MILPITAS, CA: Disk-drive maker Maxtor has consolidated its global PR account with Fleishman-Hillard after recognizing that its previous agencies were not communicating with each other.
"A year ago we had 22 different PR agencies globally, and the process of making sure each agency knew what we wanted was cumbersome," said Stephen DiFranco, VP of corporate and brand marketing. "There was no coordination between agencies. Something would happen in Asia, and no one would know about it in Europe. The overhead to coordinate all these agencies was extraordinary."
DiFranco began his search for a single agency about nine months ago. He spoke not only with technology companies, but also with companies from markets such as the food and garment industries. While having one agency was common for those latter industries, DiFranco said he found few tech companies that use just one.
"What I was looking for was a very tight operation," DiFranco said. "If something happens in Japan, I want Singapore to know about it within a minute, and within an hour I want London to know about it. And by the time people wake up in California, it should be taken care of."
That was part of the reason DiFranco selected Fleishman, whose San Francisco office will lead the account. He said not only did offices within a region talk to each other, and that regions talked to each other, but that executives at the top also communicated frequently.
"I felt confident about their ability to communicate across regions," said DiFranco. "They can help us spread one brand across multiple places. It was fascinating. Word spread quickly that we were looking to do this. So when we asked other agencies, 'What is your strategy in Dubai?' we got some blank stares. Dubai is an important market to us."
The $4 billion company sells directly to enterprises, to other firms that use Maxtor's technology in their products, and directly to the public via retail. But Maxtor's challenge is to become more of a consumer brand, particularly as consumers buy home theater and digital media technology.
"Many people predict that every living room will have a media center, and a lot of that will run on disk drives," DiFranco said. "So how do we become a name that's sitting there next to a Sony or a Panasonic? PR will give us the opportunity to educate the public on the value of the company and the products we make."