Weber expands with flood of hi-tech work

BOSTON: Weber Worldwide has announced it is opening two new offices to serve the burgeoning hi-tech sector.

BOSTON: Weber Worldwide has announced it is opening two new offices to serve the burgeoning hi-tech sector.

The agency, which grew at break-neck speed last year, is expanding again with a new office in Portland, Oregon, and another in San Francisco. Chairman and CEO Larry Weber said the agency would also be looking at the possibility of opening an office in Austin. Future plans may also include an office focusing on high-tech in Washington DC, which would be housed in the Weber Ryan McGinn office.

The company has hired former Sega public relations executive Lee McEnany Caraher to head the San Francisco office, and Donna Gibbs, former vice president and managing partner of Portland-based hi-tech agency Insync Communications, to head the Portland operations.

While Weber already has an office in Silicon Valley with nearly 90 employees, as well as offices in Cambridge and London, Weber CEO Marijean Lauzier said more offices were needed to achieve leadership in the consumer tech and hi-tech markets on the West Coast. In addition, San Francisco and Portland are seen as hot areas for recruiting new talent.

The Portland office has only three staff members at present, although numbers are expected to double before year-end. San Francisco should experience similar growth, ending the year with four-six employees. Both offices are actively pitching new business, with Portland already serving Gateway.

Lauzier said the offices would have a positive impact on the group's 1998/9 financial results.

'Serving the hi-tech industry is no longer simply a question of being in Silicon Valley - the whole West Coast is a technology corridor,' said Weber. 'We also had a problem recruiting good new staff in Silicon Valley. It's easier to get people in San Francisco.

'Hi-tech is the fastest-growing practice area for US PR firms, by some way. We need to stay ahead of the game - as some companies move into the niche of hi-tech public relations, we are moving into niches within niches, specializing in areas such as integrated circuit public relations,' he added. 'It's like the medical profession. If you've got a problem with your foot, you might start off going to a general doctor, but you'll end up at the foot specialist.'.

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