CapRE’s NorCal Data Center Summit Preview: Q&A with Adam Waitkunas, Milldam PR, on Data Center Branding Strategy
by Josh Anderson
SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Adam Waitkunas, President and Founder of Milldam Public Relations, is a public relations professional with extensive experience in media relations, marketing strategy, business development and strategic partnerships. Under his direction, Milldam has helped technology clients across the country secure articles in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, CFO Magazine, Data Center Knowledge, Green Tech Media, The Boston Business Journal, Mission Critical Magazine, The Silicon Valley Business Journal and Capacity Magazine, among others. Additionally, he has helped businesses become thought leaders in their fields and a valued resource for industry-specific media, helping them to increase sales, promote awareness and become attractive targets for M&A. Below, we caught up with Adam in bCapRE Data Center Summits to learn about his latest observations and recommendations as a public relations professional in the mission critical space.
CapRE: Thanks for chatting with us, Adam. How was 2018 for you? How did Milldam do?
Waitkunas: 2018 was a pretty good year. It was a transition for us and we brought on some new clients. One of our new is GRC – Green Revolution Cooling – they do liquid immersion cooling for servers. And we’ve seen a lot of interest in that client. They rebranded this year and with power constraints and high-density compute there’s a lot of interest. People are running out of energy capacity and liquid cooling is a good alternative. I think we’ll see some movement in that area.
CapRE: What are you hearing from your clients? What are they coming to you about?
Waitkunas: We’re still seeing a lot of areas for thought leadership for vendors providing services, such as enterprise data centers or colocation providers. From the PR side of things, the end users are still looking for content that shows particular vendors have an expertise in a given area. They’re looking for something easily digestible give time constraints. We see a lot of that. We work with clients to develop content and work on strategy around that, so I think we’ll see more thought leadership as we head into 2019.
CapRE: What else do you anticipate happening in 2019? What’s next for the industry?
Waitkunas: One item off of the top of my head is the modular data center. We just started working with a company in Southern California called Data Specialties and, in addition to doing traditional data center, they have gotten into the modular area. And that’s one of the topics actually at the Nor Cal event in February. That’s an area that will be given more attention in 2019 as well. I also think that we’re going to see more of a re-focus on energy efficiency, based on the work that some of our clients are doing.
CapRE: What advice would you give to a data center operator who is struggling with branding?
Waitkunas: It’s important to first figure out your target market and drill down to who, by title, they’re looking to target. Who is the decision-maker? Then develop the message from that. We’ve done a couple of focus groups and brainstorming sessions on that for clients, outside of the traditional PR scope. We bring in different end users and bounce different messages and highlights off them. That’s a good method because you’re able to get great feedback from the folks you’re trying to sell to. It’s a helpful strategy when figuring out how to sell to the right person.
CapRE: What is the biggest challenge you face in deploying this strategy?
Waitkunas: A big challenge we face is trying to help out clients differentiate between all the vendors out there – all the service providers trying to get attention. They’re up against a lot of companies trying to get noticed and we’re trying to get them noticed, too. So we’re coming up with ideas to get them to stand out, whether that’s through news announcements or planning thought leadership calendars, which they’ll be writing about throughout the year.
CapRE: Can you give us an example of the kind of ways you’re rising to such challenges?
Waitkunas: We’re seeing an uptick in micro-events that we’re doing for clients – seminar size events that the client took on themselves and found partners for. like a breakfast or lunch and bring in end-users for some personal contacts and to provide them with information. These are usually three to four hours and a very small-scale event for our client and their partners.
CapRE: Are there any storm clouds on the horizon that you’re preparing for?
Waitkunas: There is some thought out there that we may be heading into a recession in the near future. A lot of times when we head into a recession the first thing companies cut is marketing and communications. It’s important for companies to know that can be detrimental to their success. The marketing and communication keeps them out in front. That’s something that folks should reconsider as we enter into a recession or a bit of a downturn.
CapRE: So what’s the bottom line?
Waitkunas: I would say that when you stop or cut back in marketing communications, there’s a lot of leg work that has to be done to bring them back up to speed. And a company can end up losing a lot of continuity.
CapRE: Got it. Thanks for your time, Adam. We’ll see you soon!