Last week was the Global PR Blog Week, which coincided with my very own PR experience here in Stumptown. We at Jyte are investigating hiring an actual professional PR agent (or consultant, or whatever they're being called now).
Up until now, I've been doing the "PR" in a soft-serve, viral-style campaign, mostly via blog with a little bit of email thrown in for good measure. No press releases. No banner ads. Just good old-fashioned pavement hitting, blog style.
You could say it has been working. Or you could say it hasn't. In any case, we need to get way more aggressive. We know our product is better than the rest of the ones out there...better than Newsgator, better than Bloglines, better than NetNewsWire. Not many journalists or pundits, however, have learned this important fact.
But this isn't about Jyte. It's about Portland, and public relations, and blogs. You see, I tried to find a simple list of the PR agencies in Portland that specialized in technology companies. Maybe it's my Google query, or my terminology, but I came up with precious little. Are Portland PR agents not Googlicious? Say it isn't so.
I found two firms right away in my search, Waggoner Edstrom, the primary representative for Microsoft, and Revolution PR, a small independent firm with a lot of tech experience. And I found a comprehensive alphabetical list. Naturally, due to the ebbs and flows of the Googlebot tide, when I do the search today? I find more Portland technology PR results.
But the problem remains: no simple list of technology PR firms exists so far that I could find, and no easy way to sort through the web confusion. Part of the issue is that PR is essentially a referral business. If a client doesn't have a referrer, they are left, like me, to either (a) call all the big guys and be ceremoniously referred out or (b) start going through the list alphabetically, calling everyone.
Choosing (b) means getting (a) as well, of course. Here, now loosely categorized, is a list of Portland PR firms that I called, and what I learned. I have also added in some comments from bloggity friends.
PR firms with specific technology focus
- Armstrong Kendall, Beaverton, focuses on electronic design automation, mostly B2B, 503.643.7663
- Brenner & Associates, referred to me by the big guys at Weber Shandwick, Portland, 503.736.0610, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brad learned the PR business at one of the biggest Silicon Valley firms, started an office in Seattle, and then was hired by another big firm to start a Portland office. He's been on his own for three years or so. He's a great salesman, does excellent research, and is so far my favorite Portland PR guy. They charge a flat rate of $100 per hour for any of the six "seasoned" professionals from their stable and figure a minimum of 30 hours per month is necessary to do a good PR job.
- Cole & Weber Redsell, Portland, OR, a mid-sized PR firm with several tech clients, 503.226.2821
Vicki Hastings is very knowledgeable about the dot-com world, friendly, helpful, well-spoken and professional. The firm is probably in the middle of the pack in terms of size - they seem to have a range of "talent", billed at between $90 and $190 per hour. They have clients ranging from Microsoft and Broadcom to Photoworks and were the PR firm of the moment during the crazy dotcom era, working for Visio, Worldstream and a passel of other now-defunct companies. Their target monthly billing is in the $10,000 range.
- Dornan Communications, Portland, OR, a one-woman shop, Jill does mostly software companies, focusing chiefly on public relations and marketing, with some work in branding, investor relations, etc., 503.262.6505
Jill is a soft-spoken, sweet woman with a wide variety of experience. She started out doing non-profit PR 18 years ago, and over time migrated into software. Some of her favorite clients included a tax software company with a product targeted at consumers and businesses, that required a lot of education; and an email security company (spam, viruses, etc.) with mostly B2B clients. One of her PR strategies is to educate analysts like Garnter and Jupiter on the industry; if the industry gets more press, her reasoning goes, it's good for you, even if you're not mentioned right away.
- Edelman, 1001 SW Fifth Avenue, Suite 2150, Portland, OR , has lots of tech clients like Infocus, the Signature Research Center and Vulcan (plus REI), 503.227.5767, email@example.com
I must have talked to the wrong person; my first impression was that Edelman is clearly a big fishing boat not interested in catching little tasty trout like us. The woman to whom I spoke, while pleasant and seemingly curious on the phone, said she would refer me to a "couple of smaller contractors." After a weekend she emailed me saying that she hadn't forgotten me, and promptly forgot me. I never got my referral.
But, I got a referral for someone.You should "ask for Kymra Knuth. Kymra's very very smart, a mom herself, and she understands technology well. (She was at Waggoner," then KVO, which is now Fleishman.)
- Fleishman Hillard, 200 SW Market St, Suite 1400, Portland, OR, Jeff Hardison, does everything under the sun and then some, it's a big firm, 503.221.1551,
I had planned to not even try to contact these guys, thinking they were along the lines of Waggoner: too big for me. But I got a snarky reference (ok, the reference wasn't that snarky, but thought I'd help your Google ratings). I phone Jeff Hardison.
And you know what? These guys are really good, and honest. Jeff was the only one to Google me to the point where he knew my opinions on everything, already. (It's not that hard to Google me, this blog is very Googlicious) They've worked extensively with some of the major b2c companies in the region. They know all the right people and the right techniques. They're edgy and honest.
