For the first time in its 24-year history, the marketing and advertising firm Zimmerman/Edelson has added a new partner: 33-year-old David Chauvin.
Before joining the firm in 2007, he spent seven years in the political arena, as spokesman for the Town of Hempstead, executive director for the Nassau Democratic Party, and on political campaigns including Thomas Suozzi's 2006 run for governor. He became a partner this year.
He said politics taught him how to craft messages, a skill he uses in the private sector. In his new role, he handles public relations, crisis management and new-client development.
What's the biggest change going from the public to the private sector?
Instead of working for one entity, I now oversee services to more than 50 clients including schools, corporations, governments, utilities and nonprofits. The diversity of clients has been an exciting change.
What skills translate?
Working in government was a tremendous experience. The shotgun effect of issues that come at you on a daily basis prepares you incredibly well for the private sector. There's an inherent sense of urgency in terms of what you have to do.
What's most important when you're pitching media outlets for publicity?
It all starts with the human side of the story. There needs to some sort of narrative to it so that people can relate to it.
What do you tell young people who say their news comes to them through the Internet?
People just expect news to come to them, and they're very content in allowing their universe to get smaller and smaller, and I think that's a problem. I encourage people, especially young PR people, to continue reading papers, multiple papers . . . You have to read four papers a day, minimum.
What are keys to the mobile market?
To me, as a consumer, it's all about simplicity. A lot of what we know and best-case practices are actually developed in the political sphere. In '92 Bill Clinton bought into the 24-hour news market. George W. Bush and Karl Rove [used it to speak] to the base. Barack Obama, with micro-targeting through mobile and social media, was finding pockets of voters in places that we didn't know existed.
You're in charge of crisis management; how do you control communications in that role?
Crisis communications begins long before anything happens. It begins with valuing proactive outreach to your "publics." When a company or government spends the time building credibility through positive outreach and transparency, they are already in a stronger position when a crisis hits. Then it becomes more of a question of getting out in front of the story instead of reacting to it.
On a typical day how many phone calls do you make?
North of 40. My day starts at about 7 a.m. I'm usually already taking calls in the car.
NAME: David Chauvin, vice president and partner, Zimmerman/Edelson in Great Neck.
WHAT DOES IT DO: "We are archeologists and translators. We analyze and understand the goals, objectives and culture of our clients. We then translate that into the language of a client's target market in a way that will resonate with their audience and expand it."
EMPLOYEES: 18 full time; 6 part time
REVENUE: $4 million to $5 million
CLARIFICATION: Earlier versions of this story did not specify when Chauvin became a partner at Zimmerman/Edelson.