Javelin was formed on Connecticut Avenue, in view of a Brooks Brothers, a Filene’s, and the Mayflower Hotel. On that spot in the nation’s capital, a company was born in a spirit of optimism and out of a sense of frustration.
By that point, we were at a crossroads in our careers with a variety of options before us. But one thing stuck out in our heads: We had worked in nearly every facet of our government — from the Pentagon to Capitol Hill to the White House – as well as in the private sector. At every stop along the way, we had seen up close how difficult it could be to communicate a message effectively.
Few understood the simple art of telling a story. Even worse, we saw many people put their trust, not to mention a small fortune, in the hands of consultants and PR firms with little in the way of accountability and even less in the way of results.
So we decided to try something different. To form a company that would advise clients on how to spread their messages — to tell their stories — in a way that was more effective. But, unlike a number of our competitors, we also would insist that we be accountable to our clients. We would have metrics to measure our results, regular reports that tracked our performance, and a clear commitment that we would never leave any client feeling like we hadn’t tried our very best for them.
First, we needed a name. After ruling out various options — some of them were ridiculous — we settled on Javelin. We didn’t want the company to be wedded to any particular person, but instead to a concept. Javelins, after all, are devices that help people hit their targets. That sounded pretty cool. It also happened that “Javelin” was the Secret Service codename for a woman who represents the values that we strive for: tenacity, grit, creativity.
Originally our ambitions were modest. We would help various authors promote their books to particular audiences — helping them hone their messages, reaching out to reporters and producers, and getting them national attention. In some instances, we also provided research and writing assistance. And we rented an office in Arlington, Virginia, that was barely the size of your average bathroom. For a time, four of us labored in a small room with one phone line, a couple of computers, a overfilled trash can, and minimal privacy. Randos from other offices wandered the halls like tumbleweeds. Conversations from our neighbors, who had rented spaces of their own, offered a steady stream of interruption and entertainment.
Over time, we broadened our scope of services. We branded ourselves as storytellers. After all, there are multiple ways to tell a story in the 21st century. From helping people who hadn’t even thought of being an author devise a book proposal and sell it to a publisher to building websites to enhancing social media profiles, designing websites, and developing mobile apps.
Javelin was now an enterprise — a literary agency, a PR firm, and a digital company, all rolled into one. These various components all work together in a single mission — to help people tell their stories in the way that works best for them. With some of our clients, we help them sell a book to a publisher and then promote it once it’s released. With others, we pitch them or their organization’s spokespeople on television, radio, and print media. Still others ask us to help them improve their social media or redesign their websites. And some lucky clients benefit from all of our services at once.
But foremost in our minds is a client’s brand (an overused term, we know). Among our first questions in our introductory meetings with clients are these: Where do you want to be in five years? How do you want to be positioned? Are there models out there now that you seek to emulate?
At Javelin, we aren’t only interested in helping our clients get attention for one project, but to help them make a lasting mark that goes beyond a book, or a PR pitch, or a website. And we undertake that important mission with our core values of accountability, agility, imagination, continuous improvement, mindfulness, and just as importantly, a sense of fun.
We do it from our offices in Old Town Alexandria, only steps from the Potomac River and blocks from taverns where George Washington once dined. It’s a fitting locale for us — bringing a modern sensibility and urgency to traditional institutions.