On February 12, 2021, Sustainable PR principal Tony DeFazio spoke with Amanda Blanton, marketing director of the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce, on the Chamber’s weekly radio show, “I’m in the ARCC,” which airs on TALK 1450 AM and 93.1 FM. In the segment, Tony shares more information about his passion for sustainability, his successful career in PR, and opportunities for brands in the ever-growing green economy.
Check out these highlights from the interview:
Q: What inspired you to start your business here in Glens Falls?
Tony: Relative to my new business Sustainable PR, which I opened this past fall here in Glens Falls [New York], is my background in environmental causes and my lifelong love of the outdoors. That really is how the journey began to get here to Glens Falls. My first job out of college was working for a non-profit environmental advocacy group called Clean Water Action in Washington DC. I have been coming to the Adirondacks since I was a kid…
Glens Falls is a real community where people know each other, there’s pride in the neighborhoods, the houses are unique in Victorian-era architecture. I think there’s a real cohesion between the small business community and the residential community, and a lot of support both ways. …Every day someone is trying to help out in a different way, and the Chamber of Commerce is a great place to start.
Q: Tell us more about your professional journey to this point.
Tony: I’ve been in a public relations professional play for 30 years and, as you noted a couple different agencies. My first one became the largest PR firm in the Mid-Atlantic. I was there for 13 years and was the initial partner. After, I had a three-year stint in corporate America, leading PR for a publicly traded real estate company. Following that in-house role, I then started my own agency, DeFazio Communications, and grew that successively year-over-year, even throughout the Great Recession.
It was during the pandemic when I was on a hike at a park in Philadelphia that I got a new idea. I decided I wanted to make an impact for the next 10 years of my life, probably spurred by the seriousness of the pandemic. I think all of us were looking at life differently and what we could do. So, I decided to combine my passion for the environment with my 30 years of PR experience and here it is, Sustainable PR.
Q: How does Sustainable PR help its clients?
Tony: We are a specialty public relations firm focused on earned media for green companies. So we are exclusively focused on the green economy. We’re not an adjunct or a division of a larger marketing communication firm. We are designed from the ground up to tell the stories of companies who are innovating in the green economy, and our expertise is earned media.
…Green companies with strong messaging will be able to take advantage of the opportunities presented in this growing marketplace. I mentioned the numbers before, in terms of the growth projections, but the market is supposed to hit $28.9 billion dollars in 4 years. So, it’s an incredible place to be if you’re doing it right. We help companies succeed in the market and guide them through how to articulate their mission of sustainability.
Q: What does ‘earned media’ entail?
Tony: You’ve got different slices of the marketing pie, if you will, and you can have sponsorship in advertising, which has its role and that requires purchasing space or airtime like on this radio show. Or, you can create your own content, and that’s the type of content that you put on your website, e-newsletter, or social media. The third primary category is earned media, and that’s our specialty in which we work with journalists, bloggers, producers, editors, and writers all over the country, from local sources like the Glens Falls Business Journal all the way up to the Wall Street Journal and basically everything in between. So, we win top media placements, develop key brand messaging, and build award-winning campaigns for green companies poised for growth.
Q: Aside from media placements, what other services does Sustainable PR offer clients?
Tony: Our services include message development; influencer relations, which is still an emerging field; coalition-building, which requires organizing sometimes diverse interests that share a common specific objective or initiative; and thought leadership where we elevate the stature of subject matter experts within organizations.
Q: Could you share with us what a typical client experience looks like? How does the process get started?
Tony: We have a four-step proven process for success and it starts with discovery. In this first step, we immerse ourselves in our client’s business to understand the operations and the key drivers for their market. We invest an incredible amount of time in the first month, more than we do in any other month of the campaign, so that we can be as articulate about our client’s business as they are.
The second step is to develop the strategy. We put together a strategic roadmap for the campaign that provides timetables for execution, establishes objectives, deliverables, and expectations for results.
Then, we get into content development, which everybody likes to talk about. They say, “Give me a content development person.” Well, we do that! We develop press releases, fact sheets, company bios, website copy, social media content, blog posts, and so forth. That is actually putting the ideas and the storytelling in the narratives into specific deliverables that are distributed on a variety of media platforms.
Finally, we engage our media contacts and industry targets with proactive outreach to affect positive outcomes consistent with our client campaign objectives. We provide a continual feedback loop with our clients, providing real-time reporting developments that we’re working on, as well as a structured monthly reporting and meeting with the client, so they always feels that they’re up to speed.
So those are the four steps of how we engage with clients and they’ve proved very effective over the years.