As technology companies expanded and matured, they have often switched from smaller, specialist PR firms to larger, full-service, global agencies. The Hoffman Agency has carved out a unique niche for itself by spotting an opportunity within that trend, expanding beyond its Silicon Valley base to build a global network with a focus on serving smaller, more entrepreneurial technology firms that have international needs but lack both the infrastructure to handle international PR in house and the budget to work with a large, full service agency—although the model also appeals surprisingly strongly to some larger clients who prefer the intimacy, flexibility and cost-efficiency of a smaller consultancy, clients like Google and Symantec.
Meanwhile, Hoffman has been building on its experience in the tech sector to explore opportunities in related areas, positioning itself as a firm capable of ”advising companies in markets of technical complexity.” That’s a mission broad enough to encompass the firm’s work for Black & Veatch (an engineering firm that builds energy and water plants) and Vascular Designs (a medical device company). Of course, the firm continues to work with an impressive roster of technology clients, including global assignments for Novellus, Axis Communications and Rambus, and regional retainers for Google (Asia) and Plantronics (U.S.). In addition to Black & Veatch, there was new business in 2009 from MIPS (intellectual property issues), Loring Ward (financial services) and MarkLogic (database software). Those wins were not enough to replace the revenue lost as a result of client budget cuts, though, and worldwide fee income was down about 25 percent to around $8 million.
Interesting work include a campaign designed to reposition Rambus as an innovator after several tough years for the technology licensing company, as well as crisis and litigation support; helping Solar Winds establish a public profile in preparation for the first venture backed IPO in 2009; support for a rebranding effort at Black & Veatch, led by CMO Fredrik Winterland; a social media effort on behalf of Altec Lansing that helped the speaker manufacturer punch above its weight in the digital realm (and which persuaded the private equity firm that bought the company from Plantronics to keep Hoffman in place).
Following the closure of offices in Germany and Taiwan, Hoffman has offices in London, Paris, China (where there is new Asian leadership in the shape of former Text 100 managing director Chris Tang), Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, and Singapore in addition to its Silicon Valley headquarters.