Agencies predict Nasdaq plunge will aid recruitment

SAN FRANCISCO: Even as they felt the strain in their wallets, West Coast and Silicon Valley PR firms said last week that the recent roller coaster ride of the tech-heavy Nasdaq exchange may wind up helping them more than it hurt them.

SAN FRANCISCO: Even as they felt the strain in their wallets, West Coast and Silicon Valley PR firms said last week that the recent roller coaster ride of the tech-heavy Nasdaq exchange may wind up helping them more than it hurt them.

SAN FRANCISCO: Even as they felt the strain in their wallets, West

Coast and Silicon Valley PR firms said last week that the recent roller

coaster ride of the tech-heavy Nasdaq exchange may wind up helping them

more than it hurt them.



Recent market woes, sources reported last week, could well stem the tide

of employees fleeing for positions at start-ups.



’I view this as a recruiting opportunity,’ said Pam Miller, CEO of

Seattle’s KMC Group. ’It means that finally the dot-com (stock) options

aren’t quite as attractive as they once were.’



Others, even those who accept stock in lieu of cash payment, said that

the temporary market correction did little to weaken their faith in the

hi-tech sector.



’Most of us here came from Netscape, so we are used to the volatility of

the market,’ said Chris Holten Hempel of SparkPR. Added Bob Angus of A&R

Partners, ’We consider our equity fund largely as future value and

consequently do not rely on it heavily to run the company. We can afford

to wait through market fluctuations.’



Jeff Davis, president of the newly hatched Incubate PR, conceded that

the timing of the debut of his agency - devoted exclusively to launching

pre-IPO companies - could have been better, but he remained optimistic:

’It forces me to look a little more closely at our equity model, but I

don’t think this is any kind of death sentence for the dot-com

industry.’



The precipitous stock market decline did, however, cast a shadow on the

agencies introducing employee bonus packages funded by gains from client

equity pools (PRWeek, April 17). And while tech stocks are likely to

make a comeback in the immediate future, the recent ’correction’ may

have lasting effects on the new business climate.



With VCs more and more hesitant to hand over checks to pure Internet

plays, the notoriously huge pool of client prospects could dry up.

Agencies are already starting to turn away from consumer-oriented

dot-coms.



Don Middleberg of Middleberg & Associates said his firm has recently

readjusted its client makeup from start-ups to so-called ’traditional,

brand-name companies’ moving into e-commerce.



’Maybe one or two or three clients in a stable of 80 will go away

because of the downturn, but we have 10 others waiting in the wings,’ he

said.



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