Canadian Interview: Will Willis

Will Willis heads up the new Toronto office of Bite Communications, based out of San Francisco. Willis had previously worked out of the Markham, Ontario-based office of AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) and, before that, was at Ketchum Public Relations.

Why open an office in Toronto?
AMD, formerly ATI, did a RFP process, and, in the new year, named Bite as its AOR for all its PR in North America, including Canada, although the media spend is heavily favoured to the US given the size of the market. So there were some obvious benefits of having me on board because I used to work at AMD supporting media events in North America and Europe. It also made sense for Bite to support other US-based clients in Canada, like Sybase which works with a division of Bite, called Incisor Communications.  

Will Bite Toronto PR pursue clients in Canada?
There are a lot of companies based here, that are just as excited about getting more visibility worldwide, including in the US. That was also part of the reason to open this office: Our clients can get access to the Bite network, and understand how media is done in the US or Europe.

What goals have you set for the agency?
We have a calculated, modest plan for growth. Depending on what company you're talking to, there is no rule for thumb when it comes to budgets. You can talk to one subsidiary of a big tech company in the US, and they have a sizeable agency budget for activities in Canada. Then you talk to another, and they have next to nothing. That's why we've taken the approach that we have. We get a lot of Web and technology start-ups. We respond on a very reactive basis and say, “You're a challenger brand; this is something we'd like to be a part of.” I see the same thing rolling out up here; there are quite a few start-ups in places like Waterloo, Ontario, and Ottawa that aren't brand names by any stretch, but are doing some interesting things and the only reason people don't know about them is because they haven't had help on the PR front.

How will Bite grow its own profile in Canada?

We're going to start rolling out the new business strategy that we've worked on for fiscal year 2009. Our fiscal year runs August 1 to July 31. It has been a lot of planning up until now, but, at the start of August, we'll hit the ground running, and you'll see us making some noise and doing events in Toronto to raise awareness of Bite and what we can bring to the table.  

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