Communication is an art. In a world that grows smaller every day, the ability of a company to convey its message clearly to an increasingly diverse demographic is one of the bedrocks – and clear indicators – of success.
Transcending language is but a small part of the challenge; there is no substitute for genuine familiarity and an understanding of the myriad cultures that constitute a business’s potential audience and client base. In this challenging environment, more smart businesses are turning to Imprenta Communications Group. Where communication is the art, Imprenta is the artist.
Imprinting a New Approach
Operating out of California from Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San Francisco, Imprenta Communications Group, Inc. is a marketing and campaign strategy firm that focuses on connecting companies and causes with diverse ethnic and language communities.
By creating this nexus of communication between these two segments of society that have traditionally overlooked each other, Imprenta has unlocked a world of mutually-beneficial potential. It strives to enable clients to foster meaningful bonds with millions of people across the United States and across the world.
However, Imprenta does not work exclusively with enterprise. Instead, they are equally eager to empower candidates, causes, and initiatives to break the barriers that have consistently marginalized large swathes of the population.
By participating in and, indeed, driving this essential course correction, Imprenta has established itself as one of the U.S.’s most forward-thinking and powerful media influencers. In 2016 and 2015, Inc. 500 Magazine named it the “Fastest Growing Company in America” and Imprenta was ranked by L.A. Business Journal as the tenth largest PR firm in Los Angeles.
The term ‘seismic shift’ has a tendency to be overused. In the case of what Imprenta and its founder, Ronald W. Wong have achieved, though, it is entirely appropriate.
A Bedrock of Personal and Community Achievement
Mr. Wong is one of the most prominent leaders in the Asian Pacific American (APA) community. Not only as an entrepreneur but also as a voice of the people, he has made significant contributions to the advancement of people of color and given them a platform to make their voices heard.
Today, Mr. Ronald Wong is the President and CEO of Imprenta Communications Group, which is a multi-million dollar entity. His role includes the development and implementation of marketing initiatives, communications strategies, and community outreach programs for the firm’s largest and most powerful clients.
While he established Imprenta in 2001, Mr. Wong’s role as an advocate for underrepresented communities precedes the new millennium by many years. He has spent over three decades helping Fortune 500 companies, government bodies, and elected officials with public relations, political, and communications strategies centered on reaching out to ethnic minorities.
Advocating for and protecting the ideals of communities of color has long been one of Mr. Wong’s main passions. He was involved in ethnocentric marketing even before Imprenta in his role as a founding partner at Lang, Murakawa & Wong, one of the first strategic communication PR firms in the U.S. that was wholly APA-owned.
Immediately prior to founding Imprenta, Mr. Wong served the state of California as the chief deputy appointments secretary to Governor Gray Davis for three years. In that time, he was instrumental in filling over 3,000 positions in the state’s administrative services, including commissions, boards, and exempt positions.
This was neither the first nor the most prominent position that Mr. Wong held in the public domain. He also collaborated with Speaker of the Legislature Willie Brown, State Senator Art Torres, L.A. County Supervisor Ed Edelman, and was a political appointee in President Clinton’s Administration at the U.S. Department of Justice, Community Relations Services (CRS).
In 2012, he was part of President Obama’s Administration as a member of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Regulatory Fairness (RegFair) Board. Locally, Governor Davis appointed Mr. Wong to the L.A. County Metro Board of Directors and the Board of Governors for the California Community Colleges.
He is also the former co-chair of the Asian Business Association, and Secretary of the California Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce, Board Member of Center of Asians United for Self-Empowerment (CAUSE) and Member of the Pacific Council on International Policy.
Mr. Wong holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He also completed the Management Development for Entrepreneurs program at the UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Business. He was awarded the Sloan Foundation Fellowship at the University of Washington, Graduate School of Public Affairs.
These achievements have laid the foundation for Mr. Wong’s work at Imprenta, which has already garnered nearly 100 individual awards. He has guided the firm to recognition as Boutique Agency of the Year by Bulldog Reporter, as well as commendations for the design of creative ads and the execution of several successful campaigns.
In 2013, the Los Angeles Business Journal recognized him as the Asian Business Advocate of the Year and he was a semi-finalist for Ernest & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2017 and 2016.
