AmmoLand News interviews Howard Communications. “HCom” is one of the behind the scenes teams that helps famous brands you know and love get their marketing message to outlets like AmmoLand News. Check out the interview and get a inside look at one of the expert teams promoting shooting sports.
USA – -(Ammoland.com)- AmmoLand News: Kevin, thanks for taking time to speak with us. Lets start by explaining to our readers what your company, Howard Communications, is and what you do?
Kevin: Howard Communications is a full service Public Relations company that specializes in the outdoor industry. We are basically the liaison between a company and the media to provide information about the products and services our clients offer.
AmmoLand News: Give me a complete run down of all the services your company supplies and what I can expect to pay if I was to contract with you?
Kevin: We provide several services for our clients including, media relations, press releases, professional photography, social media content, event planning and representation at trade shows and media conferences. We have a long term relationship with most of our clients and work on a retainer fee. The fee is adjusted according to the list of services we provide. We work with each client to develop a yearlong PR Program and customize it to their needs. Once we agree on the services and PR tactics we build a budget of both fees and expenses to work from.
AmmoLand News: Howard Communications was one of the very first firms to work with AmmoLand News, almost 9 years ago, when we were new to covering the firearms industry. I have to thank you for that very early support. Can you tell our readers how long you have been working around the firearms industry and how you got your start?
Kevin: I have been working in the firearms industry in PR since 1987. At the time I owned an outdoor publication called Outdoor Guide in St. Louis which I started in 1983. I started a second publishing business in 1985 which produced sport show programs in 10 Midwest cities each year. Through a mutual acquaintance I was introduced to a man who owned a PR firm in St. Louis called The Farrell Group. His business had The American Fishing Tackle Manufactures Association, now known as ICast, and they had just made a deal with Winchester Ammunition. He was a great PR person, but did not know anything about the outdoors. When Mr. Farrell called, I told him I was not interested in another job because I had the two publications and was running my farm. Then he told me the two clients he needed help with, and I jumped at the opportunity to talk with him. We made a deal that I would act as a consultant but the job quickly expanded and I ended up selling the papers and going full time in the PR business. We built the outdoor client list at the Farrell Group and when Mr. Farrell was ready to retire, we started Howard Communications, Inc. in 1999.
AmmoLand News: The business name is also your last name but you are not a one-man band, who else is on your team and what connections to shooting sports do they enjoy?
Kevin: No, we are not a one-man show. We have a group of dedicated employees who have been with us for most of the time we have been in business. Mike Capps is a senior account executive and an avid shooter and hunter. He is also an avid muzzle loader shooter in addition to shooting and hunting with rifle, pistol and shotgun. He manages a family farm and leases property for hunting with his brothers. Andrew Howard is my son and has been active in shooting and hunting his whole life. He started bird hunting a few years ago and now has two bird dogs that he has hunted with in several states. He is also an avid deer hunting with both bow and gun. Andrew’s wife, Katie Howard, is our in-house professional photographer. She met Andrew when she was an intern with our company. Katie has hunted most of her life with family and loves deer and turkey hunting. My wife, Elaine, and assistant Laura Robinson round out our group.
They are the ones who keep us on track and help produce all the information we generate and run the office.
AmmoLand News: You work with some big name brands like, Browning and Winchester Firearms, Mossy Oak and Can-Am, but do you work with small firms or new start ups?
Kevin: Yes, we have certainly been blessed to work with some of the major companies in the outdoor industry. Our client list includes several well-known companies including Browning, Can-Am, Winchester Repeating Arms, Mossy Oak, Birchwood Casey, Browning Crossbows, D.T. Systems, Signature Products Group, Safari Club International and STI International. We just picked up a new company, FireDisc, who make outdoor cooking products. They have only been in business for a couple of years, but have a great product line that they plan to grow.
We also offer project work for companies who are not looking for a full service agency. The part-time work is growing for us in social media and we work with several companies in that area on a project basis.
AmmoLand News: On your website www.howardcommunications.com you have a large Photo Library. What is all that effort for and what can people do with all those images? Do you have an App for this?
Kevin: Having been on the publishing side of the outdoor media business, I know media people are always looking for photos to supplement their articles. They are looking not just for product shots on a white background, they are also looking for lifestyle photos. We take literally thousands of in-the-field photos each year for our clients and then offer them free of charge for the media to use. Photos of all types of hunting and shooting photos are available. They only thing we stipulate is the photos can’t be edited. Several thousand photos are downloaded each year from our web site.
AmmoLand News: You have a lot of folks listed as Pro Staff, who gets that title and what do they do? Can anyone apply for that job?
Kevin: The Pro Staff members listed on our web site are part of company pro staffs. For instance, the Mossy Oak Pro Staff members are a group of regional Pro Staff members who oversee a national Pro Staff group of over 1000. The Mossy Oak Regional Pro Staff members are experts in different areas of hunting and wildlife management. They are a great resource for information and story ideas. If someone is interested in becoming a Pro Staff member, they should contact the company they are interested in.
AmmoLand News: So since you work with lots of companies on their PR and marketing efforts, what do you see as the biggest obstacles for new companies just getting started?
Kevin: Deciding where to spend limited marketing dollars to maximize exposure is probably one of the toughest decisions for a new company. With opportunities to spend money in print, TV and through social media, companies have to decide where they will concentrate their efforts. The other big obstacle is building media relationships. This can take several years without the help of an established company in the outdoor communications business.
AmmoLand News: Where can folks connect with you or reach you if they need some public relations help from you?