Applied Communications Group
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Holmes Report
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Applied Communications Group

Holmes Report

Applied Communications founder Alan Kelly is an evangelist for a distinctive, tough-minded brand of public relations that emphasizes competitive positioning, and he’s not afraid to afraid to bring the same kind of aggressiveness to managing his own business. While other technology firms may have hunkered down to wait out the recession, Kelly has been moving forward with some exciting initiatives, refusing to rest on his laurels, introducing new services and thinking about new ways to use communications to help his clients gain a competitive edge.
 Kelly has begun to emphasize an approach he calls “playmaking,” a process borrowed from political campaigning (although it appears to bring in elements from sources as diverse as professional football and Sun-Tzu) that selects appropriate strategies to navigate clients past trouble spots, place them in control of discussions, and ultimately establish them as leaders in their categories. Its foundation is a deep commitment to research, including offerings focused on positioning and planning, industry analyst relations and media metrics, and expanded in 2002 with the addition of a new unit focused on opposition research—another example of the firm’s enthusiasm for ideas that came to prominence in the political arena but have equal relevance in highly competitive industries like technology. The commitment to research was underscored by the addition of Forrest Anderson, formerly of Golin Harris and Burson-Marsteller, and a PR research veteran.
 The communications research group landed plum assignments from clients such as Genentech and Cisco, while the opposition research capability got its baptism of fire helping Hewlett Packard manage its contentious proxy battle with Walter Hewlett and other opponents of the Compaq merger. Major new clients included Wind River, a leader in embedded software; networking heavyweight Cisco; and Peregrine for turnaround work. Overall, revenues were down slightly to around $10.3 million for the year.
Closing out 2002, the firm made strategic investments in two areas outside its traditional markets: public policy and life sciences. Genentech became a leading client of the latter, while the former is working with TechNet, a bipartisan lobbying group of tech CEOs, on a variety of issues. Jim Hock, a four-year press secretary to U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, gave weight to the new pratice.
The firm remains committed to its European operations, based in Amsterdam, solidifying productive partnerships with London, Paris, Munich, Barcelona and Milan-based firms.
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