical decisions (oftentimes erroneously) in the life of their business well before they could even think to afford PR. These decisions were the types of decisions that can make a publicity person’s job harder. For instance, in a press release near the end, there is a standard ‘For more information visit…’ If the journalist is intrigued by the newsworthy elements in the press release and decide to investigate the company further, they click on the link and go to a terribly unprofessional website, they immediately question the validity of this business and the campaign. A publicist is not able to provide the client with the exposure they otherwise would have if the client’s brand was clicking on all cylinders, website, social media and all other digital and physical assets. With that in mind, I decided to innovate the space by opening a solution based, 360 degree brand management & strategy consulting agency called The Resource Guild. We advise our clients on almost ALL aspects of how they do business as a one stop shop, their public relations, branding, advertising, consumer engagement, celebrity procurement, sponsorship procurement, content development, hr and legal aspects.
What were some of the initial hurdles as a new business owner?
In my new role as a brand strategist, no longer are media placements at the top of mind. With so much of my experience being in publicity, my clients aren’t used to being asked some of the questions or hearing some of my prescriptions we have for their brand outside of that lens. For instance, if the business owner has a receptionist who has a terrible attitude or dresses too provocatively for the nature of their business, that is a problem a brand manager should address. Why? Because if that is the first person consumers, media professionals and potential collaborative partners see when they enter your business and that person comes across as any of those things, that could be the singular reason why a purchase isn’t made, a write-up doesn’t happen or a sponsorship check isn’t written. You only have one chance to make a first impression personally as well as professionally.
What advice do you give to aspiring business owners?
Anything you aren’t equipped to do for your business, have the wherewithal to hire/consult with someone who can help those things along. You have to look at your brand like a band and realize you can’t play every instrument. So we will put the business owner on the piano, in order to make beautiful music and have a complete sound as a band…they will need a talented drummer, a talented lead guitar player, a talented bass guitarist and if you’re really trying to shut it down, you will need a horn section as well ie: The Roots. So if you’re reluctant or too prideful to bring in those other talented musicians and the gig was for a complete band, guess who loses … that business!