Supplier in the Spotlight: Dale Curtis Communications

| By Jonathan Lovitz

  

Telling our stories is key to inspiring the next generation of LGBT business owners to join our important work at NGLCC. Luckily, telling stories is exactly what they do at certified LGBTBE Dale Curtis Communications, a public affairs communications and content company based in Washington, DC. We spoke with founder Dale Curtis about his journey from starting his firm to leveraging the power of the LGBT community to grow his connections and opportunities throughout the NGLCC network.

 

Name of business: Dale Curtis Communications LLC
Name of founders: Dale E. Curtis
Date founded: October 2009
Date certified: June 23, 2017
Location of business: 1120 G Street NW, Suite 450, Washington, DC 20005
Number of employees: 4
 
What is Dale Curtis Communications? 
At Dale Curtis Communications, we help companies and causes solve their problems and advance their goals through strategic, multimedia communications in Washington, DC and beyond. We deliver effective communications in support of legal, lobbying, and advocacy efforts; thought leadership and issues management; and business-to-government marketing. Our clients are usually senior executives who recognize the need for better communications to support their strategies but don’t have the right talent at hand to get it done.
 
Our core functional specialties are communications strategy and planning; messaging and materials of all kinds; website development; social media; media relations; events; graphic design; and video.
 
Our services are rooted in decades of experience in public affairs communications. My team and I have had the privilege of working in communications roles for presidents, cabinet members, governors, members of Congress, and hundreds of senior executives and attorneys in corporations, associations, think tanks, and nonprofits, large and small. We’ve been on the client side, on the agency side, and even on the media side, editing and crafting clear, engaging stories on daily deadlines.
 
What makes for a good communications strategy? Any tips for our LGBTBEs or Corporate Partners who may be looking to improve their communications strategy? 
Clients often approach us with a concrete task they want done, such as a document, website, speech, or outreach activity – and we can certainly help get those tasks done well. But a deliberate communications effort truly begins to resonate and build momentum when it is based upon a well-thought-out strategy and action plan.
 
The strategic planning process can be – but need not always be – a comprehensive process. Our starting point is to analyze a client’s situation, objectives, and key audiences; and then derive two to four high-level strategies, which are broad statements about how to approach the challenge to improve the situation. For example, for an industry client whose lobbying effort was failing to win over pro-business members of Congress, one strategy was to reorient the messaging away from business-speak and toward the benefits to average voters. Another strategy in that campaign was to recruit “grasstops” community leaders who delivered the message personally to their elected officials, reinforcing other channels of PR aimed at these leaders. 
 
Another key to success is seeking out relevant data and research to help light the way. Without a research base, the strategy can be based on the hunches of the team members involved – but these educated guesses may or may not be well-founded. By combining these elements with a realistic budget, staffing, timeline, and metrics, the strategy comes to life and begins to have a real impact.
 
How has being a member of the LGBT community impacted your business?   

Over the years, some of my best referrers, clients, and colleagues have been LGBT friends and straight allies; and in recent years, I’ve become more involved in several LGBT community groups; and increasingly it seems like I’m surrounded by an endless stream of talented, fun, caring, inspirational, and connected colleagues with whom I have opportunities to do exciting, important work. The LGBT connection is becoming more integral to our work.
 
As an NGLCC-certified LGBT-owned business, we are very interested in connecting with NGLCC Corporate Partners, other LGBTBEs, and their second-degree connections who have communications challenges that we can help solve, whether they are LGBT-related or not. 
 
What issues specific to the LGBT community have your attention right now?
The issues that concern me most as a citizen are the Equality Act; bigotry-based “religious freedom” bills; and LGBTQ youth suicide. We still have so much basic education and relationship-building to do to overcome deep-seated fear and hatred of “the other” among us, and forge a more loving future. 
 
Professionally, we’ve just completed an engagement with SMYAL (Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates Leaders), a nonprofit that serves LGBTQ youth in the DC-Maryland-Virginia region, having helped them shore up their email and social media outreach. This experience gave us a new appreciation for the challenges faced by today’s LGBTQ youth, especially in pressure-filled, under-served urban neighborhoods. It also showed me the youth’s resiliency and determination to be themselves and achieve great things with their community’s support. My husband and I continue to be active in SMYAL, and we invite you to join us for the Fall Brunch in October.   
 
Meanwhile, I’m also a board member of Q Street (where NGLCC Chief of Staff Sabrina Kent is a Board Member), which serves as a networking and professional development resource for LGBTQ lobbyists and advocates; and I’m the corporate outreach chair for the Human Rights Campaign in the DMV region, helping to build up local business support for HRC’s programs. 
 
What advice would you give to an LGBT person starting a business? 

First, don’t start a business without having lined up your first few customers or clients, or without having a second income or a nest egg that gives you some time to get established. Keep it simple and clear when it comes to defining your offering. Focus on your favorite skills – what you do well and enjoy doing – and don’t try to be everything to everybody.
 
Develop and constantly rehearse several descriptions of your business in plain English: a one-phrase version, a one-sentence version, and a 30-second version. Be able to describe your business confidently; then ask good questions and pay close attention to what your prospective customer is looking for. Make sure there is a good alignment, and don’t be afraid to say there isn’t. Don’t be that person who talks and talks and describes their new business in such sweeping, vague terms that the listener is left mystified about what you actually do. Be clear and realistic about what you can deliver; communicate constantly about what you are delivering; and deliver what you promised.
 
Get help and don’t try to do it all yourself! And never forget that you have an entire community of LGBT business owners and allies around you who are willing to offer their encouragement, support, and even new business and leads. Lean on your network when you need help, and be sure to pay it forward to others as well.  That's what the NGLCC is here to help reinforce with all of us. 
 

Want to share your story of success with the NGLCC network?  Let us know at [email protected]