- The Washington Times - Monday, May 8, 2000

Randall Coppersmith is the chairman and chief executive officer of Rainmaker Interactive. But the rain he makes is virtual rain.
His Reston, Va., company is a technology-oriented advertising, marketing and public relations firm that helps emerging companies spread their name and message on line.
Rainmaker creates Web sites, launches advertising campaigns and writes business plans. It even hires executives as it did for Politics Online, a new Charleston, S.C., campaign fund-raising company.
"There just isn't enough time for companies to play games, waste resources, drag their feet or worry if their service providers 'get it,' " Mr. Coppersmith said. "I've designed a company that can do all that stuff for you."
Short of providing venture capital, Rainmaker helps new businesses get off the ground, and it helps more established companies develop Web sites and conduct electronic commerce.
Away.com, one of the company's newest clients, for example, asked Rainmaker to help it achieve name recognition among travelers. Mr. Coppersmith said he helped quadruple the on-line travel company's Web traffic and boosted registered users by more than 40 percent.
Along with marketing and public relations, Rainmaker offers management and technology expertise. Rather than depending on several companies for public relations, advertising and Web development, companies come to one source, Rainmaker, Mr. Coppersmith said.
But John Wolf, senior vice president of the American Association of Advertising, said Rainmaker is not doing anything new.
"Lots of agencies have been branching out," he said.
Mr. Coppersmith, nonetheless, calls his 2-year-old company a new idea of media convergence.
"It's been about a series of steps toward the amalgam of technology, communications and media," he said. "People in the media have to understand technology."
National Geographic is one media outlet that understood the importance of technology and its role in revitalizing its brand and style, Mr. Coppersmith said.
The magazine asked Rainmaker to help it target younger readers. Rainmaker decided to go after those readers with an 800 number, a bound-in reply subscription card and a Web site.
The advertising slogan became, "Rediscover National Geographic." Rainmaker helped customize the ads to fit in a variety of other magazines from Rolling Stone to Wired.
"A lot of companies don't have the creative, and the creative agencies don't have the technology," Mr. Coppersmith said. "We're the space in the middle."
Arlington Hospital asked Rainmaker to help market its Stroke Treatment Center and boost awareness of its specialized services.
Rainmaker has 45 clients around the country, many media outlets such as National Geographic and America Online, where Mr. Coppersmith worked for three years until 1998.
"People will probably think of me as the guy who worked at AOL," Mr. Coppersmith said jokingly.
At AOL his job was to "keep the melons on the truck," maintaining relationships with big clients such as the National Football League, ABC, Walt Disney and Times-Mirror Inc.
After a stint as a reporter, he moved into public relations where he got a taste of technology from the media side. Now, he said he's gone corporate.
"The idea that advertising, public relations, government relations and Web development can all work together, it's still a concept," Mr. Coppersmith said.
Rainmaker primarily serves what Mr. Coppersmith calls midsize customers that pay between $50,000 to $1 million per contract.
The company refused to disclose revenue numbers, but said its client base grew from 35 in 1999 to 45 so far this year.

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