Mr. Wong’s efforts to draw the focus of both government and enterprise to the APA community has been honored by the California State Senate, State Assembly, Los Angeles City Council, Organization of Chinese Americans, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Chinese American Elected Officials, Asian Business Association, and the Organization of Chinese Americans, among many others.
The Journey and the Destination
Mr. Wong reveals that one of the key factors to the success of his company is an unwavering commitment to its vision of giving a voice to communities of color. This focus does not only dictate how they approach a campaign but also how they choose which clients to work with.
However, Mr. Wong does point out that this adherence to the mission is malleable enough to adapt to the unique needs of clients and their intended audience. It is this versatile methodology that has made success a hallmark at Imprenta.
While the firm is certainly on an upward trajectory today, that was not the case when the company was established. Mr. Wong shares some of the hiccups they experienced. “The biggest challenge in our early years was to keep up with global markets and trends. We always aimed to compete on a global scale but that means that you constantly have to identify and adopt the newest services, techniques, and technologies together with staff who can address that need.” Rather introspectively, he also adds,
“Then, and even now, the biggest personal challenge has been my lack of understanding of millennials. I have an incredibly difficult time relating to, and understanding what drives them. It is a disconnect that I’ve tried to bridge for years, but perhaps I’m just too old.”
The teething stage has its pitfalls but Mr. Wong alludes to the reality that maintaining a stellar reputation is harder than establishing one.
“When you start, you have to prove yourself with every project and establish a trusted brand and reputation that is trusted. Then, clients expect you to deliver at the same level every day, every hour. Successes are minimized while failures are highlighted. Companies are remembered for the things they failed at, not for things they succeeded at.”
Entrepreneurial advice from an individual as personally accomplished as Mr. Wong is invaluable. When we asked him to share what he believed were the key principles to building and running a successful business, he summarized his views into five points:
- Have a strong mission and stick to it
Our mission has been the guiding principle that has allowed Imprenta to maintain its integrity as a team and as a brand. Sticking to one’s mission clears away the smoke and things are much clearer when the mission is immovable.
- Find the right team
I often ask staff at gatherings and retreats to raise their hand if they feel they are the best at what they do. I expect every hand to be up. Good teams are primarily about trust. We are all accountable and that means taking everything to the finish line, every time.
- Know your role, master it, and stick to it
A team works best when everyone stays in their lanes. Everyone should excel at their own role and minimize interference, regardless of intention, in anyone else’s. Deviation from that model throws a spanner in the works.
- Deliver for your friends
The strength of relationships forged over decades of trust is priceless. I tell all my staff to tend to clients’ needs, anticipate pitfalls, give informed advice, and make them look good at all times. This is how we treat our friends; when you deliver for your friends, they deliver for you.
- Have fun
Every new employee gets a manual affectionately called “The World According to Ron”. Part of what I outline there is that none of the work we do is worth it unless we have fun in the process. Work should not be perpetual toil. We relish our work and we relish our wins. Fun is what it’s all about.
Mr. Wong also touches on conflict management in the workplace. He has seen from experience that the bulk of such conflicts arise not from genuine hostility but a competitive streak.
“I am proud to have a competitive staff but competition can beget bad energy. They must remember that they are on the same team and their goals are the same. I think it’s a good idea to remind staff that we should not undercut each other to win the battle when the war is far from over.”
He personally seeks staff input and feedback because it reveals whether they are on the same page, their propensity for critical thinking, and an indication of how to nurture their potential. Mr. Wong encourages autonomy and relishes the order that emerges from the chaos when talented people are allowed to thrive.
The Climb Continues
Many ethnically- and linguistically-isolated individuals tend to live within geographically-limited areas, and Imprenta is using technology to bridge that divide.
It has already begun to use proprietary digital ad technology that lowers investment cost and maximizes ROI for their clients. Part of this plan includes digital marketing campaigns with micro-targeting capabilities that narrow targeted ads down to one’s IP address.
Whereas an observer may say that Imprenta has almost reached the zenith of what is possible, Mr. Wong feels that they have barely scratched the surface of what they can accomplish as a team.