Arleigh Vasconcellos is managing director of The Agency.
What’s the history behind The Agency? When was it established? Why? And what do you do?
Vasconcellos: I established The Agency in March 2009 when I moved back to Calgary, my hometown, after living in London, UK., where I worked in international communications and public relations (PR). During my time in London I ran global PR for Virgin Holidays and oversaw communications for a global B2B trade show attended by 50,000 people.
My desire to launch The Agency came from wanting to try something new after working in big global companies. I always wanted to start my own business and it helped that my family has an entrepreneurial history. So with the encouragement and support of my family and friends, I decided to set up shop and start my own strategic PR agency.
My motto when I first started was, “If it doesn’t work, I can always get a job.” It will be 10 years in March 2019 since The Agency first opened its doors and I haven’t had to go get a job. We’re now an established, strong team of media, marketing, social media and strategic specialists who deliver excellent and measurable results for our clients.
Finally, our expertise in technology and innovation has been an effective differentiator.
Why have you recently focused on innovation and technology companies?
Vasconcellos: We’ve always focused on innovation and technology. We love working with companies that are finding new ways to overcome their industry’s challenges or take leaps their competitors won’t.
Our mandate is to create campaigns and programs that help them tell their stories. For us, it’s about helping an innovator – from a startup or an enterprise company – talk about what they’ve built and enable them to better sell to their prospects. This has been our niche since the beginning.
Our informal tagline is, “We love PR and we speak geek,” and we truly mean it. We’ve worked across a number of sectors including agriculture, energy, finance, insurance, manufacturing, IoT, software and hardware. We truly understand and get under the skin of our clients and the products and services they develop.
In terms of marketing and advertising, how important is it for companies to tell their story and what does that mean in practical terms?
Vasconcellos: It’s very important for companies to tell their stories well. They should be able to successfully talk to their customers, stakeholders, investors and other target audiences, and engage each one to want to learn more.
Furthermore, they need to be able to succinctly tell a prospect who they are, what they do and how they can help them. That’s not always easy to do, especially in technology and innovation, where solutions can often be complex.
Something that we’ve honed over our nine-plus years in business is how to distill down the important points around a technology or innovation, what it means for the end user, and how to convey that message in an effective and engaging way.
With the technology companies that you deal with, is there a common thread you see in their leadership that points to success?
Vasconcellos: The clients that we work with generally have an entrepreneurial spirit woven throughout the fabric and culture of their organization. Technology is often the backbone of the company, but it’s about more than the software, hardware or data analysis – we work with the people, the innovators themselves.
Whether it’s a company of 10 or 5,000 people, at the heart they all have to solve a problem. They’re willing to take smart, calculated risks on how they develop products and reach out to new markets. Although we primarily operate in B2B, the leaders we work with are creative thinkers.
Why do you think Calgary is ripe to be home to a thriving tech sector going forward?
Vasconcellos: I’ve had many conversations about growing our city’s tech ecosystem with a number of the industry leaders and founding members of Calgary’s innovation community over the last several years. They all agree that we have the pioneering spirit and drive to make it happen, along with a can-do attitude.
In Calgary, we have a long history, from oil and gas to agriculture, of building an entire sector out of nothing, and thriving in doing so.
I think the city, our economy and talent are ripe for another shift. I don’t think it’s going to happen overnight, but I do think it’s going to happen and it will be exciting when it does.
– Mario Toneguzzi