Editor’s note: Tricia Long was named Marketing Executive of the Year (Small Company) on Nov. 12.
The finalists for WashingtonExec’s Pinnacle Awards were announced Oct. 8, and we’ll be highlighting some of them until the event takes place virtually Nov. 12.
Next up is Marketing Executive of the Year (Small Company) finalist Tricia Long, who’s vice president of marketing and communications at 1901 Group. Here, she talks success, future focus areas and career advice.
What has made you successful in your current role?
Having worked in a wide range of innovative technology companies and having served in leadership roles in communications, public relations and advertising for private and public companies, I’ve gained a unique perspective on the role of marketing communications in the GovCon space.
I can strategically see the “big picture” using an integrated approach to “surround sound” with consistence cadence of messaging through our social, digital, press releases, opinion editorials and thought leadership strategies that are all linked to our corporate strategy and the markets that 1901 Group is pursing. Leveraging multiple communications channels and associating our experts with our services becomes our force-multiplier to better position us to compete more effectively.
Additionally, setting meaningful KPIs through platform automation and understanding how to analyze results that matter to our company has led to my success. For example, in 2018, we increased our social presence by 300% and web visitors by 60% — driven by our earned media, share of voice and brand sentiment. I have taken all the lessons learned, to create “what good looks like” for 1901 Group.
My success is also driven by being flexible, seizing opportunities, having the willingness to learn from accomplishments and mistakes, cultivating strong media relationships and connections with public officials, having knowledge of our industry and maintaining a positive image.
Another key factor to my success is working on the front line alongside my team. Working directly with our CEO, executives, HR, operations and business development teams provides me insights to align my strategy to help build a world-class company. PR, marketing communications and BD all must work together and not in silos — and to stay at least six months ahead of the corporate strategic plan.
Lastly, I lead with a PR strategy versus a traditional marketing communications strategy. This approach has proven to be more successful due to how the customers (digital) journey has changed and this approach creates a better structure for prioritizing and driving desired quantitative results. Facts are retained, but compelling stories are retold — and a PR strategy helps to do just that!
What are you most proud of having been a part of in your current organization?
There are many things I am proud of, and the first one that resonates is we went from “1901 Group, who?” to “1901 Group, a leading provider of FedRAMP-authorized managed services,” creating a blueprint for the platform-delivery of IT-as-a-service for other companies.
From 2018 where 1901 Group had a modest market presence, we have dramatically increased our brand equity with an increase of over 200% of mentions, shaped the market space by driving a clear dialogue, and created trust as the go-to-resource that stemmed from a multistep, multidirectional integrated approach. I couldn’t be prouder of my team — together, we work seamlessly to leverage the right tools and technologies as this set our path forward.
This led to being able to take the visibility and credibility we gained in the GovCon community in Northern Virginia to rural America and more specifically the talent in Southwest Virginia. We have created Enterprise IT Operations and Cloud Factory Centers in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center in Blacksburg, Virginia.
In 2019, we broke ground on our new state-of-the-art Enterprise IT Operations Center with a highly successful event that raised awareness of 1901 Group’s growth, where we delivery 24×7 FedRAMP-authorized managed services for federal civilian, law enforcement and Defense Department customers.
These efforts led to 1901 Group being named “Company of the Year” in Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council’s TechNite Awards, establishing our third Virginia operation in Washington County, and becoming a business partner with the Virginia Ready initiative to help Virginias get back to work.
I am proud to have led a dynamic effort that not only is helping our government customers, but is also helping to build talent to skill the next generation of cloud, cyber and DevSecOps workforce.
What are your primary focus areas going forward, and why are those so important to the future of the nation?
Simply put, COVID-19 has changed the landscape of our customers’ transformation. When the pandemic first happened, we immediately had to pivot our company’s messaging as customers needed to be aware of our operational strengths, being at 100% working-capacity, and to help our customers and their constituents through these unchartered times.
Continued adoption of agile marketing will also be key in 2021 to solve problems in real-time, evaluate data quickly to pivot, and rapidly adjust — to further drive efficiency and effectiveness.
We’ll continue to add technology into the mix to stay innovative, create more engagement and improve customer experience. These are just a few of the key focus areas that prove to be timely in addressing COIVD-related unemployment crisis and will be timeless in strengthening our economy.
What’s your best career advice for those who want to follow in your footsteps?
Lead with purpose. Know when to adjust your plans as at times you will need to pivot — but keep a solid framework. Stay proactive, positive and energetic. These traits will go a long way and are value-added in the PR and marketing communications role.
Connect with leaders. As leaders in this field, we learn from our successes and failures and we’re glad to share those experiences. Learn and train on new technologies and understand the value of analytics in your role and the impact it provides — to which to measure is to improve.
I recommend a focus on Thought Leadership Marketing as a major business trend and basis of competitive differentiation. One compelling thought leader insight can outperform an avalanche of content.
Understand the view of the BD world as they are the touchpoint with our customers. Echo the CEO’s vision and the perspective from operations and HR — as this goes back to why it is important to work alongside the team. But as COVID-19 has shown us, that in a blink of an eye, the economy can change, and you must be agile and flexible to quickly pivot and still drive results that matter to your company.
Be excited. This is a great time to be in our field with the advances in technology, artificial intelligence and platforms to help us see data to make better decisions. Understand the role is not easy, but it’s rewarding to know how a PR and marketing communications role can create a positive impact nationally. Be a trend-setter — that makes a difference!
Looking back in my career what started am I most proud of?
I started my career in commercial advertising and I still leverage these skills today. However, I became drawn to the strategic side and storytelling. And for those who know me well know how animated I can be when telling a story — and this is one of the reasons I enjoy PR aspects.
My grandfather, a North Carolina resident, served as a chaplain during and after World War II in which a document portrait was written about his work in bringing “peace and healing” to the military personnel. He wrote inspiring sermons and received recognition of service award issued by President John F. Kennedy for “devoted and selfless consecration to the service of our country.” His writing and storytelling have always inspired me and that reflects in what I do today.
I am proud to be able to help 1901 Group tell an exciting and yet, very unique story of how the company started, the name — and what it stands for, the vision, as this all ties together helping our customers, employees, the community and bringing awareness to the rural areas and the growing in-demand tech talent.
I am proud to use my skills and talent that I have gained to help drive clarity and consistency through messaging in a chaotic world. These life experiences lead to where I am today — being recognized in the industrywide Pinnacle Award.