Q&A with Dan: A 20-year Evolution

Dan Demaree, Founder & CEO of DPR Group
Dan Demaree, Founder & CEO

Dan Demaree founded Demaree Public Relations on February 16, 1998 in Wakefield, Massachusetts. From his apartment, Dan worked with a single client (his former employer) and a burning desire to provide world-class public relations and marketing support to a wide range of technology providers, manufacturers and professional services companies.

Over the next decade, Demaree Public Relations evolved into DPR Group and built a reputation as the leader in high-tech public relations for supply chain and logistics, healthcare technology, government contracting and other software and business services companies.

Flash forward 10 more years: in 2018, DPR Group is an integrated PR and marketing powerhouse headquartered outside of Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, in a the city of Frederick, Maryland. Its client base and established partnerships span the globe with concentrations in North America and Europe.

Dan recently reflected on trends in the public relations and marketing space, changes and accomplishments during DPR Group’s 20 years in business, and key differentiators that make DPR Group stand out in the agency crowd.

DPR Group: What has most changed about the PR/marketing business since 1998?
Dan Demaree: The marketplace itself has changed. The number of PR and marketing firms has increased dramatically. When we competed for business back then, we would run into the same firms over and over. Now there are so many PR and marketing firms out there, you don’t know who half of them are.

But one of the biggest changes has to do with the emergence of the internet. Although the internet existed in 1998, it wasn’t the force that it is today. In the beginning, we would send pitches by fax or even by mail. By 2002, everything was electronic. It’s much more of a challenge to make a personal connection or build relationships with an editor today.

DPR Group: How has living and working through those changes informed your decisions about DPR Group’s future?
DD: I realized that we had to stay nimble and evolve quickly to survive over the years. I made up my mind that as new things came out, we would at least consider them. Every time there was a change in how to do business, we would investigate and often try it, adapting to new things and discarding what didn’t work. One of the keys to our success is the ability and willingness to evolve. At many of the larger PR and marketing firms, and even some of the smaller ones, there are departmental specialists. That is, someone who does nothing but research, media relations, writing or other things.

At DPR Group, we have a more well-rounded staff, especially among our higher-level people, that can do everything – manage the clients, come up with the strategy and most importantly, write. Every staff member must be able to write exceptionally well.

DPR Group: What is DPR Group’s best bragging accomplishment in 20 years of business?
DD: I recently counted and we’ve had over 40 clients whose main goal was to be profitably acquired and every single one of them realized that goal. Our very first client – Rockport Trade Systems – was a small company that was bought out for $103 million. Their CEO gave us a lot of credit. We’ve made millionaires of many, many people. Unfortunately, we’re not among them…yet!

DPR Group: In 2005, the company rebranded “Demaree Public Relations” as “DPR Group.” Can you talk about how that was much more than just a name change?
DD: For the first few years – 1998 to 2004 – we were primarily a public relations agency. But then we noticed a shift in the market toward more content creation and we realized that the writing capabilities that our team possessed could easily be extended beyond PR to other marketing services. Our clients wanted our help writing white papers and creating content for their websites. Websites became a lot more important to businesses around 2005.

Having ‘Public Relations’ in our name was limiting because we had evolved beyond just PR. The company evolved to provide both public relations and marketing services. We’re a group of strategic thinkers and top-notch content writers. I wanted a name people would remember. One that reflected our growth in the market – DPR Group.

DPR Group: What do you see as DPR Group’s most important attribute?
DD: DPR Group offers integrated public relations and marketing services. A lot of companies are specializing in one or the other or simply offering top-level services for each. We excel at both.

Companies want results. They don’t want a promise that you can do so many press releases or articles, they want something measurable. They will ask – ‘Can you drive quality leads to my website?’ or ‘Can you show me the value of PR?’

PR and marketing activities set the table for a sales feast. With public relations, you are raising awareness and building credibility for a brand to reduce the effort that the sales team has to put into getting to know a new prospect. Content marketing and outside promotion educate leads so they know what your company does and how you can help them solve their problems. These pre-sales activities help to make sure that when the lead is passed over to a sales person, it’s a warm lead. We are constantly working on improving ways to deliver value to our clients.

