For the second time on Inside the Media Minds, our host Christine Blake was thrilled to catch up with Franics Rose to discuss his newest endeavor, the Francis Rose Media Group, which launched today.
This summer Francis sat down with his friend and career coach who challenged him to answer the question, what do I want to be doing in five years? He then recalled his longtime desire to “do his own thing” and leverage the strong personal brand he has developed over the years. When personal variables started to align, Francis saw the opportunity to launch his own media group and the Francis Rose Media Group was born.
His new media group will focus on topics such as workforce, acquisition, technology and finance/budgets in equal measure, with both civilian and DoD focused angles. The goal is to provide information that matters to government leaders and help them better serve the American people.
Listen to the full podcast or read the transcript to discover more insights from Francis on:
- The creation of the Francis Rose Media Group
- Coverage topics of the platform
- Importance of highlighting people who have been in the chair
- The 5 efforts of the media group
- Significance of workforce in 2023
- How can government contractors differentiate themselves
0:49 -The start of Francis Rose Media Group
2:34 – What the Media Group Encompasses
6:51 – How Francis Identifies Sources
9:29 – Goals for the Media Group
15:50 – Trending Topics for 2023
18:49 – What Makes a Contractor Interesting
Christine Blake (CB): Welcome to Inside the Media Minds. This is your host, Christine Blake. This show features in depth interviews with tech reporters who share everything from their biggest pet peeves to their favorite stories. From our studio at W2 Communications, let’s go Inside the Media Minds.
Hey, everyone. This is Christine Blake, the host of Inside the Media Minds. And I’m super excited today to be talking to Francis Rose, the founder of the Francis Rose Media Group. Um, we had Francis on the show last year in November of 2021. And super excited to have him back on the show to talk about his new endeavor with the Francis Rose Media Group. So, thanks for joining me again, today.
Francis Rose (FR): Happy to be with you. Thanks for having me back.
CB: Yeah, it’s gonna be, um, we’re really looking forward to hearing more about how you started this media group and what it looks like. And so, can we start there? And can you give us kind of an overview of what it is? And then what led you to start it?
FR: Yeah. So over the summer, I was thinking about some of the things that I’ve done through the course of my career and that I enjoyed doing. And I sat down with a friend of mine, who’s also been a career coach, and I said, this is what I like to do, and trying to figure out what that looks like. And she challenged me to think about what I was doing and what I wanted to do in five years and where I wanted to do it. And my experience at Scoop News Group was terrific. But I have always wanted to I, you know, I think a lot of people in the backs of their minds think that someday I’d like to do my own thing. I’d like to run my own company or work for myself, whatever. And, it just seemed like the timing was right, you know, some things in my personal life were lining up that it’s, it seemed to make sense and then I had flexibilities there that I hadn’t had before, and so on.
And so that really was the genesis of it. You know, I started to think about what does that look like? What what does it what, what happens as far as delivery to the clients? Does this make sense financially? Does this is this something that’s replicable? You know, one thing I tell people when I was on the radio all the time, people say, yeah, I bet I could do a show. Yeah, you probably could for the first day or the first week, but then you realize you have to keep doing it over and over again. So, is this scalable? It was those kinds of things, and as the the answers to those started to become more clear, everything seemed to kind of point to the idea that it was a good time for me to go on my own and, and do things, um, for myself, and think about building on this brand that I have established in this market for the last 16 years or so.
CB: Yeah, that’s awesome. Um, that makes a lot of sense. And you have quite the reputation and this this brand in the market, like you said. So, what, what does the media group encompass? I know you have a daily podcast called The Federal Government Today with Francis Rose, and you mentioned that that’s launching in January. But, can you tell us more about that and what aspects of the media group are?
FR: Yeah, that’s really the platform of it, Christine, is that every day, I’ll be focusing on the news and information that matters to government leaders to help them do their jobs better, help them serve America better. And so we’ll focus on workforce, acquisition, technology and financial management/ budget stuff, um, in kind of an equal balance. You know, that’s the similar to what I was doing at Government Matters when I hosted the television show, and we focused on all four of those areas with about a 50/50 split in civilian and defense focus. So, with those things together, I think that creates, especially in an environment where CXOs at the very tops of agencies collaborate more than they ever have. You know, agencies, whether it’s by legislative fiat or by their own understanding of the best way to go about meeting their missions, um those top leaders of the agencies interact together and collaborate together more than they ever have before. And so obviously, nobody can be an expert in all four areas, but knowing enough about the other three areas so that you can be effective in your job, I think has become more important than ever, at least that’s what these folks that are actually doing the jobs are telling me and that’s the benefit that they tell me they get out of the content that I’ve created. And so, that’s really going to be the foundation of the work that I do creating that show every day.