Just for your reference: these guys used to be KVO, were bought by Fleishman Hillard sometime around 1999, then changed to the Fleishman "brand" just a few years ago. They got huge in 2000, then got tiny, laying off most of their expansion and then some. Now they're stable and getting a little smarter about which companies they should target and whether they should follow the big agency "rules."
- Lane Marketing Communications, Portland, OR, 503.221.0480
- Maxwell Communications, Portland, OR, Jennifer Maxwell Bruer is "fantastic" according to a referrer and high tech focused, 503.231.3086, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jen is sparkly and smart, enthusiastic and professional. We think she's the most 'fun' of the bunch, with keen insights into the customer. Her tech experience isn't deep, mostly consumer-focused; her client stories were about an online florist and Kettle Chips. She's aggressive, energetic, and interested, and her follow-through is bar none.
- McClenahan Bruer Communications, Portland, OR, 503.546.1000
According to their website, McBru is "Exclusively marketing technology to technologists, and technology companies to the world." That sounds good, and their clients seem pretty heavy-duty. AccelChip and PolyServe were two listed on the web site. The company was founded in 1993 and focused around an "integrated" approach to clients' needs instead of splitting up their professionals between media relations, corporate communications, etc. They look a little big and I have no direct referrals, yet.
- Porter Novelli, 1001 SW 5th Ave., Suite 310, Portland, OR, a small office of a very big firm, worked for Webridge and Rio, 503.478.1400, Will Ludlam, email@example.com
- Revolution PR, Rebecca Haus, born in high-tech, living in high-tech, a small firm with good credentials, 503.232.4242, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rebecca and her partner, Jennifer Karkar, came out from Boston to start offices for the mothership in Portland and Seattle. They did the dotcom thing, they wined and dined the whales in Portland, and then the crash came. Like a lot of important PR people, they got tired of charging their clients for the considerable overhead and went out on their own, taking several clients with them. Article from Portland Business Journal
- VTM PR, Lisa Sherwin, a "very small firm but I've heard good things," 503.297.5090
- Waggener Edstrom Inc, Lake Oswego, Caroline Bourne, 503.443.7000
Caroline is an icy professional who listens patiently to the tiny little client and purports to know everything and everyone. She glibly details the functions of the firm. Media Relations. Corporate Communications. Public Affairs. She wants to know how you have heard of them (ummm... how could you not?).
The firm's minimum is in the $15,000 per month range, though they are "willing to work with small startups." She then referred me to a wholly-owned subsidiary, OnPR (who used to be PR.com, website: www.prdot.com). The wholly-owned subsidiary subsequently left me a couple of messages promising to call me back and leaving lots of phone numbers, most of which didn't go to who they said they would go to. I gave up. They're in Seattle and would have dealt with me via conference call, but that wasn't really my speed.
- Weber Shandwick, Portland, 503-552-3720, email@example.com
Weber is one of the big guns, and they are notorious for going after the "whales," leaving the small fry to whoever their favorite independent consultant is. Their minimum retainer is around $15,000, or more, per month.
- Bette Sinclair Advertising & Public Relations, Portland, does most of the restaurants in town, plus some art galleries, 503.226.0129
- Joan Biggs Public Relations Inc, Portland, listed under "event planning" on one site, does PR for museums and cultural centers, 503.248.9088
- Collins Communications, Beaverton, OR, "business communications and training" - doesn't sound like PR to me, 503.641.0585
- Conkling Fiskum & McCormick Inc, Portland, OR, not a "high tech" PR firm, Daryl Buttice, 503.294.9120
The firm has clients like EthicsPoint and Tillamook Cheese, half of their business is government relations and half is public relations, flexible on contract - either retainer or hourly (as low at $1500)
- DDS Group Marketing & PR, Beaverton, OR, small PR professional working out of her home, 503.646.9854
- Gallatin Group Inc, Portland, OR, a political/public affairs firm, 503.220.0780
- Gard & Gerber, Portland, OR, a big, old Portland insitution, located in the old Police building, specializes in ballot measures, public affairs, and event planning, they do corporate PR but it's more crisis management and event focused, 503.221.0100
- KVO Public Relations, Portland, OR, 503.221.1551
- Lad Communications, Portland, OR, 503.827.6564
- Lagrande & Associates, Portland, OR, 503.281.1475
- Larry Harvey Public Relations, Tualatin, OR, 503.691.9764
- Lindberg Kirk & Millar, Portland, OR, 503.241.0883
- McClory Corporation, Portland, OR, 503.294.3010
- O'Neil/Beriault Public Relations Inc, Portland, OR, 503.220.0901
- Prideaux Group, Portland, OR, 503.227.6637
- Young & Roehr Group, Portland, 503.222.0626
PR firms with no or little technology focus
PR firms that I have not categorized and are unconfirmed