Technology PR is back… just a little slower

Welcome back to everyone who was celebrating Thanksgiving yesterday – amazing how fast the Internet was yesterday 🙂

Some good news to kick off the run to Christmas. It looks like Technology PR is back in recovery mode after three very tough years.

A recent story in PR Week took a look at the Technology Sector and in particular Technology agencies.  The findings were interesting.  While no one wants to proclaim a turnaround, the recent strong US economic figures and the ad hoc PR Week survey (see below) both point to healthier times ahead.

Of course the landscape has changed since the heady days of the late nineties.  Clients want more value, it’s still a buyer’s market and business development tends to take a lot longer these days.  But given the bloodshed in the sector over the past couple of years that’s a small price to pay.

My one criticism of the PR Week piece is that they continue to ignore the smaller tech agencies and the in-house crew.  I’d be interested in the views of both of these vital constituents.

The PR Week Tech PR survey polled a host of US technology PR firms including: A&R Partners, Access Communications, Antenna Group, Citigate Cunningham, Connect PR, ContentOne, Edelman, Greenough Communications, The Hoffman Agency, Horn Group, Lewis PR, McGrath/Power, O’Keeffe & Company, OutCast Communications, Ruder Finn, Sterling Communications, Sparkpr, Text 100, Topaz Partners, and Waggener Edstrom.

The findings were interesting:

 Tech Billings over the past year have grown for sixteen of the agencies (status quo for three and down for one)

 From November 2002 to April 2003 these agencies averaged five new clients, from April 2003 to November 2003 that figure has jumped to an average of ten new clients.

“Tech is coming back,” declares Luca Penati, EVP and GM of Edelman’s Silicon Valley office. “There’s no doubt in my mind. I remember when [Sun Microsystems CEO] Scott McNealy said [the downturn] was like someone turned off the lights. I think someone has turned the lights back on, but they’re using a dimmer.”

PR Round-up

There’s not a whole lot of PR content around given the week that’s in it, however I have found some interesting (and not so interesting) PR-related links:

 B.L Ochman has a good piece on Why PR has an image problem.

 Some tips on improving your personal business image… not that I think you need them..

 PR Week has a roundtable with those most interesting of PR practitioners, the entertainment gang. 

 Delta Airlines’ new CEO is using “Public Relations” to overcome their recent difficulties – inside and outside the company – PR in it’s widest definition of course.

 Paris Hilton’s attempts at PR… nuff said

 Last but not least… as regular readers will know I am a big fan of RSS. Interestingly without the hype of Weblogs etc. it’s growing nicely and being adopted by unexpected sources – that to Darren Barefoot for the link!


PR Budgets on the up?

Contrary to the recent findings in the Thomas L. Harris/Impulse Research survey, research carried out by Vocus in their latest newsletter found that 80% of respondents expected their PR budget to grow (48%) or remain the same (32%).

This priorities for this new budget are: adding new headcount (43%), outsourcing (agencies?) and staff training and development.


My father is bigger than your father…

John Dvorak makes a living by being the grumpy old man of technology journalism. And he’s very good at it.

He has taken another swing at blogs and makes some interesting points – I’m all for pragmatism –  and some rash assumptions.

Steve Gillmor over at EWeek has called him on it and John wasn’t backward about coming forward to his own defence.

It’s an entertaining discussion and in many ways an interesting alternative opinion to the incessant blog-waving that we’ve had for the past year and a half.

How does this affect Public Relations? Well here’s my two cents.

Firstly if we take the PR profession, blogs have been positive.  There are a small but growing number of PR people blogging every day. These are all new sources of PR information, opinions and thoughts that were not available in the pre-blog period.  So that’s a good thing. You never stop learning in this game and I always find it fascinating to hear the thoughts of fellow practitioners.

On the wider question of blogs and PR, it’s important we are very very pragmatic.

I think blogs are an important new media for us and there are two elements:

1) Corporate blogs – which provide a useful means of communicating with customers, sharing thoughts and snippets.

2) Blog Relations – the process of targeting bloggers who are relevant to your client’s industry/market etc.

Now if you’ve tried these activities and neither is of any importance to your client, walk away and maybe try again in a while.

My personal experience is that both elements have added value to my work over the past two years (and I’m not including this dusty old blog).

But our resources are always tight in PR.  To be successful we must focus on what works not what smells nice.  So if blogs are working, keep at it, if not, leave it go.

The most important thing is that you make the effort and don’t make the mistake of ending up on either end of the opinion spectrum – pragmatism gets results.

A new PR book is out…

News has reached us that a new PR book is hitting the shelves near you.

Entitled: The Public Relations Practitioner’s Playbook”, it’s a 256 page guidebook to efficient Public Relations. 

I think it’s designed for the less experienced practitioner, though I don’t think you ever stop learning in this business.

It’s author is M. Larry Litwin an assistant professor of communications at Rowan University and it retails for $47.95.

Anatomy of the PR campaign.. by the media

In my opinion, Business 2.0 continues to hold dear some of the better elements of the Internet years, it addresses the technology and business audience with an interesting mix of innovative in-depth articles and what’s hot (or not) out in the market.

I think they’re breaking some new ground in the December issue with an analysis of the success of the PR around the launch of Handspring’s Treo 600 .

That’s certainly a feature I haven’t seen before! Luckily for the PR folks at Handspring (which is now part of palmOne) the results are positive. Over 207 stories with only one negative mention.

On the downside, the article also provides a $ value for the advertising equivalent -even though in fairness, they stress that the return on PR can’t be measured by that method – I wish they had left it out…

Women, PR, Technology and Blogging

Elizabeth Albrycht bemoans the lack of female PR bloggers.

Her aside amused me:

“I don’t normally go around counting female-male ratios. I approach my business as a “professional,” and don’t often consider gender in any day-to-day activities. But then, something clicks, and I look around me and I all see are males.”

Now she knows how all the guys in PR feel 🙂

It is remarkable, given the gender bias in Public Relations, that more female PR Pro’s aren’t blogging….

The PR job market…

Following on from my previous post, MarketingSherpa also has an interesting interview with Smooch Reynolds, CEO of The Repovich-Reynolds Group about PR recruitment – I bet you’ll remember that name.

Seemingly there’s more hiring happening in the agency world than the corporate world these days.

“But take heart: though hiring in the communications industry has been static throughout the recession, Reynolds says companies should be ramping up their communications departments by the second quarter of 2004.”