People In The Know: John Terry

Position Title:

Public Relations Manager with Channel Intelligence

Define your business role:

The position description probably has a bunch of HR jargon about “re-conceptualizing synergistic distributed relationships,” but it really boils down to external communications with the media, potential and existing customers, and the financial community.

What do you see as your responsibilities to your clients?

I’m focused on serving internal clients as opposed to our company’s paying customers. My clients are the product managers and sales reps who are out there selling our e-commerce solutions to manufacturers and retailers. The most important thing I can do to move Channel Intelligence forward is spread the word about how we help customers sell more stuff online. For the rest of this year and going into 2011, my primary focus is on telling the success stories of our existing customers.

You recently started a blog did you not? What have you learned blogging so far?

Who told you that? I thought everything I wrote was private!

What continually surprises me is there are a handful of people in the world who actually have an interest in what I write. I regularly hear from people who tell me they like my writing style … they like the way I tell a story. I squirm a little bit at saying that out loud, but it’s nice to hear those comments. A former co-worker commented on a recent post and said it was like sitting down to talk with an old friend. Dude -- that about made me cry. Of course I didn’t ACTUALLY cry, because I’m way too manly for that.

I guess what I’ve learned is that even when I think no one else will give a damn about what I’m writing – I’m probably wrong.

Talk to me about marketing and building a brand around a technology company?

First of all, I think you can remove the word “technology” from that question. I feel like sometimes we all get too carried away with the “gee-whiz” aspect of working for a technology company. The fact is that the basics haven’t changed in the past 20 years. You still need a good product that solves a problem for your customers. Then you build from there. Sure, we work with data instead of widgets on an assembly line. But just like a traditional manufacturing company, we need to deliver our product on time, on budget and with minimal defects. Then we need to communicate that story to the outside world.

It’s a little different for a B-to-B company, because we won’t get a lot of attention from mass media outlets. Our message is targeted at a niche audience, so we’re trying to reach and influence the industry publications and bloggers within that space.

If you had a chunk of cash to sink into a new technology what would it be?

A machine that would hook up to your home television and record TV shows when you aren’t there to watch them. I know, I know, you think I’m on crack because we’ve all had VCRs for years. No, sir. I’m talking about a TAPELESS machine that not only records shows, but allows you to pause and rewind the shows you’re watching in real-time. Trust me – this will revolutionize the way people consume television.

You’ve been involved in a VC .com startup. What has that experience taught you?

I’m fortunate because I’ve had a good VC experience at Channel Intelligence. Our CEO, Rob Wight, has always said that when it comes to investors, you should pick your parents wisely. Your investors need to share your vision, trust you, and give you the space you need to execute your plan. I’ve seen him do that, and it’s been a good lesson. I also learned that frugality is a good thing when you’re spending other people’s money. During the DotCom boom and bust, when start-ups were burning cash on $600 chairs, fancy offices and forgettable TV spots, we were operating lean and working on a business plan.

What are you most proud of in your career?

That I’ve had the opportunity to work with the man, the myth, and the legend … Mr. Justice Mitchell …at not one but TWO companies. And that once, in a land far away, I managed to expense a very expensive phone call you and I made from 37,000 feet to a colleague back in Orlando. A seatback phone, a platinum Visa card and a flying bar – what a dangerous combination.

Beyond that, I’m proud of the annual benefit concerts I organized in the late ‘90s to raise money for The Orlando Sentinel Holiday Fund. Back then it was called Sentinel Santa. I was covering the Orlando music scene at the time for Digital City Orlando, and every year my musician friends would come out and play a show to raise money for the kids. It was always a pretty big effort and required a lot of organization, but it was incredibly satisfying.

I still have a recording of Rob Thomas and Steve Burry singing a duet together at one of those things, and I’m willing to give Rob the master if he’ll come back and do another benefit.

If you weren’t here, you'd be doing?

If I had the chops, I would be a musician. But I suck.

For a long time I had the idea of doing a Web-based series of audio and video features on interesting everyday people.

I would love that! When do we start?

Then one day I heard “This American Life” on NPR and realized Ira Glass was already doing it. I’d still like to do something in that vein, particularly with old people, who have so many amazing stories and experiences to share.

And no joke – I would love to combine that kind of work with running a little farm or orchard. I dig the rural life. But it would be helpful if the rural area has a place with a nice microbrew selection, a great pizza joint, and somewhere I can get a good Cuban sandwich.

And by "little farm" and pizza you mean growing weed in your garage. I gotcha ;)

When do we get flying cars and food pellets?

I’m tired of waiting so I’ve decided to go retro: A burro and salt pork.

Create a new superpower for yourself:

I am SlickMan. I have a huge ‘50s-style pompadour that I dip in the ocean to soak up oil spills.

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Twitter: JTspeaks
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Thank you for your time and consideration.