It will be about a half hour long, 40 minutes, a government guest in any show, but what what I think is kind of different about what I’m going to be doing is I’ll I’ll be taking people in some cases, not just all over Washington, but all around the country, to different events and things that are happening where these government people are speaking. I’ll give you an example. Um, the preview episode that’s up now, the second one, was one that I created on Thursday, the day that the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability contract (JWCC) came out from the Pentagon. And something that I always loved about radio that I couldn’t really do in television and that I absolutely can do in the podcasting realm is: the award came out Wednesday, the news conference that John Sherman and Sharon Wood, General Skinner at DISA, Lily Zeleke in CIO Sherman’s office, they had their news conference to announce it on Thursday and Friday morning, I had a full episode of the show up with a highlight of their news conference, about 10 minutes of their news conference. So, people could listen to actually what they themselves were saying about this award, about who it was going to why they chose those vendors, and how they would move forward. And then analysis from two experts who’d both been in government, who’d both been there who know acquisition and understand, okay, this is what has to happen next, this is what these companies will be focusing on as they try to win task orders on JWCC, and this is what other companies in the space should be thinking about and understanding as they’re moving forward.
So just really nimble ability to put content out there that’s relevant to people. And eventually, I hope that that’s relevant also, for the sponsors who want to reach that kind of audience because, I mean, the track record over the 16 years, is that people in government trust what I do, and listen to what I do, or watch what I do, depending whether it’s audio or video. And so it’s I hope to create a platform to where that dialogue with industry can happen and we’re industry people can speak through the program directly to those government decision makers about what the possibilities are, what the opportunities are in their partnerships with industry.
CB: Yeah, that’s an amazingly fast turnaround and it’s a really cool example of how nimble you can be and reporting on these on these big issues that come up. So 16 years. I know you’ve mentioned that you worked with Government Matters, Scoop News Group. How do you go about finding resources and sources to come on to the podcast now. I’m sure you have a huge Rolodex over the past 16 years. But are you always looking for new sources or tapping into some that you’ve had before? How does that work?
FR: Yeah, always looking for new folks. The main distinction between what I’m looking for as far as guests on the show is, I like to highlight people who’ve been in the chair so that the person who’s listening knows, okay, maybe the guest didn’t do exactly the same job I did. But that person knows what it’s like to sit in the government seat and have to make these decisions. And understand that agency leadership is looking over the shoulder, the Inspector General’s looking over the shoulder, the GAO is looking over the shoulder, the committees of jurisdiction on Capitol Hill are looking over the shoulder, and understanding how to move forward. That’s, that’s the main way that I do it. I get folks that pitch me all the time. And I welcome that…
FR: …with folks who have been in government and who transitioned out of government are now in the private sector and can offer analysis on all the the JWCC an example of that. Both of the folks that were on the show that talked about what happens next – one is Joe Jordan, the former administrator of Federal Procurement Policy, and one is Stan Soloway, who’s on the defense business board. So, they’re well credentialed people, they’re experts in acquisition. Stan was in DOD in the acquisition area a number of years back, so they know what’s going on in these spheres and I’m always looking for new voices. You know, keeping the cadre of voices of speakers on the show, as fresh and as diverse as possible is really important. So, I find them all different ways, through traditional networking methods…
FR: …through pitches from people in PR firms, always welcome that. And just a lot of times, folks will say, some folks who are kind of in my regular guest rotation will say, you know, I met this person or that person, referrals like that, that are that are more traditional networking ways of introducing one to another is really, really helpful.
CB: Yeah, that that makes a lot of sense. Um, so you mentioned earlier, you know, talking about the ideation for the podcast and everything, and the discussion you had about where you see yourself and your career in five years. I guess, what are some of the goals that you have? Maybe outside of the daily podcast? I know, when he made the announcement, you mentioned ,um, virtual events, hosting things of that nature. Where do you see kind of immediate group as a whole going in the next five or so years?
FR: Well, it’s focused around five major areas of effort. One is the the audio program. You mentioned the event hosting that I’ve done a ton of over the years and I’ve missed doing that over the last couple of years because of the pandemic, obviously, but also just kind of a change in the way that the community does business. But, you know, a fair amount of virtual events. But, I think folks are really excited really champing at the bit to get back to in-person events. So I’m…
CB: Haha, yeah!
