For W2 Communications principal Tony Welz, establishing his firm as a boutique agency "started with embedding ourselves in the community, you know, really trying to get embedded and working with organizations."

That's a large-scale task when your client base is the "very big and sprawling community" of companies that need cybersecurity services.

"It's only gotten bigger in the 20 years since we really started the practice." Welz tells Doug Simon. "So, we actively do things like host events at conferences and do closed door sessions so that we can bring folks together."

He says that while providing information to clients is a priority, it's just as important to listen to what clients have to say. "We don't just want to be trying to sell a story every day. It's a dialogue, right? We want to be engaged."

But perhaps the central skill, Welz says, is storytelling. "It's our job to go to our clients and say, 'okay, you've got a great story to tell, we just need to help you figure out how to tell it. We just need to figure out what the vehicles are. And each vehicle, whether it's lead generation, whether it's straight public relations, whether it's something else, all of those have a different approach."

W2's ideal client is "one that's collaborative, one that's willing to meet us halfway and work with us. We bring that authority to the table. We understand what folks are looking for. We've actually conducted research reports on our own. We're able to bring that context and that information to the table."

Research, Welz tells Simon, is becoming ever more important in the communications process. "Adding the research component was a big expansion for us. We're working with clients, looking at what their key issues are and helping them not only create a maybe a media asset, but also inform their sales model, inform how they're approaching the industry."

As clients increasingly contend with AI and the metaverse, Welz says that the related cybersecurity issue are gaining rapidly in complexity. "Every new technology there's a security concern and it's really understanding what that attack surface is. What does that expose you to?"

Welz also says that there are definite advantages to the specialst focus that often comes with being a boutique firm. "In the early days we looked at kind of being a general tech agency and think we found that boring and think being a specialist is actually a lot more exciting. We're more embedded, we're more engaged, and we're able to provide better counsel and deeper counsel to our clients."

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D S Simon Media helps clients get their stories on television through satellite media tours and by producing and distributing content to the media. The company also produces live social media events.