In business for more than 20 years, Harvard is by the standards of the technology industry an old established firm, but it has revitalized and transformed itself over the past few years, shedding its image as a traditional high-tech consultancy—focused on bits and bytes and the business-to-business sector—to become a broader technology, media and telecommunications PR firm with considerable expertise in the consumer arena too. (A measure of its success: four of the 10 best-selling items at high street electronics retailer Dixon’s are on Harvard’s client list.)
The technology market has undergone its own upheaval in recent years. Harvard was acquired by Chime in 2000, perhaps not the most auspicious time to acquire a tech specialist, given that the bottom fell out of the market a year or so later. But under the leadership of Simon Jones, who took over as managing director in 2003, the firm has achieved remarkable stability in its employee ranks. The average Harvard consultant has between six and seven years experience, and 75 percent of the consultancy’s professionals have been with the firm for our years or more. Director Charlotte West, for example, has nine years of PR experience—including time at Hill & Knowlton—while Antony Mayfield is a newcomer to the firm, having joined at the beginning of 2005 from Midnight Communications.
“The Harvard team delivers outstanding media relations,” says Marilyn Dixon, marketing services manager at Pentax U.K. “But this is what we have come to expect and demand. The value we receive above and beyond this comes in the form of strategic counsel and advice across our communications mix. The team gets under the skin of our business, providing integrated PR campaigns that deliver a great return.” Adds Lucy Rich, senior PR manager for Vodafone: “The in-house and agency team combination is an example of an integrated partnership based on strong communication, support and trust.”
Last year was a strong one, with new business coming from client such as Fujitsu Services, COLT Telecom, Inmarsat, OpenPages, Direct Line, Fiberlink, MobiTV and Mio Technology, joining a client roster that already includes Vodafone, Sony PlayStation, Pentax and Toshiba. Interesting assignments included the firm’s corporate work for Vodafone surrounding a research report called Working Nation, which looked at the changing world of work in the U.K. and focused on age diversity, loyalty, and innovation and helping the company reach opinion leaders with a compelling story. Harvard also helped Pentax launch into the hybrid camcorder/digital still arena, editing footage shot by journalists into an “art house” film that was played back during the launch press conference.
Harvard helps several clients on a pan-European basis, working through its own multi-lingual staff, Harvard offices overseas and partner agencies.