Social media a factor in Hitachi hiring Ogilvy

SAN FRANCISCO: Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) has named Ogilvy PR Worldwide as its AOR after publicly splitting from Hill & Knowlton over differences in digital strategy earlier this year.

SAN FRANCISCO: Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) has named Ogilvy PR Worldwide as its AOR after publicly splitting from Hill & Knowlton over differences in digital strategy earlier this year.

HDS is a b-to-b company that provides storage infrastructure platforms, storage management software, and storage consulting services.

Steve Zivanic, senior director of corporate communications at HDS, said the biggest challenge facing the company is for Hitachi to remain on top of the virtualization market. "It's a hotly contested area in the industry right now," he noted.

Mary Ann Gallo, director of global PR at HDS, added that Ogilvy will help the company promote its data protection and green solutions, in addition to storage virtualization.

In fulfilling their PR objectives, the client and agency teams will continue to pay a good deal of attention to the social media space with initiatives that resemble its Mr. T viral video, which contributed to the company's dispute with H&K.

An HDS-made viral video, which featured Mr. T facing off against a league of zombies and an obnoxious consultant while touting Hitachi's systems, was posted on YouTube on January 21. HDS and H&K terminated their relationship around this time. The video has since generated more than 115,000 views. A second video added May 9 has attracted about 700 views. HDS plans to launch more Mr. T videos and expand its blogging capacity to complement to traditional PR.

"The strategy is essentially to continue pushing the envelope in terms of viral marketing by creating new and innovative videos," said Zivanic. Ogilvy, he added, was the type of agency that saw YouTube and the blogosphere as an opportunity, not a threat, to message control.

Hitachi wants to continue integrating traditional outreach with new media by coordinating the subject of viral videos with product launches, Zivanic noted.

"Controlling the message is the old way to do PR and it's not applicable anymore," said Luca Penati, MD of Ogilvy's technology practice. Hitachi was one of the few companies in the b-to-b sector to understand this evolution, Penati added.

Ogilvy responded to an RFP earlier this year and was one of seven agencies selected to submit a proposal. The field then narrowed to three agencies - including Ogilvy - but H&K emerged as the winner, mainly because of its experience working with industry analysts, said Gallo.

But soon after, Hitachi found H&K's new media strategies to be "inflexible" and asked Ogilvy to start representing it for a trial period, starting in late January. The agency helped market the Mr. T videos, Gallo said.

H&K declined to comment. Joe Paluska, director of H&K's technology practice, said, in January, "We reached an impasse on an element of the company's digital strategy."

In addition to Ogilvy's new-media capabilities, Gallo praised the agency's work on Sun Storage systems - also a Hitachi business partner - and its aggressive PR strategy that integrates viral marketing and blogs with traditional PR campaigns.

"Ogilvy absolutely had the right storage experience that we require," Gallo said. "It definitely knew the storage press and the analyst community - that was a major factor in terms of why we selected the team."

Added Zivanic, "The beauty of working with Ogilvy is it understood the technology and the underlying business strategies that Hitachi was focusing on." The company, he added, had to allot time to train previous agencies about Hitachi, but Ogilvy was ready to "hit the ground running."

Zivanic also praised Ogilvy's "ability to multitask and keep track of all these varied projects and make sure they are all getting completed in a timely fashion" and its ability to ensure that core team members are available for major product announcements.

He noted that PR agencies should adopt more social media practices and maintain an open and flexible attitude about new types of PR tactics. While press releases, briefings, and Q&As are baseline outreach strategies, embracing social media gave Ogilvy the edge, Zivanic added.

Gallo declined to disclose the length or amount of the contract. The campaign will be measured quarterly on the quality and quantity of press coverage, message resonance, and penetration.

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