CHICAGO: Hi-tech PR firms in the US are feeling the pressure from clients cutting PR budgets - or even dropping PR completely.
Hi-tech specialist Middleberg Euro RSCG has laid off between 20 and 30 staff across the US, blaming internet companies where the funding has dried up.
Another firm, KemperLesnick Communications, is closing its technology division completely, laying off five people. It has unpaid bills from start-up clients.
Meanwhile, the head of Ogilvy's Chicago tech practice has left, but Brad Wilks, managing director of the Chicago operation, denied any connection between the departure and a slow-down in tech business.
Another hi-tech PR firm, Buzz msp, is looking to lessen its dependence on tech clients. It is merging with two other agencies, owned by the same web incubator company which funded Buzz, Divine InterVentures.
While Buzz initially did PR work for other Divine companies, it has been trying to diversify. A slow-down in the Chicago tech world has hurt. 'That's been a challenge for us like it has for everybody else,' vice-president Dave Onak said.
PR21 Chicago executive vice-president and general manager, Paul Battaglia, called the climate 'volatile,' with some clients cutting PR budgets and others outside PR work.
'I think any agency that hasn't been affected is lying to you,' said Howard Solomon, MD at Ruder Finn's Chicago office.