Reuters molds brand into the main event

Renewed PR emphasis has Reuters branching out with events for PR pros, media, and more

Renewed PR emphasis has Reuters branching out with events for PR pros, media, and more

As a media and financial brand, Reuters is among the most recognized and respected in the world. But with the changing media climate and proliferation of news sources, the 150-year-old company has to work hard to not only keep on top of the latest media trends and technology, but also keep the company top-of-mind for a variety of audiences, including clients and media.

Reuters has been able to accomplish that first goal with such tactics as adding multimedia features to its Web site and being the first virtual news bureau in Second Life. Making sure the latter occurs is the responsibility of Reuters' communications team.

Frank De Maria, SVP of corporate PR at Reuters, notes that PR plays an important role in the company's overall goals. "Traditionally, there's been a lack of understanding as to what Reuters actually is," he says. "For us now, PR is the critical tool to show what we are and what we're about."

Samantha Topping, VP of corporate PR for Reuters, adds that the amount of PR activity - especially in the Americas - has increased in the past few years.

As expected, some of that PR activity involves raising the profile of Reuters journalists and key executives, getting them quoted as experts more frequently, says Ty Trippet, director of PR in the US for Reuters Media.

"There's a renewed emphasis on that as far as overall PR for the brand," Trippet adds. Last year, the company hired Dan Klores Communications to work on editorial outreach and help coordinate specific events.

But as part of its overall goal to raise awareness for the brand, the company's communications team has been branching out into areas that go outside the realm of straight media relations.

"Thinking about ideas that aren't necessarily straight PR is something we've definitely come to embrace," says Topping.

One aspect of PR that has become an important part of Reuters' communications strategy is special events and panel discussions. The company's Newsmaker series is one such example. Using its US headquarters in New York's Times Square, Reuters invites media and Reuters clients to the Newsmaker panels, for which topics vary from Super Bowl advertising to social responsibility.

The Newsmaker events, which take place roughly every two months, usually feature personalities and topics that will garner mainstream media coverage - recently ousted Wal-Mart marketing executive Julie Roehm was on the Super Bowl advertising panel - ultimately helping to raise awareness for the Reuters brand, Topping says.

"Reuters is about access to content," she notes. "This just takes this to the next step."

De Maria adds that such an event also helps to attract the attention of CEOs who may be traveling to the area.

"If a CEO comes into town, we want him to think, 'I'd like to go to Reuters and meet some of their editorial team,'" he says.

Not all Reuters events are designed with garnering outside media attention in mind. The "Names Behind the News" event actually benefits Reuters' own journalists. Topping says she came up with the idea after trying to set up a series of introductory meetings between PR pros and Reuters reporters. Realizing that it would be more fruitful to do it on a larger scale, she invited about 250 New York City-area PR pros to meet about 25 of the company's reporters and editors for after-work cocktails and hors d'oeuvres.

Topping says the team plans to make it a quarterly occurrence, with the next event scheduled to take place in March.

"It's always good when [PR pros] are given the opportunity to meet face-to-face with editors and reporters," says Jimmy Moock, account supervisor for media relations at Gregory FCA Communications, who attended the first event. "This is something that only leads to stronger relationships."

And while a roomful of eager PR pros isn't most reporters' idea of a good time, Dane Hamilton, financial reporter for Reuters, says the event was helpful because it eliminated the "operational hassles" of setting up meetings with separate groups of PR pros.

"It's almost like speed dating for PR people and journalists," Hamilton says. "It's an ideas exchange."

Last summer, Reuters extended the events idea to the hedge fund community, hosting a series of after-work "Last Thursday" parties each month of the season to help hedge funds from New York and Greenwich, CT, get better acquainted with Reuters. The first event attracted 60 attendees; by summer's end, Topping says the team had met about 600 new people in the hedge fund space.

De Maria says the team hopes to extend the "Last Thursday" concept to different parts of the country.

"It's not about [Reuters] per se," Topping says. "It's about generating buzz within the industry. Eventually, it gets reporters thinking about connecting Reuters and hedge funds, but it's not the obvious way of doing it."

At a glance

Company:
Reuters

CEO:
Tom Glocer

US Headquarters:
New York

2005 Revenue:
$4.4 billion

Competitors:
Thomson Financial, Bloomberg, Dow Jones

Key Trade Titles:
Securities Industry News, Editor & Publisher

Marcomms Team:
Lee Ann Daly, CMO
Simon Walker, director of corporate marketing and comms
Ed Williams, global external comms head
Frank De Maria, SVP of corporate PR
Samantha Topping, VP of corporate PR

Marketing Services Agencies:
PR agency: Dan Klores Communications

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