Technology public relations specialist
There’s a canard in certain public relations circles that process is the enemy of creativity, that the discipline of a formal methodology somehow constrains creative thinking. Hotwire provides ample evidence that the opposite is true: it uses a rigorous process orientation to help it develop big, breakthrough ideas and achieve consistent quality—an approach it calls practical creativity. It’s a philosophy that has paid off in spectacular fashion as the firm has grown from its launch in September 2000 to establish itself as one of the leading technology specialists in Europe, with three offices staffed by 54 people.
The firm uses its own campaign development process and its own measurement process (using a mix of internal and external resources), and an “issues factory” process designed to help clients establish thought leadership around hot button topics—especially important as technology media coverage increasingly focuses on trends and issues rather than individual products. So for software developer Sicap, for example, the firm built a trend story around the fact that teens were increasingly dumping their boyfriends and girlfriends by text messages; while for Ciena firm provides communications support for a corporate repositioning that followed the telecom collapse of 2001.
Hotwire founder Kristin Syltevik is former head of the European high-tech practice at Shandwick International (now Weber Shandwick), who has considerable experience working with technology companies of all sizes on pan-European programming at the strategic level. She is joined by Anthony Wilson, former European finance director for Weber Shandwick, who brings international management and operations expertise unusual in a boutique PR firm; senior partners Sian Gaskell (responsible for Hotwire’s digital media and consumer technology practice), Brendon Craigie (head of the applications and services practice and the new banking and finance practices), and newcomer Ian Hood (who joined as head of business development in 2004); regional partners Ute Richter (formerly of German tech PR firm Net2b and Manning Selvage & Lee and head of Hotwire’s Frankfurt office) and Roger Darashah (another Weber Shandwick veteran who is head of Hotwire in Paris); and partner Narelle Morrison, head of the U.K. telecommunications practice.
Revenues were up 30 percent to £2.9 million in 2004, and the firm’s performance in the first half of 2005 was even more impressive, as it grew by around 70 percent—on track for more than £4 million this year. The firm has signed an impressive 31 new clients in the past 12 months (21 in the U.K, five each in France and Germany) with highlights including Intellect, Chordiant, MYOB, Pantone, Singapore Economic Development Board, Internet Watch Foundation, Logic 3, ALK and Blinkx and the new financial services practice adding Mosaic Software, Thales e-Transactions and ClarityBlue are the practices first clients.
Just as important, the firm is handling an increasing volume of pan-European business. More than half of the clients in the French and German offices use Hotwire’s European network, which includes partners in other countries handpicked for the task at hand, and those two offices are also driving business into the network, so that firm is not dependent on the U.K. to drive new business. Typical of the way the business is changing is Hotwire’s work for RIM, helping to establish Blackberry as one of the powerhouse tech brands across Europe, an assignment that draws on all three of the consultancy’s offices and partners in Italy and Spain.
Hotwire also continued its award winning ways: in October 2002, after just two years, it was named PR Week’s New Consultancy of the Year and took home the Computing Industry Award for Best IT PR Company; this year it was a SABRE finalist for its Sicap work and won a Top Com award in France for its work for Research in Motion (also a finalist in the German Goldene Brücke award.