I began my career doing technology PR for Tektronix in the early 1980s. It was an exciting time even though the audiences for our messages were tiny and few reporters were covering technology, but we knew it was important and communication would be essential to build understanding for the benefits of technology. While I was at Tektronix, I also met the individuals that would later become my partners at Waggener Edstrom. We worked together for almost 20 years and I am proud to have helped to build that agency.
Some of the biggest PR highlights include creating the strategy for SAP’s US media launch and negotiating their first story in the US business press, publicizing the internet’s first live concert for Starwave, negotiating the first prime-time major network coverage about a computer virus, and launching the first wireless data standard with McCaw and other wireless and computing leaders. It’s exciting to have met some of the journalists and technology leaders who have literally changed the world through their vision and effort.
I’ve worked with companies such as SAP, Siebel (now Oracle), McCaw Cellular and AT&T Wireless, Corbis, Visio (now Microsoft), Starwave (now Disney), Victoria’sSecret.com, Sequent Computer Systems (now IBM), Alcatel.
What I like best about working at OnPR are the smart, inspiring and enthusiastic people I work with — both my colleagues and our clients. I also like knowing we’re making a difference for our clients: sometimes at large agencies and with very large companies, the impact of PR gets diluted and it’s hard to see the value you deliver. I also like the fact that OnPR is big and senior enough to do the PR “heavy lifting” for our clients when they need it, but we are also nimble and flexible enough to invent new approaches and drive new thinking. Huge changes are occurring in the worlds where we work – journalism and media, technology and PR – and it’s important for an agency to be able to break away from some of the standard practices that used to define our work.
I was a news journalist when a friendly PR executive suggested that I might be interested in a Press Officer job at the UK’s Automobile Association. It was 1991 and the economic downturn was biting into the number of days per week I was getting shifts at the London tabloid newspapers, so I decided to give it a try for six months – that was in 1991. For ages, I thought it was normal that all PRs would speak to national newspapers, TV and radio stations on a daily basis. As a self-confessed nerd, I love technology. Working in tech PR — which I’ve done for more than a decade — blurs the borders between my job and my hobby.
Some of the biggest PR highlights include helping my client win a Financial Times Global Telecoms Award in the inaugural year, going to New York to collect it and hearing the judges comment on how one of the winning factors was the superb entry submission that I’d slaved over; conducting a live TV broadcast when I knew millions were hanging on my every word or had gone to get a cup of tea when I came on screen; I’ve been and done things that most folks don’t get to do – ride with a rally driver, hitch a ride in a military C130 tanker, go behind the scenes, help create the headlines. I still get a buzz when I land a killer piece of coverage and it’s very fulfilling to establish effective working relationships with clients who also become good friends.
I’ve worked with the AA (Automobile Association), Compaq, Fujitsu Siemens Computers, AdMob, Siebel, Adaptec, DAF Trucks, and Unitied Utilities.
I work at OnPR because of the truly great colleagues on whom I can depend and from whom I can learn, and the great mix of clients – a combination of emerging players and established leaders. Everyone at OnPR is hands on with clients and the media, so we stay fresh and up-to-date. After 15-plus years in PR, and having worked in a number of sectors, I’ve been around the block a few times myself, but I appreciate that at OnPR I have colleagues who have been around different blocks as many or even more times.
I was working for a telecommunications company doing divestitures when I was asked to evaluate an acquisition offer the agency had received. This was when we were known as “pr.com.” It was a good fit for both the agency and me as the assignment drew from my finance, operational and M&A experience. While we ultimately turned down that deal, I had such a great time I stayed on.
Some of my career highlights include negotiating the sales transaction between pr.com and Waggener Edstrom in early 2000 and subsequently engineering the management buyout of OnPR in 2005. The years in which OnPR was a wholly-owned subsidiary of Waggener Edstrom were invaluable. They are a world-class organization with stellar leadership and I learned a lot during that period of time. Setting up multiple branches – especially our Germany subsidiary (OnPR, GmbH) – has been a challenging and educational venture. Life at OnPR is never dull – we have worked with some really amazing clients, supportive advocates and a wonderful and loyal staff along our journey.
Some of the companies I’ve worked with include Cellular One, McCaw Communications, AT&T Wireless, Cable Plus Management Company and Grant Thornton International. I’m currently on the Board of Directors of a non-profit organization called Helping Hands Ministries International.
It’s exciting to be at OnPR because we have a unique vantage point to some really amazing and cutting edge technologies. We have represented a number of early stage and new technology companies and it is always energizing working with visionaries to help tell their stories. The entrepreneurial spirit and energy from the entire process is inspiring. Many of the clients who have engaged OnPR have created tools and technologies which I use every day: companies such as Pandora, Mozy and TechSmith. It’s rewarding to help these companies as well as advocate for them as a customer.