Rich Moore, principal of New Venture Communications, relishes the impact his counsel has on small tech companies and strives to gain their confidence, as well as that of peers and staff.
For Rich Moore, it's all about trust. And in order to succeed in any business, including PR, trust is at the heart of everything, whether it's earning the trust of employees or clients, because PR pros need the trust of both if they're going to succeed, says Moore, one of the founding partners of stalwart tech firm Copithorne & Bellows (C&B).
"You have to be brutally honest and ethical and forthright with people," adds Moore, now principal and cofounder of New Venture Communications. "There needs to be trust. Without all of that, you aren't going to come to the right ultimate conclusion, whether it is for the most positive or negative thing."
But Moore has easily earned the trust of his peers, clients, and employees, says Bill Bellows, who cofounded C&B. What stands out most about Moore is his strong sense of ethics, which is vitally important in an industry that the outside world often views with skepticism and distrust.
"He's just such an honest, decent person," says Bellows. "You instantly trust Rich. And he's also an excellent consultant and tactician. You first need to have that trust in order to help your clients."
But for someone who has worked with some of tech's biggest names - including Hewlett-Packard, Oracle, and EMC - Moore now finds himself working with small, young companies most people probably haven't heard of.
It was during his short stint at Edelman in 2004 as president of the global technology practice that he realized what he wanted to do. His time at Edelman lasted barely six months, and Moore says no one is more disappointed about that than him.
But it was during a conference call with SigmaTel, a small chip company, when Moore says he realized that was the kind of company he wanted to work with, not the large global technology brands that drive global agencies' business.
"With these smaller, younger companies, I can be directly involved on a daily basis," says Moore. "I can have access to the top executives and have a real impact on how they become known. I'm just not as interested in working with an established $3 billion company that wants to get to $8 billion."
So now his latest venture takes him back to his early PR days in the 1980s, when he was working at young agencies like Miller Communications for young companies like Compaq.
Before Miller, Moore cut his teeth as a journalist, working for regional papers like The Haverhill Gazette in Massachusetts. Moore went to Ohio State to study journalism, where he met Walt Seifert, a professor who taught PR courses. It was Seifert, in whom Moore saw a passion and enthusiasm for making a difference through communication, who first opened Moore's eyes to a possible career in PR.
But Moore stuck with journalism, because "it gave you a license to ask any question you wanted. You could push your nose into everything and anything. There are so many rich stories around."
Yet journalism and PR would soon cross paths for Moore, allowing him to tell different kinds of stories. While at the Gazette, Moore met city hall reporter Mel Webster, who was later recruited by C&B cofounder David Copithorne into Miller Communications. Webster, who was also a C&B cofounder, in turn recruited Moore to Miller.
The agency was stocked with former journalists, all hungry to pursue technology, which was still in its early days as a PR field, says Moore.
"You suddenly had access to some of the most fascinating companies and people around," says Moore. "At Miller, I learned a lot about the power of communications. I learned about finding something that truly distinguishes a company, trying to build energy around that, and sticking to that."
Moore found even more fascinating companies and stories when he headed west to help open the Silicon Valley office for Miller. But Moore, just like his fellow C&B cofounders, was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug as they built that office. And just as Miller was acquired, Moore and his colleagues decided it was as good a time as any to strike out on their own and opened the doors of C&B.
And while Moore got to work with tech giants and further hone his craft, he also learned more about himself, the risks he was willing to take, and the sacrifices he was willing to make.
"It was the first time that work didn't feel like a job," says Moore, who just turned 50. "It was the most frightening and exhilarating experience I think I'll ever have. It was like jumping off a cliff without a safety net and praying it all clicks. And when you see it click and grow, and the staff talks about a great culture, and clients talk about great service, and accounts stay around for a decade, it's incredibly rewarding."
"Rich has tremendous range," says Alan Kelly, CEO and managing partner of Applied Communications. "He's worked in almost every segment of technology. And he's got temporal range. He's seen it all. He really brings the ability to offer insight into what is happening. But ultimately he's driven by culture, the culture of his clients and the culture he develops at his own firm. He believes in doing right."
Omnicom acquired C&B in 1995 and merged it into Porter Novelli in late 1999. Moore left in early 2000, winding up at Battery Ventures, providing marketing counsel for the firm's clients. This provided greater insight into entrepreneurs, and his three years there "is a major reason for what I'm doing now."
Moore looks back and finds that curiosity has been the mainstay of his career, whether it was journalism or PR. An innate sense of curiosity about "what makes stuff tick" is vital to finding the heart of a story about a young company, an investor, a consumer, or an entrepreneur.
And it is that curiosity that has helped Moore consistently find that differentiating quality that distinguishes a company and ride that to great success.
"As a journalist, you're always looking for the heart of the story, and I think that's also true about PR," says Moore. "Once you find the heart, everything else can hang from it."
New Venture Communications, principal
Edelman, president of the global technology practice
Battery Ventures, venture partner
Copithorne & Bellows, cofounding partner
Miller Communications, VP/GM
Northeast Public Power Assoc., editor
The Haverhill (MA) Gazette, reporter