DC Influencer: How small shops can stand out in Washington

Small Business Government Communicators Network founder James Krol details how smaller shops are getting more government dollars.

What is the mission of the Small Business Government Communicators Network?
The organization facilitates networking, which allows small businesses to find each other to team up on government proposals. We also want to improve collaboration between large and small businesses and between the industry and the government.

 We aim to promote the use of small businesses when appropriate and provide analysis on what is happening, how much money the government is spending, and how much of that is going to small business.

While I was at the General Services Administration, [an independent agency of the US government], I recognized there was no association focusing on small business communicators or building collaboration. 

When I left the company in 2005, I started talking to people in government about the benefits of an association such as this.

How can small businesses stand out in Washington, DC?
What’s most important, and what large businesses will say when small businesses approach them, is to make sure you are straightforward with exactly what you can do. Tell them what you absolutely excel at.

Be specific in pitching and describing capabilities back to larger businesses and be open and honest about your capabilities. Don’t tell them that you can do everything. The most important asset of a small business is its past performance and being able to illustrate to a large organization where you have extensive knowledge.

What trends are you seeing in the industry?
More dollars are going to small businesses. The government wants 23% of the products, goods, and services it purchases to come from small businesses. We want to recognize if the government is doing that in our communications as so many small businesses in the communications field are working in the government space.

In FY year 2013, 50.8% of the government’s PR dollars went to small businesses, while the total comms spend going to small businesses during the same time was 42.3%.

At the end of FY 2013, the government purchased $1.7 billion worth of comms services, up from the previous year of $1.46 billion. Of that $1.7 billion, $724 million was spent on small businesses. In 2010, when there was $1.8 billion in total spending, $620 million went to small businesses. 

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