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718 7th St NW
Washington, DC, 20001
United States

(202) 545-6761

Hammer Strategies leads public affairs campaigns on global policy issues, antitrust and merger reviews at the FCC, FTC, Justice Department, CFIUS, and European Commission.


Every Word Counts

Every Word Counts takes a fresh look at how media & entertainment are evolving, small businesses, and how technology is changing the way we communicate, digest information, and come together in common spaces. The views expressed here are of the authors', not any client or other party.

Great Businesses Treat Customers Like Family

Ben Hammer

My brother Jon and I carried out our annual pre-Passover seder ritual this year of visiting Giuseppi's in Rockville Town Center. To say we are fanatical about our favorite DC area shop is an understatement. When I visited my brother while he was living in Tel Aviv in the late '90s, the last stop before the flight was to pick up a pie for him. I arrived late at night, and with a cool breeze flowing through his second floor walkup, we devoured that pie.

Giuseppi's ironically is run by a Jewish family from Pittsburgh. The owner worked in the original shop while in high school. The owner loved him so much he gave him his recipe, with special dispensation to use it in his own shop some day.

Twenty-three years after opening Giuseppi's in Rockville, it's still going strong. At lunch on Friday, police officers, families and business men and women flowed through like friends and family, greeted by mom Sue and brothers Scott & Eric. The pizza and customer service are personal. So are the relationships they've developed with staff. They have a culture of warmth, teamwork and excellence. But don't take my word for it. Check out the reviews on Yelp and TripAdvisor.

We all have favorite neighborhood spots or retailers like this. And if we're in the service business, as are most consultants, the best clients become confidantes too. The clients I've learned the most from and accomplished much with over the years are people I consider partners, in a sense. When we intrinsically know and can share our painpoints, roadblocks, internal politics, and team dynamics, both sides win. There will always be ups and downs, but at the end of the day, we know we have each other's backs, and we'll follow each other throughout our careers.

It is a cliche to say that client work is relationship driven. But it's also true. Thanks Giuseppi's for another great lunch that brought my brother and I together around a table. See you soon, even if you are Pittsburgh Penguins fans.

Every Word Counts

Ben Hammer

Back Where it All Begins

My first editor as a journalist post-college had a classic typewriter on her desk. Its simplicity and functionality impressed on me that form, substance and brevity above all is far more powerful than the most advanced technology of our day. Not that Iā€™m always the best at achieving those goals. Ironically, text messages and Twitter can have the effect of making one more efficient with their writing, and creative about expressing ideas. Back to the future, you might say.

With blogs, we often have a tendency to fall short by going long. My goal is to use this as a forum to explore how technology, media and entertainment are shaping the way we communicate, form shared experiences, and express our creativity. I want to invite you to participate in that conversation. Send me comments, guest posts, ideas for future musings, and other material I can highlight on these pages.

At the outset of my new firm, I want to express my gratitude to everyone who has led me down this path, and how fortunate I feel to have the opportunity to form an entrepreneurial venture. At past employers, I have always sought out ways to create something new. At the Industry Standard magazine in New York, my editors assigned me a weekly newsletter about online advertising for 20,000 subscribers, despite having little experience in that realm before. I learned that most of us fake it till we make it, and moving ahead confidently with the support to make mistakes is all it takes to form something new.

At the Washington Business Journal, my editors encouraged my hairbrained idea to create a quarterly review of venture capital investments for the Washington Business Journal. My goal was to beat the MoneyTree report issued by PriceWaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association. With the support of a great team of editors, researchers, fellow reporters, and a world class creative team, and a publisher who supported us every step of the way, we did that, quarter after quarter.

My first foray into public affairs work gave me a priceless opportunity to learn from the best political and communications strategists in the world. The most rewarding projects focused on finding commonality between individuals and organizations typically at odds with each other so that we could form a powerful alliance to achieve shared policy goals.

And in 2010, when several online travel companies united to form, I had no idea the wild ride I would embark on that took me around the world and back, many times over. The lessons I learned from so many people at so many different organizations on that project have been invaluable.

So, now as I am mid-way through the first year of my new venture, I am taking a deep breath, ready to dive back into the maelstrom that has produced so many strong relationships, friendships, and lessons over the last seven years. Send your thoughts and feedback. And, keep coming back.