OutCast Communications
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OutCast Communications

Holmes Report

Technology public relations

San Francisco


When Next Fifteen—parent company of Report Card mainstays Text 100 and Bite Communications—acquired OutCast Communications in June, chief executive Tim Dyson was clear about the motivation behind the purchase: “Next Fifteen is keen to build a group that comprises best-in-class consultancies. We have long been impressed with the way OutCast has approached this sector and have enjoyed competing with it over the years. OutCast has built a great team of consultants that have together built a great business. We look forward to working with them during the next stage in their development.”

                There’s a definite OutCast mentality. The firm calls its people Outcasts and says that to the outside world they are “the most competitive, intelligent, fearless, tuned in and tenacious public relations practitioners in the world… always innovating and trying new approaches, continuously looking for ways to over-deliver, and then some.” But to each other, OutCasts are “team-oriented, supportive, collaborative and fun” and “always looking for ways to help each other grow.” That’s the company vision. The reality? “Everyone is smart, dedicated and really focused,” says one respondent to our Best Agencies to Work For survey. “Everyone is driven, smart and hard working, yet has enough sense of humor to keep the workplace fun,” adds another.

                OutCast is one of only a handful of technology PR firms to come through the recession with its reputation not only intact but enhanced. Perhaps because that’s while so many of the “hot” tech shops of the 90s were busy pumping out news-free press releases on behalf of clients, OutCast was busy honing its listening skills. The firm believes that the best media coverage is the result of a true dialog rather than simply pumping out press releases on behalf of the client. Everyone at OutCast pitches the media—from partners on down—and they all listen to the feedback they receive. That has helped the firm accomplish something unusual in the tech PR business, expanding a roster made up primarily of start-ups and emerging companies to include industry leaders.

                The firm works across multiple technology sectors, including software, security, infrastructure, storage, consumer tech and venture capital, but after seven years of work with salesforce.com, the firm has a particular expertise in the web services arena. The combined experience of the management team, meanwhile, includes some of the biggest names in technology: Apple, BEA Systems, Compuware, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, PeopleSoft, Sun, Sybase, VeriSign and Vignette.

                The firm has about 50 people in San Francisco and New York, ranking in the top five independent PR firms in the Bay Area. Growth was close to 30 percent in 2005, building on the successes of 2004 (EMC, Dell, and Macromedia) with the addition of RSA and Yahoo! brands and new clients in the consumer tech space (Podshow, and Zazzle) as well as assignments from Navio and Zimbra. It also hosted its 4th annual CEO and media dinner, which attracts top CEOs and journalists from throughout the Bay Area, and sponsored the opening night cocktail reception at Web 2.0 in the fall of 2005.

                OutCast also added talent, including senior vice president Julie Kehoe, who leads the firm’s New York office; vice presidents Reema Bahnasy (a veteran of Oracle) and Emma Wischhusen (formerly of Text 100); and director of finance Gary Rhoades. The company maintains a focus on three core values—excellence, integrity and balance—which have made it one of the public relations employers of choice in the Bay Area.

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