HP selects Edelman to spearhead PSG comms

PALO ALTO, CA: Hewlett-Packard has selected Edelman to handle the majority of communications for its personal systems group (PSG) as part of the division's strategy to expand into the social media sphere and target college-aged consumers.

PALO ALTO, CA: Hewlett-Packard has selected Edelman to handle the majority of communications for its personal systems group (PSG) as part of the division's strategy to expand into the social media sphere and target college-aged consumers.

HP selected Edelman following a vendor review, said Jim Christensen, director of media relations at HP's PSG. He declined to cite the contract amount.

The account will be led by Bob Angus, chair of Edelman's global technology practice, but the work will be spread across Edelman's agencies nationwide.

The PSG division includes notebooks, desktops, workstations, gaming equipment, and entertainment equipment. Last quarter, PSG grossed $10 billion in revenues - the highest single-quarter earnings for any HP business division, Christensen added.

Marlene Somsak, director of global media relations at HP's PSG, said its communications strategy is to strengthen the division's core products such as consumer notebooks, while expanding the brand into emerging markets, digital media, and gaming. The division looks to position PSG as a lifestyle product line, noted for the design and creativity of its products.

The strategy will build on the tech giant's "The Computer Is Personal Again" campaign, evoking a "visceral response, and help people connect emotionally to our products," Somsak said.

"You'll see us move more aggressively into the social media space," she added.

One idea under consideration is to increase outreach to video game fans who frequently communicate through blogs and social networking sites, according to Somsak. The division also plans to increase out-reach to college-age consumers.

"We believe that this demographic is not only influential among their peers," Somsak said. "They're advising their parents and grandparents on purchases."

The company has previously worked with youth-oriented partners - such as MTV - and plans partnerships with other outlets. Its media strategy also targets traditional press, including business, tech, and lifestyle outlets, as well as blogger and social media relations.

"We have expanded what we do with bloggers," she said. "We see bloggers as an important, authentic audience to engage with."

Bloggers now come under non-disclosure agreements, letting them conduct products reviews similar to traditional reporters.

"The traditional news media is very important," Somsak noted. "But once a story is written about a particular product - it's not really revisited unless there is a real reason to do so. With the blogging community, conversations can continue and evolve."

Challenging, too, are the decreasing number of publications and the shorter space allotted to stories.

"We will try to do even more with a great photograph and cutline because peoples' attention spans are so short," she said, adding that cutlines [or captions] reach a wider audience than full-length stories. Targeted traditional media include The Wall Street Journal, CNET, BusinessWeek, and People.

Edelman's acquisition of A&R in May of 2006 was "key" in the win, Somsak said, noting that the merger of A&R's tech practice with Edelman's consumer experience and global-network would help HP meet its branding goals.

"The social networking side of Edelman is attractive," she added.

Angus, Edelman's account lead, said upcoming projects include product work and corporate agendas. The account will be among the largest at Edelman's Silicon Valley office, Edelman A&R.

"We're building a global technology practice and this will be a key element in it," Angus added.

Porter Novelli formerly held the PSG account, and will continue to work on portions of it in North America. PN will continue to oversee PR on HP's imaging and printing division in North America.

A PN source said that while PSG was "a big piece" of PN's business, HP's imaging and printing constitutes a larger portion. The loss was not a "huge surprise" to PN because of changes made by HP's marketing management in the past several years, added the source.

HP's PSG also works with High Road Communications.

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