If you have trouble understanding what Bureau Gravity is going to do in their new offices at 56 S. LaSalle St. in downtown Aurora, don’t feel badly.
They have a little trouble explaining it themselves.
“You can’t really describe it until you demonstrate it,” said Jimi Allen, Bureau Gravity owner.
That’s because the new business model for Bureau Gravity, ostensibly a marketing firm which has been operating for about 15 years on LaSalle Street, just a few doors from the newly remodeled historic building they are moving into, is just that — new.
Allen said you cannot rely on archetypes or comparables to describe what’s happening there.
“When Apple started, people thought it was all about computers,” Allen said. “But it wasn’t. It was all about culture. We’re talking more about culture.”
And that culture involves Bureau Gravity helping clients with everything from content, production, how to distribute their content, and even interacting with other clients to share ideas.
Allen does not even like the word marketing, calling it old. He refers to his company as practicing “commercial journalism,” telling about his clients in cover stories on websites that have sections.
He talks of handling a client like covering a beat, and even has the second floor in the newly remodeled building ready to be set up somewhat like an old-style newsroom.
Allen, who was once a photographer at The Beacon-News, said just like when he helped tell stories in the newspaper, his company is trying to tell the stories of its clients.
Today, that story-telling has changed to fit the way stories are delivered. Bureau Gravity not only helps clients with what content they should use, but how to produce it, and what kind of mix they should use to distribute the message, including websites, social media and live streaming.
“There is a complexity to companies telling their stories today; it’s almost impossible to explain,” Allen said. “We’re integrating, we’re simplifying a very complex issue, the complexity of being produced. We’ve got to figure out how to tell that story.”
On Monday morning, client Stacey Hanke, of StacyHankeInc.com, a consultant to Fortune 500 companies, was producing promos on the third floor for her website.
Another client, Tim Schaedler, a commercial photographer from the Tampa Bay, Fla., area, was talking to Allen and Chris Rud, Bureau Gravity operations director, about using the new building to get other commercial photographers together for what might turn out to be a workshop.
Rud pointed to a human relations company that is a Bureau Gravity client.
The company wanted to fill 70 jobs. In the past, it would have done one, all-encompassing video “that was going to save the world,” Rud said.
Today, Bureau Gravity can use sections that “allows us to break up the story into digestible pieces,” he said.
Allen also sees Bureau Gravity having a role in telling the story of the Aurora community, too.
“People still want to know what’s going on around them,” he said.
To that end, the company can host live streaming reports that could be weekly or daily, for any client, large or small.
Already, Allen said Bureau Gravity is part of the community by virtue of the $2.3 million it has invested into renovation of the historic building on LaSalle Street, the former Coats Building, first built in 1907 as a car dealership.
The project began in 2013, when Bureau Gravity entered into a development agreement with the city. As part of the agreement, the city kicked in about $300,000 for the project.
In 2016, the city amended the original agreement to provide an additional $82,000 grant for technology in the building. The project has received two different pieces of funding from Invest Aurora, the nonprofit redevelopment organization of the city.
The building even has a cafe, and several spaces that can be used for events, everything from workshops to banquets.
“Everyone has a passion, and if they want to make a business out of it, we’re here to help them develop that passion,” Allen said.
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