"I didn't even have my Blackberry working yet, [but] I was trying to field calls and shuttling back and forth between [San Francisco] and LA," she recalls. "But we had really positive feedback because we were one of the first to make this announcement in the industry."
The media attention also pointed to how much the social networking space has grown in the past year. Coverage of the launch also included MySpace's formidable rival Facebook - which was inevitable considering the fierce competition between them. One advantage Facebook has had is Silicon Valley's tendency to act sentimental toward its homegrown companies, but Walgenbach is focused on bridging the gap.
"MySpace hadn't really been seen as one of the powerhouses in Silicon Valley because [it is] based in Los Angeles and didn't have as strong a foothold in [the Bay Area]," she notes. "MySpace has made significant strides in the past year to create local roots in the Bay Area and better communicate with industry partners and pundits."
Remedying this divide was one of the drivers behind MySpace's decision to open its San Francisco office last fall, explain Walgenbach. The company has been rapidly bolstering its regional staff since.
Helping with this expansion was a natural extension of Walgenbach's previous role at SparkPR, where she worked on the MySpace Web developer platform until Dani Dudeck, VP of communications for MySpace, suggested that she join the company full time.
"[Walgenbach's] experience and understanding of [our] business and culture will be a key asset in continuing to build bridges between [headquarters] and our San Francisco office," says Dudeck. "We're moving full speed ahead with local engineering, development, and sales hires. Putting a PR team on the ground is a logical next step to ensuring the lines of communication remain open."
Going in-house also gives Walgenbach the added perk of being able to better use her MBA.
"When you're in-house, you get a deeper understanding of how the business works because that's what you deal with 24-7," she says. "You take on more responsibility in-house, but it's so great to be so close to the business."
MBAs are still rare in the PR, but Walgenbach wanted the degree so she could better develop all-encompassing strategies. She finds this skill vital in Silicon Valley where the rapid pace puts added pressure on building campaigns that will quickly move the bottom line.
This swiftness was evident when some of MySpace's rivals unveiled data portability features on the heels of its Data Availability launch. The rapid turnaround in technology is a natural part of the sector's PR challenge, but Walgenbach set her sights even beyond obstacle.
"There is a lot that can be done to promote MySpace in Silicon Valley," she notes. "I'm just starting to scratch the surface."
MySpace, comms manager, tech, mobile, and product
SparkPR, senior associate
A&R Edelman, account executive
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