Profile: John Brodeur, Brodeur A Plus - In hi-tech for the long haul/John Brodeur plays to grow his agency into eastern Europe and Asia

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.

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

entrepreneur.



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

1973.



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

level.



’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

his business.’



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.’



HIGHLIGHTS

1985

forms Brodeur and Partners

1993

Sells Brodeur to Omnicom

1997

Brodeur incorporates A Plus



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