10 years of TorchLight: Interview with Dale Curtis, our first direct hire client

by Susan Mullin

As part of our 10-year anniversary celebration, we’re looking back at important milestones and moments in our company’s history. Our first placement with our very first direct hire client – Dale Curtis, CEO of Dale Curtis Communications – is one of those key moments in time. We recently sat down with Dale to talk about how he first connected with our founder Heidi Parsont and his experience with TorchLight.

Dale Curtis, TorchLight's first client

You were TorchLight’s first direct hire client when they opened their doors 10 years ago. How did you hear about them?

Heidi and I met in 1997 at the National Journal where we both worked. From day 1, she always impressed me as someone who is super competent and energetic—and a great person to be in business with.

I watched her as she got her MBA and then opened her own company. In fact, she encouraged me to start my own company too. I’d been hired for a big role, but it didn’t work out, and I decided to leave and start my own business helping companies, non-profits, and associations with content and communications.

Tell us about the person they helped you hire.

I was looking for my first full-time employee, and Heidi found a recent graduate of Colgate University who I hired. She was a great team member for three or four years.

You’ve worked with TorchLight to find several other employees over the past ten years as well. What type of work did they do for your business?

Heidi helped me find a 1099 contractor in the early days of my business, and we started working together again two or three years ago. She performs PR support on a part-time basis for several of our clients. One other TorchLight contractor worked for us as well, performing media outreach.

Speaking of the last 10 years, what are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in the communications/PR space?

A lot of the big changes were already in progress 10 years ago and have accelerated since then. One example is the transition from the traditional PR approach—which emphasized constantly pitching stories of interest to the key reporters—whereas today targeted social media and email are often the primary vehicles to reach our targets.

With online outreach, we can build a more targeted audience and get our messages out very easily. We don’t need to reach thousands of people to be effective—we just need to reach the right 30 people. That’s not to say that more traditional tactics aren’t important in some instances, like for a good, old-fashioned in-person event.

Lastly, what advice would you give employers looking for a staffing and recruiting partner?

Look for a partner who will give you personal, attentive service. In the case of Torchlight, Heidi understood what I needed. Also, she knew of someone who was good quality in that area, and was able to help me very quickly. And when a big new client or engagement comes up, I know I can call Heidi at any time to help me staff up.

Learn more about Dale Curtis Communications.

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