When The Mathews Group launched The Engineering 100 in mid-2019, the “distributed” team was already a decade into pioneering a successful work-from-home agency while scattered across the globe. Partners Melissa Mathews (based in the Middle East) and Tia Over (Portland, Oregon) had previously worked together at NASA and reunited six years later when Melissa launched the agency serving the engineering profession.
With team members (photo above) located in numerous time zones, Tia recalled they “were looking for a vehicle to display our expertise to the engineering profession. Our goal was not to make money – we saw 100 as a wonderful relationship-building tool that would also circle our entire team around one project, as oftentimes we’re focused in small groups on accounts. Turns out it’s been great for both goals, and now we’ve enlarged our scope to earn revenue with it.
“I have to give Melissa credit,” Tia said. “She was in the room when The 100 Companies founder Chris Schroder first presented the content marketing platform to PRSA Counselors Academy in May 2015. She came back and said, ‘What a cool concept’ and we’ve watched its growth since. So when we launched last year, we were not trying to monetize it. We thought if we broke even, that would be great.
“In this space, the third industry vertical 100 after Association and Travel, we thought would need to have a good number of editions under our belt – a body of work to point to – before we approached potential partners, so we didn’t dial up too much pitching the first six months. At first we used the newsletter as a way to showcase current clients doing interesting things in the engineering space – Lockheed Martin, Phillips 66, University of Washington Continuum College, and most recently, Argus Consulting. It’s been great to give our clients a platform to extend stories that they may not tell otherwise.
“When we were ready to start pitching for sponsored content, we called Chris and asked for advice and he shaped our thinking. Instead of focusing on engineering firms and companies, he suggested targeting other non-competitive prospects who were not engineers but who were also trying to reach them – the providers, the suppliers, the associations,” Tia said. “When we looked over Chris’ shoulder and saw how he found prospects, how to hone our pitch, how to price partnerships, things started to happen. Maybe it was the timing with the pandemic, but other groups were also struggling with how to reach their targets, so they joined us in The Engineering 100.
“We pitched 20 to 30 prospects with cold calls by email or through LinkedIn. The three we landed responded after a few pitches: the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), OnShape, a cloud-based CAD platform, and a third sponsor to be announced in October. The prospects we continue to approach are the lead-gen and marketing professionals, and others are in the pipeline.
“We now have a 2-2-2 formula for success,” Tia continued. “Our vision is to have six articles per newsletter – two sponsored pieces, two timely news articles and two about Mathews Group clients.
“The Engineering 100 has given us a platform and a voice. It has raised our profile. When we are meeting new clients, it’s a natural ice breaker. We tell engineering firms that we are not only selling strategic communication and PR, we work closely with engineers to help them communicate through our own media channel. It gives us credibility that we are walking the walk. We hear, ‘The E 100 is really cool and we want our story told there.’ ”
The 100 Companies profiled by national media reporter
With the cascading collapse of print media and the financial and ethical challenges plaguing broadcast and social media, it’s easy to overlook the thousands of innovators changing the media industry daily. It’s easier to keep pace through newsletters from NBC’s Dylan Byers, Recode’s Peter Kafka, Josh Sternberg’s The Media Nut and Simon Owens’ Tech & Media.
Owens most recently has published deep dives on large and small media outlets – including profiling the origins and future of The 100 Companies. Interviewing founder and CEO Chris Schroder, Owens presented his international readership with the evolution of The 100 Companies from its innovative disruption of hard-core journalism as well as its expansion from PR firms serving a geographic base to industry vertical publications to its current mission of connecting any organization seeking to communicate with a targeted audience with an affordable digital, award-winning solution.