SEATTLE — HTC has handed PR duties to GolinHarris in the US and parted ways with longtime agency partner Waggener Edstrom.
Paradigm Communications will take on HTC’s work in Canada. Separately, HTC continues to review PR agencies in Asia-Pacific, where the business is largely handled by Bite Communications. Meanwhile, Nelson Bostock will continue to serve in a global coordination role based out of London.
The North American PR shift comes amid some turmoil as the mobile phone maker is looking to revive its brand after losing marketshare to rivals like Samsung and Apple. Last fall, HTC’s global head of PR Lorain Wong resigned after only a few months on the job. Fiona Naughton, VP of global marketing, has stepped into the role following Wong's departure. The company's US-based global comms director Sally Julien also recently departed.
Tom Harlin, director of PR for HTC America, says HTC is “on a growth trajectory” and much of its marketing will focus on building a brand around the HTC One smartphone launched last year.
“We need to make sure more discerning consumers are aware of the HTC One and what we’ve been able to achieve,” Harlin says.
GolinHarris, he says, was selected for its experience working with lifestyle brands (including McDonalds), consumer electronics and its Bridge engagement platform.
“They seem to recognize that PR isn’t just about individuals who report on the news -- it’s also bloggers, YouTube fans and more,” Harlin says. “Maintaining a brand’s reputation expands to various areas.”
Golin’s Western region head Judy Johnson and the Southern California-based EVP Lisa Falcetti will lead the business, but it will span across offices in the Midwest and New York. Harlin declined to comment on budget, but it’s understood to be in the seven-figure range.
Harlin calls Waggener Edstrom “a great agency” that worked with HTC for more than five years. WagEd pitched to retain the business. Also involved in the pitch was the Zeno Group which “had a very strong presentation” Harlin noted. Zeno recently picked up competitor Motorola in Asia-Pacific.
“Our communications goals are to have more awareness and understanding of what we bring to the market,” Harlin says. “Look for us to bring out some innovative campaigns and announcement offerings -- the types of things you wouldn’t expect from [original equipment manufacturers].”
For the last several years, HTC has been transitioning from an OEM to a consumer mobile device manufacturer. The company conducts bi-annual reviews of its business service providers, Harlin noted.
The SABRE Awards is the world's largest PR awards program, running across six continents. 2016 details now available.