FR: …looking forward to doing a lot of hosting and moderating panels and so on those kinds of things. The video outlet is not out of the question. You know, I liked doing video as I did on television, and we did some pretty cool things, both for clients and editorially that I think were really good. So, I hope to get back to that in some structure. I’m not sure what that looks like, yet. The executive roundtable model has bounced around this community for a number of years, and I have some ideas about that, that I think are a little different than other people are doing that I think might make that model both more valuable to the government guests to to participate, and to the industry folks that participate. And I’ve found over the last year or so in particular, not necessarily connected to the work that I was doing at Scoop, but just in general talking to people, you know, leaders are readers is the old saying, and I think there is still, I’m obviously committed over a 37-year career in media, to audio and video content. But in the years that I’ve been in the federal community, these are all leaders and they all like to read and they there’s still a huge appetite for the written word, whether it’s electronic, or hardcopy. And so, you know, one of the trends that that folks advise people like me on is to repurpose content as much as possible. And I think there are a lot of folks, I wish everybody listened to every show that I did every single day.
FR: But I know that doesn’t happen. And so, I think stuff sometimes has a tendency to just kind of go into the archives and fall down the webpage. And so, one of the ways that I’m looking forward to repurposing some of that content and keeping it in front of people is through an electronic magazine that actually,
CB: Oh, okay.
FR: I’m looking into doing hardcopy too, because I’m doing 15 interviews a week for the show.
FR: And I don’t think that stuff should disappear. So, I’m looking forward to formatting that in written form, and getting, making that available to folks to take along with them and read whether it’s in a flipbook, or PDF or on Amazon Kindle, all of that to doable, or in good old fashioned hardcopy.
CB: Yeah, that’s a really good point. It’s like you have so much content – 15 interviews, daily shows like you want to be able to repurpose that. That is that a significant amount of content.
FR: Yeah, there’s stuff and I, I, one of the things that a daily news show doesn’t lend itself well to is categorizing stuff. You know, it doesn’t make sense in a, in a daily show format, to decide that today, or next Tuesday, or the first Monday of every month is going to be about zero trust…
FR: …or about supply chain issues or workforce because what happens when news happens, and then you have to preempt that lineup. But that does make complete sense for something that’s more periodical and more, more feature focused. So, you know, it makes sense to focus, February issue of the magazine is going to focus on zero trust, and I’ll just collect some zero trust issues, interviews that I would do in the course of the program anyway…
FR: …and put that together in a package that makes sense for the reader to consume it, and comes out in a format that is easy for her to consume, whether she wants to do it electronically or, or hardcopy and also, hopefully will make sense for a sponsor to come alongside and say, that’s the kind of thing we want to be associated with and use to get our message out there too.
CB: Yeah, that is a, that’s a fantastic idea. And I think having those themes and monthly themes and, and categorizing, it’s gonna be really helpful for audiences and media consumption.
FR: Yeah. And that it has the added advantage too, that I can do as I’m doing with a lot of my other content, split it up about evenly between civilian-focused operations and DOD-focused operations. One of the issues of the magazine that I’m going to do later in the year is on joint all-domain command and control. I mean, you can’t get really much more top of mind and that because, you know, the JWCC news conference that I referenced earlier, CIO Sherman mentioned that, I think it was all of three minutes into the news conference before its before he’d made his first JADC2 to reference…
CB: Haha, yeah.
FR: …and the other speakers on the on the dais talked about it too. So, there’s an opportunity to really drill down on some of those issues that, um, that I think I’m not sure other folks out there are doing with the added advantage of you’re reading the words that the expert him or herself spoke and not, um, not kind of a puzzle piece approach that a reporter puts together. Those are tremendously valuable and they’re tremendously useful. But I think hearing the actual words, reading the actual words, seeing a person say, what their opinion or their viewpoint or their knowledge of a topic is, is tremendously valuable and I that’s what I’m looking forward to presenting in all of these formats.
CB: Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, as you’re thinking about themes for the episode, and each month, what do you think are gonna be some of the hottest trending topics in the upcoming year or so? I know you said zero trust some of these other initiatives.
FR: The most important one that I think folks will focus on in 2023 in the federal space, whether it’s any of the others that I mentioned, acquisition, or IT management or budget, will be workforce.
