Over the past few months we’ve been profiling team members at the agency and today we start the new year, and the new decade, by interviewing BizCom CEO and co-founder Scott White.
Even though he was born in Columbus, Georgia, where his dad was stationed briefly, he comes from a long-line of Texans and says he “will be a Texan until the day he dies.” He was raised in Riesel, a town of only 600 just south of Waco, and grew up in the family newspaper and printing business.
After two years of junior college basketball brought on the realization that he WAS NOT going to be a pro, he enrolled at North Texas State University (now UNT) on a Scripps Howard journalism scholarship. His senior year he was editor of the North Texas Daily, which was named one of the top college newspapers in the nation.
He began his career as a newspaper sportswriter and then moved on to positions as editor of several magazines, was developmental editor for a business textbook publisher, and producer of a sports TV show. In the late 1980s he made the move to PR and was introduced to franchising as director of PR and later marketing director for I Can’t Believe It’s Yogurt! during the first frozen yogurt boom.
In the late 1980s he and a long-time college friend, David Hadeler, formed Hadeler White Public Relations, which grew into one of the most successful PR agencies in the southwest with offices in Dallas and New York. In the mid-90s, the agency acquired the Hayes Group, a Philadelphia-based PR agency owned by internationally-recognized franchise author and speaker Dr. John Hayes.
Which brings us to October 1, 1999. Scott, BizCom president, Monica Feid and Dr. Hayes teamed up to form a new agency. To get started, they subleased office space from one of Scott’s former employees who had gone on to start a hi-tech PR agency called TechCom. Needing a name, they decided BizCom would be a good description of the type of PR they would provide as well as a nice compliment to agency they were sharing space with, and thus BizCom Associates was born!
In addition to his support of numerous nonprofit organizations, Scott is past president of the Texas Public Relations Association, the Allen Public Library Endowment Fund, and the Connemara Conservancy Foundation, a board he has served on for more than two decades.
Why did you choose PR?
I needed a job. Honestly. I had been editor of a magazine that was sold and a friend introduced me to Jerre Todd, who owned a local PR agency. At that time journalists didn’t think too fondly of PR people and I had no plans to get into the business. Turns out he was also a former sportswriter, so we hit it off right away and he convinced me to give it a try.
Best advice you have been given in regard to working in PR.
The first advice Jerre gave me was the best: “just give the media what they want and you’ll get what you want.” It’s really very basic but that’s how it works. Companies often come to us wanting us to get the media to promote their product or service and highlight all the great things they are doing. We have to explain that it’s not the media’s job to promote their company and for those who look at PR as a little more than free advertising, that’s sometimes hard to understand. Fortunately, over the years we’ve had great clients who understand how the media works and are able to give the media a good story and in the process create an opportunity for them to publicize their products or services.
Best advice you could give someone looking to start their career in PR.
Master the basics of storytelling and the rest is easy. PR — really all forms of communication — is nothing more than good storytelling. That’s been the case since before the time of Moses. The tools are different and much cooler, of course. But it doesn’t matter how much you know about the latest social media platform or keywords or analytics or AI or whatever. If you aren’t telling a story someone cares about and wants to read or hear, you aren’t communicating. All you are doing is adding to all the noise pollution that’s out there.
Best part of working at BizCom?
I love the type of clients we attract. I have always loved working with entrepreneurs and really creative business leaders. They remind me of the athletes I used to write about.
They put themselves out there on the line every day, coming up with new ideas and ways to do things. Sometimes they win, sometimes they lose, but either way they don’t settle for “the way things are.” They are back the next day looking for ways to improve their business, their industry and themselves. I love that spirit of not being afraid to try new things. I try to live my life like that. Over the years I’ve started businesses ranging from clothing stores to online news sites to 3-on-3 basketball leagues and many other things. Some have worked, some haven’t, but I don’t consider any of the experiences a failure. And it was always fun.
I’m happiest when…
I’m doing things with my family, especially my grandkids. A close second would be when I am writing. I love to write.
Ideal way to spend a weekend.
I don’t know because most of my weekends the last few decades have been spent attending athletic events for my kids — and now my grandkids — so I haven’t really thought about what would be an ideal weekend. I love what I do so I don’t really need a weekend to get away from anything.
If you had an extra hour each day, how would you spend it (not work related)?
I’d probably spend it in a nearby nature preserve. I don’t think there is anything better for the soul than spending time in nature.
What’s an activity you have always wanted to try, but haven’t had the chance to?
I’ve always thought it would be fun to be a pilot.
I don’t know if this counts as a pastime, but I love to drive long distances. I’ve always thought it would be interesting to take a year and be a cross country trucker. Other than that I really like to listen to podcasts.
List 2-3 things others probably wouldn’t know about you or “fun facts.”
I prefer radio or podcasts over TV, especially when it comes to sports. That probably comes from growing up in the family print shop. My dad and grandpa always had a Houston Astros baseball game playing on the radio or some football or basketball game or any sporting event they could find. I would still rather listen to a sporting event on the radio than watch one on TV.
Everyone in the office thinks I’m a Luddite when it comes to social media but several years ago I started a sports website and Twitter had just launched. I built up a following of several thousand pretty passionate fans that I engaged with on a regular basis. I eventually gave it up and a friend with a similar site merged it into his. So I can do social media. When it comes to technology tools, I’m actually an early adopter. I’ve had computers since the Commodore 64 days and even bought a Mac the first week they came out in the 1980s. I love keeping up with what’s going on and I use social media at times, but I just don’t immerse myself in it.
I married my junior high sweetheart. We grew up a couple of blocks from each other as everyone does in a small town. I have a photo at her second birthday party, and I’m rocking a very fashionable, old-school cloth diaper as a 1-year-old. I think that caught her eye and was really the start of a long and beautiful relationship.