Companies know they want marketing, but they don’t always know that they also need PR. You can set the table with beautiful cutlery and linens, but without knowing or trusting what you’re eating, the feast will be a disaster. An integrated approach to PR and marketing will help you set the table and build a positive reputation for your company.

DPR Group: What is the best piece of leadership advice you ever received?
DD: Right before I started my own company, there were two companies that worked in the same building that I did – a software company and a communications firm. They had started about the same time. After about a year, the communications firm was struggling and the other company took off like crazy.

I asked the owner of the software company why he thought his company was growing and the other company was not. He answered right away – ‘They tried to be everything to everyone.’ That had a big influence on me.

Most PR firms are generalists. From the start, I decided that our focus should be on business-to-business technology companies in manufacturing, the supply chain and healthcare. If you can identify who you are and define the value you can offer for a specific audience, you’ll be more successful. I’ve found that to definitely be true.

What People Are Saying

DPR Group’s extensive knowledge and experience in PR and marketing have elevated the Cetrom brand, increased awareness of our services across the industry, and secured numerous award wins and media placements. We value the partnership that has developed and DPR’s contribution to our overall success.

Christopher Stark, President and CEO
Cetrom Information Technology, Inc.

At this point in time, Hermes has a well-established brand throughout Europe, but the company does not have the same level of name recognition in North America. So we decided to partner with DPR Group to let U.S. retailers know about the full range of e-commerce services Hermes offers for e-businesses and international expansion. DPR Group did a fantastic job for Hermes at the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition (IRCE), promoting attendance at our sessions and scheduling media interviews before and after. We’ve never had as much press coverage at any U.S. event before. I highly recommend DPR Group to foreign companies seeking to launch their products and services in U.S. markets.

Uwe Bald
Hermes

Since 2007, DPR Group has been a trusted business partner providing expert public relations and marketing advice. DPR Group has secured tremendous positive media coverage for our firm, bringing visibility to our software and assisting our sales.

Felix Pekar

DPR Group has achieved results for DirectMail.com that have far exceeded our initial expectations. We look forward to a long-term relationship with DPR Group as an integral part of our corporate growth goals.

Robert Salta
DirectMail.com

DPR Group is a trusted adviser to both Quality Associates, Inc. and DocPoint Solutions. DPR’s wide range of PR services ensures that our most important news is what our industry views first.

Scott Swidersky
Quality Associates, Inc.

DPR Group really understands our industry and the unique role InfinityQS plays in it. They provide both strategic guidance and tactical execution to deliver coverage in key trade publications and exposure with industry analysts and third-party influencers. The team is flexible and always willing to roll up their sleeves to assist us in a wide range of marketing activities beyond our traditional public relations initiatives. DPR Group is more than a vendor. They are a true, trusted and valued partner.

Greg Matranga
InfinityQS

DPR Group’s PR campaigns have helped us increase the visibility of U-TECK’s products for the utility, telecom and construction industries, especially our WeedEnder® vegetation control mattings. Since working with DPR, we have noticed 30% and 50% increases in traffic to our U-TECK and WeedEnder websites, respectively.

Nan Jackson
U-TECK

DPR has been an asset to Barcoding’s marketing department since 2010. Through their expert writing, advice, and connections, we’ve secured local and national media coverage, leveraged the power of search engine optimization (SEO) with a strategy of inbound content marketing, and strengthened our brand’s reputation as a leading systems integrator.

Jody Costa
Barcoding

DPR Group has provided valuable public relations insight and helped us increase our marketplace visibility on a local and national level. Our partnership has enabled us to focus on growing our client base, while expanding our messaging and showcasing our unique services.

Kim Cubine

In less than six months, DPR Group has helped Protech develop and launch a new website and successfully introduce Protech Cloud Business Solutions to the market. We truly value the expertise and services that the DPR Group team brings to the table and look forward to a long, successful relationship together.

Brian Bruffey
Protech