During breaks from travelling the world building the Brodeur
empire, the largest international high-tech PR network, CEO John Brodeur
seeks solace in the loneliness of the long-distance run. He is currently
training for the Marine Core Marathon, his first, in October.
’Running is very demanding - you need self-motivation to keep pushing
yourself rather than having some-else push you,’ Brodeur says. He has
shown similar determination in his career.
Since its launch in 1985, Brodeur has expanded rapidly alongside the IT
sector as a whole. Today the agency is comfortably leading the race to
build the world’s largest technology PR network. Backed by media
services group, Omnicom, and with a fee income of pounds 38 million and
over 450 staff, Brodeur is substantially larger than its nearest rivals,
Miller/Shandwick and the Weber Group, with fee incomes of pounds 31
million and pounds 17 million respectively.
But Brodeur does not display the swagger of the stereotypical
Instead, he exudes a quiet confidence. Janet Swaysland, general manager
of Brodeur US, has worked with him for almost five years and says he
leads by example rather than fear. ’He inspires by being himself rather
than instilling fear,’ she says. ’You want to rise to his style and
address a problem the way he would handle it.’
The rise of Brodeur PR owes much to its founder’s ability to see an
opportunity and take it. After studying for an undergraduate degree in
journalism, Brodeur worked for United Press International before
becoming press secretary on Capitol Hill to senator Howard Cannon in
In 1980, he decided to change career and attended Harvard graduate
school at the age of 29 to study a masters degree in public
administration focusing on media, marketing and government policy. After
graduating, he moved to Boston and the following year launched Brodeur
and Partners, a PR agency focusing on technology clients.
’Technology was really coming into its own, with the first PCs and Apple
Macintoshes taking off. In Boston there was a growing group of software
developers who I felt sure could one day use PR services,’ he says. His
hunch proved right.
By the end of the decade, Brodeur had expanded with offices in New York
and Silicon Valley in California. Early fledgling clients now read like
a list of the major software developers of the past 15 years - companies
such as Computer Associates, Novell and IBM.
In early 1993, Brodeur and Partners was approached by Omnicom, which was
looking to buy a technology agency for its Porter Novelli network.
Brodeur saw it as an opportunity to take his business to the next
’I felt at that stage it was important to have their consumer expertise
as it was becoming clear that one day PCs would not just be for business
but for everyday folks,’ he says.
In 1997, Omnicom purchased long-time affiliate UK hi-tech agency A Plus,
and bought equity in five continental European affiliates, all of which
were integrated into the Brodeur empire.
One of Brodeur’s nearest hi-tech competitors, Text 100, which has 320
staff and pounds 16 million in fees, is now seeking to expand through
branching into other types of PR. But this is not a strategy that
appeals to Brodeur.
’We’re going to stay focused on technology - there is more than enough
business out there,’ he insists. His immediate wish is to give the
network a profile in eastern Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.
His interest in technology at work has rubbed off on Brodeur’s private
life. He loves gadgets, has amassed a small collection of cellular
phones, computers and fax machines, and admits to preferring the
internet to television.
’(The internet) is more entertaining and interactive. I like watching
sites that are revolutionising the web, such as the eBay concept which
auctions goods on line in the US.’
Steve Walther, a lawyer in Brodeur’s home-town of Reno, Nevada, who has
known him for 30 years, says Brodeur takes new developments in his
stride. He has never been daunted by taking that extra step to further
Although he has progressed his business a long way since 1985, the
marathon will allow Brodeur to achieve something he cannot at work.
’Running has a tangible benefit which I enjoy - you have the achievement
of finishing. In business, there is no beginning, middle and end.’
forms Brodeur and Partners
Sells Brodeur to Omnicom
Brodeur incorporates A Plus