Holmes Report 26 Nov 2010 // 12:00AM GMT
Arguably, no international public relations firm is better placed than Text 100 to take a leadership role in the digital and social media revolution that is transforming the public relations industry and the communications sector as a whole. With 29 offices in 21 countries around the world, the firm is the most global of the technology specialist firms and the most technology-savvy of the multinational PR agencies. It has all of the advantages of a global operation with little of the bureaucracy that slows decision-making; and it enjoys the benefits of a publicly-traded parent company without the weight of extravagant management fees that some of the larger holding companies demand.
Text 100 has been playing a pioneering role in the digital and social media realm for the past five years. In 2006, it became the first firm to open an office in the virtual world of Second Life, not as a marketing gimmick but as a statement about the firm’s strong views on the growing importance of the new social media and their likely transformative effect on the industry. In 2007, it became the first to open a “global resource optimization” center in Mumbai, not just a way to outsource “commodity” public relations activity but a response to clients seeking more efficient management of resource-intensive activities. In 2008, it increasingly integrated peer media strategies—blogs and microblogs, social networks, discussion forums and video platforms—into larger communications and business strategies. And in 2009, working with affiliate Context Analytics, the firm rolled out a global study on blogging and blogger influence as well as an examination of the interplay between a company’s brand and advertising and its social media prominence.
Text 100 also benefits from a collaborative, cooperative culture, developed over two decades and all the more important as the firm picks up more multinational assignments: 25 percent of the firm’s clients now draw on the resources of more than one office, managed through its Global Account Management (GLAM) program. Text 100’s values emphasize respect for the individual, responsibility, teamwork, and courage, and the firm has consistently scored high marks in our Best Agencies to Work For surveys—it was our Best Midsize Agency last year—for its ability to live up to those ideals. Recent years have seen an increased emphasis on professional development via the firm’s PRotocol University program as the firm strives to create one virtual team across the 25 languages and dialects of its global operation.
Despite all that, 2009 was a difficult year, as the global economic crisis impacted the tech sector disproportionately and Text 100 saw its global fee income down by about 10 percent to approximately $47 million—a second con-secutive year of declining revenues, but still enough to rank it among the world’s top 25 public relations firms. About $18 million of that came from the North American region, which continues to host the largest part of the firm’s business. New client additions during 2009 included Schneider Electric, Cognizant, j2 Global Communications, Mindjet, PROS, Spigit and Tripwire, while the firm continues to work with industry leaders including Adobe, Cisco, IBM, Lenovo, Rovi, The MathWorks, and Xerox.
The firm won a Silver SABRE Award for its work with Cisco on its Telepresence technology, but is just as proud of some of its work in the digital lifestyle arena, including new product launches for Fujifilm and CNN. For Fujifilm, Text 100 helped to launch the first consumer-facing 3D digital photo system, capitalizing on the buzz around new 3D films. For CNN, the firm worked on the unveiling of the new CNN.com site in October, a launch that was covered by more than 25 prominent business, technology and digital media and generated buzz in digital and social media also. Finally, the firm supported longtime client Lenovo at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show, helping to establish the company as an innovative powerhouse in both the business-to-business and consumer PC marketplaces via 3,500-plus articles and 430 million impressions.
“Text 100 gets the job done and they do it with humor, passion and a zeal for our business,” says Ray Gorman, executive director, external relations, Lenovo. “They do it day in and day out, year after year and in 25 countries around the world. Text 100 is not just our agency, they are our partners. They have an encyclopedic knowledge of our products and services, know the right questions to ask and always seek to get to the right answers and do what is best for Lenovo.”
An impressive team includes chief executive Aedhmar Hynes, who is based in New York City and works directly with many of the company’s key accounts, including IBM, Cisco, Xerox, Philips and Fujifilm; director of North America Scott Friedman; and overseas chief operating officer Andrew McGregor, global consultancy director Ava Lawler (also responsible for talent), director of campaign innovation Sarah Howe, European directors Rowen Benecke and Sarah MacKenzie.
Text 100 has 30 offices in 21 countries. But beyond that, it has taken ambitious steps to become truly global: more than 40 percent of its people have worked in more than one region.