Matt Culbertson, VP, prioritizes creativity and removing obstacles in PR

What makes you uniquely valuable to Bospar and its clients?

I bring a variety of industry experience: financial services, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence. I work with clients from startups to publicly traded firms on product messaging and news commentary and enable them to connect with key audiences like prospects, customers, stakeholders and investors.

A lot of my work involves simplifying messages and bringing clients stories to the marketplace with impactful media through integrated campaigns. I bring cross-industry knowledge and understanding of how brands are built, and how companies grow from seed funding to acquisition or IPO.

To what degree do you think PR professionals should understand their clients?

Often, the number one challenge is reconciling the client’s interests with media interests. So, knowing that media are looking for a story that’s going to be informative, timely and impactful to their audience, while clients are typically looking for placements that are going to support their market position and overall message. These goals can be mutually exclusive. So, to bring it all together, it is very important for agency teams to understand their clients’ business and customers, relevant media outlets, competitors, product offerings, and where they sit in the evolution of technology categories, for instance.

I like to think of clients’ product offerings as central to a hero-and-villain story, where they’re aiming to tackle some of the most pressing challenges of today, from climate to cybersecurity. If they’re looking to create that better future through the use of their technology and product offering, there’s a story.

What mindset should I have if I want to hire a PR agency for the first time or replace my existing agency?

As a former client who’s worked with many agencies, it helps to have a mindset that prioritizes creativity with an eye toward getting the job done. It’s important to understand what your end game looks like, what the outcome you’re trying to buy is, and what the team looks like that’s best positioned to achieve that outcome. You want to work with people who are on board with your mission and who you trust. Your team should be passionate about your overall approach and goals, with the expertise to back it up. So, you need people who are qualified, who understand the landscape and have the right connections, and ideally, people who have done it before.

There’s a lot of value in alignment of goals, values, mission, and how you and your agency view your world. How will they support your journey, whether it’s your go to market strategy or your overall brand, how you’re reaching the prospective customers, stakeholders and partners who make your organization’s mission possible.

What sort of advice would you offer a potential client who is unknowingly creating obstacles to their own success?

This varies depending on the executives and the company, but a common mistake is to be overly guarded about discussing your industry observations publicly, to the point where you have nothing to say on the issues affecting your industry. On one hand, there’s a risk when you share information, but there’s also a risk if you don’t.

It’s wise to have well-conceived explanations about what’s going on in your field – why certain trends are rising and falling, why certain technologies are winners and losers, and why certain problems are being solved and others aren’t.

Some hesitate to speak about topics that don’t directly influence their core buyer audiences and investors, so they’re not really not contributing to the media conversations influential to their space. Getting people to understand your mission and why it’s important often requires being informative and sharing with the media your data-driven perspective on what’s happening in the world.

It’s understandable why companies hesitate to shed light on key issues, whether it’s regulatory, geopolitical issues, public policy issues, or even political and social issues. But, this hesitation often creates obstacles to having a voice in the marketplace.

The global business environment is becoming increasingly fractured. There’s truth to the saying the world has grown so complicated, no one understands it anymore. Firms need to understand their own mission to the point where they can communicate it openly: the role they play in the world and the future they’re trying to see. If they have data and evidence to back it up, that can be a winning message.

What challenges must the future of PR address?

Right now, there’s a lot of discussion about the digital world becoming dominated by artificial intelligence, products, and platforms that are growing in sophistication and capability. There’s a commonly-held view that AI represents a new, emerging life form on Earth that is growing increasingly powerful and sophisticated, often with unclear motives.

One of our top challenges in the information landscape will likely be bad actors using AI to perpetuate disinformation and malicious activity. In some cases, there are very, very good intentions and the best of interests at heart, and yet the contamination of the information landscape poses an existential threat to the world. Influential voices continue to propagate misinformation and disinformation that is profoundly damaging to society’s ability to function, whether it’s policy or personal freedoms, human rights. Generative AI has the capability to radically escalate the threats of disinformation, as well as cyber and other risk.

In the future, public relations will need to address the growing sophistication and reach of unintentional misinformation and intentional disinformation actors. We’ll need to understand and explain how new technologies pose opportunities and threats to create a brighter future, with the stakes greater than ever: human rights, freedom, democracy, and the pursuit of happiness.

Why should a company hire Bospar instead of another agency?

I’ve worked at other agencies, and I’ve been in-house. In my view, Bospar has incredible creativity and talent, best in the industry. We have proven and award-winning experience bringing emerging brands to market and participating in in company’s journey from small startups to public companies, and major acquisitions. Bospar is extremely well-qualified.

Bospar is a values driven-organization that employs some of the best and brightest. It has a framework for working with clients that is tactically superior to how many agencies operate. The agency itself is an excellent example of PR at its best, and the ability to really bring thoughtful storytelling to market that enables organizations to reach their goals. So, it’s a very qualified, competent, creative enterprise that has experienced personnel across content, social media, media relations. We have former renowned journalists, industry-leading creatives, people with the right experience to get the job done. And it shows that our company’s results and in the success of our clients, and it’s been well-validated, and there’s a reason for the industry accolades. The company’s record-breaking performance comes down to the leadership, people, values, mission, and the ability to get things done.

If you were looking back at career, say 30 years from now, what do you hope you would have accomplished?

I would like to participate in a better, more prosperous future. I want to see a values-driven approach to the continued success of the technology sector, especially the categories I work in like cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, data, overall software-as-a-service offerings. There’s an opportunity for all of us to play a role in this accelerated evolution of history in a way that is values-driven, good for society, and the stakes have never been higher.

My role at Bospar enables me to work with some of the most talented people, and the most inspiring and promising organizations that are looking to change the world for the better. Ultimately, I’m inspired by the opportunity to have positive impact by enabling the responsible, thoughtful and values-driven growth of some of the top-performing technology categories and companies.

Is there anything that you want people to know about you that we didn’t cover?

I’m both deeply cynical and deeply optimistic about the future of technology. For the industry as a whole, I’d like people to think critically about their role in history as actors across powerful technology pioneers and business growth stories, from the intersection artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, quantum computing,

Technology can play an incredible role in a really promising future. I’m glad to see the conversations in the media, in the regulatory sphere, leaders from governments and the private sector, about the type of world we’re creating with technology, what guardrails we need, and what that means for future generations. There are promising signs that we’re moving in the right direction.

I’m also encouraged by the public sector and some of the bipartisan focus on issues like data privacy, cybersecurity, and AI development as we face escalating global competition from established and emerging players. I would like to see a healthy dose of realistic cynicism and visionary optimism around the kind of future that we can build, and I’d like to see more organizations to make their values and interests clear to the public as they set the stage of history.

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