LOS ANGELES — The emergence of ‘Silicon Beach’ has certainly enticed interest from its ‘Valley’ kin, but still, tech PR’s most lucrative opportunity in Los Angeles remains its intersection with brand marketing and entertainment.
Earlier this month, tech firm Spark PR expanded into this realm by naming Candice Yusim, formerly VP at Tribal Brands, as MD of its Los Angeles office.
Yusim joined Spark in January to “take the Los Angeles office in a different direction” than its San Francisco hub. For instance, she envisions the Los Angeles outpost to, both, offer services and represent brands that are changing the way people consume entertainment.
“You think about all digital interactions that happen before, during and after any medium experience, like a concert or the movies,” she said. “There are companies enabling that - they’re the change agents.”
While social is a piece of this, Yusim would like to expand Spark’s capabilities to experiential marketing and onsite activations. For example, using green-screens to transport consumers into promos or videos, or augmented reality experiences -- made especially popular with the arrival of Google Glass.
This intersection is certainly ripe for further growth, adds Rachel Rogers, MD at Atomic PR Los Angeles. Rogers was brought onto the tech agency’s 14-person LA office more than five years ago because of her background in consumer and entertainment PR.
She says the advantage for tech shops in Los Angeles is their reputation for being able to adopt a nimble, startup-like mentality of doing more for less, and often being ahead on new services like analytics-driven campaigns -- especially when it comes time to making the case for budgets.
“CPG and entertainment brands feel like there’s a wealth of tech PR resources they’re failing to tap into,” Rogers said. “There’s certainly a lot of excitement around Silicon Beach, but the challenge there is funding.”
Rogers says from the four to five inbound start-up queries they get per day, at least 20% come from Silicon Beach companies. Already, Atomic LA works with companies like CAA start-ups and the buzzy Intern Sushi platform to help young people without connections to break into the entertainment business, as well as companies based in San Francisco or other parts of the country. Until recently, Atomic also serviced San Diego-based Sony Electronics, which has now consolidated its PR with Burson-Marsteller.
Michael Nyman, chairman and CEO of PMK BNC, an IPG-owned brand and entertainment powerhouse, says this trend of integrating technology with brand was seeded several years ago, but has recently accelerated.
“Tech firms might realize there is a limit to their audience and ability to amplify their message - especially after working in and around Los Angeles and seeing the benefit of taking advantage of the influential culture here,” Nyman said. “The innovation might be life-changing but if it’s not messaged to the wide-stream” adoption lags.
Similarly, Trulia brought Michael Corbett on board to help it break out of the Silicon Valley tech media enclave and reach more mainstream audiences.
Not all tech companies have flourished in LA. Bite eventually closed its Los Angeles office that was opened in 2007 to tap into the convergence of digital media and entertainment.
As for Yusim, her focus is now growing Spark’s lean Southern California office as it moves from the coastal community of Hermosa Beach, about 20 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, to Santa Monica “where all the action is.”