FR: Pretty much everybody that I talked to, in no matter what their area of expertise or no matter what their mission delivery area is brings that up first. On the Scoop show that I did, I think that wasn’t the last time but it was the next the last time that I had the CIO of the Labor Department on, Gundeep Ahluwalia. And he didn’t, I said, and I in prep for the interview, I sent him an email and said, So what’s your biggest thing? What do you want to talk about first? And I thought it would be some IT initiative that he was undertaking or something like that response to an executive order. And it wasn’t it was workforce, it was the amount of his workforce that’s turned over since COVID, and the amount of his workforce that’s eligible to retire, and there are three or four other really important workforce issues. And you know, how do you keep a team functioning together efficiently and effective when there’s a remote work environment at least that’s a portion of that workforce? And how do you figure out what your workforce should look like at some future point? I don’t think anybody knows. But…
FR: …I think folks are already trying to think about what the possibilities could be. And then what do I do in those possibilities? At least, I think the smart leaders are doing that. Uh, I don’t think anybody believes that the federal government’s workforce and the contracting workforce that supports it is ever going to come back to five days a week in the office…
FR: …where those positions are flexible enough where they can work at least some remote. I mean, especially when you have the Director of OPM, Director of OSHA just speaking very candidly in multiple venues about the phenomenon of agency hopping, it doesn’t really matter, I don’t think, to the federal leader anymore, whether that leader is a supporter or not of telework and remote work. It’s a reality enough that if you don’t support it, you’re at a disadvantage when it comes to hiring and keeping your workforce. So, I think that’s going to be issue number one.
CB: Umhmm, makes sense.
FR: And maybe number two and number three for 2023, cybersecurity, of course, is not going to be not going to diminish in importance anytime soon. But I really think the people problem is the biggest problem that the government has to deal with.
CB: Yeah, definitely. I think we’ll be hearing more and more about how they’re navigating that as we get into this next year, there’s a listener question that someone asked I think is a good a good one, I’d be curious to hear your take on, what makes a federal technology provider slash contractor interesting to you?
FR: The main thing that makes somebody interesting to me as far as knowing about their story is that they do something different than somebody else does. The challenge is that a lot of what companies do is important to them, and is news to them. And isn’t really to anybody else…
FR: because the other their competitors are doing similar, maybe not exactly the same thing, or they’re doing it from a different angle. That’s great. But, the landscape is really, really well, no kidding. It’s competitive. You know…
FR: …there’s a lot of a lot of companies out there that are doing a lot of different things. And I don’t want it to sound like I’m cynical because it one of the reasons I love this space and have been in it for so long is because I think that the vast majority, the overwhelming majority of companies are in the space, yes, to make money but also to serve the nation. So I’m not, I don’t, I don’t mean to be cynical about it, but the nature of competition is that whatever you’re trying to achieve, so are your competitors, there may be doing it a different way. And so it’s, it’s the the things that technology companies do are not as novel to the rest of us as they are to what they’re doing.
So, what makes somebody appealing is that idea of what do you do that’s different? What do you do that’s unique that somebody else doesn’t do. Now, my, my nature of coverage in my editorial decision-making process is different in that, you know, I’m not really looking for a company’s spokesperson or a company’s BD person or somebody like that to talk about why their technology is great. That’s what commercials are for. That’s not news.
CB: Right, Yeah.
FR: What is what is news is what is your customers success? You know, what is the agency that you’re serving, doing? And how can you let me inform my very intelligent audience about what your agency is doing or what your customer is doing so that the customer can be the star. And this, this, this market is intelligent, and this market is small. And when a customer of a company in this space tells its story, it’s not going to take long for somebody at another agency to go, oh, that agency did well with this problem that I’m having. I should find out who helped them solve that problem. And word gets around. You don’t get a better referral than that I don’t think when you’re that company in question, but it’s it, you know, it’s hard. It’s tempting for companies to be in marketing mode. And I get that, and I love marketing people. Um, but sometimes the customers are the best marketing people for, for a company to help them tell their story because that’s what really it comes down to, is letting people tell their stories, and letting then others learn from the stories, the experiences of other people, whether they were successes or not, you know. Sometimes the best example is a bad example of how not to do something.
CB: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So, you have two preview episodes already launched, then the podcast is officially launching in January. Is that correct?
FR: Yeah. That’s right. January 17, the day after MLK Day. We’ll go to putting out a show every day, except federal, every day every weekday except federal holidays.
CB: That’s great. Well, congratulations, Francis, on everything that you’ve accomplished. We’re really looking forward to, to hearing the podcasts and tuning in to hear everything that you’re working on.
FR: Christine, thanks very much for inviting me to be on the show and continued success to you in the program too.
CB: Yeah, thank you so much. Appreciate it. And for everyone listening, thanks for tuning into this episode of Inside the Media Minds.
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