Raphael and Dawn Rigaud are co-founders of Rigaud Global Company (RGC), an innovative and comprehensive marketing communications firm specializing in government, social good and public health work. Raphael currently serves as CEO and Dawn as the president of RGC—and they are building a powerful team of graphic designers and content strategists.
RGC has been an active partner on our Veterans Crisis Prevention campaign, creating a comprehensive suite of social graphics encouraging Veterans to seek support before their challenges become overwhelming. We were fortunate enough to be able to speak with Dawn and Raphael about how RGC came about, what they’re working on and where they’re headed in the future.
Sarah Cummings: Could you both talk a little bit about your background, and about how Rigaud Global Company came to fruition?
Dawn Rigaud: I worked at a Veteran and military family support corporation, an alcohol beverage control nonprofit, and had a short stint doing marketing at a hospital. All of the places I was employed focused on helping others, so my experience turned into my passion.
Due to COVID, I was let go from the hospital and honestly didn’t know what to do. Raphael encouraged me to become an entrepreneur, which I was apprehensive about at first. But once we got in the groove, I was so happy he convinced me.
Raphael Rigaud: I studied Criminology in college, joined the military, and worked two jobs that had nothing to do with marketing or being creative. After college, I started a blog, and one of our writers found a spoken word artist we wanted to feature. I’d never touched a camera before, but we decided that we should make a cool video for him. After making that video, a nonprofit reached out and wanted to pay me to make a video for them; I was nervous, but I took a leap of faith, and I’m happy I did.
After that, I started freelancing full-time as a videographer/cinematographer for the next couple of years. During this time, I would encourage my wife to start a business with me because she’s one of the smartest people I know. Her being let go from her job due to COVID was a blessing in disguise. We went all out on RGC shortly after.
SC: RGC has been involved in a variety of projects centered around public health and social good. Could you talk about why these issues are important to you?
Dawn: As someone who suffers from depression and anxiety disorders, I want to help others see that life is beautiful. But how can people see that? How can people know of resources and build a safe community? That’s where I like to help.
Raphael: During my time in the Army, I had Soldiers come up to me because they were going through a tough time in their life and just wanted someone to talk to. Twenty-two Veterans lose their lives every day by suicide. Growing up, the narrative was just to tough it out, get over it, or just man up. The stigma around talking about mental health issues has plagued our community for too long. We want to help our clients be the difference and change that narrative. It’s a sign of strength to ask for help, not a weakness.
SC: What does successful behavior change marketing look like to you, and how do you both center that at the heart of the work you do at RGC?
Dawn: To me, successful behavior change includes people making a conscious effort to seek help, find treatment, improve coping strategies, know what risk factors and signs to look for, or practice positive self-care.
Raphael: Successful behavior change marketing to me is getting a conversation started. There’s never one way to do something. We want to get our target audience to know that everyone copes differently. You just have to find what works best for your wellbeing and you don’t have to go through it alone.
SC: What advice do you have for those looking to work in the social-impact marketing space?
Dawn: Be prepared to deal with heavy topics and look forward to the happy stories. Keep learning—there are always new platforms to reach people, new statistics, and new issues arising. And lastly, everyone has a story. People want to feel seen. So really see them; show them how you care.
Raphael: Be ready to learn and adapt. Trust your clients’ feedback. They’re the subject matter experts in this field.
SC: As you both approach the third anniversary of RGC’s founding, how do you see yourselves continuing your work in the social impact and public health sectors and what are some issue areas you are hoping to expand your work in or become involved in?
Dawn: We see ourselves continuing to grow our team by finding like-minded and skilled people to help our clients and their communities. The stigma behind mental health and substance use is so unnecessary. If we can help people get help, we’ve succeeded.
Raphael: We have no plans to market products or services for the private sector anytime soon.
SC: What is the best advice you’ve ever received, and how has it helped you?
Dawn: Having a bad day and being in a bad mood is normal. How you cope with a bad day makes the difference. We have the power to reframe negative thoughts and positively cope with a situation. We all try our best every day.
Raphael: Don’t be afraid to fail. Entrepreneurship isn’t easy. I never had a mentor and I learned through trial and error, but along the way, I would always tell myself that the more I failed, the closer I was to a win.