Technology public relations specialist
Christophe Ginisty was training to be a lawyer when Apple introduced its Macintosh computer in 1984 and he came to the conclusion that technology had the potential to change the world. He knew he wanted to work with technology companies, and he knew he had a talent for communicating ideas, and so Rumeur Publique—one of the first specialist technology public relations firms in France—was born. Today, the firm is the largest in its niche, and one of the largest independent PR firms in the French market, with 35 people serving retained 55 clients.
The firm’s first significant client was Hewlett-Packard, and from his earliest days in business Ginisty set out to imitate a disciplined, U.S. approach to public relations: more strategic than the publicity-driven approach of most French firms at the time. Today, RP still focuses on public relations exclusively, with 80 percent of its revenues coming from media relations work, increasingly focused on communicating corporate strategy rather than product specs, on the business press rather than the trades, on reaching CEOs and CFOs rather than IT specialists.
Although Rumeur Publique elected not to chase the dot-com business that boosted technology PR revenues in the late 90s, it still took a hit when the recession struck and continues to suffer as a result of the weak dollar, which has cut into U.S. tech companies’ budgets for European public relations. Nevertheless, the firm is on track for 5 percent growth this year and will end 2005 with fee income in excess of €4 million, thanks to an aggressive new business development approach that included an international press trip to India, a SABRE Award-winning effort that attracted interest from the region (a similar trip to Silicon Valley is in the works).
Clients include market leaders such as Apple, Deloitte, Lexmark, Linksys and Novell, as well as a growing number of French and overseas start-ups—which presents a unique challenge, because the French are not traditionally early adopters of new technologies. Blogging appears to be an exception to that rule, however. The loquacious French have taken to that new medium faster than anyone but the Americans, and Ginisty has been working for clients such as Apple and Nokia on programmes that use the blogosphere to reach an enthusiast audience. (Ginisty has also acquired a five-person blogging company of his own, which operates independently of RP.)
The firm has resisted the temptation to diversify, considering its association with the IT sector an asset and its reputation as a “one stop shop” for reporters covering high-tech issues—it treats journalists as clients and plans to open a “lounge” in Paris to showcase its clients’ new products—something it did not want to dilute. But Ginisty is looking at adding new services, including product placement, and considering an expansion into the healthcare sector after picking up the AGF insurance company account. Biotech will be a primary focus of that activity.
Rumeur Publique does not have a formal affiliation with any U.K. or U.S. agencies, in part because it enjoys being the French PR firm of choice for many firms in those larger markets. It does, however, work on an increasing number of international programmes and operates a subsidiary—Pianeta Communicazione—in Italy.