“I know the lack of coverage of some of the more interesting companies and ideas is galling to those who have been involved with CED and the entrepreneurial community in the Triangle and I’m going to do my best to address it.” – Steve Hinkson
DURHAM, N.C. – Communications veteran Steve Hinkson brings a strong resume (see our report) to the Council for Entrepreneurial Development’s latest executive addition – and an important one: Communications director.
If startups need help building their business beyond the basics it’s getting the word out about who they are, what they do, and why they are unique. He’s already working with companies who will be “pitching” at the CED’s annual venture conference next week.
And as the quote used to begin this article makes clear he’s motivated, not afraid to speak out.
So what makes Steve Hinkson unique and the right man for the CED job?
Our exclusive Q&A:
- Why did you decide to go to work for the CED? What are the key factors?
The amazing staff and leadership at CED really clinched it, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work so closely with the Triangle’s entrepreneurs – helping them be recognized for their successes and bringing their stories to a wider audience. Further, even though CED is a well-established, 30 year-old organization,
I saw that it was committed to being more visible regionally and nationally, and would support any and all good ideas that helped achieve that aim. As a communication professional, an organization-wide commitment to your initiative paired with the freedom to be creative is a very exciting situation to step into. I’m also the latest proof point for the attraction this region holds for professionals and companies looking to put down roots in an area with great economic opportunity and a high quality of life.
- What are the essential needs that you aim to help the CED meet in the community with this new position?
Over 30 years CED has cultivated a well-deserved reputation in North Carolina for helping entrepreneurs build successful companies. How CED serves entrepreneurs today, however, is different than it was 30 or even 5 years ago.
Part of my mission is to help define and position CED as it exists in 2014, and the other big piece is to communicate to a broader audience the success our entrepreneurial companies are experiencing here.
I know the lack of coverage of some of the more interesting companies and ideas is galling to those who have been involved with CED and the entrepreneurial community in the Triangle and I’m going to do my best to address it.
We’ve already made a good start on these challenges with CED’s #OnTheRise initiative, which celebrates the success of our entrepreneurs and promotes the region as an emerging top destination for entrepreneurial companies, and we plan to do much more in terms of branding and outreach.
- Why do you believe you were the best person for this position? What are your qualifications?
I believe CED saw me as a good fit for this role because I understand their vision for the future of the organization and I’ve had recent success positioning and promoting a member-driven organization that had similar strategic goals.
I’ve been fortunate throughout my career to have worked closely with very effective communicators and I’ll be bringing all that I’ve learned from them, in addition to almost 14 years of my own day-to-day communication and media relations experience, to bear on the opportunities and challenges we’re facing at CED.
- Having earned your Masters at Wake Forest, you are already familiar somewhat with N.C. What do you like most about North Carolina and the Triangle?
I’ve visited North Carolina a fair amount over the past 10 years, but I really fell in love with the state during my time at Wake Forest. Since finishing my graduate work and moving away I’ve missed the generosity and friendliness of the people here, so I’m happy to be raising a family now in that kind of environment.
I also love how the vibrancy of the Triangle coexists with North Carolina’s broader southern sensibilities – the pace of life, the courtesies, the food and culture. Plus, we’re an active family so being able to get to the beach or the mountains in a few hours coupled with all the outdoor activities and energetic people in the area is fantastic.
- One of CED’s key roles is offering mentoring to entrepreneurs and startups. You have considerable experience in public relations and media as well as representing firms. What are some of the essential tips/advice you can offer others based on your own experience?
I’ll share one insight that applies to anyone trying to communicate in our modern, tech-driven era. I’ve been sitting in on some pitch practice sessions for the entrepreneurs who are presenting at our CED 2014 Tech Venture Conference in Raleigh next Tuesday and Wednesday and they’re all mostly in great shape because they understand how to briefly and simply describe the relatable value of their company or product.
The classic “elevator pitch” is outdated – we don’t have 47 floors worth of time to convey our ideas anymore. We consume information in streams, on multiple screens, and count our characters.
Understanding that context and working to break a value proposition down to its bare essentials with a relatable hook will help most any message break through the clutter and get noticed.
More WRAL TechWire coverage of Tech Venture:
- Read about the 60 startups pitching at Tech Venture online
- And read our report about the showcase companies selected to present.