Having served as the editor of Maritime Reporter & Engineering News for more than 20 years, it is my running joke that Jim Rhodes, president, Rhodes Communications, Inc., is the first person I see at every trade show I attend, anywhere I attend, around the world. This, I think, is testament not to dumb luck, rather to Rhodes, who this month celebrates the 30th Anniversary of his self-named PR firm, as an astute and always-present PR machine.
Rhodes Communications, Inc., an international public relations and marketing services company based in Norfolk, Va., celebrates its 30th year of business this month.
Founded in 1983 by Jim Rhodes, the company originally focused primarily on the commercial and recreational segments of the marine industry. Through the years, Rhodes Communications has added clients in other markets, including GPS, aviation, satellites, government, public safety, construction, transportation, surveying, civil engineering, oil/gas and mining. A recent area of specialization is the rapidly growing telematics and machine-to-machine (M2M) industry.
“Our unique area of specialization is Business-to-Business (B2B) PR and marketing for companies selling to other companies in global vertical markets,” said Rhodes. “We have discovered that we are very good at presenting technical content in a way that is understandable by non-technical readers.”
The Rhodes Communications team specializes in staging PR events in novel and unusual venues to help its clients stand out in a busy and competitive marketplace. Notable and unusual PR campaigns and promotions have included:
•A series of press interviews conducted via satellite with a couple wintering in Antarctica, sponsored by Comsat Mobile Communications
•A co-sponsored press junket with Land Rover to the jungles of Belize and Guatemala to showcase new portable satellite communication technology from Magnavox
•Floating press conference on a P&O cruise ferry between Dover and Calais to introduce a new line of marine radar products for Sperry Marine
•Press luncheon at the top of the iconic Tower Bridge in London to introduce online navigation training for Safebridge, a client based in Hamburg, Germany
Last year, Rhodes Communications launched a new business area under a strategic partnership with Soccoli Associates, a maritime industry consultancy in Charlottesville, Va. The two companies -- with Maritime Reporter & Engineering News and Maritime Professional as exclusive media sponsors -- are teaming to produce a series of technical conferences for the shipping industry under the SHIPPINGInsight brand. Their second annual Fleet Optimization Conference, held in Stamford, Conn., last month, attracted more than 100 registered delegates from 11 countries (www.shippinginsight.com).
“My first office was in the back room of our home,” said Rhodes. “All I had was a telephone and electric typewriter. The first office PCs were still a novelty. Fax machines were expensive, slow and clunky. Email was unknown. International business communications flowed through telex machines. We sent out client press releases – hundreds at a time – by mail, printing labels from the typewriter and hauling them by the basketful to the post office.”
Today, Rhodes Communications distributes press releases electronically for its clients using its proprietary database of more than 10,000 media contacts covering more than 50 vertical market segments worldwide. The list is maintained and constantly updated by Rhodes Communications staff. The company also offers a news distribution service for the marine industry through its Marine NewsWire subsidiary (www.marinenewswire.com).