23

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
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….). I digress. 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, took us to court demanding restitution (we won). Thankfully, I 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, Peppercomm’s Val). And my superb partners took it from there. Fast-forward to today and tomorrow. Peppercomm’s success has always been furled 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 anticipates relevant industry and societal crises as they initially bubble up (Think: NAFT, separating children from their illegal immigrant parents, mass shootings and trade 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. #Woof