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PR and marketing synergy

Founder of comm. agency adapts to evolving industry

Karen Morales
PR and marketing synergy
Dominic Amenta, founder of DPA Communications, in front of his North End office.

Having been in the business for almost two decades, Dominic Amenta knows that good public relations also includes elements of marketing, social media, content creation and strategic alliances — some ideas that were once unheard of 20 years ago.

Amenta founded DPA Communications in 2012, after learning about traditional PR at Regan Communications Group in Boston for seven years, often from the agency’s founder himself, George Regan.

After earning a business management degree from Bryant University in 2001, Amenta, a Stoughton native, said, “I didn’t know a thing about PR at the time, but I knew I didn’t want to follow the path of some of my other friends and go the finance route.”

After an entry-level position opened up at Regan, he worked his way up from an assistant to vice president of his own team, with four to six account executives working under him and leading campaigns for his own set of clients such as Mohegan Sun, New Balance and the Park Plaza Hotel and Towers.

Around that time, Amenta said he began noticing a shift in the industry, “where it wasn’t all about traditional PR anymore – companies were now calling themselves integrated marketing companies.”

After a stint leading the PR division at another agency, Altus Marketing and Management, he prepared to take on a pair of clients independently, all the while thinking, “What it would be like to open up your own business?”

The two clients agreed to hire him through his independent venture and, he said, “It just snowballed from there. I picked up a couple clients, then a couple more, then a couple more.”

Earned reputation

According to Amenta, although DPA focuses on PR, the agency runs campaigns through an overall marketing strategy. “So we don’t do PR just for the sake of PR, we look at our clients’ goals and objectives and figure out how we can have a good PR outcome,” he said.

Sometimes the client’s goal is increased awareness and exposure, or more foot traffic at an event. The integrated strategy might involve a radio interview or a strategic alliance with a digital influencer or blogger. Sometimes it’s a combination of press exposure and business partnerships. “They’re all intertwined, it’s wild,” said Amenta.

Amenta said he largely built off of the reputation he had nurtured during the earlier part of his caree. “Boston is a small city and it kind of feels like everybody’s one degree of separation from the other person. … I learned early on if you do good work and you keep your circles and networks tight, then you’re going to have a good reputation,” he said.

During the first eight months of starting his new company, Amenta kept overhead costs low. He was the sole employee and because of the nature of the industry, he was able to work from his computer at home, in coffee shops and sometimes, in his clients’ offices.

“I’m proud to say that I haven’t had to take one dollar from a loan,” said Amenta. “I know that in other situations, people could get lending and that would give them the opportunity to catapult their business a lot quicker, but I took a lot of pride in starting it from scratch and making sure that every dollar counted.”

Slow and steady

Implementing the business management skills he learned at Bryant, Amenta said that in scaling his business, he was cautious in making decisions to hire people and take on new clients. He would always first consider the company’s revenue generated over the last quarter and what he expected to generate in the upcoming quarter. “It was like playing chess. Even though I see the end goal, I had to be strategic and not move too fast,” he said.

Amenta did eventually make his first hire in 2013, and the pair worked in a tiny office in the North End.

In the beginning, DPA took on clients such as Haymakers for Hope, a nonprofit charity organizer for cancer fundraising, one of the company’s first clients ever and still today, a loyal client. “We’ve watched them grow, they’ve watched us grow. We’ve grown together and they have become friends in addition to being clients,” said Amenta.

DPA also worked with DraftKings, “during the early years before they became this international powerhouse,” he said. “We had the privilege of working with those guys and got them good local, regional and national press coverage.”

Expansion

Approaching its six-year mark, DPA has a main office in the North End, works with 12 to 15 clients per month, and has five full-time employees and two interns. One intern, currently an Emerson College student, is a videographer and has been helping the agency create videos to use as a storytelling tool for clients in need of content marketing.

Amenta shared another exciting development: DPA Communications recently launched a second office in Los Angeles, officially becoming a bi-coastal PR and marketing agency.

“The dream here is to grow this thing as large as possible can without moving too fast,” said Amenta. “We have the right person in place there and right opportunities coming along.”

DPA’s account director for LA is currently based at a WeWork location to not only keep starting costs low, but also network with other entrepreneurs in the area.

In a media landscape filled with memes, bloggers and Snapchat videos, the team at DPA Communications has plenty to keep them on their toes. Recently they worked with viral sensation, Ryan the Selfie Kid, the Hingham, Massachusetts native caught on camera at this year’s Super Bowl halftime show fiddling with his cellphone as Justin Timberlake danced alongside him. He subsequently racked up thousands of followers on social media.

“As wild as that seems, he got thrust into digital influencer territory,” said Amenta. “We’re actually working with Ryan and his family, to make sure that whatever brands are looking to align with Ryan, are aligned with what a 13-year-old kid should be aligning himself with.”

That includes issues that Ryan himself cares about, like anti-bullying campaigns.

“The clients run the gamut, we don’t focus on a specific niche,” said Amenta. “We work with every industry that exists and work with every publication and brand on behalf of those clients.”