Tech Image
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Tech Image

Holmes Report

Technology public relations



Founded in 1993, Tech Image is not exactly an overnight sensation. In 2003, the firm’s primary focus was survival, as it struggled to stay afloat in a tumultuous industry swept up in turbulent times. It was then that founder Mike Nikolich decided that rather than hunkering down and waiting out the recession he would make some dramatic changes, to the firm’s culture and to the kind of services it offered its clients. As a result, Tech Image has not lost either an employee or a client in the past two years, increasing revenues by threefold over the same period and emerging as the largest independent technology PR specialist in the Chicago area.

                Tech Image is distinguished from most of its competitors by the ability to deliver senior-level technology public relations counsel in a boutique environment: only one of the firm’s 16 professionals has less than 10 years experience, and 50 percent of employees are 40 or over. That means a flat hierarchy—everyone reports to either the chief operating officer or the director of media relations—and it means a focus on the results obtained rather than the number of hours required to make them happen, an emphasis that helps to create an environment in which work-family balance is not dictated by the need to maximize hours. In fact, budgeting is based on a 32 billable-hour work week, a reflection of a “work smarter, not harder” philosophy.

                The firm scored a perfect 10 on our Best Agencies to Work For survey when employees were asked whether their agency did a good job of retaining top caliber employees, and Tech Image employees were most likely to agree that morale at their agency was high. They were also most likely to feel that they were capable of balancing work and life demands effectively. The management approach encourages “authority with responsibility,” says one respondent, “so that everyone is empowered to act on their initiative for clients and the agency.” The emphasis on experience means “a calm, collegial workplace, a high degree of family-work balance, and exceptionally satisfied clients.”

                Clients benefit from the stable, highly-motivated account staff and from an approach that emphasizes both media results and sales lead generation. The firm wants to be a content provider rather than “more noise in the journalist’s busy day.” That means personalized relationships with a client’s key media, as well as with analysts and other opinion leaders. But Nikolich doesn’t see outstanding media results as an end in themselves, and the Sales Acceleration methodology he introduced in 2003 helps ensure that media placements are leveraged to generate leads that turn into sales.

                So Tech Image has been able to solidify the Society for Information Management’s reputation with members and media and fuel an 11 percent increase in attendance at the SIMposium event; it has helped GlobalSpec increase registered users from 840,000 to 1.45 million in one year; it has generated more than 1,500 qualified leads for Rockwell Electronic Commerce; and introducing Redberri for Brunswick WDI, the firm generated 100 sales leads via a launch conference at Soldier Field.

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