Juniper continues quest for tech-savvy firm, dollars 250k job for grabs

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA: One would think that Juniper Networks would have little trouble finding a PR firm. Think again.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA: One would think that Juniper Networks would have little trouble finding a PR firm. Think again.

The Internet equipment firm has a hot technology, jumped nearly 200% on its first day of trading last month and has won contracts with Internet service providers (ISPs) such as UUNet and Verio. But new director of corporate communications David Abramson said he can't find a qualified firm to handle Juniper's PR account, estimated at dollars 250,000.

Juniper had used Foster City, CA-based Sterling & Karbo for the past two years, but Abramson ended the relationship soon after Juniper's June 25 IPO. Wall Street welcomed Juniper with open arms, with shares skyrocketing from an opening price of dollars 34 to over dollars 98 on 7.5 million shares.

Now Juniper is looking for a new PR firm, but Abramson said he isn't impressed with the Silicon Valley hi-tech shops he has seen so far.

'I need people who know the trade press, who can talk to engineers,' he said. 'This is a complex business. But (the firms) don't have the people to do the work. I call firms and they say, "Could you call back in a month?"'

'One of my people talked to David, but obviously didn't make much of an impression,' said Blanc & Otus president and CEO Jonelle Birney.

Abramson's plight represents the flip side of the burgeoning hi-tech industry, with top firms turning away all but the most attractive business leads. One source contacted by PRWeek said his firm used to get eight to 10 new business leads a month, but now gets that number in a week.

It also highlights the negative consequences of bringing in inexperienced account executives or consumer marketing specialists with little or no technology expertise to handle hi-tech accounts.

Abramson said he is currently considering one firm: 'I have one iron in the fire that I'm excited about.'

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